Trade offs occur frequently in everyday life – more often than not when money or resources are concerned. In a business sense, trading off usually weighs a more immediate solution against a long-term one, leaving the company or individual to calculated the benefits and risks involved before making a decision.
Regardless of the end result, trading off requires a choice. Something must be given, and with every decision something is lost.
All too often – especially if one is going with the flow – one might not realize just how much has been lost, or what one lost in the first place. As Sugune Tachibana, previously the most buttoned-up of the G-Crew members, said, sometimes the allure of the atmosphere is so strong, one welcomes it because it’s pleasant and easy. When swept up in the groupthink, one doesn’t forget the opportunity cost, but is often too lulled by the coziness of the prevailing atmosphere, conveniently forgetting the trade-off: they sacrifice their own personal thoughts and the process of thinking for one’s self.
Following Gel Sadra’s “death,” the reaction on GALAX is mixed. The most telling reaction is the last one shown – “Isn’t there something more funny on the news?” Until the G-Crew comes clean, their actions will be swept away in favor of another passing fad or atmospheric shift.
The G-Crew put on the performance of a lifetime in this episode, one that includes traditional sentai and superhero action, transitions over many different settings, involves every single gatchaman showcasing their individual abilities, and even ends with a staged cliché showdown of Tsubasa – previously Gel’s staunchest supporter – telling Sugune that enough is enough. It’s a scene more obvious than Maximus’ “Are you not entertained?” speech in Gladiator, and prods both insight‘s in-universe and outside audience. Is this what you wanted? Are you willing to deal with the consequences of trading away your own thoughts and placing the decision in the hands of someone else?
It’s telling that the Kuu, a product and symbol of the groupthink, vanish one by one as people watch Gel Sadra’s televised defeat. In pressing the button that voted to leave it up to the G-Crew, people presumed that they once again wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of their actions. When Gel created that button, Gel attempted to take on all of Japan’s issues, leaving the public blissfully unaware of their own responsibility. Hajime Ichinose’s plan takes advantage of this as a teaching tool. Once people are directly faced with the real-life consequences of pressing that button and letting the G-Crew clean up after their own mess, they begin to realize their individual contributions towards the larger machinations of the atmosphere. The outcome isn’t nearly as entertaining as they had thought.
“I believe in all of you.”
-Rui Ninomiya, Gatchaman Crowds, Episode 9
In order to fully step back and take a look at the cycle – not break it, because this still requires a lot of time, effort, and individual participation – another step is required. Tsubasa Misudachi appears, alongside Rui Ninomiya and former Prime Minister Suguyama, and reveals the truth. Her apology mirrors a comparable admission of responsibility expressed by Rui in Gatchaman Crowds‘ first season, where Rui reveals the true nature of CROWDS and Berg Katze. There, Rui takes the blame for CROWDS and urges the public not to use them, apologizing for the CROWDS users that are comotose. Rui then expresses belief in humanity, that they will do the right thing.
“This is a chance. For all of us to know who we really are.”
-Hajime Ichinose, Gatchaman Crowds insight, Episode 11
Tsubasa apologizes for deceiving the public, but not for the actions of the G-Crew or Hajime’s plan, which she subsequently explains. Hajime’s words in insight echo a similar sentiment to her reaction in Gatchaman Crowds when asked if the G-Crew could beat Berg Katze. In that moment, Hajime truthfully answers that she doesn’t know. Likewise, when explaining her plan to Tsubasa and company, Hajime admits that they might not be able to defeat the atmosphere completely, but that they can at least spread awareness. An entity like Berg Katze – who preys on our innermost fears – or something as nebulous as an atmosphere cannot be defeated by a superhero. That’s too easy of a solution, and only provides a false panacea, preventing people from weighing the cost of their own actions. The trade-off of Hajime’s plan is that it eschews an immediate way out for a more permanent and introspective solution, recognizing that it will fail if the public are not yet ready.