In the first season of Gatchaman Crowds, Hajime Ichinose had her collages.
Not only were they a cute hobby that tied Hajime to some influential Tachikawa locals, but they acted as a metaphor – albeit a heavy-handed one – for the way Hajime herself acts. Repeatedly in the first season, she would express how wonderful it was when everyone “came together,” combining their respective talents into something different, exciting, or meaningful, much like a collage. Hajime was always slow and dawdling, sometimes to a fault, but her personality also brought other large personalities together, creating something entirely new.
It’s only fitting that Gatchaman Crowds insight‘s finale allowed its new heroine, Tsubasa Misudachi, to show off her own creative talents in the form of a fireworks show. Fireworks are an easy shortcut to Tsubasa’s personality – emotionally-charged, quick to anger, and fiercely passionate – as she’s naturally intense but also acts before she thinks. Unlike a collage, fireworks immediately impress and often inspire an emotional response; however, they’re also fleeting. For Tsubasa, fireworks are also the tradition of her family that she carries with pride.
Yet, while the title of this first season’s finale was aptly-name “collage,” insight‘s finale was not “fireworks” but “insight,” continuing the series’ tradition of using marketing terms and buzzwords to frame every episode.
From Gel Sadra’s first introduction on earth, her initial power of displaying others’ thoughts – even before the reveal that she can also mine them for information – could have been called “insight.”
In marketing terms, insight is a targeted statement that deeply affects the beliefs of one’s consumer base. The desired response is one of emotional resonance from the customer to the product or brand itself, followed by a change in behavior that fulfills a specific goal or marketing campaign of the brand. Gatchaman Crowds insight frequently uses the term “atmosphere” to describe the general prevailing attitude of the public. Over the course of the season, this attitude goes through several drastic changes, all leading up to the massive paradigm shift in the penultimate episode caused by the G-Crew’s public “execution” of Gel Sadra.
“That’s because our thoughts agreed with everyone else, so we felt safe.”
“Then how did we come to the realization now?”
“Because we’re alone. We were by ourselves, stopped, and took a moment to actually think.”
-a conversation between Tsubasa Misudachi and Gel Sadra, Gatchaman Crowds insight, Episode 12
There is no truer statement than the one quoted above by Tsubasa, and it’s this conversation that points to the fact that insight – in spite of its oft-ham-fisted delivery – is not a true indictment of those who go along with the atmosphere. The arrival and subsequent vanishing – but not total removal – of the Kuu, the highly contested vote on whether Gel Sadra should stay or go, and the immediate reaction to Hajime’s slumber all point to the fact that people will inevitably choose to go with the flow at times; that being part of a crowd and agreeing with others is alluring and addictive. Most notably, there are still Kuu milling around, presumably feeding off of the next rising collective viewpoint.
At the end of it all, there’s no definitive resolution, but a sense that the world has, in Rui Ninomiya’s words, “updated” ever-so-slightly. The final vote tally on the Gel Sadra issue is not an overwhelming landslide, and very few people call for the G-Crew to handle things, reflecting that these votes are likely cast with a bit more thought. Of course, there will always be those like Millio Toriyama, eager and trendy media moguls who want to capitalize on the current atmosphere before it shifts out of their reach.
Millio plays a major role throughout insight in dispensing information as quickly as possible with little to no thought of the consequences. Naturally, his series is the setting that the G-Crew choose to reveal their hand, along with later announcing the results of the vote.
Lastly, Hajime leaves the viewer with the unsettling suspicion that she personally wished to be punished somewhat for her lack of action. Going into the final battle, she reiterates that she is a person who took part in the atmosphere and therefore also culpable for what has occurred within the series’ time span. This is the most awkward and messy part of the series’ finale, but shows another facet of humanity: guilt.
In displaying her thought process throughout a very bloody battle, one gets the sense that she didn’t wholly sacrifice herself for “the greater good” but that her choice was also a natural end to the inner demons she has been fighting since the first episode of Gatchaman Crowds. It calls to mind a conversation Hajime had with Utsutsu in the first season, where Hajime follows Utsutsu’s own self-loathing to a natural conclusion that it would cause one to hurt others or themselves. Hajime wakes up in the waning moments of the finale, but there’s a bitter – arguably necessary – taste to her actions that hangs over the ending as a result.