To this day, my cellphone wallpaper is Gatchaman Crowds‘ Hajime Ichinose. She’s pulling a confused look as fellow gatchaman team member Sugune Tachibana admits that he only uses his phone for calls.
Calls are the feature of my phone that I use the least, for the record.
Before delving into the series a bit and why it’s one of my favorite of the decade, it’s important to note that Gatchaman Crowds (more specifically, the first season) hasn’t aged well at all. In many ways, its technology and ideas about social media are already as anachronistic as a corded phone in a Macross or Gundam series from the 1990s. If it weren’t for insight‘s existence, despite my love for Crowds‘ initial season, it probably wouldn’t have made my top ten. insight builds on important themes about gamification, social media, and technology while admitting that some of the initial thoughts put forth by Hajime in the first season are flawed. Together, the two seasons make up a more complete but still imperfect, whole.
Despite the series’ many flaws, a lot of Gatchaman Crowds and Gatchaman Crowds insight is not only still relevant but also interesting. Hajime says the iconic Gatchaman transformation line “Bird Go” with such irreverence and genuine confusion that it comes out as, “Bird . . . go??” That was precisely the moment in my initial viewing of the series, that I was sold, and one of the moments that still stands out in a rewatch because Crowds is already screaming at you that it’s effectively abandoning a lot of what the franchise did before.
Crowds was met with initial backlash from Gatchaman fans when it aired and I think that backlash would only be worse now, with how social media has advanced in a mere six years, something that insight itself comments on in a broader fashion, about two years after the first season of Crowds. As a related aside, a lot of my blog posts that I wrote about Crowds, especially the initial 2013 season, now seem archaic and naive. I would certainly write them a bit differently were I watching the series for the first time today.
Thinking back on the series now, and having rewatched it more than a few times, what I appreciate most in Crowds is it’s fundamental optimism, even in the face of extreme awfulness from others. It’s far easier in storytelling to point at the world and talk about how it’s all toxic and horrible without finding a light of hope than it is to find that hope and hold onto it. This doesn’t mean that I don’t scoff at a lot of things that happen in Crowds — especially on each successive rewatch as the so-called real world seems closer and closer to the edge of a precipice — or disagree with them, but in the end there is catharsis and hope, and that’s a lot more difficult to do than just pointing out the bad. At the end of it all, I still agree with this passage that I wrote after watching it.
“I’m not judging them, because I am also culpable. Going along with the atmosphere isn’t as obvious as hugging an oddly-shaped alien-creature. It’s shrugging off or acquiescing to what others say, even if you strongly disagree. It’s throwing in an odd insult against someone whom you actually have nothing against for the sake of fitting in. It’s not helping out someone because it goes against what the popular opinion dictates. It’s ridiculously easy.”
There are also a few external factors that went into two seasons of Gatchaman Crowds placing above other series like Madoka Magica or Made In Abyss, an act considered sacrilege by many anime fans. Crowds was the first series that really hooked me after having started this solo blog. It was also the first show since From the New World where I felt compelled to watch it and discuss it almost immediately after airing. Through Crowds, I was part of my first larger anime conversation as myself and not as a member of a larger blog. These factors are why this series will likely mean more to me than others.