When Gatchaman Crowds first aired, I was undecided on what direction the series would take. The premiere episode hinted at anything from poking fun at superheroes to an odd “buddy cop” duo starring Hajime Ichinose and Sugune Tachibana with Hajime inevitably spoiling Sugune’s stodgy plans, dragging his character forward. While the latter does happen throughout the series, it’s a byproduct of Crowds‘ main focus — examining existing societal structures and social mores.
“Chaos and threat may not be the same. The judgment is yours to make.”
-JJ Robinson, Gatchaman Crowds, Episode 1
With these words to his G-Crew, JJ Robinson lays out exactly what Gatchaman Crowds intends to explore within the scope of its first season. They are written in each Gatchaman NOTE regarding the “nameless chaos,” which the G-Crew have dubbed “MESS” — the default antagonist of the series’ premiere.
Gatchaman Crowds‘ debut is titled “Avant-garde” — the first in a season’s worth of episode titles dedicated to art history or specific art terms. Avant-garde translated literally means “at the vanguard,” and within an art context identifies something that pushes the boundaries of what is socially acceptable, or calls out pre-existing societal norms and mores. Often the purpose of an avant-garde work is to promote radical social or political change to the current status quo.
For this reason, Gatchaman Crowds doesn’t open with its eccentric newbie, Hajime Ichinose. Instead, it begins with Sugune Tachibana’s morning routine, effectively establishing the status quo, giving it a character of its own within the series.
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.
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.
“The most terrifying thing in this world is atmosphere. You don’t remember at all how it’s made, but little by little, it was being forged with certainty. For our country, for peace, and to protect our livelihood let’s all become one and do our best.”
-Yuru-jii, Gatchaman Crowds insight, Episode 10
In an atmosphere where the Kuu are primarily born of people’s innermost fears, Rhythm Suzuki is given the perfect environment to sow his seeds of doubt and gathered influence.