avant-garde

“Avant-Garde,” Revisiting Gatchaman Crowds Episode 1

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“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.

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Avant Garde, Kitsch, and a Return to Gatchaman Crowds

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No sooner had she muttered, “Man, I’m hungry,” as the camera lingered on her mostly uneaten lunch than I loved Hajime Ichinose. She was colorful and quirky, but had trouble expressing herself clearly through speech. A person of action, she was restless from the moment that Gatchaman Crowds introduced her in her school classroom.

Throughout its 12-episode run, Hajime and Crowds enthralled me, telling a modern superhero story within the frameworks of art history and social media. It inspired me to blog incessantly, chattering about art movements and Constantin Brâncuși while alluding to my own personal resonance. Watching Crowds, and sharing my thoughts, were immensely personal experiences. Now, a bit more removed from my initial reactions to the series, I can safely say that it’s one of my all-time favorites.

And yet, when I heard that Gatchaman Crowds would have a second season, I wondered why.

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