“Gatcha, Gatcha-Gatcha, Gatcha,” sang main character Hajime.
“Strangle, Strangle-Strangle, Strangle,” sang BrikHaus as he strangled the life out of Hajime.
Seriously, Hajime is one of the most annoying anime characters in recent memory. She is a super-positive, Mary-Sue type who has earned the dual ire and love of anime fans who have watched this series. She is one of those characters who shouts all their lines, says incredible positive things all the time, and is unrealistically naieve. It’s impossible to think that anyone could be as dense as her in real life. So, when this is a show’s main character, things aren’t off to a great start.
Things don’t get much better with the rest of the characters. Three characters shout/scream all of their lines. Two characters are incredibly pseudo-gay, they are insulting stereotypes. Of course, there is the token quiet/shy loli character. None of the characters have any depth at all. They are all completely one-note. They have virtually no backstories, no personalities, and nothing to make them interesting at all.
Gatchaman Crowds has a lot of problems. Obviously, the main character is an issue, but the problems don’t stop there. The animation is atrociously bad. Character designs vary wildly from episode to episode. The animation has a herky-jerky feel to it, reminiscent of Speed Grapher. There is no attention to detail, with most of the environment being flat and pastel looking without any hint of being a lived-in universe. Of course, none of this is as big a problem as the story.
The story drops you right off in the middle of the action with a group of superheroes called Gatchaman (Gatchamen?) who protect Japan from aliens called MESS. There is virtually no time devoted to explaining what the hell is going on. Sure, you get a rundown of what is happening at the moment, but you get absolutely no backstory. For example, the Gatchaman have a mysterious alien leader named J.J. who is never explained. J.J. chooses Hajime to join the Gatchman for a reason that is never explained. Another character, O.D., is half-alien and has a mysterious backstory that is never revealed. And what about the fact that the group’s leader, Paiman, a fucking talking midget panda, is never explained? Oh right, it’s anime, so we’re just supposed to take it at face value. What the flying fuck?
The alien threat, MESS, is neutralized in episode two and never mentioned again. Then, a completely different alien, Berg Katze, starts cavorting around, screaming all his lines, and trying to wreak havoc on Earth. He takes over a computer program called GALAX that everyone in the world is plugged into. He uses a secret program called CROWDS to extract peoples’ psychic energy into physical manifestations, and takes some of them, called the HUNDRED, to destroy everything in his path. The Gatchaman try to stop him, but are generally impotent to do anything. Also, the heroes only turn into Gatchman when they say the completely weird phrase, “Bird, go” while holding a NOTE (there are no birds in the series). Also also, everything in this series has to be conveyed in capital letters.
The creator of GALAX, a teenage (*facepalm*) boy named Rui, who cross-dresses for no explainable reason (and no one even questions this) made the CROWDS program so the world could take care of itself and not have to rely on superheroes like the Gatchman. Great concept, bro, the only problem is that the rest of the world is oblivious to the fact superheroes exist, so they have no rallying point to take matters into their own hands. Also, Rui is obsessed with people using GALAX to help one another so they can “update the world,” whatever the fuck that means. He uses this phrase so much, like it means something, that it becomes an unintentional running gag in the show. At some points, people help each other (Hajime saves everyone in her school from drinking spoiled milk – wow, what a harrowing ordeal for a superhero), and GALAX declares that the world has been updated. People cheer, but nothing has changed. Yeah, um, yeah…
By the end of the show, it turns out Rui was wrong and the world cannot save itself without superheroes. The Gatchaman spring into action and help beat Berg Katze’s evil HUNDRED. They do get help from the CROWDS. Perhaps the message was that regular people and superheroes must work together to save the world? If so, that’s a stupid message because in real life superheroes don’t exist.
A better concept for the series would have been the heroes struggling with a more existential crisis. With the rise of GALAX and CROWDS, people can do things on their own without the help of the Gatchaman. The heroes would have tried to find their place in a world that no longer needs them. All the opportunities for profundity in Gatchaman Crowds were missed. Despite my complaints, Gatchaman Crowds did try to be about something. It tried to raise some interesting points, and it tried to be something more than the average anime. Unfortunately, it failed nearly every step of the way. But hey, since they tried, I’ll spare them a shitty rating.