If You Want To Know The Future Of Video Games, Watch Gatchaman Crowds

If You Want to Know the Future of Video Games, Watch Gatchaman Crowds

Halfway through the 2013 season, I called Gatchaman Crowds one of the five anime you should be watching. It is an anime that all gamers should watch as it shows amazing insight into the future of video games in addition to having an adventure that's deeper than you'd expect.

Good — Making Being Good into a Video Game

If You Want to Know the Future of Video Games, Watch Gatchaman Crowds

Gatchaman Crowds has perhaps the most realistic portrayal of the future of gaming I have ever seen. This is shown in the form of social networking app GALAX — an app that makes being a good person into a video game.

GALAX, while your typical social networking app on one end, becomes a tool for good on the other. When someone needs help, people in the area are notified on their smart phones and offered a "mission" to help out. Completing this mission adds points to their — for lack of a better term — gamer score. Moreover, GALAX will specifically target those most competent to complete certain missions. If someone is complaining about an abusive relationship, GALAX will give a nearby lawyer a mission to help the person out. If there is a car crash, all the nurses, doctors, and those with first aid training in the area will receive a mission to lend their aid.

We've already seen in the real world how far people will go to keep their virtual farms up and running or just how much they care about clicking a cow every day. But imagine if everyone was playing this game where you quite literally had a "good person" score to build up (and show off). Life itself would become a video game.

In Gatchaman Crowds, GALAX was designed as part of a revolution for social change. It's a counter to a world where people are forced to rely on corrupt or non-caring politicians. It's also a revolution against something else: the need for superheroes.

Good — A Look at Superheroes

If You Want to Know the Future of Video Games, Watch Gatchaman Crowds

Rui, the creator of GALAX, believes that if superheroes exist, people will come to rely on them too much — that they will turn a blind eye to helping each other and just assume that the heroes will help those in need. Real world events like the murder of Kitty Genovese serves to support this fear. So GALAX is a counter to that overdependence — giving people an incentive to help each other and not be apathetic bystanders.

The other characters in the series, the veteran Gatchaman in general, somewhat support this view in that they think superheroes should work only from the shadows — fighting threats in secret, so normal people don't have to be worried.

Of course, then comes the main character, Hajime, a not-so-normal school girl with her own views on superheroes and how the world works.

Good — Hajime

If You Want to Know the Future of Video Games, Watch Gatchaman Crowds

Hajime is one of the most interesting characters in recent anime. She believes that heroes are needed for the problems people can't handle alone and also believes GALAX is great because of how it gets people to work together.

But unlike Rui who believes GALAX will create a social revolution where the world will become better once everyone is playing the game, Hajime thinks that GALAX is just a single step on the way to the true goal: a world where everyone helps each other because it's the good and right thing to do.

To her, simply relying on GALAX or superheroes is wrong. In one scene, when a tunnel collapses, people in the area check GALAX on their cell phones to see what they should do for their mission. The Gatchamen worry about transforming and being seen. Hajime just runs in and starts helping.

This is because of the way in which Hajime views the world. While she appears as a ditz to many, she is easily the smartest character in the show. As people, we tend to be focused on our own little worlds — our problems, social politeness, rules and regulations. But Hajime is the opposite. She sees nothing but the big picture. She will never follow a rule or order for its own sake and instead heads straight for the greater goal — everyone being safe, happy, and satisfied. If fighting is what's needed, she will do it; but she is much more likely to just talk, even with the most heinous of villains, in an attempt to find a way that satisfies them and also leaves everyone else safe and happy.

Watching her interactions with the various characters in the series — and the resulting clash between her viewpoint and everyone else's — is one of the most enjoyable parts of the series.

Good — A Surprisingly Progressive Anime

If You Want to Know the Future of Video Games, Watch Gatchaman Crowds

In Gatchaman Crowds there are several effeminate males. O.D., the Gatchaman who maintains the base, wears lipstick, dons high heels, and exposes his midriff. The villain, Berg Katze dresses much the same. Rui is even more extreme: He goes for full-on crossdressing whenever he's in public. And best of all, these three are never the butt of any joke. While people are surprised to find that Rui is male — as he most certainly doesn't look it — that's about as far as it goes. This show doesn't look down on people simply for the way they dress — which is exactly as it should be.

Mixed — Not Gatchaman in Anything but Name

If You Want to Know the Future of Video Games, Watch Gatchaman Crowds

In most ways, Gatchaman Crowds is Gatchaman in name only. None of the original characters appear and only the most general plot elements remain — i.e. a team of people called Gatchaman protect the world from alien threats. There are callbacks, sure — like the main enemy being named Berg Katze — but if you were expecting anything resembling the original anime, you will be disappointed.

That doesn't mean it isn't a great show, however.

Final Thoughts

If You Want to Know the Future of Video Games, Watch Gatchaman Crowds

All in all, Gatchaman Crowds was my biggest surprise of the season. I went in expecting a sentai-style, monster-of-the-week show and ended up with a show that dedicated much of its time to exploring the future of video games and the concept of superheroes, including the hero in all of us. Moreover, all this was tied together by Hajime, a character that is simply enjoyable to watch because of her odd way of interacting with the world. And while the ending left a lot of questions, that just provides fodder for the recently announced second season.

If you are a person who likes superheroes or wants to see the future of gaming in action, this is definitely an anime you should check out.

Gatchaman Crowds aired on NTV in Japan. It can be viewed in for free and with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.


Comments

    Hmm looks interesting I'll just go downlo- I mean watch this completely legally.

    Again another good review I do believe that you should of picked up on the fact the ending was severely lacking, the director himself actually announced that when doing it was cut short a full episode due to time constraints. I really thought this should of been picked up on as it really let down such a great anime, but still in my books it was one of the best animes this year just due to artstyle and music.

    These two tracks that I will list will show you why you should watch it,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqddJT9vXeU

    &

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lbOi9XJcOg

    Good review, but is it really "surprising" that an anime features cross dressing characters? or has a progressive approach to gender identity issues?

    Manga's that feature cross dressing protagonists have existed since the early 1950's (Princess Knight) and and some in the early 1970's that had protagonists with gender identity issues (the Rose of Versailles). These were mainstream titles and at children/young teens. And there are lots of mangas today that continue to have these issues as central themes.

    And on the anime sides of things many famous anime (Revolutionary Girl Utena, Tokyo Godfathers, They were 11, etc...) have dealt with these issues in mature and interesting ways.

    In fact the androgynous character who feels just as comfortable as both genders is almost a stock character in anime. just look at the protagonist of this years "the eccentric family". He's a male shape shifter that spends a lot of his time as a girl, just because he wants to.

    I could go on for a long time listing examples, but that would be pretty pointless, just found it odd that Rui's cross dressing came off as a surprise when it's such a pervasive thing in anime/manga. like I said, good review. Looking forward to the next one.

      That part struck me as odd too. As the article stated, Berg Katse was the main villain of the original Gatchaman and was also a fusion of male and female, switching between them from time to time, complete with tragic backstory and all. Then you have that (name withheld for spoiler prevention) certain character from Escaflowne, yaoi manga like Gravitation and many other anime and manga several decades old.

      As you say, homosexual, androgynous, cross dressing and gender confused characters have been in Japanese media (movies, manga, anime, books, etc.) for ages. True, they are sometimes used as the comedic relief and there are more than a few instances of exaggerated stereotyping, but if anything, they are more prevalent and integrated into Asian media than they are in Western media where we still can't seem to get past using it as a joke or shock value.

      Last edited 03/11/13 2:49 am

        I dunno, I've seen only a select number of anime, but they go from widespread popular like Deathnote or Sword art Online, To something a little smaller like umineko no naku koro ni, And steins gate, and none of those had cross gendered characters. Well steins gate dide, kinda, but as you said, half used it for comedic relief. (She Looks like a girl, but is actually a boy!)

    Probably my favourite anime from last season!
    Also a couple of weeks ago a second season was announced :)

    Looks good, looking it up now.

    I've actually been a member for this app called Hero now for a long time, although there's pretty much no user base here so there's not much point. What it does is let's people send out alerts for help to anyone in the area, and anyone signed up to be a hero receives it and can respond. Unfortunately never received a call to action but I still keep it running.

    There is something decidedly un-progressive about featuring a cross-dressing character who is treated like every other "woman" in anime, particularly being turned into fetish fuel. Pseudo-rape scene included, because this is Japan's sense of "equality" -- demeaning feminine characters as the weak ones.

    http://angryandroidguy.blogspot.com/2014/07/gatchaman-crowds-its-just-enforcing.html

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