Original Date: February 16, 2015
When you need a hero (or heroes) as there’s trouble afoot, who can you depend on to come to the rescue?Gatchaman! Reigning supreme over the Japanese children’s programming charts of the 1970s, Gatchaman fell into a nostalgic abyss by the turn-of-the-century, seemingly a long forgotten memory gone by.
The well-known franchise has seen a slew of variations and reinventions since its debut in 1972, and in 2013 the latest in the Gatchaman series entries continues with Gatchaman Crowds. With superhero anime reemerging at a phenomenal rate — thanks in large part to series like Tiger and Bunny — Gatchaman Crowds debuted at an optimal time and looks to reinvigorate the franchise.
In early summer 2015, energetic, cheerful high school student Hajime Ichinose has become the latest member to join Gatchaman — warriors that fight in special reinforced suits powered by their spiritual powers called NOTE, facing off against a cryptic alien creature on a quest to destroy Earth.
The overall plot is simplistic: saving the world from a creature from another world. Conveying parallel amounts of action and comedy throughout its run that has the audience enthralled and engaged right from the first episode. As the show’s first half run is briskly paced, the second half does meander, becoming inattentive to some of the secondary characters, the alien antagonist, and, most likely, they’ll reappear at the last-minute or so.
If you’re just jumping into Gatchaman now, Crowds perfectly assimilates newcomers to the long-running story by introducing a fresh new set of characters and modernizing. However, if you’re a longtime fan of the 4-decade spanning adventure, you’ll find all the series original charms still intact, plus a fantastic new coat of paint.
The majority of characters in the show does bring some prominence into their specific roles that comes into play in the storyline while at best, some may not get as much screen time as the other. The new team come across as approachable and amusing in being invested in them although the show does try to get as much character development out of them in all of 12 episodes.
The team consists of Sugane Tachibana, the primary straight man of the team and can be conveniently annoyed by one particular character in mind. Utsutsu is the gloomy/stoic member of the team that can make individual copies of herself, which like any given power, it drains some life energy out of her. O.D. does often have his moments of the show as being this moody yet have a flamboyant personality to keep it together. Joe Hibiki is the veteran member of the group and possibly the most depressing member of the group despite keeping a clean appearance around his crew. Paiman being the often ignored leader and often pictured as a mascot more than a leader has his eccentric and hilarious moments. The antagonist of the show Berg Katze is like any run-of-the-mill villain wanting to take over the world but his outlandish presence and quirky wit saved him from being completely tedious.
Out of all the cast of characters in the show, the one that struck out the most is the main character Hajime Ichinose. Her presence is welcoming with her outgoing personality and energetic charm. She is portrayed as relatable and likable as you would probably act like this when you possess a power like that on you. There are times where she gets into her Gatchaman mode, she gets reckless for the first few times but like any form of power you work with, she does function them correctly.
Legendary animation studio Tatsunoko Productions, who’ve animated the original series as well, are responsible for the animation in here and its style is smooth and straightforward with its bright, vibrant colors that always pop in every frame. The action animation is also well-animated in the Gatchaman fight sequences and the CG / 3D animation is integrated fluidly into the 2D art without having any strange hiccups that most anime with CG had before. The character designs are fairly fine with some artistic value, extravagant design with only a bit of fan-service thrown in there yet some of the designs do feel out-of-place like with Hajime’s design. The character is drawn well yet some parts of her feel a bit blobby, mainly her hair design. It looks too shiny to be even be considered hair and more like a blob stuck to her head.
The show’s opening “Crowds” by White Ash starts off the show with its catchy rock beat that pulls the audience. The show ready for what action the show has to offer and speaking of the action, the background music delivers on that aspect even more than the opening whenever the chorus goes “GATCHAMANNN!!”, the fast-paced electronic beats complemented the action scenes fantastically.
Gatchaman Crowds is a fascinating show that breathes new life into the original series’ charm and vibrancy. The action and animation are superb with every fluid movement and dynamic visuals detailed throughout the series.
The story element is simple at best, serving its purpose well — although it leaves some questions unanswered and character development holes. Luckily, the show is getting a second season in 2015, so there might be some answers waiting for us in there.
FINAL VERDICT – THE Mind of the Hybrid One version (8/25/2016): Well, like the Doraemon review I posted 2 months ago (also, yeah, it’s been two months since I posted an anime review on here), I don’t have much new to say about Gatchaman Crowds and its sequel, Insight and this applies to both series but yeah, it still does hold up in being a re-imagining of a classic series that has new blood in it with some of the original show’s staple and charm. It’s vibrantly weird yet fascinating to keep my attention at hold. Oh, and since I didn’t mention it before, the English dub for the first series is fine with some questionable script choices in some lines but other than that, it’s serviceable and of course, the performer I thought was the best of them is Jessica Calvello as Hajime. I just love her energy she puts into that character from the first episode to the last.
So after all that insight, I’m giving this show an….
8/10 – Solid B.
GATCHAMAN CROWDS is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Sentai Filmworks. As of this writing, Insight has not solicited a physical release yet. The series along with Insight is streaming on Crunchyroll and the Anime Network.
I’m MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, bringing all the insight into…..these little emotion bubbles.
GATCHAMAN CROWDS (and INSIGHT) – animated by TATSUNOKO PRO. / licensed by SENTAI FILMWORKS