Monday 15 July 2013

First Impressions: Gatchaman Crowds

The last anime I plan to follow through the summer season is Gatchaman Crowds, a new sequelto /reimaginging/show based on the classic 1972 series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (also known as Battle of the Planets or G-Force in the West) from Tatsunoko. With such a big reputation behind Gatchaman, anticipation was running rather high for this series. But did the first episode deliver?

In this first episode we are introduced to our main character, 16-year old highschool girl Hajime Ichinose. Chosen to become the latest member of the Gatchaman Crew (or G-Crew for short), she is quickly introduced to the rest of the team, including serious samurai boy Sugane, the quiet Jō, effeminate male O.D., bikini-clad lolicon Utsu-tsu and their leader - panda-like alien Paiman. The Gatchaman's mission is to protect the Earth from alien attacks, primarily from identities known as MESS. Using special notebooks called NOTEs, the G-Crew are able to transform into armoured fighters, using an "amnesia effect" to make sure no innocent people know of the alien attacks.

This first episode moved at a very frantic pace, with Hajime gaining her Gatchaman powers (although we don't see them manifest until the very end) before she's even had a proper introduction. Her guided tour of the G-Crew base infodumps the team introductions and what exactly they do, and before you know it the episode is over. Things are happening at breakneck speed, and you can't help feel that this might be a lot easier to take in if they took a minute to just slow things down. However one thing I will say is this is VERY inkeeping with Hajime's rather hyperactive nature.

And while the art style is by no means awful, it is a little on the strange side. Hajime's weird proportions aside (I can't tell if she has huge breasts/hips or the clothes are just drawn baggy), everyone's eyes are very disconcerting. The eyes are very sketchily drawn, but the vivid colours make it feel like they are staring into your soul - particularly in Sugane's case. The Gatchaman suit designs have "TOY" written all over them (I'm expecting Figuarts but we'll see), with quite busy designs and brought to life with CGI animation.

I can't honestly say I was expecting Gatchaman Crowds to be like its 70s counterpart but I was at least expecting it to feel a bit more similar. My knowledge of Ninja Science Team Gatchaman is admittedly hazy, but this felt less like a successor and more like a show quite shamelessly trying to cash in on the success of Tiger & Bunny. The only obstacle is that Tiger & Bunny was a REALLY good show, so Crowds is going to have to do a lot better than this first episode to be considered a worthy comparison.

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