Tuesday 7 July 2015

First Impressions: Gatchaman Crowds insight

Gatchaman Crowds insight

When the legendary Gatchaman franchise made its grand return to screens in 2013, it wasn’t exactly in the way people expected. Though it most certainly retained the spirit of the original, Gatchaman Crowds was almost an entirely different beast – doing away with the “Science Ninja Team” monicker and recreating it into a superhero show with some interesting commentary on social media and a rather polarising lead character. The show also suffered from an incredibly underwhelming, which was later rectified with an OVA ‘director’s cut’ episode which drastically improved things. Crowds also proved to be a successful reboot for the franchise, with Tatsunoko Production bringing it back for a second season under the new name of Gatchaman Crowds insight.

Bird on! 

It’s been some while since the conclusion of the original series, where the alien Berg Katse was absorbed into Hajime’s body. The Gatchaman are continuing life as normal, however a new enemy has surfaced in the form of VAPE – an organisation intent on bringing Crowds down, using red coloured Crowds to do their bidding. After protecting the Prime Minister from a VAPE attack, the team travel to Nagaoka to greet Gelsadra – an alien that they will taking into their protective custody. At the same time they meet Tsubasa, a cheery yet impulsive girl who is selected by J.J. to become the newest Gatchaman.

Okay, so calling this a first impressions piece of simply the first episode is a bit of a lie. Gatchaman Crowds insight also received a short ‘00’ episode which served as a prequel to the series, depicting the VAPE attack on the Japanese Prime Minister as well as debuting Rui’s Gatchaman form. It’s a great prequel episode that’s definitely worth your time, showing off the flash Crowds was never short of as well as adding some very necessary context to the first episode.

 Onto the episode itself, while it had strands of the plot due to unfold over the next few months (the first series built up the Crowds system, and now VAPE is here to knock it down – something there’s been plenty of real world relevance to draw upon as influence), the main aim here is to get us acquainted with the newest members of the cast – Gelsadra and Tsubasa. While there isn’t a whole lot to say about Gelsadra as of yet (although the opening does kind of give away what to expect in the coming weeks), her sharing a name with a Gatchaman II character adds yet another tenuous link to remind fans that this is a franchise reboot despite almost feeling wholly original at this stage. 

Tsubasa on the other hand is already gearing up to be an interesting addition to the cast, already being painted as an opposite of sorts to Hajime’s perfect personality. The lengths the original series went to paint Hajime as nothing but perfect often proved incredibly insufferable, so a foil other than Sugane’s equally irritating complaining should add a good sense of balance to things. That said, Hajime’s already got a new gimmick in the form of Berg Katze – who’s now residing comfortably inside her where he can’t cause any more trouble. While I’m a little bit sceptical at just how long this will last, his new position is definitely a lot more fun. Mamoru Miyano is still having a blast in the role, offering his usual energetic quips in attempts to insult the Gatchaman and the never-phasing Hajime. Even if the dynamic between Hajime and Tsubasa doesn’t go quite in the way many are expecting it to, the banter between her and Katze should more than make up for it.

When watched together alongside episode 00 (because if the finale of the last season proved anything, this show relies a little too much on additional material) it seems Gatchaman Crowds insight is off to a pretty promising start. The audience is eased back into things gently while the new characters make a bold, if not too informative, debut. Even if the quality suffers here and there Crowds is at the very least good at offering up food for though, so at the very least this second season should be provocative as well as pretty.

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