Gatchaman INSIGHT

Gatchaman INSIGHT

img_7415.jpgA year has passed since the “Tachikawa Incident” in summer 2015. CROWDS, the system that turns the mentality of humans into physical form that Berg Katze gave to Rui Ninomiya after extracting his NOTE, has spread among the public. Prime Minister Sugayama backs the plan, but not everyone agrees with his policy. Then, a mysterious organisation attacks Sugayama’s vehicle, marking the start of a series of new conflicts.

img_7413.jpgAfter Hajime absorbed Berg Katze and caused the Crowds system to be widespread, popularity for the current state of things declined and a mysterious organisation called VAPE is causing trouble in Japan. Things become even more complicated when an alien by the name of Gelsadra (or Gel, for short) crash-lands on the planet in a village where a girl named Tsubasa lives. She is very much our ‘Hajime for the second season’ and is quickly drafted into the ranks of the Gatchaman. VAPE is determined to show that the current system is flawed, and after causing some dangerous things to happen it means that the prime minister resigns and friendly neighbourhood alien Gel runs for his position. There’s the saying that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”, and this has never been so true as when applied to Gel’s vision of a peaceful and happy humanity. Moral of the story: never let a strange alien run for a position of power in your society – no matter how advanced you think it is.

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The Gatchaman Crowds anime has never been very subtle, but that’s not always necessarily a bad thing. The ideas that they address and explore and usually very interesting concepts. However, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that we might be covering old ground in the second series, but only from a different perspective with a couple of random elements thrown in to shake things up, which weakened this series when it could have been a lot stronger. There are a few recycled themes from the previous season and it lacks a sense of urgency this time around – probably due to the fact that there’s technically no real threat or villain. Sure, VAPE are misusing Rui’s technology and Gelsadra is just making matters worse, but there’s more of a sense of the Gatchaman trying to maintain order rather than saving society.

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There are plenty of issues raised about the slightly-sinister Kuu-samas and questions raised about Gel’s inability to truly understand human society, but there don’t seem to be any conclusive answers. We still have interesting things addressed; the one that mainly interests me is the idea that people can be too reliant on technology and artificial intelligence and just how selfish/selfless people can be when they are all given the power to help society. They’re all very relevant themes presented within a good story, but the obvious lack of justification and conclusion leaves you feeling a bit unfulfilled at the end. Things just get resolved and ‘go away’ and things are back to normal. Everything just sort of fizzles out after building up your expectations.

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Even so, I was still attracted from the get-go to the beautiful artwork that had almost become iconic to the Gatchaman franchise. With is bright, attractive colours that are used to calm and relax you as well as to do stark contrasts, the unique colour palette is always something I enjoy getting immersed in. What’s new for this season is using the anime artwork for characters and inserting them into real pictures of Japan. It’s an idea that I’ve seen utilised a few times in anime such as Uwara no Usagi-chan, but nowhere have I seen it used so well as to really fit into an anime theme.

img_7420.jpgFor an anime where the main character core transform into superheroes, the Gatchaman have never really been one for elaborate battle scenes – not in the obvious sense of the phrase. In fact, they actively reject this approach and usually going to technology and reason to tackle to problem at hand. It makes a change from the usual ‘hammer at them until they give in’ method, which is often used when a group of people have special powers or are in control of some sort of mecha. Despite the fact that they had weapons, the Gatchaman always saw themselves as a type of social police and never really abused their powers, despite being pushed to.

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What Gatchaman INSIGHT did very well was use the themes of social harmony, assumed righteousness and the sheer power that crowds offers. The conclusions of the first series ending up being challenged and extended, with the dangers of social power turned back on those who’d use it to seek their own type of vigilante justice. INSIGHT grounded these contrasting forces into compelling personal stories that pulled in all of the Gatchaman. There were scenes where characters like Joe, Rui, Tsubasa, and Hajime would just sit down and talk out their feelings on how society was moving, each showing their personality and own perspectives. These were also was gave this anime it’s depth and are up there with some of the best scenes in this series.

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Overall, Gatchaman INSIGHT is a clever and individual story investigating some interesting ‘what ifs’ when it comes to higher society and technology with roots firmly grounded in faith and humanity. Despite some shaky aspects, it’s definitely worth watching in order to draw comparisons and contrasts to the original series.

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