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Review: Gatchaman Crowds Insight

Nov 12 // Salvador GRodiles
Gatchaman Crowds Insight Studio: Tatsunoko Release Date: July 4, 2015 Format: Streamed via Crunchyroll Taking place right after Gatchaman Crowds, Insight pits Hajime and the other Gatchaman against a group called VAPE, who want to rid the world of the CROWDs. During all of this commotion, the team ended up getting a new team member in the form of Tsubasa, along with having to watch over an alien visitor go goes by the name of Gel Sadra, who happens to share the same name with Leader-X’s top subordinate from Gatchaman II. While the show’s story sounds very simple, things start to take a different turn as political themes begin to take the helm. From day one, the main thing that sets this season from its predecessor is how it takes the pieces that were set into place earlier, and uses them to build a new foundation. At first, it seemed that the story was going to focus on Tsubasa becoming a better hero to overcome VAPE, but the staff did a good job in squeezing in the political themes, as Gel runs for office. While the first series had more of a subtle feeling with hints of Berg Katze plotting something huge, Insight convinces its viewers that things are suspicious from the get-go. This is shown through Gel’s speeches, which invoke the stereotype that many politicians use to present themselves as the person who relates with the middle-class citizens. Honestly, what made the guy’s actions great was that we were made to question whether the alien had ulterior motives or not. Going by the rule of things that are too good to be true, Gel came off as this super kind person who could bring everyone together. Just like the many things that fall into this category, a lot of people were drawn to his personality. Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of this story was the dynamics between Hajime and Tsubasa. Despite Hajime’s role as the girl’s mentor, Insight turned Tsubasa into the person who wishes to stand by Gel’s ideals no matter what; thus conflicting with Hajime’s super enthusiastic free spirit. On one side, you have the person who wishes for people to think on their own, and on the other, you have those who believe that true peace can occur if everyone goes with the flow. This also represents two of the various ways on how people create an atmosphere in their setting. Because of the way how society reacted to this event, this made Insight a personal story that many folks could relate to since it uses the social networking themes that it predecessor established to expand on the environment created by the political aspects. It also helps that the show’s superhero elements continue to sit in the back corner until they’re called for. Sure, there isn’t a consistent group that sends a bunch of bad guys against Hajime and her crew, but the idea that they still interact with other folks is surprisingly more entertaining. Seeing the first series focuses on the team’s rise to fame, another joyous thing about the show was seeing their efforts pay off. Whether it was O.D. showing off his fabulous personality on a live talk show or witnessing Rui using his Gatchaman powers, Insight leaves it viewers with a great sensation for investing their time with its predecessor. On top of that, once Gel’s presence becomes more prominent in the story, we start to see them change gears as they adjust to the changes in society. Thanks to the staff's great work with this story, the way how the heroes resolved the whole situation ended up being a powerful scene. Since the team was still fun to follow, this turned Insight’s closing segments into a very emotional ride. Let’s just say that it involves tears. If there’s one thing that we can always expect from Crowds, it’s the show’s stylish look. Just like the previous installment, Kinako’s stylish character designs continue to grace the screen. For the most part, the colorful looks continue to be a thing in Insight. Hell, Gel’s ability to turn people’s thoughts into speech bubbles was a nice aesthetic that improved the program’s great arsenal of abstract colorful designs. On top of that, Rui and Tsubasa’s Gatchaman suits are a nice addition to the crew’s set of armored heroes. I mean, it’s hard to go wrong with a fighter who can transport people to different locations and one who can fight with fireworks. Even though some of the show’s music is recycled from the previous series, the tracks still manage to go well with Insight’s scenes. Whether it’s the catchy electro song that repeats the phrase ‘Gatchaman’ or the subtle ambient track used in the peaceful segments, Taku Iwasaki’s (JoJo 2012 and Gurren Lagann’s Music) stuff continues to push the story in a positive manner again. Just like the rest of the show, it feels like we’re hanging out with the same person who made us smile before. I guess this would count as an amazing encore. As for the new characters, Kana Hanazawa (Durarara!!'s Anri, the Monogatari series' Nadeko) did a fantastic job in making Gel's child form sound playful and innocent, and Tomokazu Sugita (Kamen Rider Gaim's Demushu, Gintama's Gintoki) helped give the alien's adult form a convincing voice as a politician. That, and it was great to see him use a gentle voice throughout the series. In regards to Tsubasa, Kaori Ishihara (Magi's Aladdin, A Lull in the Sea's Sayu) brought out her ambitious personality nicely. She may not be on the same level as Maaya Uchida's (Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger's Hakase, Outbreak Company's Minori) Hajime voice, but she hit the right notes in making her character an overly determined person. Combined with the original cast, the voice actors were able to put on quite a good show.  While a sequel to Gatchaman Crowds could’ve gone either way, the show’s crew stuck to their guns and used them to shoot out greater bullets. The title’s political elements and expansion on its social life aspects gave it another nice zest that sets it apart from many superhero shows. Whether there’s gonna be a third installment or not, Kenji Nakamura (tsuritama and Mononoke's Director) has shown us that his take on Tatsunoko’s classic property is still capable of playing the game. [This review is based on a streamed version of the series viewed by the reviewer at personal expense.]
Gatchaman Crowds Insight photo
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Gatchaman Crowds S2

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Jul 15 // Hiroko Yamamura
 Let's be totally clear here: Yes, this isn't your father's Gatchaman. After the first episode it's obvious that none of your favorite characters and locals have just jumped into the modern anime era. This is probably what I love about this show. In an age of remakes and retellings of older series. Gatchaman Crowds isn't trying to make you remember the death of Joe the Condor, or make a new version of the always-right Ken Washio. This is a whole new crew, and what a crazy bunch they are. The main character of our story is Hajime Ichinose, a overly excitable chick who really digs stationary. She's brought into the fold by JJ, a powerful guardian of the earth, who has all sorts of crazy powers. If it gives you any indication of the show's mood, the fact that they'd name their all powerful leader something like JJ, and not Master Control Ninja, shows the anime's silly nature. The other main character of the first episode is Sugane Tachibana, who seems like de facto leader of the team. He has a sweet sword, and has the ability to manipulate time and space. Yeah, those seem like pretty sweet powers. We do get to meet the rest of the team, but haven't gotten to see them in action yet. We see the lazy and detached Joe Hibiki, who apparently has some ability to control fire. Next up is O.D. who can't transform into a Gatchaman for some reason, and his cat Altair. There's Utsu-tsu, who we see hanging out casually in a bikini, and acting distant. Lastly we have Paiman, who looks to be giving the team orders and guidance. He also looks a lot like a panda bear, but you don't want him hearing you say that. Basically, Hajime is gifted her new powers by JJ for some unknown reason, receiving an all powerful NOTE, which grants her the communications of the G-Crew. The NOTE is basically a little notebook, which also acts a cellphone. The NOTE allows the team to communicate, and receive JJ's communications, as well as allows their transformations into Gatchaman. All the gear looks cute and ready to be sold as tie in products, but I like how they chose such a lighthearted object. Who would have guessed a notebook? The team is hunting members of a hostile alien race, referred to as MESS. These MESS can disguise themselves as pretty much anything, and seem to be just minding their own business in Japan, carrying on as objects or people. To keep their identities secret, the G-Crew are able to use a power called Amnesia Effect, seemingly freezing time, and causing anyone around the incident to forget what has happened. Also, part of the effect is that the hidden MESS show their true form, which is a fast moving block of various colors. Imagine an evil glowing Rubik's Cube. You busy remember there was a Rubik's Cube cartoon? Man that was dumb Anyways, Hajime and Sugane transform into their Gatchaman forms, which look nothing like their 70's counterparts. They do however, look pretty cool. My only complaint about the transformations is that the suits just don't really go togther. Individually they all look cool, but don't speak like a team set of suits, but that may come to grow on me. Also, given their magical nature, there isn't much science to what's going on. Once you bring magic into a situation like this, the sci-fi nut in me that cares about how the suit works takes a back seat. So for now, let's just say they are magical suits. Sugane has his super powered samurai sword, along with his Dr Who-like abilities. Hajime sports some nutty looking school girl type suit, which totally looks like something out of Phantasy Star Online. She's sporting some scissor-based throwing knives, and so far some fantastic enthusiasm. What did I think? I liked it. It's a bit too early to tell if Im just excited by a new show, but so far it seems to be on point. I'm so very happy that they have thrown out pretty much any similarities with the original show. I'm hoping at some point they do justify the reason for the show being Gatchaman, but for now I'm content waiting. There's the Gatchaman logo, and we do get a glimpse of Berg Katze, but this is its own weird thing. The character designs and artwork were a bit off-putting to me at first. I'm usually attracted to gritty super detailed anime series, but something about they away they depict Japan, and the use of colors if quite pleasing. The show has a real "hip" vibe to it, in a Panty & Stocking or Gurren Lagann kind of way. Everything is bright, pretty and overstated, but has some nicely done action and battle scenes. You could say the show looks borderline silly, but that's really part of its fresh appeal. One of my friends described the show to me as what the taste of fruit-flavored candy would look like as an anime. I thought that was a pretty accurate summary. I hope things don't stick on Hajime showing off how enthusiastic and cute she is for the entire series. I can see how the show could take a turn for the dark side later. Or, maybe I'm hoping for it. The show has style for miles, and some fantastic music to boot. I have to admit that watching the show was an entertaining, pleasant venture. However, the old school Gatchaman fan in is hoping for some dark bloody action to show its face at some point. I mean, what's the point of all this cheeriness if you can't have to oppressive darkness to contrast against. And if there's aver been a villain you can count on to bring everything crashing down, it's Berg Katze. Can the hermaphrodite alien, engineered by Soisai X bring some nasty to this chipper show? I'm counting on it. [Watch Gatchaman Crowds simulcasting on Crunchyroll!]
Gatchaman Crowds photo
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Deep breath time. The anime I've been fearing all year is finally here. A lot has changed in the world since the original Science Ninja Team Gatchaman hit the airwaves back in 1972. Perhaps that's why people (including myself...

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Gatchaman Crowds

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