Anime Original by Tatsunoko Productions
Streaming on Crunchyroll, Saturdays 3:00 pm EST
A new threat appears called VAPE, an organization that uses red Crowds to commit acts of terrorism. Not to be outdone, the G-Crew picks up some reinforcements and welcomes a new alien visitor.
Jel’s verdict: Soaring Above the Competition
To give you some idea of how amazingly weird Gatchaman Crowds can be, consider this scene from episode 1 of Insight: a giant alien spaceship crash lands and opens to reveal a rather intimidating bit of floating battle armor. There is no actual person in it, it’s just being carried by some kind of magic wind or something. Rather than run or prepare to fight, the main character walks up to it and gives it a hug, at which points it transforms into a cute girl with red skin and blue hair. This cute girl does a pirouette and suddenly everyone has a creepy colored thought bubble over their head that displays their emotions. No one seems to mind or care.
That should be enough to grab your attention, but Crowds is more than just flash and style. Season 1 managed to ask questions far more relevant to modern society than the usual universal themes you find in other anime. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading now and go watch it – from here on I’m going to assume you’ve seen it. On a technical note, I’m including episode 0 in my initial impressions. It’s mostly new content and kind of important in setting the stage for episode 1. It’s also where all the fighting happens, so make sure to watch it first. Now on to Insight…
I was looking forward to watching Insight but I have to say I was way more excited to see the cast returning than I thought I would be. Tsubasa and Gel seem like fittingly quirky additions to the cast, and the merged Katze and Hajime have an interesting Yin and Yang thing going. More on that in a bit. I’m not sure how I feel about Rui becoming a Gatchaman as that distinction kind of made him a better representative of humanity. By the looks of things Tsubasa may be filling that role oddly enough. I have to wonder if she’s going to willingly accept being a member of the team. She seems pretty driven to reach her career goal and those things don’t seem to mesh well.
Thematically, Insight seems to be picking up right where season 1 left off. When we last saw our heroes, Rui gambled on humanity’s ability to cooperate, giving the Crowds to everyone and helping them help themselves. It was a really positive statement to make about people in general. With the appearance of VAPE and the blatantly antagonist red Crowds, I’m guessing Insight could be a counter argument to that statement. It could be as simple as saying mankind has the capacity to do both good and evil, and he will do both, as represented by Hajime and Katze now coexisting in the same body. That might be a lot of theory to take a way from an episode and a half worth of content, but that is truly what Gatchaman Crowds is all about. I could probably say more to be honest, but instead I am just going to try and be patient and wait to see what happens next. From what I’ve watched so far it will probably be the best show this season.
Marlin’s Verdict: Like it Never Left
Granted, I literally watched all of the last season in the past week, so this pretty much was for me. Coming from that marathon it really feels like Insight is the Durarara!! second half, taking some of the themes from the first half but applying it to a new problem. I’m really enjoying the small changes so far. Rui was a true Gatchaman, even if JJ never gave him the power directly. Seeing him fully powered shows how he’s healed from Katze’s psychological damage. The ability to bring people together(through teleportation this time) makes so much sense for someone who so desperately wanted to use social media to enact change. This time, the threat is twofold. The potential danger of Crowds-level powers hinted at the very end of season one rears its head as a group which means to curtail the Crowds potentially devastating effects. There’s always the possibility there are ulterior motives at play. I could easily see their attempt to make Crowds unpopular being used to make Crowds only used by sinister elements. The new element, Gel’s Mood Ring power, has some potential for a lot of new social commentary. When people can easily see how another person feels, friction will develop quickly. Her preoccupation with unity is also troubling, implying she wishes all people to have the same mood at the same time. That obviously goes against the ideals Rui embraced by democratizing the Crowds at the end of last season.
With Tsubasa, it seems like we might see a clash of duty vs. desire. She has spoken loud and clear about what she wants out of life. Hajime’s Gatcha-ing (Awakening? Idno.) was a little graphic, but Tsubasa’s reminds me a lot of Rui’s awakening under Katze. She seemed violated as her soul Note was ripped out. By becoming a Gatchaman, she has been forced into a duty she did not want. Will she abandon her newfound comrades to pursue her own goals? She’s also not afraid to hurt people to reach her ends, threatening cameramen for simply being a little overzealous. Unlike Hajime, her emotions can change quite quickly. It will be interesting to see if she affects Hajime, or how the Hajime/Katze duality will play out the longer she is affected by him.