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Sunday, March 16, 2014
[Review] Gatchaman Crowds
[ZOMBiE CyGiG] ranted at 5:16 PM --- Post#7595809055129943108

5/10: Satisfactory

Gatchaman Crowds is based on the original 1972 anime series, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, but the plot and setting takes place in modern day Japan. It is about a group of people given the special ability to transform to human sized meccha to protect Earth against an alien known as MESS. The MESS issue was solved early in the series, which leads to the appearance of the main antagonist, Berg Katze.

The anime series touch on several interesting ideas, one of which involves smart phones. People in the anime are using a social media network call GALAX (sounds familiar... like Samsung Galaxy?) which runs on X, an AI developed by Rui Ninomiya. Rui wants people to update the world (Facebook?) by turning real world problem into games. People will request for help, and then GALAX will look for people with relevant skills to help from data mining and ask if they want to. Success completion of the task gives scores and points.

The use of Galax gives rise to a problem of whether the world requires hero, like Gatchaman or if everyone is a hero, like GALAX users. In loose terms, this translates to if people should rely on authorities like the Police, Army and Government or that civilians should help out each other selflessly without reliance on authorities.
The anime portrayed GALAX users are being extroverts and outgoing, and not typical anti-social smart phone obsessed individuals. This kind of reminds of 3DS Streetpass feature which is essentially a form of social media, but requires near physical contact to work and not just from your keyboard. Could social media reach a point where it encourages social interaction beyond your screen?

Berg Katze uses distrust among humans to stir trouble, like replicating their looks and creating problem, to mislead people on GALAX. Rui in turn uses human's craving for reward to solve those problems. During the first few series, the new member Hajime insisted on putting down distrust and communicate with the alien life form MESS and then manage to end years of fight that way.The anime shows how fast human can react based on presented doubts and rewards, and how using some form of rewards from social media can help humanity achieve bigger success as a whole.

Despite the meaningful morals and ideas the anime presented, the story is generally boring and childish. There was almost no twist and almost everything was predictable. The storyline is very linear. Other than OD, Katze and Rui, most of the other characters are not developed well, including the protagonist, Hajime. The seriousness of the anime was broken by the painfully childish behaviour of Hajime. It seems like her optimism was rewarded simply because of luck, and not as though she had underlying plannings and clear objectives below her kiddish surface. Humour was poorly rendered to the point I have no idea if the director actually intended certain parts to be funny.

The artwork, although acceptable, was nothing special. At times, the lack of depth of field and shading makes the artwork flat to the point I have difficulty telling which part of the scene to focus on. The illustrations does not have much details, but is not clean enough to pass off as being minimalist. The use of mostly only pastel colour schemes for everything without accent does not help as well.The animation seems jerky at times from the lack of frames. Those are all wasted, considered the 3D rendering and animation of the transformed Gatchaman is awesome, detailed and smoothly animated. Not only that, the GALAX interface seems to be well designed and presented.

Overall, Gatchaman Crowds is an anime with potential depth referencing to the use of social media and humanity's reaction to distrust and rewards, but spoiled by poor art direction, storyline and character developments.

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