Brexit, Trump’s presidency and the recent elections in France. Right now it is impossible to turn on the TV without getting swamped by politics, and not even Japanese animation can provide respite from the horrors of government. Take the second season of Gatchaman Crowds for example. Subtitled “Insight” this thirteen-episode follow-up to Tatsunoko Production’s 2013 hit deals with the Japanese electorate picking a red-faced alien to be their leader. Wow, talk about a bizarre plot. Gatchaman sure has changed a lot from the days were science ninjas beat up transgendered mutants in the seventies. Um… okay never mind. This franchise has always been weird.
Gatchaman Crowds Insight commences in the aftermath of the last series, which saw Japan’s populace adopt the use of Crowds. By tapping on an app people can now summon digital avatars to do their bidding. Crowds are employed to lend humanitarian aid during disasters and to help out with less important tasks such as scrubbing away graffiti. Not everyone is so benevolent though. A terrorist group called VAPE is using Crowds to commit acts of vandalism that would make an ANTIFA mob blush. Rizumu Suzuki, who leads VAPE, believes that the civil disobedience he orchestrates is making a point. It’s dangerous to give the masses control of advanced technology, because only twenty percent of the country is smart enough to use it responsibly.
The heroic Gatchaman eventually defeat VAPE, but the collateral damage caused by their battle is enough to convince Japan’s citizens that Crowds are a menace. A snap election is promptly held resulting in the abolition of Crowds and the crowning of a new prime minister. Gelsadra, an extra-terrestrial who recently landed on Earth, ends up securing the post of PM thanks to his charm and mind reading powers. By absorbing a person’s thought bubbles Gelsadra can instantly determine what the majority desire. More doctors, lower taxes and the sacking of corrupt senators are all approved in answer to Gelsadra’s daily referendums. Less tax? Sounds like my type of candidate… even if his bright skin and suspect hair remind me a little of Trump.
Despite his high approval rating Gelsadra laments how he is unable to make everyone happy. No matter how popular his policies are there is always a minority that vote against the proposed new laws. Human beings are individuals who each have their own set of values. With that in mind how can someone get an entire nation to agree on an idea? One solution is to eliminate the few dissenters who disagree with mainstream public opinion. Enter the Kuu – a race of entities who appear to be affiliated with Gelsadra. These carnivorous beasties patrol the streets on the lookout for contrarians. If you voice a viewpoint that goes against the grain watch out or else they will gobble you up. Gulp! I better think twice next time I argue that Makoto isn’t the best waifu in Persona 5.
My rating for Gatchaman Crowds Insight is a four out of five. Whether you end up enjoying the show or not should be pretty obvious. Anyone who liked the first season will lap up Insight, as it is more of the same. If you loathed Crowds, because it is radically different to seventies Gatchaman, you should probably give this series a miss. Based on my score you can ascertain that I am in the former camp. The story is clever and the aesthetics appeal to me. Insight’s visuals are vibrant, the use of cardboard cut outs in the opening is stylish and I dig the CG designs of the characters when they transform. The computer generated robotic armour looks way more badass than the campy bird suits worn by Ken Washio’s team back in the day.
One gripe I have with Insight is that heroine Hajime Ichinose continues to be a Mary Sue that can do no wrong. Her cheerful personality can be annoying at times, but on the plus side she has great knockers (which the camera zooms in on whenever she bickers with the evil alien trapped inside her body.) Thankfully Hajime doesn’t detract from the storyline’s message, which warns that mindlessly going with the flow is unwise. People should think for themselves and resist the influence of social media. One thing Insight taught me is that online voting is a terrible idea for general elections. Then again that much should be obvious based on Internet polls of the past. Anyone else remember when “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong” won the ballot to decide Mountain Dew’s new flavour?