Gatchaman Crowds insight
Episode 4

by Nick Creamer,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Gatchaman Crowds insight ?

Tsubasa is… Tsubasa is a good kid.

She's doing her best. And in a different show, a simpler show about actual heroes and villains, her ways of tackling the world would actually do some good.

Unfortunately for Tsubasa, this is Gatchaman Crowds. There are no heroes and villains here - there is only power, society, and the ways power impacts society. Tsubasa and Gelsadra are both children, innocent idealists. Tsubasa believes that heroes don't need to think about the big picture, they just need to help people. Gelsadra thinks that because everyone ultimately “wants a world without conflict where no one is sad,” that's actually an attainable goal that wouldn't through its own pursuit cause conflict.

Gatchaman's other characters know better, or at least know more. Rui believed in communal charity, and nearly made the ultimate sacrifice for that ideal, ultimately chastising Tsubasa for interfering. Other people are less kind to Tsubasa's beliefs. Rizumu is happy to play the overt antagonist to Rui's idealism, saying as he's being taken away that “I'm your proof. Just look at me. Who's to say Ninomiya Rui won't end up like me?” And even Hajime admits that conflict is likely necessary - that challenging others brings about “beautiful sparks,” a new formation of ideas, and that people can't all be forced to get along.

But if conflict is inevitable, are the CROWDS too powerful for human hands? Jou seems to think so, and says as much in his explanation of the 2:6:2 theory that gives this episode its name. According to that theory, in any given society, 20% will act intelligently, 60% will act in an “average” way, and 20% will act foolishly. He believes that only 20% are currently using CROWDS correctly, and that unless that percentage jumps to include the general 60%, CROWDS could very well destroy society before it updates anything. Tsubasa thinks it's improper for heroes to think in terms like this - but Tsubasa doesn't seem to think it's proper for heroes to do much thinking at all. She asks Jou if she herself is included in that 20%, but it's obvious that Tsubasa is the “voice of the 60%” here. When she's asked who she's going to vote for in the upcoming Prime Minister election, she says she'll “just wait until the election and vote for who looks good at the time.” That may seem like an overly cynical appraisal, but the fact that presidential races remain at all in question right up to the final weeks of elections pretty handily demonstrates the fickle nature of people embracing their social power. People have a lot on their minds, anyway - can we really trust the average person to deeply consider the fate of the world?

Tsubasa can't even really keep her beliefs straight - her words to Jou run directly counter to her words on Millio's show, where she states that CROWDS probably are too dangerous. That's because Tsubasa's core beliefs are largely orthogonal to the question of social power - she believes in heroes and “doing the right thing” and “making people happy,” ephemeral ideas that interact awkwardly with the realities of power. Meanwhile, power does what power will, like in the case of Millio, who's ready to knock OD off his show in order to maintain ratings. In the context of the real world, "making the most people possible immediately happy" isn't some noble goal - it's the goal of daytime talk shows, who certainly aren't interested in solving intractable problems or achieving world peace. Tsubasa and Gelsadra are able to maintain their simplistic views because their views remain untested - but with the election of the highest office now completely in the hands of the people, and Gelsadra up for election, it might not even matter what happens with CROWDS. If CROWDS is just a metaphor for distributed, social power, then people already have all the “power” that truly matters. What that middle 60% does with their votes, and what Gelsadra might do when it becomes clear peace isn't just a state of mind, remain as up-in-the-air as Gel-chan's ephemeral mood-balloons.

This was an excellent episode that elaborated and challenged the core beliefs of Gatchaman's new characters without ever straying close to didacticism. It's frankly a pleasure to see all these very unique characters with their own diverse perspectives discuss things and challenge each other, even if this episode wasn't as focused or action-packed as the last. Gatchaman is moving towards some poignant new questions, and having the ship be steered by people as kind-hearted but naive as Tsubasa and Gel-chan actually makes for a great shift from the first season's Hajime-focused journey. This wasn't a highlight episode, but it was full of the kind of meaty conflicts that make Gatchaman Crowds such a singular show.

Rating: A-

Gatchaman Crowds insight is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.

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