Gatchaman Crowds insight
by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Gatchaman Crowds insight ?
All hail Prime Minister Gelsadra. The election is finished, the votes are in, and Japan has elected its first alien prime minister. It's a momentous occasion, and everyone's very excited - most of all Gelsadra and Tsubasa, who are eager to get to work uniting everyone. But what does “uniting everyone” actually mean? Is it possible, or even desirable? Can Tsubasa's desire for peace truly bring about a better world?
The answer, of course, is “no no no oh god what are you two doing this will all end in tears.” This was a low-key and positive episode in tone, full of endearing scenes of Gelsadra and Tsubasa doing their best to acclimate to their new responsibilities, but their every choice had a hint of unintentional menace behind it. The episode opened with some lovely establishing shots of Japan in the summer heat before moving to a conversation between Tsubasa and Hajime, where Hajime declared that “Tsubasa's not a Gatchaman yet. She's just Tsubasa.” Tsubasa doesn't really fight for a coherent ideal - unlike Jou and Rui, who've been forced to follow their philosophies to their endpoint, Tsubasa just does what feels right at the time. She runs on mood, and that makes this her hour; as this episode consistently repeated, right now everyone is embracing that “positive atmosphere” Jou abused to get Gelsadra into office.
Well, except for the politicians. Gelsadra's unlikely victory didn't make him too many friends in the Diet, as a very funny early scene of Gel-chan gamely fielding political hecklers demonstrated. Confused by their double-faced nature, Gelsadra learns from Sugayama that “politicians aren't the ones making this country what it is. Everyone is!” And so, taking those words to heart, Gelsadra and Tsubasa head out to learn what “everyone” thinks.
That choice led into the middle act of this episode, where Gel-chan and Tsubasa engaged in a bunch of endearing conversations with people all around Japan. These scenes really let Gatchaman spread its aesthetic muscles - this episode was full of lovely painted backgrounds depicting rural towns and beautiful lakes, which combined with some upbeat music and the sounds of cicadas to strongly evoke the sense of a lazy summer. As Gel-chan and Tsubasa made friends with locals and helped Gelsadra's finger-salute catch on (two fingers pressed together, the opposite of Hajime's), you could almost forget that their ultimate plan boils down to “make everyone happy, because that's definitely possible.”
Fortunately, Tsubasa at least has her grandfather to try and set her straight. As everyone else applauded Tsubasa and Gelsadra for their positive spirit, following the mood of the day, Tsubasa's grandfather remained consistent in his thoughts and words. In response to Tsubasa's vague “I want to protect peace with Gel-chan,” he responded “what is peace to you?” In response to her statement that they're already united, he flatly stated “no. I'm me,” proving the weakness of her philosophy in one stroke. “What if there are people who don't think like you,” he asked, prompting the frankly terrifying response “then I'll just try harder until they do!” Tsubasa's so sure she's right that she simply assumes it's just a lack of effort or understanding that keeps everyone else from thinking the way she does. She is a textbook ideologue, and she is a child. Driven to a bitter temper, Tsubasa lashed out with “what do you know? You just stare at a shogi board all day!” And the camera focused not on her grandfather, but on his thought bubble - unchanged by her words, consistent always. While Tsubasa rides on moods and shifts her feelings constantly, her grandfather is secure in who he is. And instead of actually taking his criticisms to heart, Tsubasa simply shifted on mood again - one deep breath outside, and she felt much better, no self-reflection required.
If that scene represented this episode's ideological fears on an individual level, the following ones put them in national terms. In response to the wishes of everyone, Gelsadra dissolved the cabinet altogether, replacing it with a new mandate based on transparency and constant popular votes. Holding cabinet meetings on the park, the use of Millio's show hammered in the fact that Gelsadra had essentially turned politics into a game show, complete with dramatic reveals of new policies. Gelsadra wants to hear the voices of everyone, but the reason politics are not game shows (or at least shouldn't be) is because governance requires expertise. People don't actually have the knowledge base to self-govern in this way - like Gatchaman's first season cautioned, we still need public officials, people qualified to do “what only they can do.” Gelsadra's version of a horizontal society is a dangerous sham.
Hajime confronts him on this near the episode's ending, in her usual mild-mannered way. “You said before that the bubbles are what people are thinking,” she says. “What does yours look like?” Gelsadra claims to be creating a society where everyone is united, but there are still hierarchies here. Gelsadra doesn't show his own bubble, and his force of personality and public position means he guides discussions even if people are allowed to “vote on it.” Voting doesn't matter if people just follow the mood, and no country of individuals can be so universally informed as to avoid that scenario. It's 20-60-20 all over again, with Rui making pleas about the potential of CROWDS to people who cast nationally relevant legislation on the basis of “CROWDS is so out now.” Gelsadra has successfully created a nation of empty good feelings. I can't wait to see what horrible thing he does next.
This episode wasn't quite as much of a highlight as last week's, but it was still whip-smart, and its more low-key pace allowed the show to demonstrate more of its often-overlooked aesthetic strengths. Gatchaman Crowds insight continues to challenge everything the first season established, making villains of heroes and tyrants of the common people.
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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