Anime — Gatchaman Crowds

I never expected to be watching Gatchaman Crowds back when it started streaming. I didn’t grow up with the original Battle of the Planets so I was lacking the nostalgia to initially draw me to it. But it turns out Crowds really has very little to do with the original Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, instead it’s a completely ground up rebuilding of the superhero team franchise.

What drew me in were the stylish animated gifs popping up on my Tumblr feed. The colors are so bright but not garish. All the characters looked expressive, unique, and endearing. I loaded up the first episode and found instead of the usual monster-of-the-week superhero action Gatchaman Crowds delved into questioning the place of a superhero team in a modern world, with nation-wide socialization via the internet and the crowd-sourcing of local labor. Definitely my kind of jam.

Character designer Kinako is now one of my favorite artists working in the industry. Her feel of colors, lines, and dynamic posing is beautiful to behold. I really recommend checking out her Twitter, where she happens to upload fanart and original character pieces often.

I was initially worried because the show had a plucky and outgoing female protagonist and I was dreading a harsh lesson-learning downfall being planned for her—but no, she gets to be a bright treasure through and through. I also had concerns because the show features a character who presents feminine in most instances but the story doesn’t make explicitly clear their preference on identification, so they can certainly be read as trans by fans. Through the whole rest of the season I was waiting for some kind of inevitable transphobic or trans-misogynistic element to rear its head. Luckily it never does! My trans friends who I’ve discussed the show with were all pleasantly surprised and thankful at the outcome.

Season 2 of the series has just started, called Gatchaman Crowds Insight. If you haven’t watched then now would be a good time to catch up (the show can be found on both Crunchyroll and Hulu)! Unfortunately us poor fans in the West do not have access to the Blu-Ray only Director’s Cut of the final episode (though the Bluray and DVDs are available to buy here), which I hear is much better at tying up loose ends. But since season 2 has already started up you can just jump to the helpful set-up episode 0 of that.