12 Days of Anime #12: Gatchaman Crowds

If Tamako Market was the hidden sweetheart of 2013, then Gatchaman Crowds was the heavy weight boxing champion.

I think a good number of folk consider Gatchaman Crowds to be the best anime in 2013. Even those who ended up not liking it, would likely admit that it is very well made and quite meticulous in its story telling.

Gatchaman Crowds Intro

Hajime

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No discussion on Gatchaman Crowds is complete without talking about Hajime and a discussion about Hajime is basically a discussion on all of Gatchaman Crowds (she is that important).

Hajime is perfect. I mean that more so in the literal sense of the word.

It is not Hajime can do everything and anything, it is more that she always knows what to do for an ideal outcome.

Hajime can read people really, really well. Like, I wouldn’t even use the cliche “read people like a book” because that just doesn’t do justice to Hajime’s people reading abilities.

Beneath Hajime’s super happy, genki face lies an incredible amount of intuition and insight. It is the level of insight and intuition that would make “smart characters” like Kira and Lelouch quiver in their pants. Hajime is one of those characters who books a psychologist appointment because the psychologist needs help.

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Unlike other smart anime characters though, Hajime doesn’t let her feelings get in the way. She is able to make smart decisions with very little personal bias thrown in. This makes her quite scary because unlike Kira or Lelouch, Hajime doesn’t make mistakes.

The people in the Gacthaman Crowds universe should be very grateful Hajime is not a villain. I can picture her dancing atop the corpses of every human on the planet all the while yelling “KAWAII DESU” out at the clouds. People were scared of Berg Katze but Hajime would have been a far scarier villain.

That said, we all know she would never become a villain.

Even though she is more than capable of being manipulative, Hajime never manipulates people. She helps them discover what it is that they want to do. She doesn’t even go and outright tell them anything but instead she gives a pat or a kick on the back and pushes them out into the open.

It is almost tempting to think that she isn’t even a character. We, the viewers might always see her on screen a lot but when you think about it, she doesn’t actually do or experience much. There is little to no character development for her. For a lot of the important events in the show, she kind of stays in the background and encourages others to act.

Does Hajime even have a life of her own? Does she actually do stuff that doesn’t involve other people? Does she even have a family? These are all questions that linger at the back of our mind until we get to that one scene in the final episode when Hajime makes a phone call.

While preparing for her “date” with Berg Katze, Hajime makes a phone call to her mother and tells her mother that Hajime will stay Hajime and will always be herself. I have mixed feelings about the ending in general, but this was a poignant moment.

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It was the first time we got to see Hajime mention family and more importantly, it was the first time we got to see her assert herself. All along, she had been helping others find themselves and assert themselves but now it was her turn to do so and she did so with neither hesitation nor fear.

Learning from Hajime

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Hajime is an inspirational character for the other characters. All of them acknowledge as much throughout the series. Heck, the recap episode (episode 11) is basically just everyone complimenting and saying nice things about her. All of the characters learn something from her or because of her.

I think picking up a thing or two from Hajime shouldn’t just be limited to the cast of Gatchaman Crowds. We as the viewers can learn a thing or two from her as well. Here are three things that I think would be great to try and emulate even if we can only do them a fraction as well as she does.

Understanding that everyone has their own circumstances

I can’t quite remember when but sometime early on in the show, Sugane complains about grumpy people. In response, Hajime says something to the effect of “Well, maybe they are upset because they had a bad day or are having a hard time”.

Hajime understands that people have their own circumstances and she shouldn’t judge them just because of a bad initial impression. This reminds me of an incredibly overused, but always relevant quote.

Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.

-Scout Finch

It might not be terribly familiar in that form, but it is often paraphrased as “You can’t understand a man until you walk in his shoes”. It is a very common saying and while its essence is still intact, I find that some of its power is lost without character context.

For those of you who haven’t read “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Atticus Finch is a lawyer who risks his career and reputation by defending a black man in court. Given that the story is set in the 30s, just defending a black man shows a massive amount of understanding and compassion but that’s only scratching the surface.

Atticus isn’t just understanding of people of different races but he is also understanding of his enemies. I haven’t read the book in a while but as far as I can remember, Atticus never speaks badly about the prosecuting party nor does he speak badly of the villagers who mock him behind his back.

He understands that while these people might seem despicable from his perspective, he doesn’t have the right to judge them. He would only get that right if he lived their lives and came out a better person than them. This notion of trying to understand others is exactly why I love Atticus Finch so much and it is also what I like most about Hajime.

Hajime does not think badly of others. She doesn’t even hate or dislike Berg Katze. Or, perhaps it might be more accurate to say that despite her internal feelings, she tries her best to understand and help him.

In episode 12, Hajime meets Katze and asks him on a “date”. Her tone and voice sound a bit different here. She sounds serious for once.

I can’t tell if the slightly different nature of her tone is because she was actually angry at Katze and doing everything in her power to hold back her hate or because she was coming to terms with the seriousness of her upcoming actions.

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Either way, you can’t help but admire her. She went up to the biggest, baddest person around and said “Hey, I want to understand you a bit better and I want you to understand how to have fun without hurting people, so why don’t you merge with me and we can have fun together.”

Think about that for a second. Whether you agree with her decision or not, that took incredible guts. Hajime knew that you can’t understand someone until you spend a lot of time together so she pretty much sacrificed herself to get Katze to appreciate the simple things in life.

Having fun in nearly everything

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While other people obsess over power, work troubles, money and other things, Hajime likes simple things like Origami and stationary. She finds joy in the smallest of things.

Running away from reporters? Yup, that sounds like fun. Playing in the park? Yup, that sounds like fun. Making animals out of paper? Yup, that sounds like fun. Bought a new scissor? Yup, it is adorable.

I really like Hajime’s fun, fun nature. She enjoys life and does her best to make sure others enjoy it too.

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Her general viewpoint

It is hard to describe but Hajime has a very interesting perspective on things.

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Here is the tumblr source for the above collection.

Hajime cares about the little things in life like playing with kids, or teaching others how to fold paper. But, she never loses sight of the bigger picture. She knows that in order to bring about any big change, you need to start small and more importantly, you need to talk to/get along with other people.

It is a refreshing, optimistic perspective on things.

Hajime is also wonderful because she doesn’t care about the mean things other people say about her.

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Not relevant but this was an adorable scene.

Not relevant but this was an adorable scene.

Utsutsu was adorable and Hajime's adoration of Utsutsu  was adorable.

Utsutsu was adorable and Hajime’s adoration of Utsutsu was adorable.

OD

I am inspired by Hajime and enjoy her presence on screen but I think all of the good guys are great characters. Heck, even some of the side characters like the rescue staff or the Prime Minister are good as well. That said, OD is my absolute favorite character.

He holds the team together and is a constant source of support for everyone.

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He was the first person to understand Hajime’s way of doing things and more importantly, he was the first person to comprehend how valuable she actually was.

I am sure OD hated Berg Katze with a burning passion but OD refrained from saying bad things about Katze. OD probably warned the others about Katze but he never really expressed his hate for Katze.

Why? I like to think it is because he didn’t want to contaminate his friends with his hate or his desire for revenge and he didn’t really want to make them worry either. He was always on the lookout for their well being (especially Utsutsu’s well being).

It is not like OD is all nice either. When they go to the preschool for PR purposes, he yells at the reporters because they are acting like children.

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In the final episode, OD takes on Katze and ends up mortally wounded but he manages to secure Rui’s note. When OD appears in front of Rui, OD acts like nothing is wrong because he wants Rui to do whatever it is Rui needs to do. OD does not wish to distract Rui with undue stress and worry, so he acts like everything is normal.

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OD covers up his bloody sleeve, stands like he usually does, acts like he usually does, talks like he usually does and even congratulates Rui on a good catch.

I don’t know if Rui bought the act but it is OD’s final act. It is an incredibly heroic act and OD is able to pull it off because OD is a true hero.

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PostScript

I failed. Not only did I fail to publish the 12 posts on their respective days but I published this one a day late. It is not for lack of effort though. I tried quite hard but in the end, I was only able to squeeze 3 posts on Christmas Day and not the 4 I needed.

The astute readers among you might question why I made a post on Gatchaman Crowds the final 12 day post since most of the others were in a loose chronological order of sorts.

Well, it is partly because like Mushibugyo, I finished Gatchaman Crowds quite a bit after the air date (I actually marathoned episodes 7 to 12 on Tuesday just before I made #8).

The other reason this post is the last one is because I wanted to go with a bang and what better way to do that than with one of this year’s finest?

So, anyway thank you very much for sticking with me for this slightly bumpy 12 day ride. It is a bit late to wish you all a Merry Christmas but I hope you had a great one and I wish you a pleasant end to this year.

…and yes, this post’s opening analogy/comparison does not make sense.

Gatchaman Crowds Updated

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  1. #1 by torisunanohokori on December 27, 2013 - 4:19 am

    For me, the show was almost as much about Katze as a villain as it was Hajime as a hero – he was trying to get humanity to self-destruct while she was trying to get it to reach its potential. The scenes where they were just dialoguing were easily the best parts of the show.

    • #2 by Reiseng on December 28, 2013 - 4:09 am

      Yeah , you make a great point on that contrast. I wasn’t too much of a fan of Katze but he was pretty well written.

      And yes, the dialogue between him and Hajime was wonderful. It showed a strange amount of understanding and similarity between two polar opposites.

  2. #3 by Highway on December 27, 2013 - 2:42 pm

    While I loved Hajime as a character, the perfect girl who isn’t annoying, the Mary Sue that breaks the trope, the show overall I was a lot less positive about than you. I thought it devolved into too much of a mess, left too many things just kind of out there, and just was too unfocused. I don’t have a problem with how it ended, although I really disliked what it did with OD, but it was just kind of a waste. There’s no list that I’d have put Gatchaman Crowds near the top of, except maybe “wasted opportunity”.

    But Hajime was terrific. In fact, all the characters were terrific, although I’m not much of a fan of Berg-Katze. It’s just not a role or character type I particularly like. But things like Paiman’s fecklessness, Joe’s self-defeatism, Sugane’s evolution from being bound by others’ (made up) rules to living by his own rules due to Hajime’s prodding, and utsutsu’s determination to be something, even at great cost to herself were all great.

    • #4 by Reiseng on December 28, 2013 - 4:08 am

      Yeah, Hajime and everyone else was terrific. I would probably also have preferred it if OD did not die or at least did not die like that.

      I didn’t really think the show became too messy (it got a little convoluted though for sure) but that might be because I marathoned half of it in one day.

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