A lot of our favorite properties are coming back to life lately. Â Berserk got a movie. Â Lupin the 3rd got a new show. Â And so it came that those plucky science ninjas Gatchaman were getting their own revival in the upcoming series Gatchaman Crowds…but at what cost…
1972 saw the release of one of the more influential animes to ever come out of Tatsunoko’s studios. Â Gatchaman was a show about five young superhero ninjas that tried to capture the new mystique of the “henshin” show genre popularized by Ishinomori’s new “Kamen Rider” series. Â A five person team, with colorful outfits, who transform with wrist devices and fight evil with the aid of a mentor figure. Â Sound familiar? Â Eventually a live-action show called “Gorenger” came along about three years later with a similar premise, and started the Super Sentai franchise in 1975.
Bottom line, Gatchaman might be responsible for this website. Â Gatchaman came overseas as “Battle of the Planets” and gained a cult following over the decades. Â Despite a few whispers of a movie being made, and one failed movie project, it still has cultural relevance thanks to it’s themes, mature overtones and plots and hard-hitting action. Â The legacy lived on in Jetman, another sentai series, in Power Rangers and in many more super hero shows in Japan and North America both. Â Now, Tatsunoko is reviving the franchise…and it looks like this.
The Mo~e revolution has come to Gatchaman, rendering Ken into a 16 year old girl named Hajime. Â Here’s her character description from Anime News Network: Â A powerful and energetic girl with an artistic spirit, she is a little bit strange in a good way. Â Totally generic.Â And look at them. Â There’s not a single heavy character in the group either, and there appears to be more than five of them. Â Gone is the Science Ninja side of the show, replaced with a generic “life energy” called NOTE that they used to fight the villains of an organization called MESS. Â All that’s left sciencewise seems to be the mech suits they use to fight, which haven’t been featured so far in the promotional material.
It seems to me that this Gatchaman was designed by committee; they took all the major tropes from popular anime of the past ten years or so and threw them together with the Gatchaman name on it. Â Maybe this show was meant to be something totally different, and got the name added to it to help sell it. Â Either way, the once distinctive and legacy forming look, feel, tone and story are all out the window in favor of cute, over-designed and poorly supported details. Â Hajime was created with her short skirts and cute poses for the hikikomori types, the figure collectors, the mo~e enthusiasts. Â She doesn’t inspire anything but physical attraction with her image at all, and even then, you have to reconcile that she’s 16 years old. Â The “young people are powerful” trope works great in Attack on Titan and Evangelion, even in the original Gatchaman. Â None of the designs featured in the above poster for Gatchaman Crowds have that atmosphere to them. It’s going to be another “everyone’s got powers” show with no heart, that drags a hastily exhumed property through the mud.
Legacy doesn’t have to exist forever. Â A good change, a stirring of the pot, will bring new life to old properties for sure. Â And there has been much good in the world from that. Â The remake of Double Dragon on Xbox (Double Dragon: Neon), awesome. Â The new Evangelion movies. Â Fantastic, all. Â But if Gatchaman Crowds does anything right going forwards it’ll be to surprise me with how good it is…since right now I don’t even want to watch a single minute of it. Â This new series looks schizophrenic and, based on the reading I’ve been able to do, poorly conceptualized. Â Was it a lack of love for the source material? Is it a push for profits from the otaku crowd? Â It feels like the answer may have been “Yes” to both, but without leaping into the heads of character designer Kimiko and director Kenji Nakamura it’s impossible to know. Â Will their gamble with the franchise take off? Â Will the proposed live-action movies stand up to the challenge of giving the world a “true” Gatchaman experience?
All we can do is wait, and hope. Â But I’d say it’s obvious Gatchaman Crowds is not classic in any way. Â And that’s no bueno.