The first season of Gatchaman Crowds was very ambitious when it came to the story and the themes. The second season, Gatchaman Crowds Insight, was in some ways even more ambitious. And that makes it a difficult show to write about, because I have a feeling that no matter what I say, someone would take it the wrong way, think I misunderstood the point of the show or tell me that I’m misrepresenting the show. This doesn’t mean that I think it’s an impossible show to write about. On the contrary, there’s a lot to talk about when it comes to Gatchaman. I just happen to think that I’m not the best person to talk about it. (Instead, this article and this one are just a small fraction of the good posts regarding the themes of Gatchaman Crowds.)
My initial and main reason for liking Gatchaman Crowds was, and still is, its quirkiness. That’s not to say that I just think “lol so random” and dismiss the themes altogether, because I did enjoy following the story and the themes, but what I liked the most was all the little things, like JJ’s cryptic messages, the OP with its combination of live-action, hand-drawn art and computer graphics(which was one-upped by the OP of Insight), the soundtrack by Taku Iwasaki(who I learned to love through this show in particular) and the characters. Hajime in particular, though I may have been a bit too hyperbolic about her in the past. Hajime may not be the best character in the history of anime(see, hyperbolic), but as an element, from a particular anime, that I’d like to see more of, she’s near the top. I just enjoyed watching her interact with all the other characters and the world.
I can’t not mention the story and themes at all, though. The thing about the show that stood out to me the most was how it embraced the idea behind cutting-edge technology and social media. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing, and whether the show did a good job of showing the advantages and disadvantages of the technology it embraced, those are questions that other people have already answered better than I ever could, but I was particularly intrigued by how Hajime, who is undoubtedly the protagonist of the story, also embraces the technology and social media, even more so perhaps than the other characters and the people in the show in general. Considering the fact that the impression I’ve gotten from anime in general(i.e. stereotypically) is that older technology and low-tech lifestyles are romanticised a lot. That’s not to say that high-tech stuff is necessarily made to look bad or evil in contrast, but some genres of anime, especially slice of life, seem to revolve around the theme of carefree and picturesque life, without excessive use of computers, mobile phones and the like. As for action shows, the heroes in these often have to rely on old and outdated technology(especially often in mecha shows) to defeat their superiorly equipped foes.
And maybe that’s why Gatchaman Crowds is so divisive. It takes a fairly widespread and almost all-encompassing trope and turns it on its head. And not only that, but it then takes that upside-down trope and uses it for good and evil in situations that are easily relatable to real life phenomena. So, no wonder that there’s so much to say about the show, and no wonder that people have such different opinions of it.