What They Say:
You can’t keep a good Gatchaman down, especially when a new organization called VAPE (short for Violent Ape) starts hijacking CROWDS technology.
The ensuing wave of “Red CROWDS” incidents targeting high profile targets like the Prime Minister make it clear that the good team needs to start recruiting; fast. Fortunately, help arrives quickly, and with a rather… loud entrance. The alien Gelsadra’s ship crashes in a rice paddy in Nijima! Besides being generally peaceful, Gelsadra has a unique power involving comic-book-like speech bubbles that display a person’s inner feelings, rather like an emoji. There’s also the fireworks enthusiast, Tsubasa, whose life becomes the focus of millions of viewers when she’s chosen as the newest Gatchaman – on nationwide live television! As if that wasn’t enough pressure for a teenage girl to handle, she’s also assigned Hajime as her mentor!
Will she survive? Will the world survive? Things are about to get really wild and crazy in GATCHAMAN CROWDS INSIGHT!
Set up in 2.0 Stereo English and Japanese, I didn’t encounter any audio issues with the show ass despite not being in a 5.1 release I didn’t need to adjust my settings for either language (discs 1 and 2 in English, disc 3 in Japanese) and there was no issues regarding in time or in sync with the subtitles and lipflaps so no audio/video clashes. Was surprised there was no 5.1 release those especially for quite a recent series so I wonder how better it could have been as the stereo release was quite good – especially when you get that mid-scene music singing ‘GATCHAMAN’ – the tunes are quite catchy to say the least…
Set on a standard 16:9 – 1.78:1 ratio over 3 discs which is the standard for most UK releases, visually, the show is very unique with its style of animation combining CGUI with it *which you can see when the Gatchaman/Sentai sequences occur, in a widescreen format, no picture issues with distortion when pausing and no freezing or syncing with the audio so a very quality release.
There was no packaging for this test release.
The menu is very basic, we have four of the main characters Tsubasa, Hajime, Gelsadra and O.D on the right hand side all smiles, above the menu which is on a red bar below them with the show’s title slightly above that. The selections are just languages (discs 2 and 3) and special features (disc 1 only) with no Play All feature – you select the first episode and that is your play all. One thing I noticed is that if you select subtitles manually when you do this via your systems set up (as there is no option in the languages menu, just English or Japanese with subtitles) if you have it as English then the next episode you have to do it again as it just defaults to standard English – a bit annoying especially if you are hard of hearing. Returns to the main menu easily enough and no real delay, just a feature which can be noticeable in the right circumstances.
The only extras are on the first disc with some trailers and the clean opening and closing.
The 2nd season/sequel to Gatchaman Crowds was released 2 years after the 1st season (both in Japan and with DVD releases in UK around the same time) is an interesting beast of a show. It doesn’t really have much in common with the original Gatchaman/Battle Of The Planets but it does its own thing with the super powered suits and their power up, whilst still keeping the sentai spirit with a more modern twist. It certainly wasn’t a bad series itself and I didn’t see it as an insult to the original Gatchaman, rather a unique variation which was a lot of fun. And the 2nd season does continue this trend for the most part.
You will most likely need to have seen the first season though the first episode of Insight does do a partial recap which is welcomed if for some reason you get this without seeing the original, going through how Rui helped make the CROWDS system and their victory over Berg Katze. Season 2 drops immediately though with a new threat called VAPE – an ‘evil’ Crowds if it were. Rui, Hajime and Joe all deal with it, but the aftermath is an alien appears to crash in the neighbouring area of Nijima, which leads us to the debut of the two new main characters, the alien who crashed named Gelsadra, and the young girl he crashed by, Tsubasa Misudachi, who is soon to become the latest member of the Gatchaman CROWDS, but the story’s focus on these two will drive the upcoming story for both better and worse…
You see, because of VAPE, the CROWDS system is getting less popular and with this affecting the current prime minister’s popularity (despite the Gatchaman saving him from VAPE) it leads to Tsubasa becoming a Gatchaman, whilst Gelsadra begins to look for a way to unite the planet. A few talk shows later and some conflicts between members of the Gatchaman and Rui over CROWDS, Hajime learns from a combination of J.J’s psychic abilities and former enemy Berg Katze (absorbed into Hajime’s body in the previous season) that the leader of VAPE is someone named Rizumu Suzuki, who believes that mankind is not ready to use the CROWDS system properly and is therefore against it. And with VAPE’s red CROWDS being stronger than Rui’s blue CROWDS and forcing the Gatchaman into action and also playing into Rizumu’s hand where he contacts Rui and forces him to give his NOTE (the physical manifestation of the spiritual powers which allows people to become Gatchaman) but instead of talking it out, nearly kills Rui (only saved by Tsubasa transforming for the first time, something she has trouble doing for most of the series) – however strangely before she and Gelsadra confront Rizumu, he surrenders, saying his job is done. Hmmmm….
With doubts over the CROWDS system, the prime minister resigns, wagering on a Smartphone election where anyone can be nominated to try and save the country. Whilst he initially seems ready to win again, a surprise happens when Gelsadra decides to run for it (transforming into his true adult form) – using his ability to read minds on what people actually want, the main one being to abolish the CROWDS system (much to Rui’s concern, yet other Gatchaman do agree with Gelsadra, namely Joe who begins to help him out though it is more to make sure people don’t get hurt than loyalty for Gelsadra) – and via Hajime, Rui discovers that Rizumu wants to show that CROWDS can destroy if their powers are exploited and when Gelsadra does win the vote, he concludes this was the worst possible outcome…
Gelsadra at first seems like the best option – walking around and meeting people (with Tsubasa as his bodyguard/friend – an interesting moment is when she meets with her great-grandfather who believes Gelsadra’s methods for peace in making everyone think the same will be disastrous) – Gelsandra leaves it to the people on his decisions as he basically becomes a one man cabinet, and leads to CROWDS being abolished. It seems like society is improving yet Gelsadra is becoming more and more ill due to not everyone thinking the same direction, so he asks if the public want to leave decisions just to him. This leads conflict between Tsubasa and the Gatcha-man, but as she resigns, Gelsadra’s thoughts he has absorbed he begins to throw up which brings up some strange creatures on the earth known as Kuu’s…
The Kuu are initially very friendly and seem to help sway everyone into posititivity, but when one of them actually swallows a friend of Joe (basically if they don’t feel the same way, they change their thoughts to one they don’t want or get swallowed) – despite their efforts to warn the public, the Gatchaman are seen as the enemy as they have their perfect world without conflict…but also without opinion. They were more mankind’s creation than Gelsadras forcing the Gatchaman to fight Gelsadra, but feels is too powerful. Hajime though finds Tsubasa who has another talk with her great-grandfather to see what he meant, whilst Rizumu feels his ideal world is now in action with Gelsdara taking the blame. It leads to an all out battle with the Gatchaman vs. the Kuu whilst suffering public desecration, despite the worst case being they’d have to kill Gelsadra – as that would make the public rethink and make their own choices. The finale is actually quite clever in how they do that via Hajime, the conflict with the Gatchaman and how they ‘kill’ Gelsadra…
The conflict is very interesting as it clearly shows a conflict of everyone having the same mentality for peace, yet also have the contrasting nature of shutting down peoples free will. The show itself definitely has it’s detractors from those who are fans of the original Gatchaman series, but as someone who has seen both, I am happy with it being its own thing. As how it works against the 1st season, it definitely expands better in terms of some characters (Hajime) and detracts from others (Rui = arguably the most important character in Season 1 is majorly downgraded in Season 2) – the plot is what drives it forward (aside from the catchy as heck music) but it uses two new characters for that outside of the old favourites…
The characters in question, Gelsandra and Tsubasa, you can argue maybe not as interesting as the initial roster, but at the same time do take over in terms of screen time and you do get to know their mentalities especially when conflicting with Rizumu, who is perhaps the only true villain of the piece (and considering what he does to Rui, he gets a lot of hate…) – Gelsandra is quite remarkable in his world as he is accepted quite readily and of course, becoming the first ever alien prime minister in Japan is the big story, and his ideals are one track but in its own way quite noble – wanting the world to be peaceful and trying to learn what everyone wants. Tsubasa is his conscience in this regard, which leads to her own conflicts in initially not being able to transform into Gatchaman, her talks with her great-grandfather on what is truly right, and her own characterization from basically being a yes-girl to Gelsandra, but developing and realising what is truly right…
The problem is that whilst I would recommend you would need to see the first season, the fact that the first season characters are incredibly downplayed makes this a show that really you need to be a fan of the new cast. Even Hajime is only a major plot point near the end of the arc, Rui is totally removed for most of the show, and the rest of the Gatchaman team are only in passing for the most part (Joe has a stealth like use throughout it and is the first to see what the Kuu can do) and the story really can be hit or miss depending on what you think of the idea and social commentary it is delivering. In today’s world, the idea that basically someone is trying to make everyone happy is great, but it is at the cost at people thinking the same mentality and if not, they get punished. Granted, that wasn’t what Gelsandra wanted in the end and indeed feels like he has to get punished, but it does flow through really rushed and whilst the story is told quite compact in the 13 episodes, it overall doesn’t feel it has the same strength and interest of the original season.
That said, there are still some fun moments – the music, animation and the incredibly hammy Berg-Katze being part of Hajime bring the smiles, Tsubasa herself is definitely a likeable enough character that has to learn what CROWDS and the Gatchaman stand for and does it the hard way, and Gelsandra whilst can be hit or miss, is an interesting play off the true villain in Rizumu. It certainly isn’t bad at all even if you are a fan of the original Gatchaman; it plays to its own strength and is its own series. Just whilst it isn’t the most disappointing sequel, it definitely has its problems which make it decent, but could have been so much better.
Insight is definitely one of those sequels that you can contest – you can be in the new characters camp are interesting and play off the old cast well, or the camp of the old characters are more fun and are sent to the sideline with a breaking social commentary of free will vs. peace. Whilst Tsubasa and Gelsandra do help a lot, it feels it is missing a lot after the first season. That said, the CROWDS story is intriguing, and there is a lot of good things both visually and audio wise to enjoy so it certainly is good as a sequel to Gatchaman Crowds, but fans of the original will not stay by it and whilst a good twist, not the one that really catches fire.
Clean opening, clean ending, trailers.
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C-
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: May 15th, 2017
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.