The story is set in Japan in the early summer of 2015. 180,000 people live in Tachikawa City, the “second metropolis” of the Tokyo area. Among them are “Gatchaman”—warriors who fight in special reinforced suits powered by “NOTE,” the manifestation of special spiritual powers in living beings. A council has scouted a group of individuals with latent powers to protect Earth from alien criminals. In recent years, the council has assigned Gatchaman warriors to deal with the mysterious entity known as “MESS.”
The plot for Gatchaman Crowds is quite unusual both in its content and delivery. From the first episode I expected a sort of simple superhero team story, Gatchaman rushing to the rescue of people in need from nefarious threats. That’s really not how it unfolds though, or at least not what is at all in the focus. In fact, throughout much of the first half, all of the Gatchaman seem kind of pushed aside. The story instead chooses to focus on a hot new social networking tool called GALAX and its developer, a crossdressing boy named Rui. Extensive time is spent with Rui, who becomes one of the better developed characters in the series; more deep and interestingly defined in fact than most of the Gatchaman. With GALAX, Rui hopes to “update” the world into a utopia where people are always connected and available to rely on each other no matter the situation. However, working toward his dream came at the cost of becoming entangled with a disturbing and malevolent force of evil.
It’s all pretty compelling, though for a few episodes I wasn’t really sure how it all was going to actually involve the Gatchaman in any real way. Recent episodes have set up a sort of power of the collective vs. power of the individual theme, however, and it’s starting to sort of fall into place to a degree. It’s quite the interesting story, but it’s still at the point where it needs to come together at least a little more.