This is the part of the post where I lament that I can’t find the clip of “Just Don’t Look” from the sixth “Treehouse of Horror” episode of The Simpsons anywhere except somewhat shady sites that I don’t really trust. It’s totally relevant, because that’s basically how Berg-Katze is defeated in this episode! Just get Paul Anka to bust out a pleasing song in Japanese and you’re golden. The moment people stop paying attention to Berg-Katze’s violent outbursts is when all the power simply fades away. Not so exciting from a big action set piece standpoint, but there you go.
I do like that the conclusion acknowledges humanity’s negative points but employs them in a positive manner. We’re easily distracted by really dumb things (I’ve been blogging for four years now, so you know I’m easily distracted by dumb shit), and if something doesn’t immediately affect us, we tend not to care about it (like American reactions to international events, for instance). Berg-Katze’s transition from supermenace to yesterday’s news is probably a bit quick and convenient, but it feels appropriate given how much of the series is steeped in our beloved Internets. Think of it as Berg-Katze going from the latest Internet meme to cat video from five years ago. Maybe people will look back on Berg and feel all nostalgic and fuzzy inside, but they don’t particularly care anymore.
Whatever behind the scenes issues occurred likely made all this too quick and seemingly easy. I enjoyed the ending, and even I was like, “Wow, Berg-Katze sure got wrecked without that much trouble.” I definitely didn’t expect a big action spectacle, because that would run counter to the entire point of the series, but the fight between Berg and OD feels like the series trying to meet the people interested in the message and people interested in good spectacle halfway. Cool as the conflict is (I didn’t expect Berg to have a Gatchaman suit!), it doesn’t feel totally substantial. But that’s probably the point — the Big Fight is never meant to be the solution to the problem. It helps provide a useful tool (Rui regains control of GALAX), and it puts Berg-Katze out of commission long enough for everyone to stabalize the situation. Conflict can help; ultimately, though, it’s the efforts of the population working toward production that ends the crisis, even if that population is motivated by rankings. (The most unrealistic part of the end sequence is nobody getting pissed about getting enough points to be the No. 1 do-gooder.)
Other things! I admit to expecting the MESS to contribute to the cause in some way during the finale (and, who knows, maybe they would have given a less chaotic production?), and one of the common criticisms I’ve read of the finale is “lol MESS so fuckin’ useless.” Perhaps this is simply my rationalization, but the only reason I can see for the MESS to exist is that “pointlessness” is their point. They represent the old type of villain in this sort of series, a mysterious, inscrutable villain that uses humanity for some unfathomable purpose — except they’re actually some benign, colorful cubes that just sort of float there and this was really a huge misunderstanding. Their ultimate purpose is to kickstart the theme of communication over blind action, and that’s really it. Where were they the rest of the time? Probably toking it up with JJ.
Ah, JJ. Another common source of complaint in this episode. Having an issue with the MESS and how they’re used is understandable to me, but JJ less so. We had multiple scenes in the series where the entire point is that the Gatchaman folks are doing things on their own and taking their destinies into their own hands rather than waiting for JJ to take action and give orders. That’s Pai-Pai’s entire character arc — gaining the courage to take risks and assume responsibility for his actions rather than hiding in the shadow of an authority figure. JJ was never going to do shit in the finale, because, again, that would have run counter to literally everything else in the series up to that point. Never leave your life in the hands of a pothead god, yo.
Back to other things: I enjoy the uncertainty of the resolution. Our beloved Interwebs are a powerful tool that is as likely to do good as it is to be exploited for terrible things. I know the prime minister is trying to be all young and hip now, but damn, man, don’t trust your policy progression to everyone on the Internet! At least we know what we’ll get: Any time someone speaks out against verbal abuse, it’s punishable by the death penalty because CENSORSHIP; Bitcoins are the official world currency; and Japanese porn is no longer mosaic’d. The three tenets of a healthy society. But yes, given that people have the capacity for good, evil and dumb things in between, democratizing these powers tools helps but isn’t a cure-all by any means. There is always work left to do.
Overall, I quite enjoyed Crowds despite the issues in the series as a whole and the finale in particular. I’m not sure it will be one of my absolute OMG favorites of the year, because it doesn’t totally get me in my gut (and I’m way biased to those shows), but it’s fun to think about and deals with shit I’m interested in, albeit with bumps along the way. Also, Hajime has a duck backpack.
P.S. I enjoyed this post about the finale, particularly in regards to the visual analysis, and I totally would have cribbed from it were I a more shameless person.