I’ll stand up and say, during the first few episodes of Gatchaman, I didn’t like Hajime. I thought here to be airheaded, and a little unbalanced. Over energetic, out of control, and almost disrespectful of the where she was at. But as this story has progressed, a method in her madness has emerged, and she’s become the one thing that just might not only save the Gatchaman, but her world as well. When we’re first introduced to Hajime, we find a loud, outgoing young high school girl. Her demeanor comes up in an almost carefree, airhead manner. It seems as though she walks through life without a care or worry. Her notebooks are the most important thing in life, and she has a different one for each task. All thought was “how on earth is she supposed to become a ‘Super Hero’”. This first impression honestly left a sour taste in my mouth.
But as the story progresses, we start to see a different side to her. First and foremost, is her ability to unite those around her. Her kind nature seems to unite her classmates to her cause in a moment of alarm. Without hesitation, and with the aid of GALAX, she rallies a force to her cause, and in the process, protects them all. It’s this leadership through camaraderie that rises to the surface that begins to show just who she is.
And this leadership extends beyond her school. Through her scrapbooking club, she converses and unites people far above her age and status. The heads of the Police and Fire give her a level of respect not often afforded to someone her age. In my own dealings with Public Safety groups, experience and knowledge brings respect and leadership. Hajime earns their ear through conversation and friendship. She even presses and questions them on why they don’t communicate better. Their willingness to engage with her in meaningful dialog is impressive. Not an easy task to accomplish with a set of hardened veterans.
But it’s her inquisitive nature that ultimately sets her apart from the traditional nature. In western comics, such as Batman, superheroes are driven through a sense of justice or revenge. With Hajime, you get sense that she truly, deeply, just wants to help people. She is unafraid and acts unabashedly in this goal. Episode after episode, she constantly questions the Gatchaman method. She questions why the Gatchaman don’t work together. She wonders why the Gatchaman don’t show themselves publicly. She is exposing the weaknesses in the Gatchaman strategy. And by all appearances, she acts not because she wants glory, but because of what can be accomplished when people believe there is someone who is there to selfless in their charity and efforts.
All of these elements come together in her transformation to her Gatchaman persona. Her weapon is a series of varying sized scissors. But, unlike her comrades, her power doesn’t destroy. Her scissors ‘cut’ loose those captured by the mess, freeing them from their captivity, while leaving the mess unharmed, and subdued. This compromise fits her persona perfectly. A solution that harms no one, yet accomplish the task set forth by the Gatchaman creed. And post separation, she shows this drive to communicate, and find a common ground with the Mess. She remains true to her convictions at every step, despite whatever norm they attempt to force her into.
The cliffhanger in episode 5 is the culmination of a series of events in prior episodes. It is Hajime in true form, acting on instinct, with the best intentions of those around her in mind. Her selflessness leads her straight into the thick of things, without a worry for her own well-being. While I did not take her seriously to begin with, I have found that her purpose and role as a catalyst for change is perfect. And it will be the one thing that sets this show apart from the standard hero-centric fare.
Be sure to check out these other great posts:
AniMinutes Episode 1 by Acostoss
Wanna Be Your Superhero: An Exploration of Artists and Heroic Desire in Anime by AJtheFourth