Open Your Golden “Gate”

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This was an intriguing series, but the terseness of the first season means that there will be a second season (at the very least) to try and settle the problems that were both brought up and complicated in this show. This is “Gate: Jieitai Kano Chi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri “ (“Gate: The Self-Defense Forces Fight Like This in That Place”), although it just seems to be called “Gate”. It is either current times or a slightly distant future (like 2020 or something along those lines. Still no hoverboards). It is a wonderful afternoon in the Ginza Area and Yōji Itami (guy up there) is enjoying his day off. You see, he is a JSDF soldier, but he is also a hopeless otaku and is making his way to his favorite store for the latest and greatest in manga and anime.

Suddenly, a massive portal shows up, and I don’t mean like a pulsating spiral of pure evil, but a real archway. It almost looks Roman in construction and design and size. Look, it spans the street and is at least two stories tall, perhaps taller. Then, all of these nasty monsters start pouring out and attack the citizenry. Itami is ticked off, as he had places to go to, but now, he is pressed into service to help protect people and drive back the threat. Well, despite being monsters, these guys come off as medieval, with spears and arrows and swords, so they are no match for modern weaponry and are quickly dispatched (those that aren’t captured).

The decision is made to enter the portal and see what is on the other side, so a substantial force goes through. Needless to say, their arrival throws off the balance of power in this strange land where flying dragons, magical elves and demi-goddesses cavort about. The JSDF forces are attacked by the combined might of the other kingdoms here and the attackers are almost wiped out. OK, the people in charge are now thinking this was a bad idea, but what can they do? How long until THEY are all answering to someone else, like the Men in Green?

Since the JSDF wants to make nice with everyone, Itami and his crew go out to meet and greet the country folk, especially when they have to take down a fire-breathing dragon that has been ravaging the countryside. Along the way, they encounter, right to left, Tuka Luna Marceau, who is an elf and the sole survivor of her village from a dragon attack; Lelei La Rellena, who is a student to an elderly magician (she looks 15, but people age here differently) and Rory Mercury, a demigoddess who is 961 years old (but doesn’t look a day over 16) and the apostle of Emroy, a powerful deity. (The lady at the far left is one of Itami’s soldiers, Shino Kuribayashi, who gets along well with Rory, as they both have an appetite for destruction).

The series follows the misadventures of Itami and the JSDF, as they try and understand this odd land. Certainly his knowledge of fantasy manga help things along (with Lelei being an able translator) and how they just want to find out what is going on. They certainly do not want to have these people send along any more monsters into Japan. In trying to negotiate with Princess Piña Co Lada (put the lime in the coconut), there are more misadventures and goofs. You see, the JSDF does not want to conquer this land. That’s a lot of work and expenses and logistics and a load of headaches. But everyone else is in fear of the JSDF, as a couple of attack helicopters could lay waste to everything; thus negotiations are delicate.

And when royalty comes to visit Japan, the intrigue and deception goes far deeper. There are nations on our side that wish to exploit the Gate and those that live beyond, so we have an inevitable clash of forces on the horizon. This is the reason for the vague ending for Season One. There are some moments that cause puzzlement, but you have to understand that everyone and everybody walks a very thin line and a misunderstood word or an unexplained reason could cause a lot of problems. It is a good-looking show, although the ladies truly have large heraldic shields, especially the princess and her staff. Usually, I am not a fan of this caliber of culture clash fantasy, but they execute things well, so there’s rarely a slack moment. The second season holds the promise of more fighting, both on and off the battlefield, as everyone will have to understand what their specific part is in all of this, on either sides of the gate.

On a scale of 1 to 10:

Artwork           7 (Good character design but odd fashion choices)
Plot                  8 (I found it engrossing)
Pacing              7 (Action sequences are compelling, but some of the ‘softer’ moments get lost)
Effectiveness   7 (Pulled up too soon)
Conclusion      6 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service     2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)

Overall            8 (With a strong promise for season two)

And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. He’s a ranger and special forces member?

About The Droid

It took me about 40 years and seven valiant attempts to finally enjoy anime. Whether I grew into it or the stories got better, things have been percolating along since 2004.
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