Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Gate: An Anime Review With Reservations

L-R: Tuka Luna Marceau, Youji Itami, Lelei La Lelena and Rory Mercury.

Gate: An Anime Review With Reservations

Caught wind of this on You Tube and decided to give it a go on Crunchityroll. And ... well ... some good ... some ... "bad".

First ... the plot:

A portal or gate (Hence the title.) materializes in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo. Out pours a midieval/Roman style fantasy army complete with goblins, freaks and flying dragons that attacks the people in the streets. The JSDF is called in, the police rally and the invaders are destroyed, the remainder either driven back beyond the gate or captured.

The Japanese government sends an expeditionary force to the now designated Special Region to retaliate and check things out for possible exploitation.

The show itself is about the (mis)adventures of Youji Itami and his unit in the Special Region. A slacker, otaku, and JSDF member (Who was off duty that day for a doujinshi convention.) who "Forrest Gumped" his way through the ranks.

Due to his fast thinking on that day drawing some blood and saving countless lives, he is promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and assigned to a recon team. The purpose of the team is of course recon but also "hearts and minds" with the locals.

Thus two seasons worth of "culture shock" on the part of both sides.

The pluses:

NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH THAT ... EXECRABLE ... STEINS' GATE. Which was a convoluted mess with a LOUD annoying jerk as lead character.

I don't usually go in for fantasy shows. The "magic" ends up as an overused plot device and degenerates into a sentai fighting show like Dragonball Z or Fullmetal Alchemist. So far it's been kept to a minimum. As this is also "sticks and stones" vs. modern military with magic taking a distant back seat, I rather liked it.

The one mage gets a basic chemistry book and uses the knowledge gained in supplementing her sorcery. A nice touch. She also buys a laptop and related software while on a diplomatic trip to Tokyo as an aid to her research.

The minuses:

The seemingly out of place goth lolita demi-goddess Rory Mercury character comes across like some "deus ex machina". Invincible "Mary Sue" types I find uninteresting.

Some of the action scenes, particularly the ones with Rory Mercury, are choppily edited. No sooner an image barely registers, it switches to another. Makes for an exercise in eyestrain, motion sickness and aggravation. So far this hasn't been done too much

This is, to me, one of those "Japan vs. the west" kind of shows. Sorta' kinda' like The Silent Service, Zipang or Starship Operators. This should come as no surprise as the original mangas' creator is a right winger.

The chief bad guys appear as blond and overbearing (Including the U.S. President. Donald Trump anyone?). Other blondes as cute and at times, ditzy (ex.: Tuka the elf babe.).

Cute critters show up (Cat girls, bunny babes, etc.). In a later episode so does a Tinkerbelle-like fairy (Thankfully for only a moment.). So far as I've seen, the cute isn't laid on too thick. The doujinshi goes slightly more in depth in passing about the empire discriminating against the elves, animal people and goblins. Yeah ... I give a pass on the pointy eared folk and cat babes, but goblins? ... No way! Yeah ... I discriminate ... And don't feel guilty at all about it.

It should be noted that Japan is, in spite of the assimilation of western tech and concepts/ideas, still a quite insular and institutionally racist country. Nothing wrong in that. After all ... It's what keeps Japan ... well ... Japan.

The infatuation and "marriage proposal" of an UNDERAGE princess with Japans' ambassador comes across as blatantly creepy. The ambassador, to his credit, thinks the better of it and the age of consent laws in Japan are cited. In spite of what any of you hentai fans who might be reading this may believe, age of consent laws over in Japan are brutally strict and woe to those caught indulging who shouldn't.

The emperors' daughter and her entourage, on a visit to Tokyo for negotiations become infatuated with fag comics, mistaking that mistake for high art. Yaoi ... Isn't that the sound they make when they ... never mind.

The U.S., Russia and China get involved hoping to one day gain access to the Special Region thus assassination attempts, blackmail and intrigue resulting.

As much as I like the shows' original premise of "sticks 'n stones" vs modern age, the imagery of an Asian army pushing around what appears to be a European culture doesn't sit well with me. Especially since that Asian military is using weapons that, for the most part, were designed and made by European people. It is a fantasy many Japanese have harbored (And even tried to fulfill from 1905 to 1945.) since Perry surprised them in 1853. Gate could be viewed as a "Perry in reverse".

As an aside, I see nothing wrong in Japan doubling the size of their present military AND PAYING FOR IT THEMSELVES. The Second World War has long been over. While Japan (And South Korea for that matter.) is part of the Chinese/Confucian "nexus", the hostility of one for the other, at present, keeps "blood calling to blood" in check. Anything short of nukes and Eva units I'm all for them having. :)


Am reading the manga online at kissmanga.com and have every intention of buying the discs when Sentai Filmworks sells it here.

All the same, I'll be watching/enjoying it somewhat "tongue in brain" so to speak.

Relax Itami! At 900+ she's of legal age. All the same ... RUN!

Go to Crunchyroll streaming anime here.

Go to episode One of Gate at Crunchyroll here.

Wikipedia article on the Gate franchise here.

Interesting little article about Gate and Japanese history, military and otherwise here.

Go to Jays' Tee Vee blog main page here. Any articles after this 'un, with or without cutesy crap, means you're already there!