To fuck up everyone on the set of Game of Thrones.
I’m a little too busy following the presidential campaign and Tokyo earthquakes and my own career to pay attention to Japan’s military situation, but from what I can gather, they’re starting to recover from choosing the wrong side in WWII and they have a bit of a hissy fit when China enters their eye. So I couldn’t really tell you how accurate Gate is in representing their defense forces or if it’s all that successful at recruiting otaku to join the JSDF, but speaking as someone who refuses to join the military on account of how I wouldn’t survive ten seconds in a Full Metal Jacket camp, I can safely say that if the show had been about Americans overpowering Middle-Earth with nukes, I’d think “how fucking stupid do you think I am?”. It’s the fact that I never feel the soldiers are in any danger that’s always gotten to me about Gate. There’s nothing fun about conflicts when either side has an advantage over each other so large it makes the San Andreas fault look like a housefly. I make fun of Harry Potter for never introducing guns in the war against Voldemort, but let’s be honest with ourselves. It wouldn’t have made good fiction, and it would have made things a lot more tediously complicated.
Having said that, is there really no person equivalent to Rory’s fighting abilities and status on the fantasy people’s side? If a foreign country can recruit a demon without too much trouble, I’m sure the homeland country can interest her sister with something.
So Gate 2 pretty much picks off where Gate 1 left off, except not really because I remember the first half ending with the characters agreeing to fight some dragons and that doesn’t happen until a few episodes into this cour. There’s not really much in here that’s changed between halves either. It’s still a bunch of military propaganda saying “join us now. We have cute girls and we are the most powerful force in the world, so you don’t have to worry about getting killed and you can do your otaku hobbies during break”. The fantasy people are pretty much just a bunch of idiots who couldn’t put up a good fight against a machine gun to save their lives. And the production is still fine, although I’m getting annoyed at how all A-1 Pictures’ character designs have the same flatness to their style like they hired the Sword Art Online character designer for every single thing they work on.
The show doesn’t really do a whole lot to ramp things up in this cour either. As expected from light novel land, the plot is pretty much just a bunch of interchangeable conflicts that are supposed to give off a sense of progression, but I call it a desperate attempt to cover up the fact that you’re not going to change the status quo. Occasionally, one of the three female fantasy characters on Itami’s side will face a personal conflict, but it’s always for the character’s sake and never for the story’s. I don’t really understand how the elf girl’s amnesia plotline really added to anything, nor do I understand what Rory contributes being an overpowered being on a side that’s already overpowered. In fact, I don’t think Itami goes through any sort of character arc either in this show, despite being the main character. The story ends with him resuming his daily life, only to get annoyed when the fantasy girls tag along, which is an ending that would get laughed at if any military movie in the States pulled that shit.
Anyways, whilst I’ve sort of accepted Gate’s stupidity by the time I got to watching the series, it still fails without the nationalism angle because it’s just boring and uncreative with the conflicts in general. As I said before regarding Marvel stuff, as well as critically acclaimed action films like Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Nice Guys to a lesser extent, I don’t like conflicts where the villains the good guys have to face are something I could have scraped off a first draft for a Silver Age comic book or a Ubisoft game. Not a single person that Itami’s crew has to face are the least bit memorable, and they’re so ill-equipped to fight them anyways that it doesn’t really make much of a difference. Plus, when you’re basically making dragons extinct with fighter jets, there’s really not a whole lot you can do to raise the stakes any higher.
This is particularly true during the final fight, where I don’t think the opposing side put a scratch on any of our heroes. Itami and his mini-harem pretty much slaughter the giants, walk out with the princess, and then the show just ends with what I assume is the main villain swearing revenge. I know the novel series is still going, but I wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t look it up, because that finale sure seemed to assume that there was nothing left to say. And before you ask, no I don’t remember who the main villain was and I don’t care to look him up. I can’t even remember if he was the guy who was raping princesses with bunny ears or not. That’s how little an impact that guy had.
I guess Gate will be your thing if you like the idea of meshing fantasy and military together in the same way that most people like Space Jam because they like the idea of NBA Basketball and the Looney Tunes coexisting with each other, in which case fuck you guys because that movie was terrible and I have no idea why we’re getting a sequel or roping the director of the good Fast & Furious movies into the thing. Also, given how much Rory fan art I see out there – a good chunk from people who haven’t seen the show no less – I think it’s pretty clear who’s the heart of this thing. But in all seriousness, the idea does have potential for exploring the dangers of technological gaps in the same vein that the Tales of Symphonia sequel attempted to do between its wildly different lands, and if Gate had focused on that, I might have been interested. Hell, if there was a scene where one of these cat-eared girls discovers the existence of a flamethrower and tests it out, that would have been cute enough. Instead, we just get military propaganda within the realm of a fantasy setting, and neither side really does much to stand out from the rest of the pack by themselves, let alone with each other.
Considering I don’t like fantasy stories or military stuff, I’m not even sure why I’m still dwelling on Gate. Might as well just wrap things up and go watch something on Netflix. I heard Lady Dynamite is pretty decent, although these post-modern comedies are getting kinda same-y to me.
- Actually watched Lady Dynamite since initially writing this review and I didn’t think it was very funny.
- Number of anime A-1 Pictures have made at this point: Over 70.
- Number of them that are actually good: Still zero.