Gate has a premise that has been done countless times before. Random mystical gateway opens up – in Japan, of course – and hostile forces appear. What makes Gate different is that we win. Handily. The initial invasion force gets utterly slaughtered (once the military responds anyways – at first, civilians suffer from this surprise attack) and then the Japanese government has to decide what to do about it.
Their decision? Send the Self-Defense Force beyond the gate and attempt to establish control. But what are they going to find on the other side, and how will this strange gate effect everything?
Well, what they find… is a very medieval fantasy world. Full of dragons, Elves, magic, knights, and no technology to speak of. Naturally, taking control of the other side of the gate is beyond easy with tanks and guns. The knights and warriors of what is dubbed the ‘Special Region’ are completely unable to do anything against modern weaponry, with thousands and thousands of warriors dying without getting anywhere near the gate. The only issues they run into are some of the larger native species, specifically the dragons which are compared to ‘flying tanks’.
Just based on the above… you might think we’re in for another pretty standard war story. And we might have been, if not for our main character Itami Yoji. Itami is an incredibly interesting character: he’s a very outspoken otaku, but without becoming the stereotypical unproductive, undesirable, perverted character we so often see. He represents a closer reality… like most of us, he does as well as he can at his job so that he can live for his hobbies. He works to live, he does not live to work. And I really enjoyed watching him develop as a character.
But he’s not alone. The rest of the cast proves interesting as well. His supporting soldiers, Kuribayashi Shino, Kurata Takeo, and Tomita Akira, round out the more… normal… cast very well. Kurata gives him someone to talk ‘nerd’ to, as he is another otaku himself – albeit, a bit more perverted than Itami. Watching the two of them react to this fantasy world that is practically plucked straight from their hobbies is simply fantastic. But Kuribayashi’s disdain for their hobby and suspicion of their motives in every action they take offers a comedic counterpoint to it without seeming like pure comic relief.
And, we have our Special Region characters, who are also fantastic and offer a wide variety of personalities. Princess Pina Co Lada (ya, that’s her real name), Rory Mercury, Tuka Luna Marceau, and Lelei La Rellena are all amazingly well-crafted characters who offer a great fantasy counterpoint to the other cast members. Rory, in particular, is hilarious and awesome. You see… Rory is the apostle of Emloy, the God of Death (among other things), which is a title that means significantly more than you might think. She’s nearly 1000 years old and practically immortal but looks like a teenager in a Gothic Lolita style dress with a giant scythe. In a show that were focused on action, this overpowered “young” lady would be a detriment… but with Gate focused elsewhere, she becomes a fascinating character who has a hilarious attitude and offers a unique facet to the show’s action segments.
Now, we’ve said a lot about the characters and not a lot else, but that is because this show is primarily a character driven show. It has its fair share of action, and the action that is there is very good, but the Self-Defense Force was not ordered to take over the Special Region. They were ordered to be diplomatic… to try to win the friendship and allegiance of the people there. And this makes the specific cast so important. Since we’re focused on character and world building, with a minor focus on political intrigue, this strange and well-built cast becomes such a benefit for this show.
I was really blown away by the presentation of this show as well. Visually, it’s incredible. The backdrops are stunning and the animations are clean. It wasn’t until I started thinking back that I realized just how good the visuals are, to be honest. They simply look right. Additionally, the music design is good and the voice acting was spectacular.
Gate did something that I haven’t seen in a while, and I was glad that I hadn’t… Gate acts as though it has a second season ready to follow immediately after despite it merely ending. Fortunately, a second season, or rather a completion of the first season, is slated for this coming Winter.