Post Reply Review: GATE Season 2
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Posted 3/2/16 , edited 3/8/16
Review by: Zeroguki

GATE left us last season with a variety of dangling plot points and the promise of further adventures, and it doesn't disappoint now that it's back. The second season does an excellent job of delivering the same mix of fantasy and military action, classy fanservice, unique characters, and a dash of politics. The story of a military excursion into a fantasy world after a portal opens up in Ginza, GATE has built up quite a world in a short time, and it wastes no time in taking us on a deeper dive into it in these new episodes.



Itami and his gang of fantasy girls are back, of course, and there are new antagonists, including Princess Pina's brother Zorzal. His introduction is certainly memorable, and will no doubt crystalize most viewer's opinion of him right away. Luckily, the JSDF sees him for who he is as well, leading to a truly excellent action setpiece in episode 14, starring female soldier Kobayashi. She's not the only side character to get development -- in fact, in some ways, it seems that the second season is going out of it's way to develop the supporting cast and enrich the world. There's nothing wrong with some time away from Itami, of course, and it only heightens the stakes for the other characters.



On the fantasy side of things, there's new character Tyuule, also sure to make an impression. She's all over the opening sequence, so her every appearance in the main series instantly sticks out. Her exact place in the series isn't clear to me yet, but between her origins as the queen of the race of rabbit people we've seen a few times and her plots to overthrow the Empire, she's certainly a fascinating addition to the cast.

The JSDF, while still as badass as ever, seems more comfortable plotting and planning, using strategy to achieve their goals. Itami is still a moral guidepost, but some of his comrades aren't quite as sentimental as he is. Even though they share common interests and goals, there are parties willing to use different tactics than Itami's straightforwardness. Something refreshing about the series is it's ability to appreciate both approaches.



A good example is in episode 16, where we get to see Itami at his most straightforward, taking just himself and the girls, including last year's late addition Yao, to fight the fire dragon that so thoroughly menaced his unit last time. At the same time, Yanagida is negotiating to make sure his mission goes smoothly with the military brass and doesn't cause any (additional) problems with Special Region political players. He even manages, in his own style, to secure additional resources for the SDF. All that in the same episode with a major action sequence that ends on a cliffhanger with two prominent side characters clinging to life! It's exactly that kind of stuffed to the gills, breakneck storytelling that made GATE so much fun in its first season, and it's no different now.

It's also the only anime this year, that, to my knowledge features fighter jets and rocket launchers being used to fight a dragon. If that's not enough to get you to watch, I can't help you. Even if everything else wasn't so much fun, and it is, that'd be worth the price of admission.
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Posted 3/3/16 , edited 3/4/16
More Rory!!

Possibly my favorite feature of this anime is the girls can be badass without being ridiculous . . .
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Posted 3/4/16
This is my favorite anime this season... I have been trying to wait until I can watch it all the way. Good Review!
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Posted 3/4/16
So, never noticed this was Season 2, I think I just don't look over that kind of details, anyway, agreed with above posts, MORE RORY PLEASE!
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Posted 3/4/16
Been a fan since it hit the streams. A real clever premise, with interesting characters, and an entertaining storyline. One of my Top Three this season.
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Posted 3/4/16
I agree on all points, the scene with the JSDF fighter jets taking on the dragon was not only AWESOME but funny. When one of the jets charged the dragon and then the scene suddenly changed to afterwards with his jet all burned up... I couldn't help but laugh at the situation. GATE has a healthy balance of all aspects that make an anime a good one.
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Posted 3/7/16
Definitely a great show. I started it because I was commissioned to make Rory's axe for a cosplay and I've been hooked ever since. I can't wait for Fridays! As bad ass as Rory is, I love Lelei's calm nature and her ability to fight as well as any of them. The love quadrangle with Itami is cringe-worthy in a good way. I kinda feel bad for him....lol.
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Posted 3/7/16
Good review! I'm greatly enjoying the development of more characters and the exploration of deeper political maneuverings--it adds depth to an already mature series. All that aside, more Rory, please!
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Posted 3/8/16 , edited 3/8/16

PeripheralVisionary wrote:

Even though I somewhat disagree with it, good review.


Would it be too much to ask what points you disagree on? I'm curious, because I also have a couple issues with the current season (not the review, though).


WolfBehkXYZ wrote:

So, never noticed this was Season 2, I think I just don't look over that kind of details, anyway, agreed with above posts, MORE RORY PLEASE!



Actually, it isn't a season 2. The cour was just split because of some internal issues in A-1 during it's initial Summer 2015 run. The had to modify the 12th episode to make way for a season transition, even though that episode was already the start for the Fire Dragon arc. But for the sake of minimizing confusion, they simply refer to it as Season 2 since the continuing episodes aired on a different cour.
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Posted 3/8/16
I'm just gonna say that this has been the best (to me) overall show of 2015-2016 (so far)

It is the ONE show I refuse to miss an episode of or wait to watch.
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Posted 3/8/16 , edited 3/8/16

PeripheralVisionary wrote:

Now I think it would be wrong to say weak women are sexist, because there are weak women, and one shouldn't assume malicious or underhanded intent because a story features them. My point? The problem is when you idealize or demonize a militaristic or political group, but then you don't know their intent or what political leanings the author may have. Perhaps he just wants to tell a good story and for a lack of a better protagonists decides to use one people may dislike. Now, as an American, our army is one of the most influential forces in the world. Now this can work well, especially in a patriotic or satirical sense, such as American Dad or Independence day. Otherwise it just feels like the worst sort of product placement. I've seen it with other animes too. Certain animes trying to advertise small towns as tourist attractions begin to pop up, so why can't an anime advertise the Japanese military? I regret my words. I should watch more of season 1 if I want to get a full grasp of the situation.

Here's the thing I am miffed about. Why is this a bad thing? Why is it bad to be patriotic for once? Though let's be fair, they're launching an INVASION, which is an aggressive tactic, which some people may not approve of.



Not exactly sure where this is coming from, but if I were to analyze GATE from a feminist perspective, I'd say that the show anchors itself on male chauvinism by highlighting the centrality of men in a militaristic setting. For one, Itami is given many roles, particularly that of the dominant male, for the girls that surround him. For Tuka, he is her father; Lelei is less direct, but pushes more towards a romantic interest; and Rory is the more extreme of the lot, overtly objectifying Itami as an object of lust. But even if you could argue that characters like Kuribayashi show an obvious strength in women amidst a sea of men in the JSDF, her character construction exists precisely because of the disjunct between her physical appearance (small, well-endowed, hot-headed) and the actual goal of her existence, which is to prove that women are, in fact, not weak. By highlighting her limitations as a woman, she is effectively "less like a woman, and more like a man."

If this is what you're trying to get at, then yes, GATE does utilize sexist tropes to get its points across. Part of the reason has much to do with the "moefication" of anime in general. This show is likely to appeal to a male audience given its themes: military, girls, guns, armies, war - so I see little reason why the author wouldn't think twice about throwing in these otherwise "sexist" portrayals of women.

But this issue goes beyond GATE. It's not like GATE is trying to stir the waters of sexism. In fact, I wouldn't have noticed it had you not mentioned it. You do have a point, and the show does give blatant boob shots and questionable wardrobes to a slew of its characters. And I haven't even mentioned the latest development in how a girl is saved through betrothal.

But looking at anime in this manner isn't really any fun. If anything, I think the author's point is more of a political thought exercise - what are the dynamics between ancient and modern civilization, and in what ways does this reflect on our progress as a race? You can subjugate someone with brute force, but modern man has a tendency to complicate things more than what it's worth. You have human rights issues, claims for sovereignty over natural resources, answers to war crimes, and a whole slew of public issues ranging from morality to basic conscience. The world of playing war back when we were kids is basically this show, but upscaled into a grander, more foreboding type of world that has more consequences apart from simply giving the signal to advance an army.

How you go about writing that story and the people you pick to tell it (i.e. the JSDF) is really simply because the author is Japanese. I'm sure the military isn't as doves and olive branches as they are depicted in the actual anime, but the show makes a good effort at rocking the boat. Shifts of power and the weight of bureaucracy are apparent in the most recent episodes, which makes it a more mature show, so long as it's focusing on those little political exercises.

Which brings me to my biggest frustration about the series -- how it needlessly splits Itami away from the political strife in order to simply have pointless banter with girls. The Fire Dragon arc seemed random and off putting, especially given the reason Itami wanted to do it in the first place (if you want to do shock therapy to someone, you don't hand them an RPG and expect them to feel better afterwards). It was a big minus in how the series handled the emotional trauma of Tuka and its eventual resolution. What follows afterwards is sort of like a side quest run-around-the-map nonsense as Itami's role as protagonist gets swept away by more compelling characters who are actually doing MORE for the political situation in the entire series.

I don't know if this is deliberate (maybe Itami represents all of us and our lack of engagement in the political environment that we regrettably cannot escape from), but it's starting to make me care less and less about Itami as a character. He's a great foil for Rory, and Rory is great, but that's about it.
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Posted 3/8/16

PeripheralVisionary wrote:

You missed the point of what I'm trying to say. I used that as an example why it would be a mistake to "identify" an author's intentions, which for this case is rampant nationalism by utilizing the JSDF as an active military force with great influence. As one person has said, we don't have comic books about our politicians. Earlier, G.I. Joe was associated with the real conflicts and actions of the military till Vietnam. Essentially, this appears to be ramming a political view upon the audience which may or may not disagree with, especially the invasion of a foreign land not located in the world. One might wonder the justification of it. I mean, sure, the Ginza incident killed a couple of people, but you're essentially sending people to a location you had no idea existed at all, upon people whose armaments includes swords that they know of versus modern weaponry. One might say its a highly dangerous exercise of reckless abandon.


I think I'm getting what you're trying to say now. But I don't think it's so much a question of what inclinations the author has in "promoting" a certain nation's military as some sort of national pride as it really is just wondering what happens when you pit a modern army against the romans. If this were just G.I. Joe, like you said, then it's not even a question of might. Heck, there's no story to be had when all it takes is a couple mortars to wipe out an entire division of the sword-wielding Romans.

Which is why the political complications are what actually make the conflict compelling. In fact, there are many instances in GATE where the JSDF is anything BUT a proud unit of the Japanese government. If the show is trying to advertise the JSDF, it's actually doing a bad job at it. Of course from the perspective of its cast, the JSDF looks fine and dandy, but the back stage antics of the politics paints the JSDF in a victimized light, which to a certain extent is true of not just the current military forces of Japan, but of the world, in general.

Reactions like yours are, actually, well founded. I'm pretty sure people in the world of GATE also protested against the actions of the JSDF to send forces into an unknown land if only to prove to the world that you had some "military strength" - and I think that's a good sign for you to feel negative towards these events because it shows that the show really does touch on issues worth facing. How the show portrays these issues is the problem - you never really see any actual public dissent except for a couple sprinkles of it during the diet assembly where Rory basically put a female politician (surprise!) in her place. In the latest episode, the media also steps in and shows some anti-military sentiment, which sort of mirrors what I would have expected in a "real-world" setting - heck, it mirrors kinda what you're saying if I'm getting you correctly, now.

And lastly (and this is pretty random now), if the JSDF did the smart thing and just demolished the gate that appeared in Ginza, then that wouldn't really make for much of a story now, would it? The fact that they're doing something questionable makes it something to discuss - and I'm sure many people in the world of GATE did the same thing. The first season, however, may have bypassed these sentiments in favor of jumping straight into the conflict, which is understandable if you're trying to get people's attention. Blow the city up before you start asking questions whether or not it was the right thing to do -- shoot now, ask questions later.

Is this a good thing? I really don't know. But I think disagreeing with the actions of a certain group in an anime is a good sign.
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