Name of Anime: Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri
Streaming Site Used: Crunchyroll
Episodes Previously Seen: 2
I’m not sure if, in retrospect, the first two episodes of Gate were better than I gave them credit for, or if the last 10 are just awful. But either way I’ll cut to the chase here: Gate is trash.
That’s not even the worst of it. I’m so deep into the pit that is anime fandom that my only hope for meaningful human interaction is to keep on digging in the desperate hope that there must be something on the other side. For someone like me, Gate is the worst kind of trash: boring, unoriginal trash. E Minor wrote in his review of Valvrare, “To even call Valvrave bad, you must certainly have to call every show that it dares to ape equally bad,” and if I wanted to summarize Gate in a sentence I would be forced to make a similar point about modern harem shows.
Gate is a riff on a particular “modern anime genre”: MC-kun has pleasant adventures by being awesome while winning over a variety of diverse girls who join his increasing harem while he pretends not to notice. After the 2nd episode, Gate adds literally nothing new to this formula that other shows haven’t added before. Even its most problematic unstated ideas (Japanese militarism, China is evil) are familiar to fans of Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei.
If the first two episodes of Gate are being in a movie theater while somebody with a PhD yells every 90 seconds about how wrong the movie’s science is, the rest of Gate is the guy next to him chanting “Explosion! Explosion! Explosion!” and “Show us your tits!” Both are annoying, but at least the first asshole had something to say.
I guess I have to go through the plot of this thing, but it’s easier to just list all of the girls who fall for the otaku Captain Tyler version of MC-kun.
This is the elf chick. She has big ears, and she’s sad because her dad’s dead.
They find her in a well, and in the biggest surprise of the show, Tyler-kun doesn’t help her get over her dead dad and win her heart. Also, a Japanese Humvee fights a dragon to “save” her in a scene that might be the only reason the original author cared to set gate in a fantasy land .
This is sexy loli chan:
Sorry, this is Sexy-Loli-chan. Don’t worry, she’s a thousand years old, not a 14-year-old dressed as a goth loli. She is a literal god of death.
The show even knows that this is bullshit and wrong:
Including being jealous of him.
This is Wife-chan. She is MC-kun’s ex-wife. In a move surprising no one, she reveals that while she originally married him for financial support (which is terrible gender politics, even by anime standards), she actually had feelings for MC-kun. When he failed to realize this, she divorced him.
So if that’s your thing, go for it.
This is Mage-chan. She has the rare distinction of being the only female character at the end of the show not pining after MC-kun. She’s an intelligent, bookish type.
These are Americans.
They are deploy their military on foreign soil and bully the poor Japanese for their own gain, but are surprised at the skills of the JSSDF. Further analysis of these characters is where Gate veers from trash into morally bad trash. While all of the female characters perpetuate the “women are waifu fodder who will fawn over the main character because he’s the MC” trope, the American subplot, while not inaccurate, contains a frankly scary amount of Japanese nationalism. (We’re talking Mahouka level nationalism here). The twist ending is that they’re impressed by the JSSDF soldiers but don’t end up falling for MC-kun.
Next, these are the Chinese.
They are like the Americans, but use force rather than diplomacy. I refuse to devote more time to analyzing them than the show spent on their characterization. (TL,DR: China = bad, because anime and Japan say so.) They don’t fall for MC-kun either. I wish they did. That would have been a really interesting show: the solution to geopolitical problems between China and Japan is that China has to fall for the right person, and then they’ll get over the atrocities from WW II (and before). Or is that what happens in Hetalia ?
Anyway, this is Fujioshi-chan. She is the princess of the kingdom that lost World War I in episode 2. After the Japanese military helps her fight off bandits in a siege, she falls for MC-kun.
Then she goes to Japan with Elf-chan, Sexy-Loli-chan and Mage-chan and has a secret meeting about–no, fuck that, not important. She goes to Japan and discovers the joys of BL manga, and starts importing it back to her medieval time.
This is Dark Elf-chan. Because Gate is paced terribly, she’s introduced as the next girl that needs Tyler-kun’s help in some way, and then the show ends. She will probably offer to sleep with Tyler kun, in the just announced season 2. Thanks for buying enough body pillows everyone! We get more Gate!
And last we have the Animals-chan. They are animal girl maids.
They work in bars that serve the JSSDF in the refugee camp that has been set up.
Because the JSSDF don’t act like any other soldiers in any war (modern or ancient), there is no mention of military police having to deal with “relations,” both consensual and not, between the soldiers and the locals. Really, that’s what makes Gate not just boring, but also kinda scary.
The implicit militarism and nationalism that this narrative is predicated on combines really poorly with the casual objectification and sexism that has become the background radiation of the medium. And the worst part is that I can re-use most of the writing in the post with different images to talk about Outbreak Company, Mahouka, and Infinite Stratos.
The idea that America can’t be trusted, and that it’s only a matter of time before China uses military force on Japan so the only solution is for brave Japanese soldiers to fight back is difficult to stomach. While every individual part of the premise might be true, there is no meaningful reflection on the role of military force in society, the risks of powers unchecked. In Gate, the closest thing to the climax of the season is the arc where the main character is forced to appear in front of the Japanese legislature to defend his actions. Sexy Loli-chan gives a speech to the effect of, “How dare you question the civilian casualties, since you weren’t there on the ground you have no right to question the choices this brave soldier made,” essentially arguing against the entire idea of civilian oversight of the military. Afterwards the main characters are all literally sold out to foreign powers, because (of course) unlike the pristine and honest military, politics are all corrupt, and everything would be better if the military didn’t have to report to those damn civilians.
It’s all the worst parts of living in an Azuma’d media landscape: endless recombination of forms and ideas that we’ve seen before without anything new (aesthetic or otherwise) resulting. And the ideas themselves are retrograde and sexist at best; and 1936 Germany-nationalistic at worst.
But hey, here’re some pictures of your new waifus in street clothing:
Final Verdict: Beyond trash. The show is nothing more than a commercial for why Japan should re-arm and re-militarize itself, and also for bodypillows and PVC figures. It might even imply that the only thing standing in between the viewer and their very own catgirl is Japan’s insufficient military.