Review/discussion about: Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri 2nd Season
Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri 2nd Season, much like its predecessor, makes me think about the advancement of technology. Last time, it was weapons. This time, it is transportation.
We started with running on the ground. Then we tamed horses. Then we drove cars. Then we took subways. And then we piloted helicopters. We, as a people, have made advancements in movement at a rate that we (figuratively and ironically) cannot keep up with.
The citizens of the Empire within Gate (reducing the title at this point) are still stuck with just horses. And, sadly, they are still stuck with a mediocre anime.
Gate returns for the continuation to its split-cour season. Tuka Luna, Rory, Lelei, and of course Youji also return to take care of the problems facing the Japanese army and the mighty Empire.
This time around, Gate still takes advantage of its premise – namely, the overwhelming might of the Japanese army against a kingdom who still dwells within the realm of swords and castles. Delegates witnessing a contained demonstration of mortar shells, jets bombing strategic buildings, and paratroopers raining from the skies make the distinction between these two sides clearer.
This season even manages to down the patriotic platform that the first season felt dripped in. This new direction occurs because the anime focuses more on the mythical rather than the military, but it removed that saturated feeling of a pushed ideology.
Furthermore, the anime has to worry less about establishing a setting and its characters and instead can focus on its narrative. To this end, the anime comes up with many different plotlines all tied together by a singular, overarching one. Namely, Tyuule’s destruction (from the inside) of the Empire.
First, the various, smaller plotlines. To be fair to Gate, it creates a lot of conflict that does not tread into repetitive territory. That is, for the most part, much of what happens remains relevant while also differentiating itself enough to be interesting. The start of the season has more slice-of-life material with Tuka’s strange delirium. Afterwards, the anime becomes darker as Youji and the gang square off against a fire-breathing dragon.
Then Lelei’s aside at the magical city contrasts with the upheaval happening back in the capital. All the while, a plot of assassination, a peace-brokering dilemma, and a mysterious enemy stir up the narrative that much more. Everything ends with a final, Japanese-military mission to thwart the evil in place and bring happiness to both sides of the Gate.
As can be read, a lot goes on over the course of just twelve episodes. So Gate gets a few more props. Now, whether or not it executed these various plotlines, juggled them all together in an appropriate manner, is another matter entirely.
For some of the conflicts, they do bring tension. The assassination attempt by Delilah, Sugawara breaking neutrality by helping Sherry, and the imprisonment of Piña by Zorzal. These conflicts keep with the plot’s motif (fantasy versus military) as well as allow the plot to proceed naturally from one major conflict to the next.
Nevertheless, Gate has quite a few plotlines that are downright mishandled. One of the strangest plotlines occurs with Lelei’s summons to Rondel for her “academic presentation” as Youji puts it. As a whole, two separate problems exist.
First, the plotline means nothing to the larger narrative. They could have gone anywhere else, done anything else, and the outcome would have been the same. And second, the “Pied Piper” subplot. He (or she for all we know) is that “mysterious enemy” mentioned earlier. But the anime never reveals the identity of she (or he) let alone resolves his (or her) plotline.
The dragon battle is not without its own problems, too. To be fair, the battle itself is fairly engaging, taking advantage of the show’s premise once more with magical swords and landmine explosions. Altogether, a pretty cool battle.
This conflict faults elsewhere. Besides the fact that the anime provides a minimal (minimal) amount of information on the dark elves, the anime attempts to squeeze in an extra conflict. A couple of baby dragons, led by an Apostle similar to Rory, make trouble. They exist as means to show off the Japanese military a bit – fighter jets and tanks engage in one-sided combat. Which is acceptable.
But that Apostle, who indirectly decimated Yao’s and Tuka Luna’s clans as well as many others, and who showed up to begin with to take Rory back to Hardy (their leader), runs away. Worse still, Gate does not revisit this conflict in earnest for the remainder of the season, making one wonder what the point was of introducing it to begin with. This small conflict was nothing short of tacked on.
The most egregious issue, however, happens near the end. Youji and his team (that includes his newfound friends as well as his soldiers) infiltrate the castle, defeat a giant, and save both the Emperor and Piña. They won. But instead of taking out Zorzal. Instead of beating him up to a bloody pulp (again) to put him in his place. Instead of even just taking him prisoner for the numerous atrocities he’s committed and the moronic actions he’s taken. They let him go free.
The argument is that Youji and the Japanese army will always know where he is and how to find him. But when such a dangerous (and dense) dude has shown to be such an abysmal person, not taking any actions against him – when any military in their right mind would (and they themselves have touted their prowess) – is nothing short of silly.
As if that weren’t silly enough, his last line about getting revenge against Youji and the Japanese indicates that this convenient turn of events exists solely to have him cause unnecessary mayhem at some point in the future. Altogether, this admittedly minor event is absolutely asinine.
Even the themes encounter trouble. Themes on war, like the media’s inaccurate portrayal or the aftereffects of being a prisoner, are briefly shown or talked about. Unfortunately, they are never made into strong talking points. Still, the anime never intended to investigate these ideas in full; after all, its focus was more on the mixture of mythical and militaristic elements.
Alongside the surprising lack of world-building, Gate’s narrative’s negatives outweigh its positives, making it a weak tale in summation.
Art and animation for Gate remains relatively the same from last season.
Much of the military tech – tanks, fighter jets, etc. – as well as the giant dragon use CG art that passes an acceptable level. Some CG segments, such as a wave of armor-clad guards, does not pass, but those scenes are not as common.
Once again, the anime’s signature paneled view, where multiple rectangular sections showcase characters or scenes happening simultaneously, returns. And, once again, it adds a bit of variety to the festivities at hand. What does not return is the Japanese side of the Gate. Losing out on the dichotomous aesthetics seems like a mistake, but, since the anime had all of its business on the Empire’s side, this loss is forgiven.
Locations visited include the makeshift town, the capital’s different sectors, and the mountainous region where the dragon lays. Not too much variety and not too much detail makes the art less impressive than it otherwise is.
Luckily, the character designs and the animation are exempt from this treatment. The cast keep their same colorful, detailed looks from the first season. Tuka’s long blonde hair with modernized (for Earth) white t-shirt and tight jeans. Rory’s fancy dress, bow, and gargantuan axe. Lelei’s all-blue attire. Newer characters, like Zorzal’s regal outfit and Tyuule’s original unkempt and later kempt looks, keep with the norm. The other citizens of the Empire all vary in size, shape, and appearance, adding even more variety to the designs.
And while Youji and the Japanese are decidedly plain in their looks, their plainness continues to contrast them with the fantastical land – an important motif throughout the whole series.
Actual animation likewise sees highs. While the anime does not define itself through animation, certain segments – such as the dragon battle, the first skirmish in the castle’s main hall, and the final battle against the giant – include a lot of magic, acrobatics, and explosions to make those fights that much more intense. To be fair, fights of this magnitude are not always happening, but downtime also includes lots of hair, eye, and limb movements from the characters to get even the “slower” segments moving.
The only truly influential newcomer is Tyuule.
Right from the get-go, her character is a tragic one as she finds herself at the hands of her captor Zorzal. But as the audience soon learns, she is not just a tragic character but also a dark character. A dark character with more than sinister intentions.
Her captivity and darkness stem from a past event involving her and her people. Unfortunately, the anime quickly passes over her backstory with just a couple of frames worth of flashback. The audience loses out on who she was as a person before, and, as such, the show fails to put her plight into perspective.
Even so, she follows through on her ultimate revenge: destroying the Empire. She pretends to be enamored with Zorzal, eventually becoming his main advisor. She feeds false information to cause chaos. She poisons the king to place his beyond-incompetent son into power to spark civil turmoil. While she does not normally directly take part in the craziness, she stirs the pot to a boiling point all the same.
In the end, she says that she destroyed the Empire, but that’s not really the case. The Japanese army didn’t needlessly kill civilians (going so far as to save important peace delegates). Plus, not only do they save the king, but also Piña. She is the main advocate on the Empire’s side vying for peace between them and the Japanese, and she becomes queen of the land, ushering in a new age of prosperity.
The reason for Tyuule’s failed revenge is seen in the tears that fall from her face. What she wanted wasn’t revenge – she wanted her life back. The people she befriended, the land she held, and the happiness she had. All of which revenge could not bring her. In other words, her character represents the idea that seeking revenge is a futile venture.
Sadly, the idea is nice, but the execution is not.
Tuka Luna also goes through a degree of tragedy herself but nowhere near the same level as Tyuule. In the beginning of the season, Yao confronts Tuka, making her think about the loss of her own clan and, more specifically, the loss of her father. Unfortunately, while there are parallels between Tuka and Yao – both are of elfish descent, both lost their clan, etc. – the anime does not explore these throughputs.
Regardless, Tuka goes practically insane. So insane, in fact, that she moves beyond pretending that her father is not dead and wandering the city in search of him. Instead, she begins to believe that Youji is her father. He goes along with the charade for a time, demonstrating that kindness can sometimes only be a Band-Aid rather than a remedy.
Thankfully, though, Youji decides to find that cure. Knowing that Tuka needs to overcome her warped perception, he and the girls finally do what the Japanese army won’t: take the fight to the dragon. While many perish, Youji and, more importantly, Tuka succeed in taking down the beast, freeing Tuka of the madness that clouded her mind for much too long.
Arguably, Tuka still calling Youji “Dad” does not really seem as though she has gotten better, but it is still nice to know that she has accepted her reality for what it is.
The rest of the cast lack much in terms of character depth. Zorzal is meant to be an arrogant, ignorant, and vile person. His personality makes him easy to hate but leaves little room for complexity. Yao Ha Ducy has an interesting development when she continues her do-whatever-she-must attitude by hurting (and thereby helping) Tuka. But the anime quickly forgets about Yao following the first half of this season.
Youji does little else besides be the everyman. The anime tries to give him some backstory, as well as parallelism with Tuka, in the form of a deranged mother, but it is hastily handed to the audience. Rory, once again, does not amount to much as a character because the anime does not give her any proper screen time and hence any proper developments. As for Lelei, she rarely has impact and intrigue except during a few of the battles.
Granted, these three are not without their positives. Youji’s ability to do everything contrasts with his inherent, just-want-to-relax self, adding comedy to his character. Rory gives the group utmost safety. And the anime juxtaposes Lelei with both her older sister and the magical town, making her level of intelligence more apparent.
Arguably the most interesting trait of the characters is the group dynamic. The group itself is actually pretty weak – they do not interact with one another all that much. But their individual relationships with Youji make their whole group quirky. At least, quirkier than it already is.
One of the harem members looks to Youji as her dad. One of them acts as his guardian. One of them thinks of him as a mentor. One of them believes him to be the kingdom’s savior. And one of them is literally a technical possession of his. They all show signs of romance, but it’s their strange relationships to Youji that make their group, well, quirky.
The opening track for Gate brings the rock. While the quick guitar solo comes out of nowhere at the end, the guitar riffs, nice vocal work, and pounding drums work together to make a tough and cool track that fits the anime well.
In heavy contrast, to both the OP and the anime as a whole, the ending track takes on quite the lighthearted tone. Tuka, Rory, and Lelei take turns singing to the slow, happy beat, making for a calm send-off to each high-stakes episode. The ED is even pretty catchy. Arguably, it contrasts a bit too much with action-heavy show, but it’s still a nice piece all around.
And, given that this season is the continuation of a split-cour, Gate using much of the same original soundtrack is no surprise. Lots of military-esque tracks with trumpets and leveled tunes. Violin-heavy tracks that set the mood for the battles to come. And relaxing-fantasy ones for those slice-of-life segments. Once again, the OST fits but does not leave a lasting impression.
Voice acting likewise sees similar performances as last season. Ami Koshimizu as Tyuule goes cruel. Risa Taneda as Rory combines craziness and sexiness. And Hisako Kanemoto as Tuka Luna continues her mature yet cute voice for all to hear. In short, everyone involved does an above-average job.
I’ve talked about this before, but one of the major reasons why an anime like this pulls me along is for me wanting, nay needing, to ensure that the safety of the characters holds up. Or, at the minimum, that the characters “win” in the end.
So it came as no surprise to me that Tyuule’s safety, considering her deplorable situation, had me wanting to see more of the season. Again, not because of the dragon or the military, but because I needed to know that she would be safe once all was animated and done.
I somewhat got my wish in that she ruined Zorzal’s life to an extent. But I was disappointed that she still seemed to be following him. In essence, I wanted to see her do more. Run away, destroy him. Anything to make me feel as though she were heading towards a bright future. Sadly, that didn’t happen.
My favorite character in the anime is actually Yao Ha Ducy, but, once the dragon arc ended, she became an almost permanent side character as events unfolded that did not directly concern her. Tuka Luna is next on my list of favorites, but the whole “dad” direction she took knocked down her appeal a few pegs.
The other characters I did not much care for. Rory is a bit annoying, Lelei doesn’t have much presence. As for Youji, he was not funny and was not relatable, so he, too, failed to be an entertaining character.
Interestingly, my favorite part was the end. Not Piña’s crowning or Youji getting screwed out of taking part in his hobby once more. It was the quick showcasing of the different pairings that had been made over the course of the season.
While the pairing between Sherry and Sugawara is weird due to their ages, it was still nice to see the show acknowledge these different relationships and where they were at or where they were going. Extra kudos to the pairing between Delilah and Akira, the assassin and the assassee (I just made that word up; I’m not sure why it isn’t a word considering the word “assassin” itself), for sharing an unexpected yet welcomed romance.
Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri 2nd Season encounters both highs and lows. Some tense moments in the story riddled with silly conclusions. A quirky group lacking individual development. And some nice artistic and musical pieces brought down by unsatisfying characters. It looks like, for the time being, this one will have to continue being content with its horses.
Story: Bad, while the premise still holds, the patriotism has been toned down, and some of the conflicts bring tension, many plotlines are handled poorly, the final conflict is asinine, and the unexplored themes only get in the way
Animation: Good, okay artistic direction, nice character designs, above-average actual animation
Characters: Bad, Tyuule and Tuka Luna are okay, as are the quirky connections of the main group, but Youji, Rory, and Lelei still have issues being worthwhile characters
Sound: Good, good OP, good ED, okay OST, above average VA performances
Enjoyment: Bad, unfortunate outcomes and some boring characters, but at least some romance was had
Final Score: 4/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3