Picture this: a gate to another world, a fantasy world, suddenly opens up in a major city, and the first thing that happens is a bunch of Roman-ish guys attack everyone around them willy-nilly. Men, women, children, pregnant women, it makes no difference, they slaughter everyone in their path. Of course, they lose pretty quickly once people with guns (this Tokyo, not America, so of course none of the civilians have guns) arrive on the scene in sufficient numbers and with sufficient firepower. Afterwards, the government takes control of the area around the gate and sends a military expedition through.
Gate begins with this inciting incident, and it is the story of everything that happens after.
Modern soldiers vs goblins, dragons, legions, and more? That’s a pretty interesting idea! Modern science and fantasy magic alongside each other? Cool. A tale of clashing cultures and all the resulting political intrigue? Count me in!
I generally enjoyed Gate when it first aired. It comes out part isekai, part complex drama, part harem comedy, and part military action, among other parts. Generally fun, though it could have done with a little polishing here and there.
First item on the polishing checklist: tension. I mean, seriously, they handle the intrigue fairly well, but when it comes to combat, the protagonists are seriously overpowered just by virtue of having the might of a modern army behind them. It was exhilarating, at first, to see soldiers mowing down the enemy uncontested, but it gets boring after awhile, ya know? When the end result of a one-sided slaughter is so predictable, there is a certain loss of tension as a result, which makes the show feel far too long. Especially when they don’t even finish the story!
The second item that could have used polishing is the harem side of things. Actually, scratch that, we could just as well have done without it entirely.
Understand, I love the characters. I love the most prominent protagonist, a man named Itami, and I love each of the girls in the harem around him. I love Itami’s comrades, and friends, and while I don’t love his enemies, I do love to hate them. 😉 There is a small multitude of these characters, major and minor, perhaps too many to keep track of, but I enjoy most if not all of them. And that is why I do not enjoy the harem.
I can admire Itami, and I can see what all these girls would like about him. That is not my problem with this harem. Neither is my problem, really, with how easy, immediate, and overwhelming their feelings for him are, though that is also an annoyance. No, my problem is that we have these remarkable characters in a fascinating world in the middle of a riveting story… which does not need a harem storyline in it!
Seriously, they didn’t really do justice to any of the other couplings, of which, there are a few, so how does the harem claim so much of the spotlight? We have international intrigue on both sides of the gate, weighty matters of life and death and love and politics, so why do we have this bit of harem comedy slowing it all down? We have all these characters driving the story and waging war, and absolutely none of them are served or otherwise developed by adding a harem element, so why?
If you can’t tell, the harem was easily my least favorite part of the show.
On the upside, did I mention the characters, the themes, the intrigue, and the setup? 😉
Really, even when Gate is annoying me, it’s still entertaining me. There are a number of wonderful moments. My single favorite has to be when a demigoddess of war really lets loose a tongue-lashing on an idiotic politician trying to undercut her own country’s military. That was epic! 🙂
So, while it might get a little repetitive with the good guys winning so handily, and while one can easily fast forward through the harem bits without missing much, I still like this anime very much. The animation, the music, the plot, the characters, almost everything about it, I love. It’s easily among the front runners for my favorites, flaws notwithstanding.
Rating: 8 stars out of 10.