What is meant to be a quick errand for trade looks to turn into a much longer affair, as our heroes find the city of Italica under siege.
GATE EPISODE 5: THE BATTLE OF ITALICA
Director: Takahiko Kyōgoku
Original Creator: Takumi Yanai
Animation Director:Jun Nakai
Publisher: A1 Pictures / Sentai Filmworks
Price: Streaming through Crunchyroll (nonsubscribers wait two weeks behind launch for new episodes) new episodes weekly available on Friday 1PM EST
Previously on GATE: Yōji Itami was just an average otaku excited about going to a doujinshi convention when a mysterious gate opened up connecting modernday Japan with a fantasy world. Invaders on horseback and dragons poured through, causing death and destruction, until the Japanese Special Defense Force (JSDF) make it on the scene and quickly turn the tides of the fight with their superior difference in technology.
Between the attack starting and JSDF arriving on the scene, Itami helps save hundreds of lives by getting civilians into a highly defendable area. It turns out that he’s JSDF soldier who happened to be using his time off to go to the doujinshi event, and was in the right place at the right time.
Promoted to second lieutenant for his bravery and quick thinking during the attack, Itani becomes one of the leading officers in the expedition to the other side of the gate, where the Japanese government hopes to start peace talks with the mysterious new adversaries.
As Itami’s unit seeks to get to know the local population, he meets a young sorceress, an elf, and an apostle of the God of Death. They accompany the unit as they seek to help refugees and establish relations with local government.
THE FALLOUT OF MASS DEMOCIDE
The Emperor is up to no good, and few realize the strings he is pulling to get rid of his political rivals.
We last left our heroes on the road to Italica, primarily to sell the recentlyharvested dragon scales, as well as a chance for Itami’s unit to gather more intel and to make friendly with the locals. But when they arrive they find the town braced for attacks by bandits who used to be soldiers.
In previous episodes, we saw the Emperor pull a devious political maneuver in sending the leaders of every region to fight against the JSDF, and were of course decimated. We the viewer don’t yet know why the Emperor is doing this (besides the obvious assumed “power” and “getrid of political threats” reason), but in the process it is painting a conflicting narrative about “the soldiers in green.”
Because once the JSDF established a base at the Gate, they got down to holding their position and sending out reconnaissance teams to gather intel and to introduce themselves to the local population. Along the way, villages and towns became devastated by various aspects of the political upheaval bandits taking advantage of the power vacuum, soldiers deserting and becoming bandits themselves, and even a dragon or two. Itami has been helping the refugees, and the few who weren’t able to find homes in the next town came back with them to base.
Now, in Italia, Itami decides to stay with his unit for the night and help defend the city, currently being defended by one of the daughters of the Emperor. So, this baffles the people even more, about why someone who is supposed to be their enemy is helping.
The episode ends on a cliffhanger, but since this episode is a week old at the time I’m reviewing it, there’s no need to wait for the next one.
This series so far has been incredible. I’ve really been surprised by how well the concept is being played out. All the problems that one would expect to be brushed away are being addressed. Language barrier? Definitely exists, and it makes sense that the sorceress in the group, the one who is studying all the time, would be picking up Japanese the fastest. She is quickly becoming the translator for the group. Passage of time? The author understands bureaucracy and politics, and how just because someone wants something done doesn’t mean it will happen right away. There are convenient “3 months later” slides for jumps in time to not gunk up the pacing of the show.
And as for the military… well, I’ve been watching this show with my girlfriend, who is a veteran, and she says that if there’s anything wrong that she’s missing, it’s due to differences in US and Japanese forces. That so much what we see, from the correct insignia’s to squadmates forgetting that their radio is on while having inane debates that their squadmates in other cars can hear, to understandable technological limitations of not being able to use GPS in a fantasy world for lack of satellites. But she’s been incredibly impressed at all the detail that’s gone into the military parts of the story, and I think this speaks to the quality of the story overall because there is an enormous attention to detail and accuracy of things that actually exist in our world.
SUICIDE MISSION, OR THE ONLY SURVIVORS?
This story doesn’t shy away from the horrors of war or what happens on the front lines, but with the art style, I often forget how serious the story is. The art style looks like it would be one that is for a series not so serious, or at least not so married to accuracy in our modern world. But this
is, and it is anywhere from a pleasant to shocking surprise when I’m reminded of how this isn’t a silly show.The animation is also very clean. When taking screenshots for the banner image, there were many that didn’t make the cut because of strange angles or because there were subtitles in them, but every single shot was clean.
There are plenty of scenery shots needed, but at no point do they ever feel overused, or as a crutch. It is wellbalanced and only noticeable when I sat down to think hard on the animation.
As for the opening and ending themes, they are very catchy, and the opening credits really are an excellent summary of the show so far. So, if you only have 30 or so seconds to give this a shot, I would recommend at least checking that out.
BOTTOM LINE: GO START THE SERIES RIGHT NOW
When I was told “hey fantasy kingdom invades the modern world and there’s accurate portrayals of military and political fallout in both worlds,” I knew I had to check it out. I was a little concerned at first, when I saw that the main character was one young man and three young women, because I worried it might be the start of a harem anime. Well, if this is going to fall under that genre (and I think it won’t), it’ll be one of the smartest ones I’ve ever seen.
I have the sensation of being at the start of an incredible universe that I just want to sink into and learn all the details. The story is rich and all the characters are fleshed out, and it is a lot of fun to be a part of.
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