GATE – Season 2

GATE – Season 2

img_4176.jpgWhilst on his way to a doujinshi event, Itami Youji sees a mysterious gateway open in the middle of Ginza. From its depths pour an army of fantasy beasts, creatures and warriors that begin attacking civilians. During the battle, Itami saves a woman’s life and helps everyone get to safety before the police and the Japanese Special Defence Force eliminates the invading army.

As a result, Itami finds himself being promoted to second lieutenant and he is viewed as a national hero by the masses despite how unprepared and unwilling he is for the post. Being a self-confessed otaku who doesn’t want anything getting in his way of his compulsive hobby-funding, he begins to see his new military post in a better light when his unit is chosen to enter the mysterious gate and explore the ‘special region’ beyond it. It’s his chance to investigate a real-life fantasy world first-hand.

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I’ve enjoyed GATE since it started. It’s not my favourite, but it’s an enjoyable watch nonetheless. I don’t really buy into all the hype that it receives. I don’t think it’s the best anime ever, but it definitely has its moments. With more detailed, intricate plots unfurling this time around, we also get to see more individual focuses on Rory, Lelei and Tuka (and Yao, the newly-introduced dark elf) and their backgrounds. There’s less of a focus on the military as a group this time and more on certain characters.

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GATE continues to loosely hold onto its harem thread throughout its run. These aforementioned girls who, due to their races, are aged between 15 and 961 and are vying for Itami’s attentions in the way that you would expect a harem group to do around the protagonist. Thankfully, I don’t think Itami is considered to be the usual personality-less harem lead and these female characters are not the swooning and air-headed personas we’re used to seeing featured at least once in harem anime – they all have their own problems and convictions that they attempt to deal with, which are finally explored during this second season.

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The fight scenes in this season are considerably more impressive we see a second round with the fire dragon. This is where we see the animation at its best – in these high-powered fight scenes where the military and magical attacks come together. I can’t help but feel that some of the magic has been taken out of the ‘magic’ element though, as everything seems to be rendered ineffective by the Japanese military firepower.

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I don’t think people should pay too much attention to the details within the military aspect. I know many people read into the propaganda and what they believe to be ramped-up Japanese nationalised (every country is incorrect/evil/incompetent except for Japan, which is always in the right). I feel hat this needs to be taken with a pinch of salt as isn’t really a primary focus of the anime. It sucks the fun and excitement away form many of the aspects if you’re constantly scrutinising the politics, weaponry and decisions of the military higher-ups and reading into what they really mean.

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I continue to enjoy the combination of medieval fantasy mixed in with Japanese modern society. The politics, races and factions have all become a little more detailed this season. Even before you know where someone has originated from you can tell by certain traits and mannerisms if they are medieval or modern, elf, dark elf, mage or even a deity. With the death of the king of the fantasy realm, a revolt is rising with the ascension of his reckless son and discontent is slowly building into war. So far we have seen flaws in both the medieval and modern societies, showing how innocent citizens on both sides are getting caught in the middle, losing their homes and family and their freedom because of so-called diplomacy and limitations of both societies.

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GATE continues its solid progression from the first season. The dark thread we have seen running through the story throughout is now making itself known and a real storm is brewing that threatens to destroy the diplomatic negotiations between the two worlds. I’m interested to see how Itami and his group attempts to rescue the situation from the brink (if they manage to do this at all – but I expect they will, considering their track record). I’m really hoping that they pull out something special for the season finale to show me that things are not as predictable as I believe them to be!

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