This wasn’t as bad as I had feared. The episode kinda hung back here and there, but by speeding through a chapter or two, it did help tone down what some friends and I thought was the weakest part of the Japan arc, which itself is the weakest arc in the whole story so far.
In unrelated news, Kantai Collection’s Summer Event is kicking the sanity points of many teitoku. And here I am laughing since a lot of this is merely karma coming back to bite when people proclaimed events are too easy.
After their initial reaction to Itami and Risa being divorced (well, mainly they were married to begin with), the group stay in Risa’s small apartment. Lelei is amazed at all the books, Rory is freaked out over procelein dolls, and Bozes and Piña are amazed at yaoi.
Risa and Tomita wonders at the validity of involving Risa, a civilian, in the mess they’re in, but Itami notes that if some misfortune meets them now, they were tailed, but if nothing happenes, the leak could be from the people around their handler, Komkado. Risa just asks nothing happens as her deadline is the next day. Later that night, Tomita asks about Risa’s relationship with Itami. She says they didn’t split due to fighting, but merely states they’re friends now and them being ‘weirdos’ made sense as a couple. In the corner of the apartment, while viewing ‘art’ Bozes and Piña fight on who attends the language program being held in Arnus station.
The next day, the group splits up to do some shopping, with the girls being taken by Risa and Shino to do clothes shopping, Bozes and Piña are taken by Tomita to the library, while Itami goes to Akihabara. Initially hesitant at the shopping due to her insistence that her priestly clothes are all that she needs, Rory is enamored by the clothes in Shinjuku. Tomita though is dismayed when the literature the two knights care for is Yaoi.
Itami spends the day shopping, before meeting with his senpai, the Defense Minister, Kanou Tarou. Surprisingly without his bodyguards, he claims it’s because he has the best bodyguard there with him (Itami). They had been otaku buddies since Itami was in middle school, and the two remark on their places in life since meeting. Itami it seems had done the shopping for the Defense Minister, who can’t even shop in bookstores anymore due to his high status. The Defense Minister mentions something about their missing guests, fully knowing where they were; he gives Itami an order to return to the original plan, to head to the hot springs inn guarded by the Special Forces Group.
Showing off their wares at the station (Risa having bought too much, Tuka a new bow, Lelei books, and Rory some clothes), Tomita is heartbroken at the thought that all the two wanted was some BL doujins and not actual literature. With that, the group head to the inn, while elsewhere, the Defense Minister and Colonel Ryuuzaki from the General HQ’s Special Planning Room meet in an operations room for the eventual battle.
The Defense Minister didn’t think this is how he’d imagine war, as handlers behind him issue kill orders to operators on the field, whereas the Colonel explains that fourth generation warfare is a blend of police tactics and guerilla warfare, or fully laid out plans with the target taken out in a single strike.
The field in question is Sankai Roukaku, a hot springs inn known for its large open air baths. Explaining that the Special Forces Group were spread throughout the area, one of the operatives who had spied into the women’s locker room is filled with dread as Rory smiles at him, even though she was 450 meters away. Sensing that she is very dangerous, he’s led elsewhere with his handler indicating that their contact on the inside will take care of the locker room and bath.
Led to the large onsen, the Special Region citizens are amazed at the amount of hot water available, though Rory has to be told to wash up first. Outside in some mountain road, enemy operatives arrive, with the Japanese SF operatives being informed to be on the lookout.
Back at the men’s bath, Tomita misunderstands Itami, while in the women’ts bath, the girls tease Bozes who seems to have fallen for Tomita and vice versa. After this, they also find out why Risa and Itami broke up. Having grown up with him since middle school, she’d asked if he could take care of her and in exchange, she’d marry him. It seems after the Ginza incident, with Itami nonchalantly saying Risa would be taken care of money wise if anything were to happen to him, Risa realizes that Itami didn’t know that she really loved him. With that, they broke so they would have a fresh start.
Outside, the guard forces are putting up a good fight. Noting that Itami was one of them, the Defense Minister is appalled to learn that Itami is a dedicated slacker, being the best at running away from things that he didn’t like (like work). The Defense Minister muses, thinking either the SF Groups are that bad, or Itami is that amazing.
Back in the men’s room, Itami wishes he could stay forever, with Tomita saying he can’t, before the door opens to reveal a slightly drunk Shino and Rory, who drag them to the girl’s room.
Back at the planning center, it seems things are not going too well for the enemy forces, noting the bull headedness of the attackers. Colonel Ryuukazi notes that either they didn’t anticipate their defenses, or that it’s three groups working separately. Getting a bad vibe from this, Minister Kanou asks for his operatives to find out where they’re from, only to discover that one of the ones they shot is African. Realizing the gravity of it, he phones the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister meanwhile, is already on the phone with the President of the US. The President had handed over a file full of incriminating evidence of a potential scandal involving the Prime Minister’s cabinet (gathered by the CIA), and as a favor to keep from releasing this, the President asks if he could request the guests to visit the US, he even has his agents ready to pick them up.
He can promise that guards would be called down, but cannot guarantee if the guests escape, to which the President responds that his nation’s agents are very talented. Afterwards, the Prime Minister and Defense Minister talk, and he discusses their future plans. While he is standing them down, he is going to resign to neutralize this current trump card of the US. Kanou notes that the PM’s future in politics is over, and he very well knows this. In that end, he asks Kanou to take care of Japan for him.
Back at the inn, Itami wakes up to the aftermath of a drinking party, feeling the pain from what was probably Shino decking him. Rory is still awake, and after tucking Lelei in, the two share the view of the full moon. Remarking that he would never see her in her twenties, she notes that she could be any form she wants when she ascends, though she would give up all the demands and pleasures of the flesh. Feeling unease, she notes people are fighting nearby, and makes advances on Itami, wanting Itami to either have her go out and kill or do something.
Back on the field, the Americans are suffering grievous losses the well-entrenched and trained Japanese SF operatives, but word gets out to both sides that the political higher-ups have come to an agreement. This annoys some of the operatives, who had note they had merely died for nothing, but as they are still on mission, they head out to their objective.
Back at the inn, Rory ignores Itami’s protests as she overpowers him and slowly and steadily take him since she can’t kill.
Again like I said earlier, it isn’t as hard to swallow this time around. There are some bits that get glossed over or omitted, but the biggest breaker of the willing suspension of disbelief in the manga was the description the CIA Operative had given concerning the Japanese ‘guards’ and the author’s truly blatant Japan is no. 1.
By God, what the hell.
And this is why I treat the Bathhouse part of the Japan arc as the weakest in the manga. And even then, the Japan arc post-Diet interrogation really. My willing suspension of disbelief shattered for a bit right after the Diet interrogation before it was brought back by the near-comedic situation which will play out (hopefully) later on with the Russian, Chinese, and American operators encountering one another.
For a few reasons really. Why the seemingly lax security. Why the fact they weren’t brought over by some alternative means straight from the gate and back again, especially when they knew these people were playing their games? Why let Itami do this and that and this when they knew.
They’re better off in beating up medieval Rome than thinking Japanese SF, which is good and all, can play true hardball with American, Russian, or Chinese SF. The only thing I can see why they’re winning against such experience, training, and just balls out more badass groups is the fact this was a hastily planned op, with very big political undertones and a ‘we must get there first’ constraint on the opposing forces. And the fact there are three different groups, proper surveillance overwatch, and dug in defenses for the Japanese. And even then, it becomes a “WHO THE FUCK ORDERED THIS OP” deal.
Ah well, mainly because of the plot I supposed. But still, plot can only go so far. Gate works because it’s the JSDF beating up on medieval Rome. Zipang worked because it’s a modern day Aegis-capable DD in WWII (and hindsight due to time travel). But the author’s blatant Japan is no.1 and strawman political is what annoys me about the arc, even if I’ll give them the benefit of a doubt that JSDF SF is that fucking amazing.
This is why Daigensui from World of Warships calls it as it is. It is a ‘mental victory’ for JSDF. The JSDF isn’t as great overall as the writer (former JSDF) knows, but it is presented as such in Gate and a whole lot of alternate history works. She calls it as ‘masturbatory fanfiction’.
Ranting over, because I’ll end up going on a long tangent that no one would like to be in. Also, spoilers. And yes this is me believing this episode was easy to swallow. It puts into perspective what I thought of the arc in the manga.
That said, the episode was good in introducing a new character in Defense Minister Kanou Tarou, who is an old friend of Itami, and a fellow Otaku. The action of the Prime Minister in stepping down to neutralize the trump card the US has on him is nice, and shows at least one of the pro-Japan aspects that source material had that I was okay with. The gunporn is gonna go up tremendously here, though I’m a little dismayed at the lack of detail. But that’s just me.
I am liking how Lelei is clinging onto Itami, even though there wasn’t much there in the manga, and showing that for all her intelligence and worldly knowledge, she’s still a fifteen year old girl. And of Itami’s ‘oh craaaap’ moments. I wished they brought in more of Bozes and Tomita’s actual relationship start, and of Shino’s wanting to meet a SF guy Itami knows. It’s the little character things that are often omitted due to plot or pacing.
Ah well, the conclusion of the Japan arc is next episode, and I was a bit wrong. I was expecting the show to extend the Japan arc with a bit more background. The softening and omission of some key backgrounds of the author’s childish strawman politics meant some things don’t really make sense. But for the sake of adaptation, I guess it was removed. The omission to me both dumbs down and amplifies the strawmen, but it’s presented in a way that won’t annoy me in the same degree that the manga made me groan.