And so we start a new arc and the introduction of a new character. I’m gonna be brief in this post, and I don’t have much to say in the end, but as this new arc gets rolling we should get into more meaty things.
Five months after the start of hostilities, Lelei talks about the change in Alnus and the refugee camp. The camp has turned into a town filled with different cultures and people from near and far, Piña is heading the efforts to promote peace between Japan and the Empire, with Sugawara Kouji from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs joining her in the capital.
Back at the Capital, Piña and Hamilton talk about the list of prisoners they’ve requested, with a slot left for Lord Cicero, an Empire noble they would be meeting with. Meanwhile, a cloaked figure arrives at Alnus.
Back at Lord Cicero’s function, Piña notes that Lord Cicero La Martos’ family is very influential within the Empire, and is one of the more reasonable of the hawks in the Senate. She explains that after the battle at Alnus and the rebuilding of the Army, two factions emerged. The Imperial, pro-war faction, and the Senatorial, pro-peace faction, which seeks to limit the Emperor’s power and make the new army answerable to the Senate and to negotiate for Japan to return to their world.
Since the doves are willing to work with Japan and Piña, their first targets would be the hawks, starting with Lord Cicero. At a private meeting, Lord Cicero is introduced to Sugiwara, who hails from ‘Japan’, and is initially disdainful of what he perceives is just some hick country. Wowing them over with manufactured goods from Japan, he apologizes for his rudeness but is shocked to hear that Japan is the country his Empire is fighting. Ordering people out of the room, he intends to talk to them privately.
In the meeting, he browbeats Piña for her actions, noting that even her status as a princess will stop what punishment would be meted out for meeting with the enemy in secret. Before he could go anymore, Sugiwara reveals that Lord Cicero’s nephew is being held as a POW in Japan. Sugiwara and Piña merely want him to stay out of the princess’ way in terms of negotiations.
At Alnus, Itami and SarMaj Kuwahara note that the change to the refugee camp merely started as the establishment of the PX (Post eXchange) for the refugees. With any product from Japan being new to the people of the Special Region (especially the nobles), there would be good business. With local handicrafts being good things to send back to Japan, the place just sorta grew.
This though isn’t necessarily a good thing, as the only reason the town functions is through Lady Myiu’s maids from Italica helping run the place, and that some of the younger members of the Special Region soldiers are becoming regulars at bars that serve alcohol. Itami notes that they need to unwind at times, but should be warned if they go over. They are then distracted when a patron at a nearby bar is kicked out by Delilah, a bunny-folk waitress. Before anything can happen, Rory and the Harpy (now sporting an MP armband) scare him off.
Itami was called out to the bar by the medic, Mari, and over a round of drinks, discuss Tuka. Mari notes that she wanders the town looking for her dead father everyday, and wonders how long they’ll let her do that. Rory asks if they really have to force the reality onto her. To which Mari says yes. Noting that if she doesn’t let go of the past, she can’t continue in the present. Itami though asks how would they deal with forcing her to accept the truth if she ends up being broken by the news. Itami sternly asks her what would happen if they were to withdraw, and notes they can’t be her support forever, noting that if they can’t see something to the end, they shouldn’t be involved.
Mari, defeated for now, goes to ready for their deployment the next day, with the Sergeant Major following the medic. Rory and Itami share drinks, with Rory recounting her nine-hundred and sixty years, noting how many hellos and goodbyes she’s had. Itami merely says not everyone is as strong as she is. While Itami says he can’t be nice to everyone, Rory notes if he directed that nice attributes of his to one person, he’d be popular with girls. She goes on to explain that her ruling over death as the grim reaper means that she also rules over life. Death is the climax of life,a nd to have the best climax, one must honor life.
She then asks for another drink, though she’s had one too much, and Rory cozies up to Itami. They are interrupted though by the cloaked figure, who demands to know why a child is drinking in the bar, shocking everyone present.
After the commercial break’s eyecatch, Rory had imagined to use her drunkedness to lure Itami into her bed, only to be ruined by this newcomer. Itami, unaware of what is going on, gets a swift, bone breaking kick. The newcomer introduces herself as a dark elf (Yao Haa Dushi) from the Schwartz Forest, and is looking for the ‘Green People’. Looking at Itami, she demands why she was getting the kid (Rory) drunk.
Rory takes advantage of this, and pretends to be taken advantage of by Itami. Itami runs when her head is turned, and Rory too makes an escape. Annoyed at the newcomer chasing off two of her patrons, she serves her. Other patrons talk amongst themselves, while two of them ask her why. She wants to ask a favor. She is baffled by the two saying they may not help her, believing them to be people to not leave those in trouble. She even has a reward of a large, uncut rock of pure adamantite with her. She rebuffs the others who want it, stating the task she needs done is to slay the wounded fire dragon.
With the bar emptied, she leaves after paying, heading to the forest to rest. Imploring those she left behind to wait a bit longer, she dreams of the Fire Dragon attacking her people, only to wake in the next morning by the thundering roars of two JASDF F-4 Phantoms doing aerial dogfighting maneuvers. Impressed by the Green People, she sheds a tear noting that her clan will be saved.
Back at the base, a cargo of hand carts containing goods (including sake) is being loaded into a Chinook. The foreign affairs officer, Touhou Tetsuo notes that their goods, alongside funds from the town, are their ammunition in the upcoming negotiations. Tetsuo and Yanigada discuss a very simplified view of foreign affairs, with Yanigada noting if the Empire wants war, they can always give them their war, though Tetsuo says that isn’t how foreign affairs work, that they can’t cause trouble while they’re building up the number of doves.
The Chinook loaded, it passes overhead of Yao, who runs towards the base intending to bring the Green People to her aid.
After the lukewarm end to the luckluster and overly strawman politics-filled Japan arc, we return to what I thought was Gate’s true shining gem. The focus on Itami and his interactions with the Special Region locals. The introduction of Yao Ha Dushi was almost copy and pasted from the manga, which proves my belief that the source material is often the best.
Rory again tries to seduce Itami, though she has no luck. Blocked by his cell phone in Japan, and now by Yao, she just can get a break. This in turn also translates to Itami, who is a bit thick, or at least, aware of the perceptions it might bring. No doubt that leecher and paedophilic perception was what Yao saw, though the bar patrons were damn ready to bolt had Rory not played along to get both her and Itami out of trouble.
We’re also going to see more politics, though this time more on the Empire’s side. This will sound hypocritical of me, who disparaged at the really annoying to watch great power politics in the last arc, but it’s the mere fact it isn’t going to be a bunch of modern nation-states that the author can really beat his chest on, but on the fictional medieval-era Empire.
In the manga, Lord Cicero was more condescending at Japan before being showed the goods, and Sugiwara’s conversation with the noble was a bit longer and talking about reparations and a start to negotiations. These small side things add more depth that I think the anime really needs more of, and for someone who has followed the manga, I can’t help but feel that a talky series like GATE is really adapting well to another medium. But that may just be me.
Anyways, I’m a bit more enthusiastic over the start of this arc, and can’t wait for next week.