And thus the end of what has become a very enjoyable, if a little controversial, show. It wasn’t the ending I expected, but I’m quite fine with this. I know some folks would be disappointed, but frankly, it was a fun ride and it was always enjoyable from beginning to end…if not necessarily in a climax.
The start of the episode restates Itami’s goals and pursuits in life, in that if it came down to it, he would choose his hobbies over work. Arriving at the Imperial Capital some days after the JSDF’s rescue operation, he meets with the commander of the Ashuko safehouse. AAlnus has agreed to take in the people he’s rescued and he briefs Itami on what had happened.
The JSDF cannot overtly support any actions he and the trio does, and noting that he still intends to conduct his rescue mission (a task he personally accepted from Grey), calls in Kurata, Kuribayashi, Tomita, Kurokawa, and Kuwahara, the primary members of III Recon. They all join in at their chance to strike back and rescue Piña.
Their plan is to infiltrate the capital, with Itami pretending to be a servant. He, Lelei, and Rory will go for Piña, through the front gate. Kuribyashi, Kurata, and Tuka will put to sleep the enemy soldiers in the rear gate, while Tomita and Kuwahara will support the escape. Yao and Kurokawa will secure Emperor Molt and to access his medical health.
Once they’re all inside, they’ll split up to their assigned tasks, with Kuwahara and Tomita requisitioning a LAV to use against any Imperial Soldiers. Itami notes to the fight-ready Kuribayashi that this is a rescue mission, but she’s free to wail on Zorzal if he gets any ideas.
Concerned that they would have problem trying to get in, Itami notes that he won’t be going in dressed as a soldier. Cue change to the operation, with him pulling a disguised Toyota Mega Cruiser while everyone else is inside. While the car is running and is on drive, they don’t go too fast and basically has Itami pull it on the level (probably while on neutral). When they get to the gates, the soldiers allow Rory and Lelei through, and Itami still has to pull the car/cart.
In the throne room, Piña is brought before her brother, dragged behind as a slave. The Imperial troops inside are uneasy at her treatment but don’t do anything, no doubt fearing for their lives or their families. Asking why she’s been brought before them, they go on a back and forth in trying to pin the blame on her and on Molt for the JSDF’s raid several days prior.
Laughing hysterically, she answers why her knights left with the JSDF. That had they stayed, they’d be treated as she is right now. The bastard asking Zorzal what they’ll do, he merely smiles. Elsewhere, Lelei and Tuka put to sleep the solders, while Yao and Kurokawa use guile and a Type 64 Battle Rifle to force the guards in front of Molt’s room to lay down their weapons.
Back at the throne room, Zorzal notes she’d be the last person to abandon the capital, but also points out that the Knights had aided the JSDF. Her blame is already been proven, and he intends to defeat the JSDF. If they want peace, they’ll rescue her, and at that point, she’ll be killed. He intends to fortify their defenses as soon as possible, and even has a giant ogre at his employ.
His haughty rant though is interrupted by a spectacular explosion that blows open the throne room doors, with the magic ball shattering the stained glass window above the throne. Rory, Itami,a nd Lelei walk in, greeting Zorzal while Piña tries to cover herself up in shame.
None of the soldiers are willing to go against Rory, while Itami explains that the soldiers outside are asleep. Seeing no other choice, Zorzal calls his ogre and Lelei and Rory fight it. In a display of physical prowess and magical ability, the two make short work of it, with Itami taking the chains away from the soldier holding Piña. He only came to have him stop sending assassins after Lelei and to rescue the princess.
Unwilling to give in, Zorzal attempts to challenge Itami before a gunshot rings out from outside, nicking Zorzal’s robes and the round embedding itself before him. Itami tells him they can reach him at any time, and are always watching. He tells his terms again, with a refusal to do so would mean the next round goes into his head. Zorzal gives in and the group escapes the throne room.
Outside, Kurata meets them on the Mega Cruiser (with Rory again sitting on Itami’s lap and Kurata getting jealous). Getting a situation report from Kurata, it seems that Kuribayashi is fending off Imperial troops at the garden, Tuka’s magic having worn off, while Kurokawa and Yao has the Emperor and Hamilton with them. Ahead of them, Imperial troops block their passage.
Itami guns down two who were charging at the car and Kuruta runs down the blockade. They pick up Kuribayashi and Tuka before heading to where Kurokawa has the Emperor. Hamilton volunteers to be the decoy but Kurokawa says it isn’t necessary.
With everyone aboard, they manage to squeeze past a closing gate, but are unable to reach the next one in time. Stopping, the gate explodes, revealing Tomita and Kuwahara in the LAV, Tomita having used a Panzerfaust 4 to blow open the gate. Holding their fire to prevent unnecessary civilian deaths, and that once they’re out of the walls they can stop them. Acknowledging this, they blow past a Oprichinina commanded strongpoint (with the wolf-hooded commissar noting the speed).
Nearing the western gate, held by the JSDF’s Special Forces team, they are pursued by cavalry. Clearing the city, the SF operators detonate a bed of explosives underneath the cavalry, killing them and preventing the pursuit of III Recon and their precious cargo.
With no one left pursuing them, the folks breathe a sigh of relief, with Hamilton being calmed by Piña. Noting that they’ve also brought her father, she sees that they’ve also been sent to rescue him. Itami denies this, noting that their primary objective was her, the Emperor second. But when he discussed this with the brass, they also noted that they should rescue the Emperor as well.
Thus his rescue was sanctioned by the Japanese government, and thus officially sanctioning his personal mission to rescue her as well. Having rescued both the Princess and the Emperor alongside the pro-peace senators, Emperor Molt (who had been awake though in pain) sees through the Japanese intentions and says they can make Zorzal out to be a traitor.
Having surprised everyone, he says he’s fine, though he can’t rest while being treated as garbage. Itami tells him that they’d reach Italica by the next day, when the Emperor notes it’d take several by horse. Piña gets to business and tells him that Zorzal is bringing chaos to the country, and implores him to stop her brother. He denies, knowing Zorzal won’t listen to him, and he agrees to Japan’s plan and rests the burden of government on Piña. While Piña says can’t fight her brother, Molt notes that to pursue peace or fight, the path is up to her.
Back at the capital, a procession of troops are leaving the capital. Asked by an advisor on where they’re headed, Zorzal is leaving to establish a redoubt in the northeast. Asked if the government will fall if they leave, Zorzal tells him to shut up before imagining a gunshot, paralyzing him.
Back at the wagon train, Furuta reports in. With Zorzal and the nobles and pro-war Senators leaving, he intends to ditch the convoy. Looking back, he looks back at Tyuule. Tyuule thinks back to her life as a prisoner, and knows that her objective of breaking the Empire succeeded, but still doesn’t understand why she’s crying. Back in Zorzal’s carriage, he merely screams out wanting his revenge.
Ten days later in Italica, Piña is appointed as Crown Princess of the new Imperial Government, with Emperor Molt passing all duties and responsibilities to her smoothly. III Recon is in attendance, with Shino teasing Kuruta over his tears. Spotting Tomita and Bozes, they come clean with their relationship, alongside the fact Bozes is pregnant.
Other relationships range from the (to this author, very annoyed) budding romance between Colonel Kengun and Beefeater, that of Yanagida and Delilah, and the amusing one between Sugiwara and Sherry (with Sugiwara saying they’re going to be following Japanese law). This of course annoys the still relationship-denied Kuribayashi, Kuruta (really Kuruta, you have Persia), and Shandy.
Noting who was absent in the day’s festivities, Kuruta tells Shino that he puts his hobbies ahead of his work. Itami is revealed to be back in Japan, attending the Summer Comiket, having waited a whole year to come back, he placed it way and above Piña’s coronation and formation of government.
His plans are dashed though when Lelei, Tuka, and Rory all show up. Having been given a special dispensation to travel by Lt. General Hazama, they are allowed to go only under the condition that Itami watches over them, much to his horror (and as punishment by the brass for missing out on the important event).
Gaining a crowd of people, a police officer approaches Itami, intending to take him somewhere safe (no doubt remembering what had happened the last time they were in Japan). Risa walks by, before noticing him, and asking what the hell he did now. He yells out, as the squad car pulls away, that he just wanted to buy doujinshi.
Panning out to view Tokyo, Lelei narrates that what had unfolded was a story of two worlds connected by The Gate.
Episode and Series Thoughts:
The definitive end I was expecting didn’t come about, and in it, a little bit of a teaser for a possible OVA or movie, or third series.
The anime has already gone and surpassed the manga in some plot points, no doubt having made some things up as they go along (I’ve yet to read the light novels).
The episode was good, and it was nice to see the core of III Recon together for the last time. I do feel sorry for the Imperial Army units left under Zorzal’s rule. Many of them seemed to be working for him only because they would be killed by their commissars. Many probably were discouraged after seeing the raid on the Capital just the last few days. Many of these are new forces, raised under Zorzal as part of the recreation of the decimated Imperial Army after the various battles against the JSDF. Tyuule and Zorzal not being dead as I hoped (and what some of my friends wanted) is a bit of a disappointment, but the mere fact he has this fear of dying after realizing that the JSDF moves faster than he could think is amusing.
Tyuule on the other hand crying even if her plans have succeeded is probably just a last minute bone tossing in trying to save the character. She isn’t redeemable in the eyes of many of the anime viewers, and very few of us really cares if she gets the happy ending. Whatever it is, it’s a bit of a teaser to a hopeful continuation of the story.
As for Piña, it seems that Molt has finally given in to her line of thinking. The mere fact he isn’t going to try to do the shadow governing he wanted to do with Zorzal speaks volumes on how much he trusts his youngest child in ensuring the Empire survives. Add the fact that there apparently was a banner change, from the dark purples and blacks of Molt and Zorzal’s Imperial Banner, to the white and gilded red dragon of Piña. It’s a good change. That as well as the fact that Bozes and Tomita are having a kid. Kengun though snatched Beefeater which is annoying, but still. And Sugiwara, poor man. Delilah and Yanagida were a surprise, even in the other mediums, but then again, she’s a warrior bunny, and a warrior managed to fight her off and they both managed to survive.
And sadly, Shino is still a bachelorette. Kuruta complaining just needs Persia to be around for him to calm down.
In all, the series was a ‘fun’ ride, though it is a Your Mileage May Vary sort of thing. I’ve been accused to be a bit of a racist when I posted a gif of Shino firing the Type 64 BR in a forum due to the imperialist and right-wing themes of the series, while at some places, other mil-otaku were gushing over the show.
GATE is written with an almost childish view of foreign and domestic policy, especially with the author’s legal aberration in ignoring the Mutual Defense Treaty. This is especially stupid since the run-around reasoning was defeated in later manga chapters where it was explained that the bulk of the US forces were embroiled in the Middle East and apart from US Forces Japan, has nothing to spare for a joint Japan-US establishment of a mission into the Special Region/Empire.
Another thing that has gotten some YMMV is the outright Gary Stu author insert in Itami. While he has grown as a character in later chapters, and there are examples of friends that fit him (being hardcore otakus yet being part of the German Army as a Leopard 2 gunner or another currently going through flight school in Pensacola or yet another being an Air Assault Infantryman with the 101st Airborne, the list goes on), it seems so jarring at times it breaks the suspension of disbelief.
The hot springs battle in Hakone didn’t help one bit, showing that the JGSDF Special Forces are able to hold off a combined group of Chinese, Russian, and US intelligence operators. Though in that regard they had full intelligence and logistical support and then Rory cut em all up.
The anime couldn’t have come in a better (or worse providing on a different POV) time. The nasty fight in the expansion of Japanese roles with regards to Article 9, coupled with a growing right-wing attitude towards Japan’s self-determination, a weakening American influence in the region, and of the People’s Republic of China’s territorial ambitions into most of the eastern and south-eastern Pacific; will only have some view this as making light of and approving Japan strengthening itself.
What that means is that many would see this as a puff piece for the JSDF (particularly the JGSDF), and some won’t like it. Some would prefer this was never made, and would be confident that more ‘sane’ shows aired during GATE’s two season runs overtook it in viewer ratings. Or at least be conscientious enough in wrapping their right-wing themes in a less overt and more subtle way.
The fact not only did the story leave the realm of self-aggrandizing right-wing fiction in some forum somewhere, then becoming a web novel, then a series of Light Novels, and now a manga and anime, shows that it isn’t wise to bury one’s head in the sand. It was a fun show, and uncomfortable show at times. And is completely in line with I believe is a growing discontent from the younger crowd, emboldened by some of the older generation, of Japan’s increasingly perilous position.
The majority of the Japanese are still uncomfortable with Japan becoming this power. They were less than pleased when the Japanese journalists were executed by ISIL, but not at the terrorists, just the mere fact that they were put in such a limelight. Yet they can’t stand to ignore what is going on. China’s posturing, the weakening US position (even with our ‘pivot to Asia’), and regional powers looking for someone strong enough to prevent Chinese encroachment into regional affairs, Japan is being looked into as that leader.
And that’s why I think GATE warranted its rise from an author self-insert wankery to a respectively sized name in the past few seasons. It tapped into a little bit of the unsettled minds of Japanese. That and the fact it had good characters in an alright setting and story (even if hamstrung by childish notions of modern politics) and featured modern technology finally destroying, obliterating, old technology. As someone who was always seeing modern tech being fucked over by swords and bows and arrows and the like, seeing the sanitized and impersonal combat of modern warfare is amusing.
But in all, GATE exceeded my expectations yet also gave me moments of pause and of reflection. I repeat myself, but I enjoyed it, and look forward to the DVDs and the first fan-translated novel should be in my kindle after I get past book two of Christopher Nutall’s Warspite books.