The Winter 2016 Anime Preview Guide
GATE Season 2
How would you rate episode 13 of
GATE (TV 2) ?
What is this?
When we last saw Junji Itami and his JSDF task force, they were working on political negotiations with senators from the Special Region with the help of Princess Pina Co Lada, using hostages taken during battle as a way to win the nobility's support. Meanwhile a dark elf named Yao Ha Dusi had just shown up seeking the JSDF's help in defeating a fire dragon that was ravaging her homeland, which is much farther into the Special Region than the government is prepared to allow them to go. Now the party to curry the nobles' favor is in full swing and Yao is desperately trying to find Itami to apologize for her previous behavior, but other issues are rearing their ugly heads. Pina's brother Zozal, whom we meet as he's raping a Warrior Bunny who has clearly offered her body as a form of protection for her people, learns of the JSDF's plans and heads to crash the party. Meanwhile Kurokawa has been assigned to the red light district's clinic to work with the demi-human prostitutes while studying STDs in the Special Region. This puts her in the position to hear the women out when one of them gets the feeling that something is really wrong, alerting the JSDF to the likelihood of a major earthquake, which hits at episode's end. Can they get everyone out in time and keep Zozal off the scent? GATE Season 2 is based on a web novel (turned light novel) series by Takumi Yanai and airs at 2:30 on Fridays on Crunchyroll.
How was the first episode?
GATE has a lot to get done in this first episode of the new season, and it definitely feels like they're trying to cram a lot of story seeds in. While this does mean that some of our favorites from the first season – namely Rory, Tuka, and Lelei – don't get any screen time, it also does a decent job of showing us where things are likely to be focused. Perhaps the most shocking of these is Pina's brother, Zozal, and his rape of a Warrior Bunny woman. It's as brutal as anything in the first season, if not moreso because the first season may have committed a lot of atrocities on the citizens of the Special Zone, but none of them were sexual in nature. In fact, it looks on the whole like this season is going to look more at the sex trade in general – Kurokawa is clearly working on a report about STDs in fantasyland, and there's an even clearer social difference between the humans and the demi-humans. This is easily the most interesting part of the episode, not because it's prurient, but more because it's something the first season didn't really go into. It also makes sense, because if Japan is going to set up some sort of political alliance with any of the nations of the Special Region, they're going to have to deal with all facets of their society, even those that have been swept under the rug. In fact, the most interesting new character is Misery, an angelfolk prostitute (I'm borrowing the name from A Centaur's Life since GATE doesn't provide one) who comes to Kurokawa for birth control. She's clearly not as at ease as she wants to appear, but she's also a no-nonsense woman, speaking more openly than Kurokawa (and the audience) might suspect. I hope she's not a one-off player, because not only does she make an interesting foil to Pina's jerk brother, but she also presents a very different type of person in the Special Region than the JSDF has interacted with before, giving a fuller picture of what life is really like.
Yao, the dark elf from the last couple of episodes of season one, feels like she's just been shoehorned into the episode to remind us that she's still here and still needs help, which compounds the feeling that the series isn't really doing her storyline justice. Hopefully that will change, but quite honestly it isn't quite as interesting as the parallel between Misery and the way Zozal thinks he's kind of great for not “discriminating” in terms of the race of his unwilling bed partners. Presumably Yao's story will take off, but I find myself less invested in it than I expected, which feels like a problem. Alongside all of this is the political factor of the story, wherein the Japanese government is trying to wiggle into the good graces of the nobility via hostage negotiation, which again felt, if not crammed in precisely, less well treated than it could have been.
Overall it feels like season two is off to a good start. The demi-humans have gotten much more creative looking in terms of design and variety, and that opening scene with Zozal is positively brutal, which it really needed to be. Yao and the main cast aren't where they need to be yet, but this doesn't feel like a transition episode, so hopefully all plots will become more equal as the season progresses.
Plus you don't want to miss Itami in the swirly yellow turd hat. He'll never live that down.
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