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The Spring 2024 Anime Preview Guide
The New Gate

How would you rate episode 1 of
The New Gate ?
Community score: 3.1

What is this?


THE NEW GATE―an online game transformed into a life-and-death struggle for its players. Thanks to the valiant efforts of Shin, the most powerful of them all, an end to the game and freedom for everyone seemed within reach. But just moments after Shin defeats the game's final boss, he finds himself bathed in an unknown light and transported some 500 years into the future of the in-game world. Thrown from a simple game gone wrong into a strange new land, one young swordsman of unrivaled strength is about to embark on a legendary journey.

The New Gate is based on a light novel series written by Shinogi Kazanami and illustrated by Makai no Jūmin, KeG, and Akira Banpai. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Saturdays.

How was the first episode?

James Beckett

I've said it before, and I will repeat it: An anime's premiere episode has only one job. It does not necessarily need to be incredibly original, thrilling, or chock-full of gorgeous visuals and animation. Those things help, obviously, but plenty of shows have lacked one—or even all—of those qualities and still ended up being successful. In the end, the first episode of a new show only needs to prove to its audience that it has some reason to exist. We viewers, for our part, have to use our guts and brains to make instantaneous and often subconscious decisions to decipher whether or not a show has the “it” factor that compels us to seek out more. Still, it hardly matters if we are searching for novelty, nuance, emotional resonance, thoughtful commentary on the state of the world, or even the simple pleasure of raw entertainment value. A show either has “it”, or it does not.

Friends, this is my stalling-for-time way of telling you that The New Gate does not have “it.” I spent the entirety of its unbearably dull and pointless premiere trying to work out exactly how I could communicate the show's complete lack of a reason for being in enough words to still earn my paycheck. The problem, you see, is that The New Gate is one of those clearly and undeniably terrible shows that sucks in a way that completely defies in-depth analysis. It does not fail in its storytelling or character writing, because neither the story nor the characters have enough substance to be truly capable of failing traditionally. Something must exist before it can be measured against the quality of other extant things, and the “story” of Shin's death-game-turned-isekai-time-travel-deal is just…not there. How can I get mad over a protagonist whose entire personality begins and ends with the monosyllabic pronunciation of his name? How do I dissect the pros and cons of a plot and setting that would look meager if you put it side-by-side with a half-finished mad-libs game that some bored kid scribbled on the back of an Applebee's kids' menu?

“What about the visuals, then?” I hear you asking. “Surely, you must have something to say about how this animated work, you know, animates?” I don't know, man! It doesn't look good, but I also have to be able to notice details to critique them. If I'm being honest, you probably could have sat me in front of a blank white wall for twenty minutes, and I would have walked away with the same impression of The New Gate as a piece of visual art. It may “exist” in theory, but in practice, the experience of watching The New Gate evaporates from the mind too quickly to provide the basis for any opinions. No character does not seem ripped from the pages of one of those old “How to Draw the Mangas!!!” books you'd find piled up in the back of a Scholastic Book Fair. There is no single frame of background art or scenery that was not recycled from the animation studio's drunk drawer of unused materials.

All the premiere of The New Gate had to do was make one simple case for its own existence. After watching it and writing about it, I'm still not convinced that the entire thing wasn't some half-remembered dream induced by a mix of too many crappy isekai anime and an ill-advised midnight pizza bite binge. Take it from me, readers: If you watch cartoons for a living, avoid any greasy foods or caffeinated beverages after 7:00 PM. You never know what kind of monotonous slogs your nutrient-deprived brain will hallucinate up in the night.

Richard Eisenbeis

Let's start with the obvious downsides. The New Gate has some seriously cheap-looking animation going on. The characters look wonky in more than a few shots and the action is lackluster at best. (At worst, it's almost non-existent—like with the literal final boss of The New Gate just standing there, not attacking the entire fight until Shin finally puts him down). Other than that, we have yet another isekai story complete with status windows and overpowered skills.

And let me make myself clear. I'm fine with all of that. The premise of The New Gate completely sells it for me.

This is an obvious reimagining of the end of Sword Art Online's first arc where Shin, our legally distinct Kirito clone, is pulled into the game-world-made-real after the death game itself ends. Moreover, he awakens hundreds of years later—meaning the world is both the same and vastly different from what he remembers.

However, it's the nuance of the premise that is important. It's not that Shin was transported to a world like the one in the death game; this is the same world. Before Shin cleared the death game, it was a game. The NPCs that filled the world were just computer-controlled characters with limited AI. However, after that point, the world became real—all the NPCs became living, breathing people.

This means that they were left to deal with the repercussions of the sudden disappearance of the 10,000 strongest people in their world—i.e., the players—and had to try and rationalize what happened. What's even more interesting is that some of the former NPCs are still alive in the present. It will be interesting to see how they interact with Shin, someone they knew before their reality changed.

So when it comes down to it, despite its obvious shortcomings, I am all in on The New Gate. I don't expect many people to be on this ride with me but if you ever wondered who this anime was made for, at least you now know the answer is “me.”

Nicholas Dupree

This is one of those shows that seems to have been assembled from spare parts. It's got a hefty amount of Sword Art Online in its DNA. Otherwise, it cannibalizes the established ideas that all its Narou-originating brethren have been feeding off for what feels like an eternity. You've got the overpowered good guy with the personality of wet particle board. You've got the fantasy world that operates on video game rules – this time, because it WAS originally a video game world that's inexplicably become real. You've got our hero being way stronger than he appears because he's essentially playing New Game+, so he can casually fix every problem and solve all conflicts without ever having to put more than minimal effort in.

It's painfully dull, is what I'm saying. It's an aimless amalgamation of isekai and isekai-adjacent tropes slapped together with little thought and even littler animation. Every line of dialogue in this premiere is flavorless exposition, as characters patiently explain all pertinent information to Shin with only the barest confusion as to why this adult man seemingly has no clue about even the most basic history of the world around him. The greatest sources of drama are Shin fighting a skeleton monster without getting a scratch and curing an elf woman's century-long curse with about 30 seconds of fiddling in his game menus. Because yes, he still has his game menu screen despite no longer being in a video game. I'd ask why, but I know there won't be a satisfactory answer, so I'll just take my one nugget of amusement from the one bit where we see him from another person's perspective, and he's just talking to thin air while moving his hands about.

Outside of that mild chuckle, there's nothing else to grasp onto. The fantasy world's origin as a video game could have been interesting – shows like Log Horizon and Banished from the Hero's Party managed to find good angles to combine a flesh and blood world with game mechanics – but here, it just means there's a slightly more convoluted reason why only Shin can use special gamer powers. The characters are wind-up dolls that dispense exposition for Shin and the audience, except for the female characters, who also have boobs for Shin to stare at while they talk. The character designs are as forgettable as their names. The animation is about two steps below serviceable. If you asked somebody to come up with the platonic ideal of a lame isekai story, it would look pretty close to this, and there's no saving that.

Rebecca Silverman

Take a little Sword Art Online, mix in a bit of In the Land of Leadale, add a dollop of Log Horizon for good measure, and then add in some of those godforsaken guild receptionists and a few ladies whose breasts don't fit in their clothes, and you might approximate The New Gate. Even in an oversaturated genre, this is painfully generic, stitching bits of other stories together to form the world's blandest quilt. You almost have to admire the lack of innovation that went into it. Our hero Shin is the Kirito of his VRMMORPG, determined to beat a game turned deadly so that everyone can log out. Still, somehow he manages not to log out himself, and the next thing he knows, it's five hundred years later, and all of his support characters (NPCs) have become real. As the last remaining player character in the world, it is his oyster because, as the only "High Human," he is overpowered in the extreme. What a shock.

There are exactly two moments in this episode that I admired. The first was the fact that economics exist and are accounted for in the game-turned-reality's world – the coin that Shin offers to Tiera was once worthless but now is considered a huge, rare coin of great value, sort of like if a time traveler whipped out a ducat or a piece of eight at the local grocery store today. The other entertaining element is when Shin starts using his in-game menu, and to Tiera, it just looks like he's waving his hands like an idiot. It's a moment of realism I wasn't expecting, and I appreciated it.

But beyond that? Most of the episode takes place as Tiera and Shin stand on either side of a counter and talk, and then he sits at a table and talks to someone else for the rest of it. There's some action, sure, but it's minimal and mainly involves Shin swinging his sword, and then a monster dies. "Dynamic" is absolutely not the word. A great deal of dialogue is simply people explaining things to Shin, things that function in the exact same way in virtually every other similar show, such as guild levels and rules. What vocal performances remain are largely devoted to Shin's ongoing conversation with himself, explaining how things work. I'm not sure if this is a poor adaptation or if it is this generic, but whatever the reason, The New Gate isn't an adventure I would recommend embarking on – at least not in its anime format.

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