by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 10 of
So what do you do in the modern era if you have to protect yourself against shady individuals who might strike in a public place? Arrange a flash mob, of course!
Granted, GATE is hardly the first anime series to do this; Durarara!! famously did it in its first series, amongst others, and precursors to this modern phenomenon date back at least to Key the Metal Idol in the early-to-mid '90s. And granted, the gimmick was hardly alone in getting the otherworldly visitors safely back through the GATE. In this case, though, the switch from emphasizing Japan's overt and covert military prowess to emphasizing its (unwitting) public prowess makes for an interesting contrast.
A lot happens to get to that point, though. A warning call interrupting Rory's effort to seduce Itami serves as a prelude to an all-out battle which takes place when the special forces of the U.S., China, and Russia all converge on their inn at the same time. With Rory jumping out to gleefully massacre everyone in sight, it becomes a four-way battle which no one but Rory – who literally can't die – survives while Itami and crew lay low inside. The group takes off, commandeers a van, and contemplates their next move, leading to the idea of Itami's ex announcing a previously-unplanned visit by Rory, Lelei, and Tuka to the war memorial in Ginza to social media as a cover for getting the girls back through the GATE safely. The stunt works, as the sheer volume of people confounds foreign agents plotting a capture. Once back, the two groups of girls have very different reactions to their experience in Japan; the fantasy trio loved the experience and ultimately had a great time, while it left Pina with the even stronger impression that their Empire is utterly and hopelessly outclassed and that anything short of peace would be disastrous.
One of the most common (and fair) complaints lodged against this adaptation is that it is remarkably bloodless for as violent as it sometimes gets. The cuffs on that finally come off with the battle in the first third of the episode, as substantial bloodletting ensues; one soldier is even shown having gotten an arm severed. That gives the scene of Rory running amok amongst the trio of dueling covert ops teams even more impact – not that it needed a whole lot of help, as Rory once again gives the impression that she is the last person you'd want as an enemy. Other nice little touches abound, such as seeing Tuka with a modern compound bow, the girls marveling at a vending machine, Itami's ex being so dead-on about how he looks at the fantasy girl trio (he finds Tuka most attractive on appearance, Rory most attractive in personality, and Lelei as moe appeal), and the girls wondering if the flash mob is an army gathering to invade their world. (In a sense that's not far off.) Comedy relief this time comes in the form of Kuribiyashi's sister, who is an incompetent fledgling reporter but does manage to unwittingly give the group further protection by letting Kuribiyashi brainlessly sound off on TV about how people have been pursuing them for two days. The scene near the end with Rory appreciating the honoring of the dead is also neat.
If only the political side of the series could be handled more gracefully. That only the American president's reaction to events is shown also seems suspicious, which suggests an additional agenda on the part of the writer, but it is just something that must be tolerated at this point. The series also continues to be annoyingly inconsistent on who does and does not need a translator; most of the time it just seems to give up on this, but every so often gives the impression that Lelei is still doing a lot of translating. In all, though, it is one of the more satisfying episodes in a while. Next episode looks like a full shift back to the fantasy world, with even a suggestion that a dark elf might show up, so there's something to look forward to as well.
GATE is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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