Episode 13

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 13 of
GATE (TV 2) ?

With the first episode of its second season, GATE is a series on a mission. It is so packed with an assortment of plot threads that it has no time for the sprinkling of frivolity that has been its trademark.

Well, almost no time, since it does have one or two brief jokes (predictably, at Itami and Pina's expenses) scattered throughout and does have an early silhouetted scene of Pina's elder brother having rough sex with a warrior bunny girl. Even there, though, the plot is still at work, as the scene reveals two key details: that the Imperial capital does not tolerate animal people (a count who visits the prince looks down on his actions because of who he's making a sex toy out of, not the fact that he's doing so) and that either the prince in particular or the Empire in general has the bunny people at their mercy, since the bunny girl is suffering the prince's abuse as part of some kind of deal to keep her people safe. In fact, that whole scene is played more for a sense of using sex as part of oppression rather than for titillation. The opening prominently feature that downtrodden bunny girl, so she's not going to be a one-off character, either.

That isn't the only time in the episode that sex comes into the picture, as a later scene involves Kurokawa (the dark-haired medic) speaking with a winged prostitute in a health clinic that the JSDF has surreptitiously set up in the capital's “red light district.” (This is not the glamorous kind of district seen in fare like The Story of Saiunkoku, but rather a veritable slum.) What delights her the most about the JSDF? That they can sell birth control. What disappoints her the most? That the soldiers won't partake of her services, perhaps because of a report about STDs in the area. Even under that threat, that still seems a little unrealistic and perhaps more of a “see how noble we are” aggrandizement of the JSDF than a realistic depiction.

Sex is not the only thing that the episode has on its mind, despite the very flattering dress that Princess Pina (I still cannot even type her full name without chuckling) wears at the dinner party she has arranged. There several senators secretly meet with the government rep guy and Itami's team, which puts on a display of the JSDF's more minor firepower (rifles and mortars) for the astounded senators, who immediately accept that negotiations are in their best interest. That scene nicely showcases the contrasting but also complementary diplomatic approaches of both the velvet glove and the iron fist, as well as how quickly and effectively Itami's team can vacate themselves and the senators from the premises when the prince comes snooping and (more amusingly) how effectively excellent food can distract someone. Meanwhile the Emperor is at least somewhat aware of what's going on and vows not to budge an inch on land or war reparations no matter what the senators might negotiate, meanwhile politicians back in Japan are trying to figure out how much to tell the nagging press and other countries, and meanwhile still Yao is questioning the bird girl to try to find some way to convince Itami to help her people with the fire dragon. The way that situation goes at least raises the possibility that she might resort to something drastic.

And that's still not all. The end of the episode throws a huge and unexpected twist out when one JSDF captain who was at Kobe when the big earthquake hit there in 1995 realizes that the way that the animal people are acting may be a sign of an “earth-shaker” coming. This is apparently an extremely rare occurrence in the core of the Empire, as Tuka (in her, Lelei, and Rory's sole brief appearance) comments that she only know about them from her father, but an earth-splitting one happens nonetheless. This is obviously a set-up to give the JSDF an excuse to show off their Crisis Management skills next episode, but seeing what impact this has on the other various subplots, and whether or not it's just an earthquake or connected to some other event, should be interesting.

The artistic merits have not slid one bit, but both the opener and the closer are new. Though I am a fan of using hard rock/metal songs for themes, the new opener does not impress and is clearly overshadowed by the original, though it does at least update the visual to give us hints about the second season. Better is the new closer, which cutely features the lead trio of girls in military uniforms. Female-oriented fan service is as prominent as the male-oriented service, as the (very buff) prince is not shy about standing around talking to a nobleman while fully exposed.

Overall, if you liked the first season of GATE then the only thing about the first episode of this season that might discourage some from continuing to watch is that early rough sex scene. At the very least there will definitely be no shortage of plot to go around.

Rating: B

GATE is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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