by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 4 of
After the big action pieces of the previous episodes, episode 4 is a much lower-key affair, one which focuses both more on the girls and on the mundane tasks and circumstances of individuals on each side. And yes, that includes a bathing scene for the fantasy female trio, though only one shots in it could actually be called fan service.
For no action being involved, quite a lot is actually going on. On the modern-world side, the press has gotten wind that the JSDF was involved in a battle which had civilian casualties, which the end of the episode indicates is going to eventually lead to Itami and someone from the fantasy world (probably Lelei, based on the opener) going back to the modern world to explain the circumstances. Also, the president of an unspecified country that is implied to be North Korea discusses how best to take advantage of the gate situation. On the fantasy world side, the JSDF gets approval to host the refugees (albeit with ulterior motives), and Itami winds up being in charge of them, to his dismay. Hence the JSDF sets up temporary housing – including a bath! – for the refugees, which mightily impresses them, though the elf girl Chuka Luna Marceau cutely frets over having to be dependent on the JSDF and what that might lead to. Meanwhile, the princess of the Empire has been investigating about what happened at Arnus Hill and learns thing that both dismay her and leave her incredulous. With the fantasy girls headed with the JSDF to the same city as the princess's troupe is headed towards, things could soon get messy.
Despite the lack of excitement, we are provided a lot of little tidbits to chew on here. Chuka is off-handedly indicated to be rare and special even amongst elves, though we are given no hint as to why; was the beginning flashback merely showing a father trying to save his daughter, or was there more to his actions than that? Rory, the axe-wielder, very definitely seems to be sandbagging, as ignoring the sense that she is scouting out the JSDF to keep an eye out for unjust behavior is difficult. Lelei studying Japanese will undoubtedly eventually bear fruit, and seeing how the princess reacts when she actually meets the JSDF should be interesting, and her bits with walking around wearing a gas mask provide a couple of chuckles. The discussion another officer has with Itami about the resources which could be claimed from this new world, and both the spoken and unspoken consequences of doing so, looks like a much bigger and more ominous (though also realistic) issue in the making, as does the princess learning about the dirty pool her father is playing with his allies.
Beyond that, the series' emphasis on realistic details of military procedures and creating practically a promo video for the JSDF continues. Seeing a series actually not ignore the consequences of actions (such as the bit about the press hearing about the battle but drawing wrong conclusions based on only hearing censored reports) is very satisfying, and the potential for what might happen once the fantasy girls start finding out that not everyone from the other world is kind-hearted and altruistic is gradually starting to build. That is going to explode at some point, and it will be fun to watch when it does. The JSDF members still seemed underdeveloped (do we even know the names of the squad members with regular speaking parts yet?), but it's still early in the series and there is a lot of focus to spread around. Basically, the series is just merrily chugging along at this point.
Review hiatus next week: Due to a scheduling conflict on my end, I do not anticipate being able to do an individual review for episode 5, so episodes 5 and 6 to be reviewed together in 2 weeks. Apologies and thanks for your patience!
GATE is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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