Episode 8

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 8 of

The fantasy girls, with Princess Pina and her subordinate in tow, finally make it to Japan with Itami and his two chief subordinates as escorts. The results are more or less what you'd expect, given the way this series has operated so far. That means that there will be some light goofing around, more opportunities for Itami to laconically show his competence, and more aggrandizement of the infallibility of the JSDF, but the episode mostly plays things systematically and seriously. That also means, unfortunately, more caricatures of politicians. That does not, however, make this episode much less entertaining or satisfying.

While Pina and her subordinate are shuffled off to “unofficial” talks with representatives of the Prime Minister, Itami escorts Rory, Lelei, and Tuka to the assembly at the Diet (after a quick change of clothes for Tuka, some cheap gyuudon for everyone, and Kuribayashi losing it again over discovering that Itami is the equivalent of Special Forces). There a blustering female Diet member does everything she can to portray the JSDF in a negative light, but her efforts get rebuffed at every turn, especially by a colorful but also practical dressing-down by Rory – who then later goes on to prattle on helplessly to Itami about how her subway ride brings out her fears of an underworld god named Hardy who has been dogging her to marry him for centuries. (In other words, Rory is in top form.) Afterwards, Itami arranges a series of deviations from original plans to try to throw off mysterious powers who might be intent on interfering with their visitors, which somehow results in him and his retinue/guests ending up at the house of his (shut-in?) ex-wife. Along the way the writing casually throws in a couple of other clarifications, such as more about Rory's nature and what makes Tuka so special even as elves go.

The portrayal of the female Diet member (who is the only one who speaks or is even animated) can be looked at two ways: as evidence of how little regard the original writer holds for politicians or as a crude attempt to show that not everyone in Japan is happy about the whole “Special Region” business. Probably both are actually true. That's unfortunate, because even if you really like seeing politicians getting their comeuppance, that portrayal is a drag on what was otherwise an enjoyable episode. It finds a good balance between light humor and more serious practical matters, and the reactions of the girls from the fantasy realm to Itami's world – and what that tells about their world views – is interesting. Itami also continues to impress in the way he disguises his full capabilities, though how much of that is cunning and how much is him just being as lazy as he thinks he can get away with is another matter. The flashes to Internet viewers of the Diet proceedings and social media commentary about them are also amusing, especially since they are probably accurate to what would actually happen.

Aside from the matter with the politician, the other knock on this episode is a couple of fails in realism, which does matter for a show which has otherwise played itself as realistically as possible when showing the interactions of modern and fantasy world elements. I find Rory being allowed to carry her ax into the Diet chamber, even while wrapped up, to strain credibility to the breaking point, since it is quite obviously a weapon; granted, anime routinely ignores such concerns, but still. Also – and this is the bigger issue – while Lelei is shown translating for Rory and Tuka in the Diet chamber, who is translating for Pina? Back in the other world, Itami was implied to have learned enough of their language to basically converse, but nothing of the sort was ever implied about the male subordinate accompanying Pina. That the series is even bothering to account for translation issues is cool, but it should be consistent.

So a couple of big minuses weight down what is otherwise a good episode, hence the reason why its grade is not moving up.

Rating: B

GATE is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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