At the center of GATE is a self-proclaimed otaku who works merely to support his habits; Japan’s Self Defense Force (SDF) soldier Youji Itami does whatever he can to avoid working hard. One day while riding the train to a nearby anime convention, a mysterious gate opens near the center of the city, releasing a flood of monsters and enemy soldiers into the metropolitan area. Our hero begrudgingly spearheads measures to help save countless civilian lives and earns himself national praise and attention, which is the last thing he could possibly want. Once the invaders have been pushed back, a protective structure is built around the gate and a mission is put together by the SDF to journey through to the other side and determine who, or what, is behind its appearance. Itami, now recognized as a hero, is selected as part of this elite mission to a world where wi-fi is not a guarantee, much to his dismay. This is how our story takes off, and really it sticks with this theme of a reluctant and lazy protagonist who is surprisingly good at pretty much anything when he feels like putting his effort into it.
Besides Itami, there are three central female characters that help drive the story along. When you have an anime with a medieval setting, who else would these characters be but an Elf, a mage and a 900+ year old demigod who has the body of a young teenager?
The elf, Tuka Luna Marceau, is seeking to find her father after an attack by a fire dragon destroyed her village and killed everyone. Though Itami and the others assume her father is dead, she holds out hope, even setting aside clothes and meals for him expecting him to turn up. Studious mage Lelei Le Lelena is obsessed with the technology and power of the “green people”, picking up Japanese and serving as an apt translator for Itami and the rest of the SDF. Finally, there’s the fan favorite Rory Mercury. An apostle of Emroy, god of violence, death and destruction, Rory is an extremely powerful fighter who enjoys nigh-immortality. Though she is extremely friendly towards Itami, she is often anxious for battle and relishes in dishing out death with her gigantic axe. Over 900 years old and having the body of a young girl, she displays romantic interest in Itami on a few occasions, opening the door for some hilarious and uncomfortable encounters.
GATE’s primary strength is its premise: while there have been numerous tales of an unsuspecting individual getting magically transported to another realm, it rarely covers the military, political and economic ramifications of what it means to have a new gateway between two entirely different worlds. For example, shortly after the SDF arrives it encounters an enemy force that is 100,000 soldiers strong. Now, this is a hypothetical situation that has long been floating around the internet in terms of who would win such a fight, and GATE does a great job of laying it out in all of its “shock-and-awe” glory. In short, the medieval army stood no chance and the SDF completely destroys them without a single casualty. Their one-sided victory establishes their legendary status almost immediately, as word of the “green people” (referring to their camo-green outfits) spreads throughout the kingdom.
While Japan may be the top dogs on the other side of the gate, back on Earth the other countries begin to wonder how they could get in on this untapped world containing unknown spoils and resources. China, Russia and the United States are the first to begin conspiring how to infiltrate and exploit this situation, and to be honest it’s refreshing to watch Itami and our other heroes disrupt their attempts. Diplomacy and treaties also play a central role as their medieval opponents, represented by Princess Pina Co Lada (Yes, I’m serious) work hard to insure that the mysterious and powerful “green people” don’t wipe them off the face of the Earth.
Overall, the treatment of GATE’s unique storyline could be reason enough to give this show a watch, but with the addition of quality animation, intriguing characters and entertaining action sequences, it’s one of the best shows of the summer season. Enjoy it!