Wishing he was buying some of his favourite doujins.
This may seem like an odd thing to say, but GATE is undoubtedly anime. From the moment we were introduced to a 33 year old self-insert otaku attending a doujinshi event, saying things you’d expect to hear from the intended target audience, I knew what kind of series this was going to be. Like many, I’d heard plenty about the series and what to expect from it, resulting in some rather negative preconceptions. However, I was still surprised by how typical and tropey GATE ended up being. Although I understand there are several versions of the source material, I can’t imagine this series without the blatant anime/light novel appeal. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing – since understanding your target audience can result in a more popular final product, case in point – but I did find myself ticking off a mental list of anime cliches with every passing episode. And the list just kept on going… and going.
Whether it be the massively popular gothloli in Rory Mercury (who grinds my gears, personally), your typical fantasy elf in Tuka, or the masses of cute animal girls around every corner (that would be perfect for dakimakura), it felt like GATE was adamant in putting in as many of these typical anime tropes into the story as possible. But it’s important to note that fiction never exists in a vacuum. Stories are born from the minds of their creators, and so their intentions and interests shine through. Yanai Takumi obviously knew what type of story he wanted to write, and it’s no doubt why it’s as popular as it is; five years ago I probably would have loved what GATE had to offer, but my tastes have changed over the years after being exposed to too many of the same series time and time again.
There were a few of those typical moments that I got some enjoyment out of, like Pina ca Lada (which is a terribly unfortunate name – the names in this series are bizarre, and not in a good way) and her love for BL “art”, as well as the obsessive nature of Itami’s fujoshi ex wife; I did get a few laughs from those characters, who, despite being walking caricatures, were probably my favourites (and least offensive) of the cast. However, instances like Rory encouraging Itami to get intimate with a woman who is technically in a child’s body, or Yao Ha almost being raped in a back alley 3 times over, only for to be played for laughs, were examples that irritated and disappointed me.
GATE & Right-Wing Politics:
I’m sure there are bound to be groans when you mention the right wing agenda that exists in GATE. You may say: ” just let it go” or “let me enjoy it without bringing politics into it”, but when the creator so obviously puts across his ideologies and brings real life politics into the equation, what can you expect? You simply can’t ignore the author’s views, and you shouldn’t. Denying the link between the two is lying to yourself; I wish I could be more ignorant to it all, but I can’t.
That being said, it’s probably a good thing that I’m the one writing this post and not some other bloggers, because although I’d class my political views are far-left and very different from what’s put across here, I wasn’t nearly as aggravated as I thought I would have been. I went into GATE prepared to be furious, but that never really happened. The closest to it was the general tone of the Itami’s questioning and Rory biting back – it felt very contrived and gave a taste of what could come. Thankfully, there weren’t many scenes like that, though I imagine if there were more, I might have felt exhausted with them. But as a whole I was never overtly offended with what I saw.
I can narrow that down to two main reasons: (1) Due to the original source material changing various times over through different mediums, resulting in a less obvious right-ring bias, the anime has likely been drained of the more controversial elements of the story. Or (2) because there was so much focus on the cliches that I couldn’t entirely take it that seriously. If it were more dedicated to tackling the real-life politics side of the story, things could have been very messy, but perhaps it would have made for a more memorable experience. However, looking over what we’ve been given, I still do think it’s for the best that the anime adaptation filtered out the most outrageously conservative segments from the original. If it hadn’t, I most certainly would have immense dislike for the series, reaching a similar level of hate that I have for Mahouka for similar reasons.
In the end, I didn’t hate GATE. That may not sound like a glowing recommendation, but I went into this with incredibly low expectations, and actually quite enjoyed the ride. Of course, there were bumps, which I’ve covered above, but I’m grateful that this version of the story doesn’t appear to be as detestable as some claim the original novel is. Still, there are moments that worry me, especially if we get more real-life politics. I’ve been spoiled for a few events that are set to occur in the next arc (starting in the winter season) and if they turn out to be true, I may not have the same decently positive opinion as I have right now. But from what I’ve seen so far, GATE has been tolerable because of the balance between controversial politics and anime cliches – it’s certainly not a combination that’s going to make my favourites list by the end of the year, but it somehow managed to be an enjoyable watch. We’ll see how if that continues in the second cour.