So here it is, the nationalistic overtones that I was warned about. The politics of Gate aside, what really bothers me is that the show has lost it’s narrative.
If there has there ever been a main character that is divorced in an anime I have seen, I don’t remember it. The break up was caused by Itami choosing duty over his relationship, which adds another layer to him. In episode 8 we find out that he is Special Forces, and in 9 we find out he is friends with the defence minister. However, the failed relationship tells us more about the man and his priorities. Frankly, the “Itami is really a badass” shtick is getting old.
Itami is the only one we are really learning anything about. What was an interesting group dynamic has morphed into a more traditional harem show. The girls are mostly replaceable side characters. This is an unfortunate turn in the story, and the series has become the Itami show since they returned to Japan. The last two episodes have been bloated by unnecessary scenes. The Diet scene in episode 8 was pointless, except to show that at least the perception of our politicians as grandstanding idiots is something the US and Japan have in common. Still, contrived as it was, the dressing down the Diet member received (did it have to be a woman?) was somewhat satisfying. The shopping scene in episode 9 was similarly pointless. If you needed filler you could have made the dragon battle last longer a few episodes ago. Even better, you could spend some time on fleshing out someone other than Itami.
Ah, politics. The Diet scene aside, the interesting political message was the show’s statement about the Japanese Military. I found it interesting that with Russia, China, and the US all playing close attention to what was going on with the “Special Region,” only the US has taken military action. The commentary that the US raiders didn’t expect the Japanese units to “be this good” was ridiculous. US Army Special Forces helped Japan form their SFG. They are well aware of how well trained they are. (They are well trained, by all accounts). Somebody apparently has a complex. The Japanese generally trusts the US, and do not trust China, so I thought this was an odd plot choice. Any country with a decent military force would be deadly on their home turf, so I viewed the message as “we are just as good as you” and not a declaration of Japanese superiority. However, I can see how some would take it that way.
Gate has lost its way at the moment. There is plenty of room for good a story here, but wasting time on sideshows (I can’t even call it filler) and petty nationalism is not helping. Gate is running out of time to tell a compelling story this season. Hopefully, they’ll stop messing around and get serious..