Air Dates: July to September 2015 (Part 1) and January to March 2016 (Part 2)
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Off-duty Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) officer and otaku, Youji Itami, is on his way to attend a doujin convention in Ginza, Tokyo when a mysterious portal in the shape of a large gate suddenly appears. From this gate, supernatural creatures and warriors clad in medieval armor emerge, charging through the city, killing and destroying everything in their path. With swift actions, Youji saves as many lives as he can while the rest of the JSDF direct their efforts towards stopping the invasion.Three months after the attack, Youji has been tasked with leading a special recon team, as part of a JSDF task force, that will be sent to the world beyond the gate—now being referred to as the “Special Region.” They must travel into this unknown world in order to learn more about what they are dealing with and attempt to befriend the locals in hopes of creating peaceful ties with the ruling empire. But if they fail, they face the consequence of participating in a devastating war that will engulf both sides of the gate.[Written by MAL Rewrite]
Balance and Pace of Story
This anime hits the ground running and wastes no time on “filler” episodes. The story is well paced and has a nice flow, great choreography, decent character development, and a rather unique spin on the oh-so-common “travel to another world” story. While this is primarily an action anime, it has hints of drama and comedy thrown in the mix. Pulling no punches, it can be intense at times, but there is a lighthearted side to it as well. Along with the action, you will see war strategy, political intrigue, love interests, playful comedic banter, and a dose of fan fare. Those elements are balanced perfectly and at a pace that makes it very binge-worthy.
Animation and Action
I paired these together because the choreography is an important part of this anime’s animation quality. The combat scenes are anything but boring and will surely keep your eyes glued to the screen. Intense, fast paced, and brutal are good words to describe them. The fighting styles are portrayed very well with fluid movements that don’t ignore the laws of physics. There are no blinding fast streaks of punches and kicks that are nothing but a blur on the screen. Instead you actually get to see each of the dodged blows and connected punches and kicks. So many action anime cut corners on this but not this one. The combat scenes in GATE actually add to the immersion, making you cringe, gasp, and even cheer. Beyond that, the animation style is very appealing with plenty of detail The armor, fantasy creatures, vehicles, weapons, lighting/shadows, all of it looks fantastic. Another nice touch is the breathtaking backgrounds.
Character development in GATE was well above average. While not every character is totally fleshed out and given a detailed backstory, that is not the only form of character development. Each character has a distinct personality that is colorfully portrayed. You will get to know each character rather quickly and it won’t be long before you can guess how each character will react to certain situations. That is not to say this anime is predictable, more to say that you will connect with the characters such that you understand their motives and values. There will be characters that you love, hate, find adorable or annoying, and feel are moronic or brilliant. The point is that you will actually care about what happens to them, good or bad.
Story and Genre
Traveling to another world is a fairly common premise to the anime world, but few of them involve being able to travel freely back and forth. Even fewer also include war and politics between the two worlds. I found this to be a fresh spin on the genre that gave the story more complexity and the setting more depth. Many anime have too narrow of a story focus and quickly run out of entertaining content. The story becomes predictable as the number of possible directions it can take dwindle. By contrast, this anime has a multitude of directions it could take, holding the viewer’s attention in the suspense. While this anime did not end on a cliffhanger, it could easily have several more seasons due to the sheer number of possible directions it could take. There is so much more potential content to explore.
While the musical score for this title is not a huge focal point, they made great use of it in setting the mood of each scene. This is a topic usually overlooked by most, but can have a dramatic impact on how enjoyable an anime can be. Poorly chosen background music can really break the mood of a scene and even distract you from a good story. However, when the right music is paired up with a scene, it can greatly improve how immersive the anime can be. This anime got it right. The opening and ending were also well chosen as they get me pumped up for the next episode. You know it’s a good opening or ending if you never skip it.
I highly recommend this anime to any fan of the “travel to another world” genre. There are a few scenes that are definitely not something a child should see, so keep that in mind if there are youngsters around. The animation quality is above average, characters are great, and story is engaging. Block out a good amount of time as you may find yourself marathoning all 24 episodes like I did.