Gate’s balanced presentation has impressed me since episode 1. For example, Gate presents the Self Defense Force (SDF) as capable but not infallible. Also, while they fought the fire dragon, Itami‘s reaction to Tuka’s nudity wasn’t a bloody nose (as I see far too often in anime); he really didn’t even react because they were in the middle of a battle. And in this episode, we see something similar. More on that in a moment.
This episode, titled “Visitor,” begins a few months after our heroes returned from Earth.
We see Lelei in the refugee camp, now simply a fellow refugee and not the representative of another world. Like the other refugees, she’s going about her daily routine like brushing her teeth and getting ready for the day. A comfortable, peaceful, and bustling town has taken root around the military’s PX, and folks are more or less safe there. Some locals have seen the opportunity to start businesses, so natives and SDF soldiers can buy all sorts of things. It appears our heroes are safe and sound.
Then the story switches Princess Pina. After having seen Japan and realizing the insanity of trying to challenge the SDF, she’s working herself to exhaustion to bring about a peaceful diplomatic solution. She knows she needs to act quickly. She needs to identify allies and strengthen their collective position. Specifically, she has to identify influential individuals who tend to prefer war but aren’t fossilized in that position. She knows it’s going to be a struggle — for some (insane!) reason, the emperor and the “hawks” still want war, in spite of what’s happened. The empire is even rebuilding its army in preparation for battle!
I’d say this isn’t realistic. Then I remember history and understand that it’s all too realistic. But I digress.
Pina opens her battle at a dinner party thrown by Cicero La Moltose (I wonder if the number of French-sounding names, like Lelei La Lalena, is a hint about a previous or ongoing relationship between Earth and the Special region?), a nobleman who belongs to a family important to the empire since its founding. He’s a hawk, but he doesn’t understand the full story, and the Princess thinks that she can persuade him. Pina has an ally, a member of the Japanese Foreign Affairs Ministry, Sugawara Kouji. The story portrays him as a level-headed and skilled diplomat. In my experience, that’s pretty accurate, and it’s another example of Gate’s balance. What I like about how Gate portrays him is that, in my experience, stories that are either neutral or positive about the military often portray the diplomatic corps in a negative light. Gate doesn’t do that. That’s cool.
Pina’s smart. She knows she can’t just say, “Hey, Lord Cicero, here’s a dude from the world that kicked our butts,” so she she introduces him simply as a representative from Japan. Cicero thinks it’s a local country, but he can’t place it. Sugawara presents Cicero with many gifts from Japanese craftsmen, and Cicero seems particularly interested in a Japanese sword. But he still can’t place Japan, and he presses Sugawara, who says, “Our nation lies beyond the gate. Unfortunately, we are presently at war with the Empire…”
To his credit, Cicero didn’t go on a killing rampage or run screaming. He simply cleared the room of all servants and vents a bit. Sugawara puts the conversation in perspective when he hands Cicero a piece of paper that has Cicero’s nephew’s name on it. The nephew is a prisoner, alive, in Japan.
I liked a realistic touch in this scene: Cicero is afraid that Sugawara and Pina will demand he take point on negotiations, and it’s clear he has no idea how he’d succeed — or even survive the attempt. But no; they only want his support, like accompanying Pina to visit the next prisoner’s family. Little touches like that really draw me into a story.
While Pina’s making progress, Itami sits down to dinner with Mari Kurokawa, who’s really worried about Tuka. Rory‘s been on patrol (helping keep the peace), and she joins them. Tuka, it seems, combs the settlement every night looking for her dead father. Mari is worried and wants to make Tuka face reality, but Itami points out that Mari can’t stay after the SDF pulls out. If they force Tuka to accept her father’s death, who will support her when the SDF’s gone?
Mari knows he’s right, but she’s still in agony over Tuka. She excuses herself and leaves Itami alone with Rory. Rory tries to comfort him with the tender words, “Drink, idiot!”
One of my favorites moments in this episode is when Itami says Rory’s a nice girl. “Some grim reaper you are!” Rory explains that in order to rule over death, she must rule over and reverence life, since “Death is the climax of life.” Of course, Rory being Rory, and being over 960 years old, she thinks ahead. She really seems to like Itami. She planned to get drunk and have Itami carry her home — where she planned to spring her trap! This episode has a great little scene where Rory imagines her plan — but her plan was interrupted.
By Yao Ha Dushi, a dark elf (300 years old or so, according to Rory), who burst into the bar and asked why they served alcohol to children.
If you’ve watched Gate so far, you probably know how much Rory likes to be called a child. Which is to say, not at all.
Yao is looking for the “green people” (i.e., the SDF) to help her clan. She has no idea that Itami is one of those “green people.” Instead, she mistakes him for a pedophile who’s trying to get a minor drunk. Rory’s so angry that she pretends to be a child who’s the victim of the “evil” Itami. Rory goes so far as to hide behind Yao! After Yao drew her sword to threaten Itami, she took a moment to comfort Rory. That’s when Itami dove through the window and ran to safety.
Shortly thereafter, Rory escaped. And Yao still didn’t know how to find the “green people.”
Undaunted (probably because no one told her what she’d just done), Yao offers an astoundingly valuable gem, as well as her own body, to anyone who could save her clan from a wounded fire dragon.
I wonder where the fire dragon came from?
Of course, no one left in the bar, especially since she had scared Itami away, could do anything to help her.
The last scene demonstrates what I meant in the first paragraph by Gate being so realistic. Itami and other officers are taking inventory of items Japan sent for the Foreign Ministry to use as gifts in the Special region. They notice Japanese sake. They wonder aloud if anyone would miss a few bottles when Toudou Tetsuo, a Foreign Affairs Officer, says, “Please don’t. In foreign affairs, this stuff is ammunition… A dangerous country would use threats instead of bribery like this!”
An officer helping to load the cargo into a helicopter said, “You should just tell them that if they want a war, we’d be happy to oblige!”
To which Toudou replied, “Foreign Affairs doesn’t work that way. We can’t make trouble! Our goal right now is to focus on increasing the number of doves.”
I’ve seldom seen any story, anime or other genre, present so balanced a picture of military and diplomatic disciples working in harmony. This is one of the many reasons I thoroughly enjoy Gate. That, and the stories that move me and the characters that I’ve love to meet.
The episode ended with Itami and crew taking off in a helicopter to delivery the goods to the capital.
Anime News Network just reported that Gate would be back in January. So we should be able to see more about the dark elf’s story, as well as Pina’s diplomatic efforts. I’m looking forward to it!