In Gate’s 20th episode, we see the effects of Zorzal El Caesar’s Inquisition on his people. We also see the lengths that Sherry Tyueli will go to achieve her mission — and make it to the Jade Palace and the Japanese in residence there. Considering the deteriorating political situation, will Kōji Sugawara allow her entry into the Japanese embassy?
Beware: There are spoilers below!
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Tarō Kanō receives a briefing: Zorzal has instituted the Committee to Protect and Restore the Primacy and Authority of the Emperor (called the Oprichnina), which is basically a secret police who will arrest, harass, and/or kill anyone who opposes Zorzal. The team tells him many of those who want peace, Zorzal’s primary targets, are coming to the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) asking for help. Kanō is afraid that taking sides will only embolden Zorzal, and he orders the JSDF to lay low for now. The military is not pleased; they hate seeing the friends they’ve made hurt or killed. The general orders them to remain on standby.
One of the leading “dove” senators, Marquis Casel, too refuge with the Tyueli family. Unfortunately for all of them, the Oprichnina’s Cleaners (operatives) arrive. Sherry’s mother and father task her with leading Casel to safety while they delay the Cleaners. Their delay took the form of them burning their house down around them — with them inside.
After she emerges from the sewers, Sherry sees her house aflame and knows what happened. Casel has to restrain her and eventually slaps her to bring her back to her senses. She then firms her resolve and continues her mission to keep him safe.
Instead of searching every house for miles, the Oprichnina begins harassing the town’s people in the hopes it will force Casel to surrender to save them.
Sherry disassembles the pearl necklace that Sugawara had given her to buy some food for Casel and herself. For the price of five pearls, the townsman gives her two Japanese Meals Ready to Eat (MREs). He tells her he works at the Jade Palace where the Japanese have setup their embassy. He tells Sherry that the diplomats are safe and that Princess Pina Co Lada’s knights are protecting them. Sherry’s relieved. At the same time, she feels guilty that she’s destroying the gift Sugawara gave her and hopes he’ll understand.
After finding a place to spend the night, Sherry suggests to Casel that they should ask for asylum with the Japanese. Casel’s not convinced the Japanese will take them in; Sherry says they should rely on Sugawara’s mercy.
As the Oprichnina wreck the town, Bouro, acting under Tyuule’s orders, killed the man who had given them lodging — and had tried to sell them out to the Cleaners. Bouro’s goal is to to keep tensions and conflict high.
Sherry and Casel convince the guards to take them to Bozes Co Palesti, the leader of Pina’s knights who are guarding the Jade Palace. However, Bozes confirms Sherry’s worst fears: the Japanese won’t meet with them. Sherry pleads with them to ask one more time, this time saying that Sugawara’s future wife is asking. Bozes sends a knight to ask again, and Sugawara is distraught when he learns Sherry is there. But he remains firm: his orders are to take no one in.
Fortunately for Sherry, Sugawara’s boss, Reiko Shirayuri, understand the world better than Sugawara does. As the Oprichnina descended on Casel and even as their leader tried to lead Sherry away, Shirayuri gave her approval, and Sugawara raced outside to demand the leader take his filthy hands off Sugawara’s future wife. The Oprichnina resisted, but the Rose Knights stepped in to help Sherry escape into the grass that marked Japan’s territory. They embraced and collapsed to their knees in the grass. Sherry apologizes that she had to sell the pearls he gave her; he promises to buy her more with his own money.
Fighting breaks out between the Oprichnina and Rose Knights.
What I Liked
At the beginning of the episode, we get to see Yōji Itami use a stick to randomly determine which direction he and his team would take. Lelei La Lalena thought it was very inefficient way to find resources, but Itami reassured her that the main goal was avoiding the assassins trailing her. What better way than randomizing their path? I thought those were good tactics!
The Special Region pushes people to make some tough choices. Sherry’s mother and father knew they didn’t stand a chance against the Oprichnina. Instead of fighting, they sent Sherry away so their family would survive, all the while knowing they were about to die. Sad and inspiring at the same time.
Sherry drove a hard bargain with a local townsman to buy food with some of her pearls. She convinced that man that he didn’t want all of her pearls, because the necklace was sized for a child, and if his wife saw he had almost enough pearls for a full-sized necklace, he’d have no peace until he bought more pearls. So, he settled for five. Her resourcefulness is amazing, especially under pressure!
And her ambition seems to know few bounds. When she suggests they seek asylum from the Japanese, Casel asks if she’s really aware of what she’s asking. She says she does: she needs great power to avenge her mother and father’s death, and who has more power than the JSDF in the Special Region? She’s bold and she thinks big. If I were Sugawara, I’d be happy she’s on my side!
Captain Beefeater, the knight that Bozes sent to ask Sugawara if he’d let Sherry in, played up Sherry’s innocence. I’m not sure if she meant what she was saying, or if she was trying to persuade Sugawara. This demonstrates something I love about Gate: the dialogue is intelligent and sometimes dramatically ambiguous in a literary way.
When it seemed like she would get no asylum, Sherry was almost at the end of her endurance. She cried out, “At least let me hear your voice!” I liked the dramatic tension she built. I hated that Sherry had been driven to that extreme, and yet I appreciated what it did for the plot and the scene’s tension.
Casel refused to blame the Rose Knights for the Japanese refusal to take him in. He understood that the Oprichnina would apprehend him, yet he didn’t take it out on Bozes or the others. That was classy. I just hope it wasn’t a final gracious gesture.
Even after the second refusal to see them, Sherry stood, hands clasped, hoping that Sugawara would appear. She had risked absolutely everything she had left to get to the Jade Palace. Her parents had been killed; the Oprichnina had arrived and had taken Casel into custody. And she still stood at the edge of the grass that marked Japanese territory. That was an amazing dramatic moment.
What I Liked Less
Really, Sugawara? Turning your back on Sherry? Really? Look, I get following orders. I get maintaining discipline and chain of command. But when someone like Sherry is reduced to begging, and when her life’s on the line, there’s only one honorable thing to do. I was about to go through my computer’s screen to slap some sense into Sugawara when it seemed that he wouldn’t help her. I placed this in “Liked Less” even though it’s by no means a negative, since it turned out well. Still…
To be perfectly honest, I was afraid that the Oprichnina would fire an arrow into Sherry’s back until the very end. I was so relieved when it didn’t happen!
Did Sugawara do the right thing? Was he fraternizing with an underaged girl, thus placing the health and safety of two worlds at risk?
First, yes, he did the right thing. Politics are hard. They sometimes mandate taking actions in the interests of the state at the expense an individual. In this case, though, war was inevitable. Saving the last survivor of the Tyueli family is as good an excuse as any to kick it off. She had also helped them build diplomatic bridges in an earlier episode, so I’d make the case that they owed her. Also, who with a conscience could watch her plead for her life and not act? Especially after she proved so brave and strong to help Casel make it that far. She more than earned the episode’s ending.
Is Sugawara a lolicon? To me, the answer’s an emphatic “no.” He didn’t touch her indecently. He didn’t even kiss her! He saved her life by pledging to wait four years until she was of legal age to marry (in the Special Region). That’s not lolicon material.
That aside, I think this episode showed the strength of Gate’s secondary characters. We only caught a glimpse of the main characters at the beginning, but this episode sailed smoothly in spite of that. Strong and interesting characters are what draw to anime series like Gate. Seeing Bozes maintaining her demeanor in front of the Oprichnina leader; seeing Captain Beefeater explaining the situation to Sugawara; seeing Shirayuri release Sugawara to rescue Sherry. I love those moments!
Heck, I think Shirayuri deserve the award for “Awesome Character of the Week” for her decision.
So, what do you think? Great episode? Lolicon fodder? Something else?
Reviews of Other Season 2 Episodes
- Episode 13: The Banquet Begins
- Episode 14: The Imperial Capital Quake
- Episode 15: Tuka Luna Marceau
- Episode 16: The Dragon, Once More
- Episode 17: The Dragon’s Nest
- Episode 18: The Magic City of Rondel
- Episode 19: Dangerous Sisters
- Episode 21: Deadline
- Episode 22: The Empress in Slave’s Clothing
- Episode 23: Paradrop
- Episode 24: Thus They Fought