Gate Episode 22: Pina and Lelei Have A Bad Day

March 12, 2016

In Gate’s 22nd episode, called The Empress in Slave’s Clothing, Tyuule pushes for her end game. Princess Pina Co Lada gets caught in Zorzal El Caesar’s web of intrigue. Lelei La Lalena defies death to give her dissertation. And don’t forget about the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) paratroopers!

Warning! There are spoilers below!



What Happened

Zorzal’s men aren’t doing well against the 300 Rose-Order of Knights at the Jade Palace. Morale’s low and only the threat of harm to their families keep many of the imperial soldiers on task.

In Rondel, Shandy Gaff Marea surveils the three in employees the Pied Piper had tricked. Shandy sees a suspicious woman arrives who tells them she’s going to help Lelei. How? By “faking” an attack to bring the Pied Piper out. She tells the three to make sure Lelei wears armor under her clothes. Shandy follows the woman and goes missing for four days.

The team is really, really serious about protecting Lelei. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The team is really, really serious about protecting Lelei. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

On the fourth day, Yōji Itami, Rory Mercury, Tuka Luna Marceau, and Yao Ro Dushi help Lelei get ready for her presentation. The stains from Arpeggio El Lalena’s bowl of soup wouldn’t wash out, so they bought Lelei a new gown. Itami compliments how it looks on her. Shandy bursts in, apologizes for being late, and says that she was following a woman named Nonra, who Shandy said was a puppet of the Pied Piper. Shandy’s convinced that even wearing armor won’t protect Lelei as Nonra could just aim for the throat.

Shandy goes on to say that she saw the Pied Piper who was dressed as a bounty hunter, but she lost him in the town of Pairan.

Itami confirms their plan: guard Lelei and nab the Pied Piper if he makes an appearance at the master’s presentation.

The group arrives at the presentation building. All of then, including Arpeggio, watch as Lelei moves through the registration line. Itami notices a man behaving suspiciously and stops him just as he draws a knife to stab Lelei. They determine he was under the Pied Piper’s influence, and Itami asks Grey Co Aldo to “explain things to him.” Lelei thanks Itami.

Finally, it’s Lelei’s turn to present. As she walks to the podium, Nonra launches her attack. As a non-human, her speed shocked Itami as he stood on the other side of the stage. In two jumps she landed right in front of Lelei — too close for Itami to fire his sidearm. Fortunately, the audience, made up of mages, was ready because of the rumors of an assassination attempt. Nonra falls to the ground under their attack. Itami declares her safe.

Shandy stabs Lelei in the chest.

At Zorzal’s palace, the three jerk generals arrest Pina and force her to dress in slave’s clothes and manacles. They throw her into the same cell Tyuule had been kept in.

The assault on the Jade Palace is taking its toll on the Rose-Order of Knights. Bozes Co Palesti plans to break through the imperial soldiers and make for Italica. She’s worried about the princess even though Captain Beefeater can’t believe Zorzal would imprison or harm his sister. Bozes is convinced that they must take Pina with them.

Tyuule takes time out of her busy schedule to visit Pina in prison. She delivers a message from Zorzal: “You loose, Pina.”

Lelei wakes up. Her armor saved her because Shandy forgot it was there. Grey guards Shandy while the rest chaperone Lelei through her dissertation. The scholars love her work, but while she’s under threat of assassination, they don’t want to elevate her to master. The Pied Piper did not make an appearance — as far as they knew. Shandy feels embarrassed that she forgot about the armor.

Shandy was embarrassed that she had forgotten about Lelei's armor. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Shandy was embarrassed that she had forgotten about Lelei’s armor. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Itami asks why Shandy did it. She says it was to save Princess Pina. Shandy has to tell a confused Itami that Zorzal’s the one behind the assassination attempts, and Shandy’s convinced that only bringing Zorzal Lelei’s head will save Pina. Shandy tells Grey that if he’s loyal to the princess at all, he’ll kill Lelei then and there. Grey glances over at Itami, Yao, Rory, and Tuka, who are between him and Lelei, and defers. Instead, he says that it makes more sense to stop the assassination attempts and the threats to Pina by cutting them off at the source: Zorzal.

Grey had also arranged for a messenger to bring news now that the bridges between Rondel and the capital are repaired. The messenger brings news that Pina has been imprisoned.

The JSDF in Alnus receive orders to secure the Jade Palace.

Itami and his company leave Rondel for the Imperial Capital.

What I Liked

At the Jade Palace, one imperial soldier asked another why they had to fight their allies. His friend answered that he needed to be careful — the Oprichnina will kill his family if they hear him talking like that. I’m glad to know the imperial soldiers aren’t fighting because they want to kill the Rose-Order of Knights.

The three employees from the inn were so excited to redeem their honor that they jumped at Nonra’s idea! True, they’re simple-minded, but they seem like such nice people. It broke my heart to see the Pied Piper use them.

Lelei still doesn’t know how to take a compliment! When Itami tells her how nice she looks in her new gown, she just blushes. Her blush was even deeper when he patted her on the head. More than that — she actually smiled! Such a pretty smile, too.

When Shandy burst into Lelei’s room, everyone was ready to draw their weapons. I like to see the results of good training and preparation. If I were Lelei, I’d feel pretty safe.

Arpeggio cleaned her old gown in case Lelei’s new one didn’t arrive in time. In spite of their bickering, the two sisters seem to care about each other. That struck me as kinda realistic and sweet at the same time.

The man presenting just before Lelei received a favorable response. On audience member, on the right side of the screen, was dejected he couldn’t throw his balloon and only begrudgingly admitted the presentation was acceptable.

I almost felt sorry for Nonra. Almost. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I almost felt sorry for Nonra. Almost. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I liked how Itami couldn’t get a bead on Nonra. He was about fifteen or twenty meters away. Most of us might be used to scenes from movies like The Borne Identity where pistols are accurate over a great distance. In real life, not so much — especially against a moving target. Kudos to Gate for keeping it real.

The guards who threw Pina into the cell seemed to be glassy-eyed. Maybe their families, too, were under threat. Whatever the reason, it was really hard to watch Pina imprisoned. I think that’s a sign of great characterization when I feel so strongly for a character.

Rory says that she’s glad an idiot (Shandy) got tricked by the Pied Piper. Rory’s not one to mince words. I still think she and Itami make a great couple.

When Shandy demands that Grey kill Lelei, he takes stock of the situation. He sees that he’d have to kill Itami, Yao, Rory, and Tuka. Wisely, he concludes it’s a bit beyond his capabilities.

As I’ve come to expect from Gate, the animation was beautiful. It’s a treat to watch.

What I Liked Less

Itami, Itami, Itami. Really? Assuming Nonra’s attack was the last one? Am I the only one who thought that trusting Shandy, who had been missing for four days because she had been tracking the Pied Piper — the one who tricks other into doing his/her will — was a bad idea? For the first time in the whole series, Itami was a complete idiot! Fortunately, Shandy’s idiocy exceeded Itami’s, and she forgot about the armor. Still…

When Pina was imprisoned, it looked to me like she was pulling on the door to keep it from closing. After Tyuule arrives, it looks like she’s pushing it. Was that a continuity mistake?

How’s Delilah? Yanagida? Are they recovering well? Have they made up and even now are laughing at the circumstances that made them enemies? These things keep me up at night! Why won’t Gate tell me what’s going on with them?

Thoughts

Note: Please keep in mind that I’m posting this from my perspective as a United State citizen.

Lelei smiled! How cool is that? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Lelei smiled! How cool is that? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I don’t try to hide how much I enjoy this series. I love the characters, I think the plot’s dramatic and engaging, and I think the world’s as realistic as any I’ve seen in modern anime. At the same time, I’ve tried to ignore some of the meta discussions around the series. Specifically, I’ve tried to ignore the ties some see between the author’s politics and modern Japanese politics, between Gate’s use of military force and modern parallel uses of force.

Today, in the Gate Facebook page discussion for this episode, there are many references to such use of force. Consider a comment from Faris Aiman Azmi:

next week ep is all about FREEDOM

 Or from Cryoshinzo Miyamoto:

Ep23 let the battle begin lets bring some freedom to the special region

My point in including these quotes isn’t to say anything negative about the posters. On the contrary, I think it’s great they’re sharing their thoughts on this page!

The point I’m trying to make is that I think these are references to the dishonest and abusive use of force that the US government and its intelligence agencies have undertaken to justify the use of military force. The excuses to invade Iraq, the involvement in Libya, and ongoing interference within the sovereign confines of other nations has earned the US a world-wide reputation for euphemistically using “freedom” to invade other countries. It is this kind of spirit, along with the right-wing politics of Prime Minister Abe in Japan, that fuel some of the negativity around Gate.

I get that. Dishonesty on the part of government correctly breeds distrust among the governed. That distrust extends to any agency that appears aligned with or sympathetic to those being dishonest. I get that, too. That Gate’s author Takumi Yanai was part of the JSDF seems to add fuel to the fire.

There are two reasons I still like Gate.

First, I think the work should stand on its own — and be judged on those terms. Does its characters engage me? Oh, yeah! Does the plot keep me interested? Yep. Does the world feel realistic and support the character and plot? I think so. Does it stay true to the rules it’s established? Sure does. So from that angle, Gate succeeds.

I want to believe that Mizari (Misery) and others in the Gate universe appreciate the efforts of the JSDF. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream for episode 13.

I want to believe that Mizari (Misery) and others in the Gate universe appreciate the efforts of the JSDF. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream for episode 13.

Second, I think our recent experience clouds how we interpret the use of military force. In the United States, at least, military actions since the Korean conflict feels like it’s been one failed attempt at nation building after another. Overthrowing Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh is something we are still paying for. We left Vietnam in shambles. The current war in Afghanistan is teetering, its state coming apart. The Iraq War left a power vacuum that, given the state of Sunni/Shia hostilities, ISIS was happy to fill. Of course, it’s hard for us to see military force in a positive light.

I think painting the military with this brush is not only unfair, but wrong. The military will follow any legal order its given. That’s its job in a society where the political power structure is separate from the military. But let’s recall a time when the military was used “for good.” World War II’s Germany (and Japan!) had to be stopped. Between the Germany’s Holocaust and Japan’s Unit 731, humanity had only one good choice: war.* The military in World War II literally saved the planet from brutality and darkness I can only barely imagine (and I don’t even want to try). It is in this context that I choose to view the JSDF in Gate.

I mentioned Unit 731. It’s my understanding that some have used Japan’s actions like this unit’s during previous wars to cast the modern JSDF in a negative light. After thinking about that, I’ve come to a conclusion: it’s not that Japan was uniquely evil; it’s not that Germany was uniquely evil.

It’s that humans — all humans — have this capacity for such atrocity.

I take it as a sign of hope — perhaps fictional — that the JSDF in Gate doesn’t just lay waste to the imperial army. In Gate, Japan tries to build a diplomatic, peaceful solution despite what historically could be seen as adequate provocation for war. They hold military might in reserve while the diplomats try to forge peace.

It is that restraint, and the portrayal of the JSDF trying to perform good works among the population, that I enjoy most about Gate. Like any human, I like seeing a well-deserved ass-kicking that I’m sure Zorzal’s about to get. But I’m trying to train myself to like the little gestures, like providing the poor in the capital with access to medical treatments, as even more exciting and deserving of praise. It’s a small thing, but it’s my way of pushing the potential for atrocity in myself a little farther away from my will, my way of trying to make that tendency weaker and less able to express itself.

In the end, I like the fictional JSDF in the world of Gate because they’re trying to do the right things, not just blow the living daylights out of enemies.

I’d dearly love to see the same kind of thing happen in the real world. Until it does, I’ll keep hoping and watching shows like Gate.

* Putting aside the lost diplomatic opportunities and the injustices in the Treaty of Versailles, of course. Diplomacy before the situation declined into war would have been a great idea!

Reviews of Other Season 2 Episodes

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