Itami’s character continues to amaze me. From the first episode, where the Otaku plunged a knife into an invader, to last episode, where we found out that he was Special Forces, I’ve enjoyed seeing his character deepen in unexpected yet believable ways.
Last week’s episode ended where this week’s episode starts: we got to meet Itami’s ex-wife Risa. Our heroes impose on poor Risa as they plan their next move. Itami sends Risa, Rory, Tuka, and Lelei shopping while Princess Pina and Bozes go with Akira to the library for “research” — this after Princess Pina came across some BL manga in Risa’s collection. The idea is that if they’re being followed, they might as well “hide” in crowds. This made perfect sense to Itami’s team.
However, when Itami announced he was heading for Akihabara, Shino once again derides him for slacking off. At some point, I hope she learns. Itami bought a catalog, but it wasn’t for his own use. He gave it to his friend — the Defense Minister. Yeah, Itami’s friend with the Defense Minister Tarou Kanou. Turns out they read manga back in the day.
On the Defense Minster’s orders, Itami takes the our heroes to a hot springs, where they unwind and get drunk. Shino punches Itami (off screen) for not understanding Gisa, Bozes confesses her forbidden love for Akira — a good time was had by all. The last scene, perhaps my favorite of the episode and perhaps the whole series (more on that below), shows Itami waking up to see Rory sitting in the moonlight as she sips what looks like whiskey. The SDF fighting to keep foreign agents from abducting them resulted in kills, and even in our world, those souls flow through Rory to Emroy through her. She point blank asks him that if he’s not going to let her go out and kill the enemy, “…will you do something about it, Youji?”
I’ll end on a commentary about that scene. This episode, like most before it, had many memorable little character moments. I can enjoy an anime without those scenes, but it won’t stick with me. I likely wouldn’t buy it. Even if this series fumbles the last episodes (which I sincerely doubt), I’m pretty sure I’ll buy this as soon as it’s available. My favorite moments from this episode include:
- Lelei sleeping next to Itami, both in Risa’s apartment and at the hot springs. Nothing untoward — she seems to see him as a father figure. As a dad myself, I found that touching.
- Rory whimpering and backing away from one of Risa’s dolls because the dolls reminded her of Hardy.
- Rory, in a bored voice, saying that she didn’t need to go shopping because her formal priestess outfit was enough; only to squeal delightedly at the sight of a darling new dress.
Pina commenting several times that she didn’t realize her world had libraries, hot springs, or other features, only to have Bozes correct her.
- Rory realizing they were being watched at the hot springs, and the poor guard’s reaction to her returning gaze.
- Risa reflecting on why she divorced Itami.
- Rory trying to pin down the “expert at fleeing” Itami to help her through her struggles at the end.
In my post defending Monster Musume, I mentioned the difficulty in treating issues of sexuality seriously. The last scene made me reflect on that again. It would be easy to look at that scene as nothing more than titillation or low-grade fan service, but I give Gate more credit than that. This series has had many, many scenes that could have gone that direction, but didn’t. Remember Tuka in the Humvee as she tried to tell the soldiers to shoot for the dragon’s eyes?
At the end of this episode, Rory’s trying to deal with what she’s feeling as best she can. It’s happened before during the Battle of Italica. There, she was on her home turf. Now, she’s in a strange world, and none of her supports are around her. If Itami won’t let her fight, she basically asks him to take responsibility — in a very physical way.
How would a man react to something like that? Rory’s a 961 demigoddess who will ascend to godhood in 40 or so years. She is astoundingly powerful. How will Itami react to her forthright advances? Especially with Risa, Lelei, and the others sleeping right there? He tries to protest that there are child protection laws in Japan, and she interprets that to mean the laws should protect her from him — an idea she brushes aside with “Am I really a child?” But like some of the Crunchyroll commenters mentioned after this episode, I wonder if he was really talking about himself! He clearly seemed out of his element trying to respond to her. He even answered, “No!” to her question.
With the enemy rushing their location, I doubt Itami will get a chance to help Rory. I’d love to see the reactions from Risa and the others if he did, though! <i>That</i> would be an interesting conversation!
I just love character-driven drama!