Look, I KNEW that there was going to be a second season of “Gate: Jieitai Kano Chi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri” (“Gate: The Self-Defense Forces Fight like This in That Place”), as all the loose ends at the close of Season One made that a foregone conclusion. To their credit, they have upped the stakes, so now things are even more problematic.
We have reached critical peace negotiation talks between The Empire (no, really, that’s what it is called. Not like The Grand Empire of the Cosmos or something noble like that) and Japan, where the time has come to exchange prisoners that each side has. But there is a major fly in the ointment. More like a stink beetle, and that comes in the form of Zorzal El Caesar. He is the First Prince of the Empire and Piña’s eldest half-brother. He is also all those things that you have come to loath and detest in royalty: brash, arrogant and impulsive and a mouth that runs ahead of his pin-sized thoughts. Zorzal is also a sadist who enjoys committing rape, murder, genocide and owns a number of sex slaves. Well, everyone’s gotta have a hobby, right?
Right when things are at critical mass, the king of Empire, Molt Sol Augustus, falls ill or is poisoned or is just tired of the whole mess and slips into a coma, allowing Zorzal to stage a coup and become the Total and Complete Ruling Butthead…I mean, Dictator of the Land. He then extends his reach with a heavy and oppressive hand, basically daring the JSDF to come at him. The scary thing is that two Apache helicopters could lay waste to it all. Japan does not want to go that way, preferring the ambassadors to take the lead on that and permit the local defense force, the Rose-Knights, of which Princess Piña Co Lada is their leader, to handle the protection part of things.
Zorzal is also manipulated by his favorite sex slave, Tyuule, Queen of the Warrior Bunny Tribe (and that gets a lot of looks on your business card), but you are uncertain of her full and true motives. Meanwhile our favorite otaku, Yōji Itami (soldier in the center), has to lead his forces in trying to quell uprising and assassination attempts against all, AND take out a nasty dragon that has been pillaging the countryside. A real Burninator type.
The series took a darker turn, but that was to be expected. I reference the old saying from John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton, which properly goes “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” It’s just that Zorzal is more of a puppet buffoon than someone having deeper or greater plans than he does. He took charge of the Empire. And then….and then….and then…? He seems more bent on silencing critics than concentrating his power. The side stories (the Misadventures of Princess Co Lada, The Miseducation of Lelei La Lelena, the Mental Breakdown of Tuka Luna Marceau) seem more designed as a caliber of filler, as you can’t be killing off those who oppose you for that many episodes; you run out of people to slay.
Despite all these efforts, I did enjoy the second season. Yeah, some things got telegraphed too soon, but the battle sequences are really kind of awesome and the climatic fight at the Jade Palace is one of stunning magnitude. The series really isn’t over, but I can’t tell with any certainty if a third season will come and allow a real conclusion to all of it.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (Something fell off for Season Two)
Plot 8 (Upped the stakes)
Pacing 7 (Some side stories moved in spurts)
Effectiveness 8 (Eyes on the prize)
Conclusion 5 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 7 (The villain wasn’t all that villainous)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Bow before me!