I’m putting this out first because the other post can stand by itself, introspection or not. Hey, it’s not March yet.
Category Archives: GATE
First read this Clickhole article about Bernie Sanders. Yeah, it’s gonna get political, because that’s what my problem is with GATE. It might also get spoilery so consider yourself warned on both counts.
It would not be fair to boil down GATE as a simple power fantasy about Japan and its SDF arm doing what it’s good at doing. But unfortunately there’s not a whole lot to go on in GATE in the theme department. It is a very pure kind of wishful hypothetical.
Unfortunately that sort of thinking also is sort of what Japan’s Asian neighbors find abhorrent about Japan’s behavior during WWII. You can ask the people of Taiwan, for an example, on how they felt about being Japan’s model colony for roughly 40 years. Yeah, model colony. I believe the Japanese can do a way better job as a colonial power than many European countries of the day, too, so this I share with GATE’s SDF author. It might not even be too different than from what you’d get if you asked the hapless farmers and tribals the SDF rescued in the show. Of course, that’s missing the point.
What’s missing from GATE are all the important stuff that sort of spoils the fantasy, basically, just like how a statement is missing in that Clickhole article about propping up puppet dictators. Or colonialism is problematic and inhumane. Or you shouldn’t really write a story where the SDF basically installs a puppet government. FWIW there are some recent movies where the bad guy’s end game is to do this! I don’t think Japan’s public has gotten that memo on colonialism yet. To be fair back then they didn’t have the internet! We’ve long since moved on from it! Maybe Japan’s post-war generation failed to take note on international politics and explained how things work to the Lost Generation because they were too busy building their economy? “Yo guys, but we’ve gone from colonies to just plain dictators that we prop up that serve our international interests, and proxy wars like Syria.”
As much GATE is obvious and per se a nationalistic fantasy about Japanese’s superiority in terms of its ability to leverage the SDF in a fantasy edge(?) case involving dealing with a barbaric & backward group of people (if they can be called that), it still deserves some observation and confirmation that this is the case.
First of all, the SDF is constantly shown to have a high moral ground not only compared to the ruthless and backwards civilizations they are dealing with, but also there’s a lot of posturing of the SDF as the good guys even when pitched as a faction in a larger geopolitical and domestic picture. The Japanese parliament has different factions and there are some political voices that GATE mentions and shortly slant against, most notably during the inquiry of Rory. There are other snippets from the anime that we see elsewhere, including the onsen showdown between different wetworks teams of various nations. Those are obvious and stick out like sore thumbs.
Well, the question I want to ask is more that does glorifying the SDF per se puts GATE in a place along the lines of other pro-military and pro-right wing stories, and just how so? If you recall JP’s comment here, one wrinkle I have is just how “right” is, say, Muvluv’s Total Eclipse? Yeah, it is very racist, sure, and is conservative with its themes and outlooks, but how does racism equal right-wing? Just like how is GATE right-wing? It’s easier to establish a counter for a pro-SDF stance (as far as fantasy escapism goes) as a liberal work, perhaps. And you could argue that the individuals from GATE’s fantasy world are treated like normal human beings, and not, say, Terra Formar’s roaches. The world beyond the GATE is fanciful (to the degree that exploitation is definitely a motivation for various parties) but what is stopping “bad things” from happening? Is it not the SDF’s own sense of justice in terms of what it (and more importantly, its employees and officers, and arguably not just the SDF but also other officials of the Japanese government who are “boots on the ground”) deems as proper behavior? Is there a time and place to abridge agency of an occupied group? Is not GATE largely positing this hypo for the sake of showing us what happens as result? Where does dutiful intervention of foreign states stop and imperialism begin? Aren’t these questions that Japanese right-wingers wish they get to answer as real policy talk?
Of course, we don’t really expect GATE to really look into that grey area because it is a dose of reality that probably don’t resonate well in some aspects (although the series did remind me how Americans bribed Afghani chieftans with Viagara is, as far as stories go during the post-9/11 incursions), but it did go as far as to make the issue table stakes, to make it seem like an interesting tangent. Maybe someone who’s read the novel can comment.
And it’s really about how someone who isn’t getting a hard-on by all of this would answer the same questions.
To answer my not-as-rhetorical-as-it-may-seem question though, I think for every question GATE posits, it’s easy to think about how another country or political faction or outlook could answer them in a different way. It’s not quite like how, in romcom anime, the protagonist often slips when s/he is in the bathroom with a romantic interest, but there are certainly a number of valid and quality scenarios in which slipping and running into compromising situations are not in the writing. By the same token, is the massacre or show of force always required in dealing with fictional barbarians? It might be a really enjoyable thought exercise, but from the eyes of this American, is that an appropriate response? Or rather, wouldn’t slaughtering a bunch of fictional characters be the place to do it, rather than review what sort of slaughtering that has happened with Japanese soldiers on the right side of a rifle?
[There is a kind of insulting corollary to this, and it is that this sort of escape fantasy is precisely the thing Japan needs for its nationalism as an escape valve of its nationalist instincts? Like how lolicon manga is an escape valve for(ry. Not saying I believe or endorse this view (or many of my other statements in this post), just stating the argument here.]
There’s also a bigger picture issue here. I think the moment you elevate GATE from a fun fantasy exercise into a parallel to real worlds, the arguments against GATE as anything but a right-wing fantasy falls away. As a corollary, this is an inherent issue with a non-Japanese take of the story if we were to come into the story, say, as a member of another nation’s armed forces. How would Americans, or Canadians, or one of the EU countries, or Russia or China, etc… I don’t know, but that could be a good way to highlight just what’s both good and bad about GATE’s choices. I would think many of us, taken on a white-label view of GATE’s politics, will inflect our own politics on to it, and associate its high-handed treatment of the SDF with our own notion of whatever military organization we most closely associate with. And that’s not a bad thing. It also kind of makes it a right-wing thing, though.
Maybe we all can enjoy GATE innatively as what it is, and put ourselves in the protagonist’s starched uniforms. But I think soon some of us would rather make different decisions than he does. Maybe.
And I think that’s the crux of a good story about these kinds of things, harem or not. For the most part we can either enjoy or ignore that aspect of GATE, and maybe that’s enough.
But first some thoughts for the last season:
Sore ga Seiyuu: It was good, but I’m not sure how they lined up their use cases. It felt like if we enjoyed things like underground idols, it would be more fun. But I think that could be said in general, if we enjoyed everything like idol otaku enjoying underground idols… Where does fantasy end and reality begin? Where does consumption end and…non-consumption begin?
Overlord: My favorite of the season, but it felt like it didn’t have enough time to breath.
Charlotte: My other favorite of the season, but it could’ve used another cour.
Classroom Crisis: My guilty pleasure of the season, but this one definitely needed another cour.
So yeah, what the hell Japan. Two of them are even original.
I still enjoyed Ace of Diamond, I have not fallen behind, and it is the first 100+ episode show I’ve watched since a god-knows how long ago. It didn’t go the way of Space Brothers, so that’s something very positive to be said about that project.
Monmusu was great. Fanservice-harem anime will always be welcomed if they are executed like this.
Non Non Biyori is still excellent. I think it might even be better than the first season.
Rokka is terrible and you’re all terrible for liking it?
GATE was OK. Not that good to be honest but worth watching for some highlights.
Food Wars was lovely, and I hope more of it happens.
Still need to wrap up on Million Doll (2 eps behind lol), Working S3, Gatchaman, Ilya, and Shimoseka. I don’t know why I stalled on Ilya, probably because there is no drive for me; I don’t really get it on watching this particular gang of little girls, and Rin’s side is not much better thanks to all this exposure lately from UBW. (How do you top that last episode?) Shimoseka is a really weird watch for me in terms of how to position it as both comedy and entertainment, and as a serious work of narrative. The first half (where I stopped) seemed like a good stopping point, and I don’t know if it gets any better. I might brave on if I go on a trip. Working just makes me sleepy which is why I’m a few episodes behind, and Gatchaman, too.
Well, there’s more.
Now, new stuff…
Osomatsu-san and One Punch Man are both shows that probably won’t sustain the vigor episode 1 has showed us, so I’m not saying much about those besides, go watch the first episode. I like them also as gateways to explore these cultural artifacts, so you can get that even at 1 episode.
I enjoyed both Asterisk Wars and Chivalry (of a Failed Knight or) whatever, but not enough to take them beyond 3 episodes. I think the latter is more interesting because it is more different and more self-conscious, but that’s jaded people talk. What I found problematic, heh, is the execution of the fanservice elements in Chivalry is weird? I don’t know, had a hard time putting a finger on it. Asterisk War feels more sterile and tepid, kind of like Mahouka minus the obvious setup.
The real action for me is in Lanmas. The show features Suwa Ayaka as a horse (and has speaking lines) whose name is Shirohime. I cannot pass this up. There are also other factors to make the show compelling so far, even if at core, it still surrounds a potato and a bunch of girls. Holding my breath on this one in case it degenerates into a duty watch rather than for enjoyment as well.
The best show overall this season has to be Utawarerumono False Faces. The rebirth of Underwater Ray Romano is so far delightfully self-aware and curiously curated to please. Can’t ask for much more.
The new Gundam is what old fogies liked. Why do people hate 8th MS Team? I guess we can find out soon. For the record I enjoyed all that stuff. I even enjoyed 00 and Wing. I like Gundam, I think.
I tried watching DD Fist of the North Star II, I don’t get it.
Comet Lucifer is the first show that reminded me of those Bones original IP in a long while. But I guess this also means I should say I haven’t caught Concrete Revolutio yet. Maybe tonight.
Heavy Object: How can you screw up this badly. Oh wait nevermind, Index-heritage. Sigh. The concept is interesting but only because it triggers my Mechwarrior internal logic.
More Yuruyuri is always good.
K – Hahaha that action sequence.
Thanks to this post now I can’t stop making boner jokes about that Bone Detective anime. Sakurako anime. Whatever. It wasn’t bad, but I’m not sure I am in the mood for something like this. Maybe.
F anime, the one about the Insider? It’s really hip but yet probably ultimately will piss me off in a Nisioisin-can’t-write-well sort of way. I’ll leave myself open to its interpretation of murders and mysteries, because the production is good and it is something very Noitamina-y.
The slightly hard-boiled anime with Ueshama as lead female? It isn’t entirely terrible but I think this is what I dislike about otaku-database-driven stories. I thought we’re well beyond this, so when it’s straight up served it bothers me too much.
I avoided mentioning the shorts mostly in this post but just want to end with Hackadoll. It’s great and the WUG fanclub is selling the OP/ED single LOL.
And we’re not even done yet.
PS. Sakurako is a woman who gets a boner on esoteric bones?
PPS. I forgot to mention but we’re doing a DereSute wiki too. Thanks Rop &co!