July 24, 2015

GATE -- ep 4

While we were away, the JSDF engineers have been busy.


I'm not sure I'd pick a star fortress as an ideal design for this (they work a lot better if you've got a moat, and that isn't possible here), but it isn't terrible. And they've nicely partitioned it so that even if an enemy force breaks into the outer wall, the entire fort won't fall.

Anyway, Scout Squad 3 comes back with its group of refugees, and there's a bit of confusion and consternation about that. But ultimately it's decided that it's a good thing, and the JSDF will take them in and provide for them.


Magician, meet backhoe. The engineers build a refugee camp -- outside the wall. It goes up very fast, which shouldn't be a surprise.

To get all that supply into the new region they must have been running trucks bumper-to-bumper through the gate.


One of the first things that goes up is a bath.



Chuka, the elf, is suffering from PTSD and isn't quite right in her head. She can't seem to accept that her father is dead. She draws twice as many clothes as she needs (some for her, some for a man) and gets twice as much food as she needs (and half goes to waste).

But on a practical level, she's worried about the fact that they're receiving all this charity from the JSDF. "We eventually have to support ourselves. Will we have to sell our bodies?"

Lelei, the mage, has been working on trying to learn Japanese, and is making great progress. She's been doing other things, too.


She learns that the JSDF has no use for the corpses of all these dragons they killed. It turns out that dragon scales are very valuable, and she's gotten permission for the refugees to collect them, and to sell them. "We aren't going to have to sell our bodies." Considering how many dragons died there, they should be able to keep busy for a long time.


This is the nearest town that's still intact. It's called "Italica". Whoever drew it needs to learn more about how towns were fortified in the middle ages, because it's got a blind spot. An attacking army could climb one of those hills from along the river and attack down into the town. (It wouldn't be easy but it would be a lot easier than assaulting that wall.)

Aside from that, it's a pretty good imitation of a motte-and-bailey. Except that the bailey should be elevated, and this one isn't.

(By the way, it also means that the locals haven't invented any kind of artillery. Curtain walls like that are completely useless if the enemy has artillery, whether cannons, trebuchets, high-powered mages, or tamed kaiju. If that town has been safe all this time, then the JSDF fortress will be too.)

Regardless, the next episode is "The Battle of Italica". The princess and her column are coming in from one side, and Scout Squad 3 is taking the three girls to this town from the other side with their first load of dragon scales, and presumably there will be some sort of clash.

Also, word has gotten back to Japan about wholesale slaughter of civilians, and opponents of the administration are trying to claim that it was the JSDF that did it, not a kaiju. So the Diet has summoned witnesses: Itami (commander of the JSDF unit that witnessed it) and some of the refugees, and that's maybe in the next episode, too, or maybe the one after.

I wonder if Lelei's magic will work in Japan? I wonder if she'll need to find out? Since by then Lelei's mastery of Japanese will probably be sufficient, she's going to be the star witness, obviously. And I hope to hell no one makes Rory mad.

(A stupidity: the Premiere of China wants to send half of his citizens through the gate. Which is idiocy considering what a bottleneck it is. If they loaded them onto trucks bumper-to-bumper they couldn't even keep up with China's population rate of increase, even assuming there was anything for them on the other side besides starvation and violent death. I guess the writer wants us to believe that the Premiere is stupid, but I don't believe that any national leader is that stupid.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 03:34 PM | Comments (44) | Add Comment
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After reading your reviews on this show, I decided to give it a shot.  Despite the "everybody other that Japan is evil and stupid" I'm enjoying it.  I can forgive the writer some prejudice in favor of his country, though.  I'll probably end up paying for a Crunchyroll subscription to keep up on this.

The star fort is probably a reasonable structure, though not really necessary with modern weapons--the M2s they have mounted can place accurate fires a long ways.  If you're not worried about artillery, though, fixed fortifications are probably not a bad idea.  However, they've built it wrong.  They have a fence arranged in a star pattern, where they should have an elevated berm there with machine guns on it.  The purpose of the "arrowheads" on the star points is so you can place fires back along the wall to the inside corners of the star from the outside tips of the arrowhead.  When it's just a cyclone fence, as they have here, it really serves no purpose.  They could probably use HESCO bastions like they did for the rest of the walls.  The background artist probably worked from a drawing and didn't look too closely.

As far as the moat goes, they could certainly build one.  Drainage would be kind of a pain in the ass, but they're in the bottom of a valley so they could certainly provide an outlet.

I was trying to figure out what those hydraulic excavators were doing (other than "look like construction").  They weren't digging a basement or anything, and leveling ground is much, much, much more efficient with other equipment.  They still get a pass from when they had that king lead a cavalry charge and get his horse fuckered up on a wire obstacle.  Most fiction seems to forget about concertina wire, and it gets used everywhere on a real modern battlefield.

Posted by: CatCube at July 24, 2015 08:11 PM (fa4fh)


I think those clear areas between the outer fence and the first curtain wall are probably mined. If you can't have a moat, a minefield will suffice.

The problem with a moat is where to get all the water from. I assume that for water inside the camp the engineers have dug some wells, but for a moat that wouldn't be sufficient.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 24, 2015 09:48 PM (+rSRq)


The clear area could be mined, though as much as the Japanese government seems to be fretting about public and world opinion, they probably wouldn't want to blow off the Ottawa Treaty.  It's hard to say if the writer even thought of that, though.  Either way, if they were mining the area they still wouldn't need to have the jogs in the fence line.

And moats don't have to have water.  I think on star forts they usually didn't--they just wanted the wall of the fort to be at the same elevation as the surrounding ground so the enemy couldn't place direct fires onto the face of the wall.  Besides, we do modern obstacles with dry ditches, though they're mostly to stop tanks.  If all you're concerned with are dismounts, wire obstacles are a more efficient use of effort since you don't need heavy equipment and you don't risk providing cover in the ditch.

Posted by: CatCube at July 24, 2015 10:05 PM (fa4fh)

4 It occurs to me they don't have guard towers around the perimeter, either.

Posted by: CatCube at July 24, 2015 10:11 PM (fa4fh)

5 A fire against that wall would be useless because that wall is made of concrete.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 24, 2015 10:20 PM (+rSRq)

6 And it's clear that we're putting a lot more thought into this than the director did.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 24, 2015 10:21 PM (+rSRq)

7 Direct fire as in "cannon fire coming in at no or nearly-no elevation", right?

Keep in mind that the JSDF has very little organic knowledge about a lot of aspects of war - no combat veterans, a complete break in military tradition, and a training culture entirely geared towards peacetime and, well, inoffensiveness. It's entirely possible they laid out a traditional star fort because someone asked "hey, what should we make the fort look like?" and looked it up on Wikipedia, without necessarily understanding the logic behind all the defensive features and whether they apply in this situation. Not saying they're stupid or ignorant, just that it's really easy to take for granted that armies are supposed to know this stuff - our guys aren't working out of sixty-year-old textbooks when they lay out a firebase.

I don't know that we can conclude anything about the presence of artillery just by there being walls in the town. We KNOW there are dragons of several varieties and some kind of orc/beastman thing; there may be other monsters about. A big honkin' wall may not stop the king and his siege train, but might be just the thing to help you live through an invasion of goblins or wargs. If they weren't having to defend that thing, there'd be houses on both sides of the wall, lining the roads in and out, etc. You only crowd into a fortification like that when you are worried that you'll need it. (Or possibly, as Steven said, we're thinking about this too hard, and the town was drawn that way because it looked nice in a manga panel...)

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at July 25, 2015 12:07 AM (uqQHL)


As was pointed out to me, this started as a light novel, so the writer likely just mentioned 'their fortified base' in passing.  Echoing what Avatar wrote, I'd imagine that the manga artist read that, looked up "forts" on Google Images, and drew what looked good.

I was intrigued this ep by the exchange between Itami and Lt. Yanagida, who comes across as an intel officer.  The losing radio contact is nice for the 'otaku-with-a-heart-of-gold' character development, but why didn't missing more than one check-in result in an air sortie of helos or jets?  Recon Team 3 could not have been that far from their base.  In fact, looking at the map of 'the land through the Gate,' I'd guess they were only miles away.

More overthinking?  Yeah.  Thing is, when you encounter what seems to be shaping up to be a gem of a series, you expect the best, even to the point of wanting to help.

"And I hope to hell no one makes Rory mad."

Posted by: Clayton Barnett at July 25, 2015 01:58 AM (lU4ZJ)

9 Geologically, those hills next to the river don't make a great deal of sense. You'd almost suppose they had to be deliberately built up.
Of course, the straight course of that river doesn't make much sense, either; Rivers meander, particularly in almost flat areas. Maybe it's actually a canal, not a river, and the hills are where they got rid of the dirt. 

From a defensive standpoint, though, with magical beasties, I suppose there could be something about those woods that makes them a less than desirable attack route. Rabid dryads, or something. 

Posted by: Brett Bellmore at July 25, 2015 04:20 AM (L5yWw)


A fire against that wall would be useless because that wall is made of concrete.

Direct fire as in "cannon fire coming in at no or nearly-no elevation", right?

I was speaking "Army" again without thinking about it.  Avatar is mostly right, except that the term "direct fire" encompasses small arms as well.

You could be right about the walls being concrete, though I originally didn't think they were.  They had HESCO bastions in the scene 9 minutes in where the refugees are introducing themselves, but the rest of the artwork is inconsistent.  I'd expect they'd use HESCOs for the outer wall., but on closer inspection they certainly could be concrete.

Posted by: CatCube at July 25, 2015 07:16 AM (fa4fh)


When I said "a fire against the wall" I meant burning lumber. That's a legitimate tactic against a wooden palisade, for example. (Or more simply, throwing oil on the palisade and then setting it on fire.)

We already know that the natives don't have any kind of artillery, or else Italica wouldn't look like it does.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 25, 2015 08:33 AM (+rSRq)

12 *This* is why I like Gate so much--forget the harem, the JAPAN STRONK, and everything else--it provides endless opportunities for Engineer's/Armchair General's Disease, and the old magic/tech divide.

Posted by: Big D at July 25, 2015 12:10 PM (VKO9N)

13 One side note on fortifications--the Empire is used to having air superiority.  While they normally mess around with talons and lances, one of the ways that they maintain their rule is probably with the threat of skins of oil and flaming arrows from above.  How would a medieval city or keep even begin to fight that, given that .50 AP is the minimum to penetrate dragonscale (meaning that arrows and bolts are only threats in the Golden BB sense).

Posted by: BigD at July 25, 2015 12:16 PM (VKO9N)

14 Keep in mind that not all dragons are cut from the same cloth. In fact, we can be pretty sure of this. The locals know their forces got wiped out, and that those forces included... "ordinary" riding dragons? Drakes? Whatever. The same locals do not believe that the same force that kicked their butt so hard it relocated to their hairline could even -drive off-, not kill, not even injure, just drive off our friend Puff. Implies pretty hard that Puff is a few cuts above in terms of toughness, I think.

Honestly, if we say "half" is less an absolute numeric description and more of a way of emphasizing the importance, the Chinese premier's idea isn't a bad one. By our standards, the Chinese economic expansion of the last 30-40 years has been explosive, but that's slowing down as the low-hanging fruit of an industrial revolution are mostly picked out. Nothing on offer in China is even remotely as lucrative as the idea of vast new continents populated by people who don't even have firearms. Having a serious policy of Growth By Settling... darn it, what's our word for "the world on the other side of the gate"?... solves some very serious problems for China, including demographic (lots of young men with no available women) and political ("feeling oppressed? Head out for the New Territories!")

And Japan is in a terrible position to take similar advantage. They don't have a big population surplus, especially not a poor one who would find a farming life to be congenial. They don't have an expansionist impulse (we didn't merely cut it off, we seared the stump). They haven't had a settler tradition in recorded history.

(The US is kind of in the middle there. An extremely successful settler tradition, a cultural tradition that isn't rooted in ethnicity, a lot of good-government memes, and well, complete military dominance over the country where the gate happens to be sitting doesn't hurt. On the down side, a serious tradition of self-government, so any government body that arose there would probably be separate from the US proper...)

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at July 25, 2015 02:29 PM (uqQHL)

 I was intrigued this ep by the exchange between Itami and Lt. Yanagida, who comes across as an intel officer.  The losing radio contact is nice for the 'otaku-with-a-heart-of-gold' character development, but why didn't missing more than one check-in result in an air sortie of helos or jets? 
Well, the conversation indicated that they were communicating, but in short bursts. 
The scene with Yanagida was certainly interesting. 
Where is JAXA? I mean, the next thing they ought to check is to get a telescope look at the star pattern of the world. How many moons does this world have? Hell, transport a LAMBDA rocket or something similarly small through and put a satellite in orbit.  It's possible that there are continents/islands with no indigenous peoples and thus settleable without grief or guilt. Set up an airstrip at the gate and fly there.
 If it IS an alternate Earth, then physics just got a huge discovery. If it's an alien planet in a far away system then that's an important bit of info too.
Also set up EM wave detectors around all the magic users and find out what frequencies they are broadcasting on (Ocatrine obviously) and if they can't then physicists get ANOTHER budget increase . 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at July 25, 2015 09:53 PM (1zM3A)


That's a good idea but it isn't urgent. For the time being there's a huge logistical bottleneck and they have to prioritize things which are militarily necessary: helicopters, spare parts, fuel, ammunition, food, building supplies, barbed wire, and so on.

JAXA can wait until the political and military situation is sorted out.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 25, 2015 10:33 PM (+rSRq)


"If it IS an alternate Earth, then physics just got a huge discovery. If it's an alien planet in a far away system then that's an important bit of info too."

From the manga (which I am assuming to be canonical)...  

No one's ever mentioned issues with gravity.  Nor have we seen any modern device not work there, so perhaps the same physics applies.  That leads me to suspect that Leili & Kato's 'magic' is just a science we've not discovered here on Earth.

Posted by: Clayton Barnett at July 25, 2015 11:57 PM (lU4ZJ)

18 The JAXA et. al. ideas are great, and I'd expect them to be proceeding independently of our heroes' activities.  E.g. put a good portable telescope on a truck and have it plus escorts stay out at night beyond the light pollution of the base and make observations.  Sending probes up into space would take a while to build them and set up launch facilities, we can be sure no one has basic exploratory ones in stock.

Which could also explain the radio issues in the first expedition.  If you're enough beyond line of sight propagation gets interesting.  Conventional AM at night on earth can go quite a ways, right?  Otherwise, don't you have to bounce off of the ionosphere, the occasional micro-meteorite, or a space sat?  So radios optimized for well developed Earth might plausibly show unusual limits at distance until adjustments are made, or com satellites are in operation, and those would take a long time to be put in place (custom built after the orbital space environment is discovered).  Yeah, lots of chances for us to play armchair Engineer and Scientist.

Paranoid me would be preparing for that gate to close without warning.  E.g. after we (inevitably ^_^) discover we are interfertile with at least the human form natives (and either way would be very interesting, plus no doubt the elf's DNA and, say, CAT scans are being checked out with great interest), I'd be making sure there's a good enough library, and stocks of machine tools and metal stocks, food and seeds, and small arms ammo (the basic stuff without explosives have > 1/2 century shelf lives) so that the outpost could thrive if that happens.  Hmmm, fuel for electricity and engines could be the biggest issue there.

Although for some reason that sort of thing doesn't seem to be factoring in anyone's plans.  But that's another thing the on earth political craziness could play into, suppose it gets so bad someone decides its best to close the gate.  People like the mage and/or Rory might be handy in that case.  Heck, Rory might make them an offer they can't refuse....

Posted by: hga at July 26, 2015 04:44 AM (51wyD)

19 Yeah. The reason I mentioned LAMBDA was that it's an easily transported rocket and would require little infrastructure.
As fast as they built the fort it should be doable.
You're right it doesn't apply to our heroes here...
I'm holding out for the Rocket Girls crossover.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at July 26, 2015 05:34 AM (1zM3A)


As far as preparing an airstrip to explore a wider area from the air:  I had wondered why they didn't have any fixed-wing assets, just the helicopters we've seen.  This is strange, since they are facing an enemy with air assets (the dragons), and helicopters aren't very good at air-to-air (though in-universe they can apparently work well against an enemy not expecting them).

It occurred to me around the third episode that the gate is too small for any fixed-wing aircraft of decent size.  They could get a small general aviation-type aircraft through (think Cessna), but a large cargo or fighter aircraft would have to come through in pieces, and I can't think of anything that's intended to be disassembled and reassembled in a field environment.  I'm sure the Japanese government is working on it, but it'll take time to develop this capability, which would be unique worldwide.

Posted by: CatCube at July 26, 2015 09:18 AM (fa4fh)


When I refer to the GATE as a "bottleneck" it's not just the reduced capacity for shipping supplies through it. It also isn't very big physically, and a lot of things won't fit.

So far the JSDF quartermasters seem to have done an outstanding job on the place. I wonder whose idea it was to lay a cable through it?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 26, 2015 09:40 AM (+rSRq)

22 It makes sense not to put fixed-wing aircraft through. Basically, if you do that, you need an air force base on the other side - runways are pretty big. To justify that, you need to be doing a lot of flying. To manage that, you need a lot of logistic tail - avgas, spares, etc.

But what are they getting with fixed-wing craft? Helicopters are fine for short-range recon. They're probably better than jets for the kind of anti-dragon work you'd worry about (could you even lock an AMRAAM onto Puff?) And the choppers have much better open-field capability, which is important in a world where -no other air strip exists-. Any fixed-wing craft that goes up must land there too, no matter what conditions, because there's literally nowhere else to do it.

I expect that a wise US president (which possibly excludes the not-Bush in this show) would loan the Japanese a bunch of drones in exchange for data sharing.

I expect "what if the gate suddenly closes?" is not a consideration that the Japanese planners are worried about.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at July 26, 2015 09:54 AM (uqQHL)


So far the JSDF quartermasters seem to have done an outstanding job on the place. I wonder whose idea it was to lay a cable through it?

Whoever the JSDF has in charge of their generators, I'm sure.  (It's the engineers in the US Army.)  Generator plants for a base of that size would consume immense amounts of fuel, and running commercial power through the gate would be an obvious way to avoid a lot of traffic and to save costs.  Though, with a fixed gate with no enemy presence would probably justify a pipeline, which is far and away the most efficient way to transport liquids.  I don't recall pictures of the current gate, but IRL it would probably look like a utility tunnel at this point, with pipes and cable races all along the perimeter.

But what are they getting with fixed-wing craft?...

I think that the success of rotary-wing aircraft against those dragons is probably attributable to the Imperial forces not being used to this type of combat.  I think those were AH-64s they had, and the fire-control systems on those were never really intended for air-to-air combat.  The dragon riders can't stay stupid forever, and they'll start having occasional successes.  (This is assuming that the writers don't make helicopters invincible by fiat--given their treatment of other countries' politics, not a great assumption, I admit.)  Some of the magic we've already seen could probably be used to whack a helicopter, if the caster was either on a dragon or positioned on the ground in the right terrain.  Air-to-air is more a fighter jet core competency, but it's probably going to be a while before that matters, especially if they avoid getting into battles where the enemy can learn.

As far as using an AMRAAM against Puff, if he returns radar I don't know why it wouldn't work.  I don't know if there's a limitation in the guidance computer to exclude low-speed returns that would need a programming change.  However, the radar itself can pick up all kinds of things.  Even civilian ones will get flocks of birds, buildings, and occasionally traffic.  These are usually very slow speed and in predictable places, and the radar excludes them from the operator's display.  I was taking a tour of an approach facility in Springfield, MO, and the controller told me that there was a hill in I-44 where they'd get returns off of highway traffic under the right atmospheric conditions, and they programmed the radar to ignore returns below a certain speed in that spot.

However, reconnaissance is where I think that fixed-wing would really make money.  Most long-range UAVs use satellites for control, so I think that in the Special Region, they'd be pretty limited in range.  I know I'd want to have a rough idea of what's going on around me for as far as I could send out aircraft.  As Steven pointed out, though, the gate severely limits the size of what can be brought to bear.  UAVs would be the best bet, but the ones with range still require a pretty good-size runway.

Posted by: CatCube at July 26, 2015 01:12 PM (fa4fh)


The cable I was referring to was data, probably fiber. That's why they can now have a cell tower that connects back to the network in Japan.

I think that laying a power cable would be terrifically dangerous. It's a catastrophe waiting to happen. They are much better off with local diesel generators, even if the fuel has to be hauled through that tunnel with trucks.

(A fuel pipeline gives me the willies, too. Gad!)

Probably about a quarter of the truck traffic in that tunnel is fuel, anyway. It's not that big a deal.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 26, 2015 02:48 PM (+rSRq)


Aside from the logistics of building an airbase with supporting infrastructure (Including workshops to assemble and prep aircraft.), someone at the Fandom Post noted that moving all the material and equipment from Japan TO the gate would be a massive undertaking, since you have to ship them through an urban environment.  I seen naval aircraft with folding wings (Which Japan does not have.) suggested as being the ideal type of aircraft short of Harriers to be shipped through the gate.  But partially disassembling aircrafts and moving them through using HETs seem a better idea.  It had to be the way for the JSDF to ship the excavators through the gate, because you can not send those in one piece.

(I am a bit late coming to this because while I did see via Crunchyroll  - which I have a number of guest passes for - on Friday, shortly after it was posted - I was at Otakon and the wifi was spotty.  Fun Girls und Panzer panel, though - and where else other than a gathering of military buffs can you see someone running around with a model of a Panzer IVH?) 

Posted by: cxt217 at July 26, 2015 03:35 PM (JOdbP)


It had to be the way for the JSDF to ship the excavators through the gate, because you can not send those in one piece.

I doubt they'd need to do anything special for the HYEXs.  The gate looks to be around 15', maybe a little higher--I don't know the dimensions for JSDF tanks, but tanks are typically pretty tall and there's a fair bit of room over them.

A John Deere 270LC on an M870A1 lowboy trailer with the arm slightly out of travel position will just lose the hydraulic hoses on the top knuckle going under the Biggs Road bridge on I-65 NB in Indiana, which is posted as 14'-7".  If the gate was a little under 14'-6", they might have to road the HYEXs, but I don't think it's so short that it won't clear one on its own tracks.  If somebody has done a better estimate of the gate dimensions, I'll defer to them.

Posted by: CatCube at July 26, 2015 05:03 PM (fa4fh)

27 The streets of Shibuya and the lack of a reasonable staging area there is part of the bottleneck, and definitely a headache. It's almost enough to make someone in power consider condemning a couple of those high-rises just because the JSDF badly needs the land they're on.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 26, 2015 06:06 PM (+rSRq)


As to the backhoes, I suspect that the buckets were removed and then they drove themselves through with the arms completely folded and flat level. Then you don't have to allow for a trailer in your height calculation. The bucket would be brought in later, on a truck.

Another possibility is that the backhoes were lifted apart, with the track part shipped separately from the cab and the arm.

In that case you'd need a crane at the other end to put them back together, but you'd only need one. And there are some pretty amazing cranes out there which are designed to be transported on city streets and not take out bridges; I'm sure one could be found that would fit through the gate.

Given that they spent 3 months doing planning before moving through the gate, it's not impossible that some of this gear was custom made, or custom modified. This is a "cost is no object" kind of problem, obviously. The Japanese government gave the planners pretty much a blank check.

Someone up there wondered why they had backhoes at all, rather than things like bulldozers and graders. I think the answer is that a backhoe is more versatile. It can level ground (I've seen it done), for instance. It isn't as good as a bulldozer at doing so, but there are a lot of things a back hoe can do that a bulldozer cannot do even badly. All things considered I do think that back hoes were the best choice for the initial wave of heavy construction equipment.

A back hoe isn't limited to just using a bucket. They also have hammers (for taking out boulders and tree stumps without having to use explosives) and I've think seen goats feet, and a back hoe can be used as a crane very easily.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 26, 2015 06:15 PM (+rSRq)

29 The excavators shown were rather large for most construction projects, especially when you have several of them at work.  They are getting into the size where you would use them to do strip-mining, and while the amount of concrete the JSDF used (And still to use.) on their construction would require a lot of aggregate, it feels like they are starting to bring in dual-purpose equipment for future resource extraction.

Posted by: cxt217 at July 26, 2015 06:23 PM (JOdbP)

30 An Apache showed up in the Shibuya fight in the manga, but in the anime, all we've seen so far are Cobras, which follows the theme of using retired or second-line gear.

For power, couldn't they just run steel pipe through an upper corner of the gate, and then run an insulated line (like those used for buried lines) through that?  They domed-off the gate on the Shibuya side, so they have plenty of control over the immediate environment.  Of course, lots of stuff is fighting over priority, so it's hard to guess what the status of individual projects might be.

Given that the initial force had to immediately take the hill, obviously they had to make do with traditional military generator logistics at first, and may still do so at this point.

Posted by: BigD at July 26, 2015 07:41 PM (VKO9N)


For power, couldn't they just run steel pipe through an upper corner of the gate, and then run an insulated line (like those used for buried lines) through that?

No, not really. The problem here is the quantity of power needed. The kind of line you're talking about is good for a few megawatts, but that base needs more power than that.

So there are really only two ways to make that happen: higher voltage or higher current.

If you go with higher voltage, you have a problem with insulation. You have to run two lines (hot and return) and they're right next to each other. If the voltage difference is high enough, it will breach the insulation and short.

If you go with higher current, your problem is heat. The wire will have some resistance, and heat dissipation is I²R, it goes up as the square of the current. Do too much of that and your insulation will burst into flames, and then the line shorts. Or the conductor will melt and open, and then you don't have any power going through.

If you run two pipes on opposite sides of the tunnel, that helps a bit, but not as much as you'd think. You still have one problem or the other. The pipe is grounded so if the voltage is too high and it breaches the insulation, the hot can still short to the pipe instead of the return. And you get all kinds of excitement.

And if you go with high current, you can still smoke the insulation, and again you can short to the pipe. And you can still melt the conductor.

I figure they need something like 100 megawatts for a base that large, and in the real world the only way to deliver that kind of power is high voltage, with the wires physically separated using air as the primary insulation. That's not practical in that tunnel; too many opportunities for vehicles to interfere with the wires.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 26, 2015 09:06 PM (+rSRq)


I see some visceral objections to the idea of powering that place with diesel generators. So let's run some numbers just to get a first approximation of the size of the problem.

Diesel fuel is about 35 megajoules per liter. If you figure your generator at about 35% efficiency (though I bet they're better than that) then to produce 100 megawatts you burn 9 liters per second.

A tank truck can un anything up to 44,000 liters. Figure 30,000 as a happy medium. Then one truck load of diesel can power the base for just under an hour. You burn 26 trucks of fuel per 24-hours.

That, of course, assumes a constant load of 100 megawatts. In practice power consumption varies and the overall usage average is going to be less. So somewhere between 20 and 25 trucks per day of fuel for electrical generation.

And that isn't really very much of a load on the logistics. I figure they can probably put several hundred trucks per day through that tunnel.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 26, 2015 09:17 PM (+rSRq)


I don't doubt you could run that base from generators and tank trucks.  We run Bagram Airfield off of generators, and that makes the fort shown look like Coda Village.  I question whether they would, given a commercial power source very close by.  Deployable power is unreliable, expensive, maintenance intensive, and very inefficient.

Field Manual 3-34 estimates a load of 2,450 kW for a 3,500-man brigade (US).  However, that's for a pretty austere environment.  This PPT has figures from 249th EN BN (PRIME POWER) for 12,950 kW for a brigade, which is probably closer to the truth for a comfier base like we saw in the episode.  According to Wikipedia (the three most trusted words in information!) the unit responsible for the defense of Tokyo is the 1st Division, with a strength of 6,300 men.  Assuming they sent the whole division, that's a power requirement of about 26 MW.  I don't know what the highest voltage you can run through an insulated cable (as opposed to an overhead conductor), but I know they make cables in 22kV from personal experience.  I make 26 MW/22kV=1181 A, but in 3 phases, you've got 1200 A/3=400 A per phase.  That doesn't sound crazy to me.  The figure I used was in kVA, so I don't think it needs to be corrected for power factor.

None of that is to say that they wouldn't have gensets as emergency power (that's only smart), but I still don't think they rely on them as the primary power source.

cxt, those excavators were utility, (like you see on a construction site), not production (large mining).  Look at the size of the operator in the cab relative to the equipment.

I'm sure the JSDF uses Komatsu, but they look to be about the same size as the John Deere equipment we use in the US Army.  About 10-11 feet in travel configuration, plus trailer height.  Easy to bring through, and if the gate is juuust a bit too small, like Steven and I said, you can road on it's own tracks so you don't need the trailer.

Excavators are versatile, and we used the hell out of ours on my last deployment, but there's still plenty of work they're not good at.  (You have me on "goat's foot"--I don't recognize that attachment.) Leveling a piece of ground that's larger than the swing of the arm is one of them.  Now, you can certainly make good use of them in conjunction with a dozer, where the dozer pushed dirt into a stockpile and the excavator loads trucks.  For the base of the size we saw, I guarantee they'd have a full set of earthmoving equipment.

Posted by: CatCube at July 26, 2015 11:15 PM (fa4fh)

34 Given those numbers, it sounds like it's doable either way, which punts the issue down to the tiebreakers of priorities and politics.  Which means, who knows which solution the author had in mind or why.

Even if grid power is made available, I would expect a full set of generators and a week's worth of fuel to be stored on-base just in case--and when you add in the vehicle fuel (including those thirsty choppers), there should be enough reserves to dig in and hold out for months at minimal power, if the Gate were to close.  At that point, a lot would depend on what their emergency plan was.

Posted by: BigD at July 27, 2015 01:37 AM (VKO9N)

35  Not an expert on this, but based on these reliable sources I found with Google, I get the strong impression that more than enough electricity could be delivered in cables, especially since the major constraint seems to be dissipating heat, which shouldn't be difficult for the short run where you might want them to be close to each other:

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-voltage_cable

Cable brochure: https://www.generalcable.com/NR/rdonlyres/77BB059A-77D9-4EAE-BE55-B7C3661DB89F/0/GEN37727SilecBrochure_FA.pdf

Detailed exposition with lots of data on how to do it: http://www.nexans.com/Corporate/2013/60-500_kV_High_Voltage_full_BD2.pdf

Of course, it would be bad if one of them develops a fault.  Then again, they're running all sorts of high explosives through the gate, or if the fuel tank farm catches on fire, etc. etc., there are no civilian level "safe" options.

Posted by: hga at July 27, 2015 05:35 AM (51wyD)

36 Of course, logistically it could be done. On the other hand, I don't know that I'd want to have been on the team that approved it. "You want to put a brigade on the other side of the gate, then run HOW MUCH power through the gate?" Not dangerous in "we don't know how to engineer this," so much as "we can't know what this will do to the gate until we turn it on". Fuel pipeline would be significantly less dangerous in that respect.

Assume the land for some staging areas is available in case of emergency. My ol' textbook on Japanese law has a lot to say on Japan's weird land ownership, but one of the weird results is that there IS some empty land, or barely-developed, smack in the middle of Tokyo. Boring reasons, no need to discuss here.

It's fair to say that a JSDF base will consume less power than an American base of the same size. Almost certainly less air conditioning in there, for one...

Man, this is fun. And a new company licensed the manga over the weekend for US release, too.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at July 27, 2015 09:56 AM (uqQHL)

37 "You want to put a brigade on the other side of the gate, then run HOW MUCH power through the gate?" Not dangerous in "we don't know how to engineer this," so much as "we can't know what this will do to the gate until we turn it on".

Indeed, although it could be tested before putting the brigade through, e.g. terminate it with a BIG resistor, back everyone out, and see what happens!

Then again, given that we can assume gate physics is not yet well understood, the potential a Tragedy of Bashtarle plus or minus centered in the middle of Tokyo is to be avoided.  Yep, run a pipeline.

Good to hear about the manga being licensed, I like it.

Posted by: hga at July 27, 2015 12:01 PM (51wyD)

38 Here is a link to a blurb about the power generation for one of the main coalition air bases in Iraq.  35mw of contingency power generation on site.  The picture shows a farm of container sized generators, with a fairly large cluster of fuel tanks nearby.  It clearly wasn't a small project to set up, the generators are all on concrete pads, they mention 7km worth of cable runs, etc.  But I suspect that our gate base would have something like it as a backup, at least.

Posted by: David at July 27, 2015 12:59 PM (dr1tX)



And a new company licensed the manga over the weekend for US release, too.

Sekai Project is new to manga publishing, but they have been around a few years, helping to push visual novels from Japan to a Western audience, especially the big name titles like Clannad, for example.  While some of the games are adult-only hentai releases, others (Like Clannad.) are all ages.

Not bad for a company that originated as a fan-translation group for Japanese VN.  We have to see about how they go about doing the project, since every other company releasing manga in the US right now were started by people who had experience working in manga publishing or the domestic book publishing industry.  But if MangaGamer could do it, why not?

And I actually had a chance to go to the Sekai Project panel at Otakon where they announced it, too, but real life intervened.

Re: the excavators - I did not say they were the full-sized equipment used at resource extraction sites (The sheer size of those would mean a major effort to bring them through the gate, along with their support infrastructure - and that is assuming they went for mobile equipment only.  And for that to happen, they need to have a much WIDER secured perimeter.), but it does appear to me that the JSDF is beginning preparation for resource extraction.  Given the size of the base the engineers built in the span time, they needed a full kit of mechanized engineering equipment and then some...And that is probably not enough for what else they should be building.

I do find it interesting that the it appears the base's vehicle entryway seems to be designed against VBIED. 

Posted by: cxt217 at July 27, 2015 04:21 PM (JOdbP)

40 It's better to take precautions than to not do so and wish you had.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 27, 2015 05:07 PM (+rSRq)

41 Ok, I just noticed something weird about that next to the last picture, the one with all the dead dragons.  Not one dying dragonrider dropped his lance.  Every single one of them stuck it in the ground as he crashed.  I went back and rechecked; there's three scenes with parts of the battlefield visible, and not one lance is lying on the ground.   
Ok, I'm officially nitpicking that scene...

Posted by: ubu at July 27, 2015 07:49 PM (GfCSm)

42 You're not an engineer so you're not permitted to do that.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 27, 2015 08:15 PM (+rSRq)


You might be missing the big 'dragon in the room' in the scene there - given the time that passed, why are the bodies of the dragons still lying around?  The JSDF should have buried the bodies of the beasties, for both reasons of health and aesthetics .

And for those who minds go to low places - can you see what is wrong in the quick edit of the princess and the other member of her order of their ride to Italica?

Posted by: cxt217 at July 27, 2015 09:15 PM (JOdbP)

44 All the human bodies are gone, just the dragons, wyverns, etc are left. The JSDF probably used the lances to indicate the areas already worked.  The dragon bodies are too big to deal with without excavators which have higher priorities.  Also with this having been an artillery battle the site may be a few miles from the base making a field of rotting corpses a bit more tolerable. Depending on the wind...

Posted by: Whelk at July 28, 2015 06:35 PM (xzBca)

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