July 31, 2015

GATE -- ep 5

Well, stuff happened but it ended in the middle of a two-part story, so it was rather unsatisfying. It'll be better once ep 6 comes out.


As Squad 3 was moving towards Italica, they saw smoke in the distance. Turns out that an Empire military unit that was involved in the first battle against the JSDF didn't get completely eradicated, and the survivors (a couple thousand) have gone rogue and become bandits. They are, however, still well armed and well trained and reasonably disciplined. They are also desperate.

Italica was one of the nations who sent out their military at the Emperor's call and got it annihilated in the second battle with the JSDF. The Count (the ruler) was one of the dead. The current ruler is 11 years old; she's the youngest daughter of three left behind, but her sisters had been married off.

So when the Emperor's daughter (heh "Pina Co Lada") showed up with a scouting party, she took command of the defenses. The first assault was beaten off, and then Squad 3 showed up.

From the point of view of the bandits, Italica is a perfect target. It's large and rich and full of women who need to be raped and men who need to be killed and houses that need to be plundered.

As designed, if it was defended by an adequate force led by an able commander, it should have had no difficult beating off a force like this. Unfortunately, it doesn't have any of those things. The defenders are "militia" because the regular force lies dead before the JSDF base. The princess isn't as good as she thinks she is.

And there lies a tale. She is called "princess" and acknowledge as such by the Emperor, but she's illegitimate and he doesn't actually care about her. Her military formation is pretty and ordered by they've never seen combat before, and neither has she. It's a toy, something she formed when she was something like 8, and it's gotten larger and more elaborate over the years, but not really any better. Princess Pina already learned from one of the survivors of the second JSDF attack that the Emperor ordered the attack so that the militaries of the subject nations would get destroyed, and she's learning that she was sent on this mission for the same reason.

And now some speculation: the story is setting her up to change sides, and become allied with the JSDF. Itami seems to be trying to work that direction. He agreed to work with her to defend the town, and she assigned his unit (all 12 of them) to defend one of the city gates, expecting that such a light force would attract the enemy. Unfortunately, they attacked a different gate and broke in through it.

The battle will continue in the next episode when Itami moves his unit to counter attack. And now we'll get to see magic being used: the attackers have a "spirit user", and it's been implied that Tuka (the elf) can do that. We also know that LeLei is a powerful mage, and it's anyone's guess what Rory will do when she lets loose. All three of them will definitely get involved in this battle, with Tuka and LeLei offering fire support at the very least. And the next-ep teaser suggests that Itami is going to call in helicopter support, which should be quite a surprise to the natives.

Itami told Rory that part of his reason for fighting was to defend the people in the town, but he also wanted the Princess to discover that it's better to be friends with the JSDF than enemies.

So we're setting up for an eventual coup against the Emperor, who is making no friends with his actions. Pina may not be his preferred successor but apparently she could be eventually.

A different long term plotline is Rory. She has a talk with Itami and says, "Lies and deception taint the soul." And that's when he tells her that he's trying to make an alliance with the princess.

Itami is a decent man and a good soldier. He's an able tactician and he's physically brave. His squad show no sign of doubt in his command, in part because he's already proven he's worthy of his position (despite his truly strange hobby). Rory is watching him and learning about him and about the JSDF, and it looks like she approves of what she sees. She is a priestess of Emroy, a god of War, and the JSDF may find itself blessed with Emroy's approval before this is all over.

They've also been hinting that Tuka is special in some way, and I don't mean PTSD. She may well be very powerful, and I suspect we're going to see a bit of that next episode. As to Lelei, we already know she's the real thing; we saw her shoot some sort of magical bolt at her master when he was being crude.

Obviously if it starts getting real, all three of them will help out and that should be interesting to watch.

UPDATE: And... one more thing: this isn't turning out to be a harem show, and thank goodness for that. Maybe later if we're unlucky, but for the time being Itami is being very professional in his relationships with the three women, and presumably with the princess come the day.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 03:09 PM | Comments (23) | Add Comment
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1 The Princess specifically expressed surprise at them having both an elf and a mage. She mentioned that the two of them together could be exceedingly powerful...
True magecraft and spirit magic can make for a nasty combination.
Then Rory got out and Princes Pina died a little inside.  

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at July 31, 2015 04:16 PM (ohzj1)

2

Italica was one of the nations who sent out their military at the Emperor's call and got it annihilated in the second battle with the JSDF. The Count (the ruler) was one of the dead. The current ruler is 11 years old; she's the youngest daughter of three left behind, but her sisters had been married off.

Not quite.  The count died before the Empire launched its' invasion through the gate (Note that the conversation confirms the Empire committed to an invasion through the gate before they had scouted out what might lie on the other side.).  The families that the older sisters married into were struggling for influence and guardianship of the youngest sister during her minority.

I also would not say that the knightly order commanded by Princess Pina is a toy or not particularly useful.  They were trained by an experienced officer (Grey, who is with the princess.).  That biggest problem they have is actual combat experience as well as for Pina, actual combat experience in combat.  That is obvious problem that you simply can not train your way out of, although you can train to handle it better.

Itami is interesting because while he was the subject of humor several times, his otaku nature is notable in the episode for being completely absent.  He is a capable and canny commanding officer when he wants to be - the trick is making him want to be most of the time (Although, a good but lazy officer might arguably be best at commanding in difficult situations.).  Note that aside from intervening with the recon group, he has already made arrangements for support, which the gunship in the preview and Episode 6's title of 'Ride of the Valkyries' is a complete give-away. 

Posted by: cxt217 at July 31, 2015 04:45 PM (VnWAB)

3 Have they changed the word they use for Itami's rank?  They've promoted him to captain in dialog, but what he's wearing on his collar hasn't changed, AFAICT.

Posted by: CatCube at July 31, 2015 05:30 PM (fa4fh)

4

Wow...Two typos in one sentence.

That biggest problem they have is actual combat experience as well as for Pina, actual combat experience in combat. 

...Should read:

That biggest problem they have is lack of actual combat experience as well as for Pina, lack of command experience in actual combat. 

Posted by: cxt217 at July 31, 2015 06:04 PM (VnWAB)

5

Have they changed the word they use for Itami's rank? They've promoted him to captain in dialog, but what he's wearing on his collar hasn't changed, AFAICT.

The word they've been using is "taichou" 隊長, which means "commanding officer". It's like "skipper" in the Navy; it doesn't imply any rank. It's an acceptable way to refer to your ranking officer, no matter who he is.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 31, 2015 06:29 PM (+rSRq)

6 Pina's a good person at heart, one of the seemingly relative few in the upper crust of the Empire (that surely added to her gender and mother to sideline her in Imperial politics).  I suspect that she has the best chance in the not-a-harem-war, either as Empress or by being married off to cement a treaty.

As for the next episode, I guess I don't have to spoiler it, because they've already given it away--the air cav commander is quite a character.  CMoAs abound!

Posted by: BigD at July 31, 2015 06:37 PM (VKO9N)

7

Re Taichou the problem the translator is having is that in English there's no Army term equivalent to "Skipper" in the Navy. In the US Army and the British Army and all English speaking forces derived from those traditions, soldiers refer to officers by actual rank plus sometimes their name. The translator could be using "lieutenant", Itagami's actual rank, but for some reason has decided to go with "captain", which is two ranks higher.

Equivalent naval terms in Japanese are senchou (a ship's captain) and kanchou (captain of a warship). Marika's crew uses "kanchou" for her in Mouretsu Pirates because the Bentenmaru is heavily armed, even though it isn't formally part of any military service.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 31, 2015 06:44 PM (+rSRq)

8 In the US Navy both the captains of my ship (over the years) held the rank of commander, but were always addressed as Captain. I think it's something similar here.
Princess Pina is acknowledged by the emperor, so she is part of the royal family, and 10th in line to the throne, so she has no realistic shot at as things stand.
Looking forward to next episode, seeing Rory the Reaper do her thing. I just hope Kurabayashi meets expectations. I was rather disappointed in how the anime redesigned her character.

Posted by: Whelk at July 31, 2015 08:53 PM (xzBca)

9

I was intrigued by the exchange between Leili and Itami about his improved grasp of trans-Gate language.  He offhandedly attributes it to being hit in the head when the Princess flung the door open.  However, just after that, as he regained consciousness, Rory leaned over him very closely, staring into his eyes.  Makes me wonder if she did something to his mind at that moment.

Pure speculation on my part, but I've seen similar actions in other works turn out to mean something.

And, of course, now I've got that awful song from the 70's stuck in my head....

Posted by: Clayton Barnett at July 31, 2015 09:08 PM (lU4ZJ)

10

I suppose a better translation would be "commander," but that could create confusion with the Navy rank, and also carries specific connotations of authority in English.  "Captain" probably answers the mail best of all.

I think Itami's only one promotion from the actual grade of captain--he's been promoted again since the first episode.  When they commissioned him, he had one star in his rank insignia, and now he's got two.

Posted by: CatCube at July 31, 2015 10:26 PM (fa4fh)

11

I have to admit: I just read the manga up through ep 37. There's no hint at all that Rory did anything strange to him, and the whole question of how he picked up the language never comes up.

The good news: This isn't going to do the Gasaraki Tango. That whole business ended up being settled with a sequence that was almost comedic.

The bad news: for a long time Itami fades into the background. There's a lot going on and Itami isn't involved in very much of it. But there's a new arc starting in maybe chapter 38 and Itami will be in the middle of it.

The best scene?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 31, 2015 10:27 PM (+rSRq)

12

There's no hint at all that Rory did anything strange to him, and the whole question of how he picked up the language never comes up.

As I said, it was speculation.  We've seen Lelei use overt magic, and heard implications about Tuka's abilities.  That Rory effortlessly carries that silly pole-arm and fights so well indicates that she may not use magic, but is magic, befitting her as-yet undefined 'demi-god' status.

Speaking of whom:  everyone seems to know who she is.  I've seen nothing in the backgrounds to indicate that trans-Gate has printing presses, so are there Emloy temples that have her image in them throughout the Empire?  In talking with Grey, Pena seemed to indicate that the Empire has its own orthodox religion; perhaps it is pantheistic, with Emloy one god amongst several?

Posted by: Clayton Barnett at August 01, 2015 01:37 AM (lU4ZJ)

13 Genetic memory? People who can't instantly identify one of Emroy's oracles don't live to pass on their genes...

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at August 01, 2015 03:06 AM (qxzj1)

14 As to Rory, it isn't anything so complex.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 01, 2015 09:54 AM (+rSRq)

15

Regarding Rory's notability (And I actually have no idea why this part of Gate need to be spoiler-proofed, since it was mentioned in Episode 5 and shown before.):

It occurred to me that the recon group and Rory alone might be enough to stop the bandits cold, if the bandits had any sense - but some of the bandits seemed to be controlled by bloodlust more than anything else.

Anyone else noticed that one of the major roads Italica is on is named 'Appia'?

Posted by: cxt217 at August 01, 2015 10:21 AM (VnWAB)

16 Sorry, the genetic memory line was along the way of a joke. ;p

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at August 01, 2015 11:13 AM (qxzj1)

17 The Empire is strongly reminiscent of Rome, what with having a Senate and an Emperor, plus the kind of clothing they wear on formal occasions. Naming that road "Appia" certainly wasn't an accident.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 01, 2015 05:47 PM (+rSRq)

18

...some of the bandits seemed to be controlled by bloodlust more than anything else.

I don't think that's what it was. I think it was desperation. They have no where else to go, no other way of surviving. They can't go back to the Empire; the emperor would order them all executed. No one else would hire them because no one else would trust them. There aren't any other towns nearby besides this one they might plunder, that would yield enough plunder to survive.

They win here or they die. If they don't win, all they have is a choice of deaths. A clean quick death in combat is better than a slow painful death by starvation or disease..

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 01, 2015 05:51 PM (+rSRq)

19

I have to say, I'm impressed with Itami's grasp of the politics he finds himself in.  It's rare to find a junior officer who can grasp the bigger picture, and Itami seems to be one of those.

He's realized that the vast gulf between the JSDF and local forces is discounted, and is using this as an opportunity to show an Empire leader how overmatched she is while nominally "on her side."  Giving them a reason for détente will save a lot of money; artillery shells are expensive.

I wonder if the reason the bandits didn't attack the south gate is because the JSDF forces silhouetted themselves when those three scouts were checking things out.  If some of the bandits were survivors of the daylight attack, they may have recognized them guarding that gate and decided to seek success on one of the other gates.

Of course, if they knew that the JSDF was assisting in the town's defense, they probably would have decided discretion is the better part of valor.  Maybe they thought the gate with few guards and no lookout fires was an obvious trap and declined the gambit.

Posted by: CatCube at August 01, 2015 06:44 PM (fa4fh)

20 There are a couple of big reveals about Itami coming up.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 01, 2015 07:50 PM (+rSRq)

21 The allied armies tried a night attack on Arnus - it's unlikely they saw the JSDF forces in sufficient detail to have been able to recognize them later. They may, however, have heard about the men in green and seen green on the wall. Likewise, they probably did spot the incoming convoy, and may have put two and two together from that. Surely they had the roads under observation if they had the town under siege already.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at August 01, 2015 08:55 PM (qxzj1)

22

The night attack was the second attack by the allied armies.  The first was made in daylight, and its failure is what drove the lord (his name escapes me) to try a night attack.

Posted by: CatCube at August 01, 2015 09:08 PM (fa4fh)

23

The night attack was the second attack by the allied armies.

The allied armies staged three attacks in total.  The last attack was the night attack, when King Duran tried the wiser course of action, only to discover the JSDF was prepared for that as well.

Posted by: cxt217 at August 02, 2015 06:38 AM (VnWAB)

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