Welcome back GATE. After a season without these characters, I was worried about how they could bring viewers back in with the sequel, but boy did they ever start things off perfectly. Instead of dragging their feet in an attempt to reintroduce viewers to the series, they pretty much just leapt right in and continued onwards as if there hadn’t been a three month break between episode 12 and episode 13.
Picking up right away with the meetings between the JSDF’s representative and numerous senators, orchestrated in conjunction with Princess Pina, the second season spends its first two episodes focused on the political tone that had been built up over the latter half of season one. It provides a nice change of pace, even among other series this season, as more times is spent on some natural world building shown through the interactions between people, as well as the senate’s feelings towards their emperor and other members of the royal family. And this provokes the introduction of multiple new characters; with Prince Zorzal of the Empire and his bunny girl slave/conniving rebel warrior Tyuule looking to be the most important additions to the cast.
Between the two of them, the machinations that are being set up towards open war between the JSDF and the Empire are fascinating to watch and provide a nice change of pace from some of the more comedic elements in the show. It also ups the stakes immensely for Japan’s involvement as a whole, not just Itami’s involvement in the story.
This brings us to Itami and the rest of season one’s returning cast. As the main character, Itami definitely has a strong presence throughout these three opening episodes, and he continues to be one of the best leads from the past couple of years. His seething rage over the discovery that Prince Zorzal had kidnapped Japanese people and had been using them as slaves is portrayed wonderfully, but it’s the way that he treats Tuka in the next episode that really sets him apart as a character. His gentle and earnest care for her, as her fragile state of mind has her believing that he’s her dad, all the while desperate to find a solution is spectacular.
The rest of the returning cast, however, doesn’t get much time to shine in these three episodes. Both Kuribayashi and Kurokawa get a standout scene each; with Kuribayashi beating down Prince Zorzal and his goons, and Kurokawa provoking some more world building through her time at a slums clinic. And Tuka is the focal point of episode 15, with her deteriorating mental state taking centre stage. However, the rest of the cast has done nothing major to note so far; although the newfound focus on Tuka is appreciated after her role in season one being next to nonexistent. Rory and Lelei’s biggest contributions to the season so far have been deciding to join Itami and Tuka on their quest to slay the titular Fire Dragon.
The animation is still quite strong this season, although there have been cases of off model characters in a few scenes, and the audio is still extremely strong. Overall the production values have been great this season and will hopefully maintain this quality as they rush into the next portion of the story.
GATE has made a triumphant return to screens with these episodes, and its looking like it’ll continue to be one of the better anime series in recent years. Despite a few minor flaws, a great cast of characters, interesting plotlines and high production values make this one to keep watching.
Episode 13 – 15 Rating: 8.5/10
GATE streams new episodes Fridays exclusively on Crunchyroll.