GATE (2013)

[ゲート 自衛隊 彼の地にて、斯く戦えり]

Volume 3

GATE - Volume 3 (2013)

Author: Takumi Yanai
Artist: Satoru Sao
Publisher: Alphapolis

Itami returns to Japan to testify at a special session of the Diet, bringing along Tuka, Leilei, Rory, Piña, and Bozes, but other powers look to interfere with the trip.

Bringing the characters from the Special Region to Japan allow for a lot of fish-out-of-water antics and the special session has a nice verbal beatdown of a backbiting politician (who may come off as a bit of a strawman, but straw burns well). We get the introduction of Risa and Minister Kanou, who bring out a lot more to Itami's character, and the fun that follows from there. If you like intrigue, this volume delivers with all the interference our gang faces along the way, culminating in the showdown at the ryokan. I realize the function the story serves for the author, but I found the premise for the ryokan fight rather ridiculous. That sense of ridiculous gets mitigated somewhat here, though. First off, if you're going to run a black op in a foreign country and your country has people of that nationality (or better yet, nationalities you'd like to implicate if things go wrong), you use them. I can understand the Chinese just sending their own, but America has Japanese. We also have Koreans, Chinese, Russians, etc. When you have two dead operatives, one white and one black, where's the finger going to point? Yeah. (At least here in the manga, from the radio chatter we hear of a Tanaka and a Kim on the American team.) Most importantly, Heidegger (I believe) lampshades that the op is totally FUBAR, a sentiment echoed by CIA Station Chief Graham. Well, we get a crazy four-way battle out of the deal, so that's something. If you're an Itami/Rory shipper, there's a lot of material for you here.

I never knew an Elf in a smart pantsuit was what I needed until this series, but there you go. As there's an onsen, you can bet that there's plenty of fanservice to be had. I would've rather had different framing in lieu of the crappy censor steam on Rory and Leilei (as Barbie doll anatomy isn't applied in this series), but I guess that was judged as the lesser evil. Also, we get a great bloody mess for the big fight scene, so that's something. One thing I liked was that the scratches and bruising on Itami's face from the previous volume hasn't fully healed yet. It's a nice touch.

Starting this volume, we get some humorous 4-koma at the end. It's a nice little bonus.

While I'm not entirely satisfied with the handling of the black op mess, it's part and parcel with how the series rolls. There's a lot of good content to be had, both with the Special Region characters experiencing Japan and learning more about Itami from his interactions with Risa and Kanou. Fans will want to keep at it, but if you're more of a fence-sitter, this volume may not play as well with you.

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