GATE (2014)

[ゲート 自衛隊 彼の地にて、斯く戦えり]

Volume 5

GATE - Volume 5 (2014)

Author: Takumi Yanai
Artist: Satoru Sao
Publisher: Alphapolis

The Capital is hit with and earthquake and the discovery of a Japanese slave in the possession of Prince Zorzal threatens peace negotiations with the Empire.

I really enjoy the contrast in reaction between the Imperials and the Japanese with regard to the earthquake. The Imperials think it's divine wrath and the end of the world while the Japanese just shrug it off. For anyone eager to see Zorzal get some comeuppance, he suffers quite brutally and graphically here (not that any lesson is learned from the experience), but the big thing is the reveal that there were small-scale raids prior to the Battle of Ginza that have resulted in Japanese nationals being sold into slavery. It rather dramatically throws a monkey wrench into the peace negotiations. Then there's the interesting wrinkle that Zorzal is actually smarter than he appears and just plays the fool to avoid being seen as a risk to his father. (He's not that smart, mind, just not a complete lummox.) We're also introduced to the second prince Diabo, which adds to all the Capital intrigue. (He reminds me of Geoffrey in The Lion in Winter somewhat.)

Meanwhile, we have Tuka's deteriorating mental condition and the dramatic parallel with Itami's own mentally ill mother, which is given a much more dramatic portrayal than in the anime. (I mean, shoot, when poor Tuka breaks, he gets hit with a flashback and rather messily pukes over himself whilst freaking out over the whole thing.) Yao may get some fan hate for her role in the matter, but I think both the author and artist do a decent job of portraying her conflict in the whole thing, someone so desperate to save her people that there's no line she's not willing to cross. I also like that while Itami is often shown to be quite the maverick, he really does think like a responsible commander regarding the prospect of taking on the Fire Dragon instead of just tallying ho from the get-go.

By this point you pretty well know what to expect from the art in terms of quality and content. There are some particularly strong reaction shots here and as a minor note, people familiar with the anime will discover that the slave rags you see is a kindness not provided here, which makes Zorzal's treatment of his slaves all the more dehumanizing.

There's no real plot reveals in this volume's 4-koma, just some amusing episodes about life in Arnus Village.

There is some good material here that sets up the next phase of conflicts in the story. Fans should be more than happy to keep going.

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