Gate: The JSDFhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4glXwP1nKo
The concept behind this series ultimately isn't anything new, quite a few pulp writers have been writing about what would happen if you transported a modern military into a pre-industrial setting for a while. Be it Eric Flint (1632), SM Stirling (Island In The Sea Of Time), or Harry Turtledove (Guns Of The South). But this is probably the first time I've ever seen the concept executed in a Tv show, let alone an Anime. So that alone intrigued me.
It's like someone took the best aspects of Last Airbender, Game Of Thrones, 12 Kingdoms, and threw in a healthy dose of Tom Clancy.
It's not perfect, it does have some aspects to it that I really just do not care for. It's hard to take a setting where everything is trying to be realistic seriously when the Harem aspects do show up. Rory for instance, is a great character. But her design just clashes with the realism the series otherwise plays more or less straight. She could have been exactly the same character, but would have fit in much better if her design and costume had been influenced more by Game Of Thrones and less by Otaku Cosplay Monthly. Seeing realistic military fatigue
Quick aside: the culture of this fantasy world is rather inconsistent. There are 18th century french maids existing alongside 1st century roman soldiers.
The Characters are actually rather likeable, though a bit one note in some cases. Much like many anime series before it, Itami is a bit of a bore as a character. He's not without positive qualities, he is a well trained soldier and when the situation calls for him to get serious he's nothing short of an animal. However the characters aren't what sell the story, but the political machinations and Game Of Thrones inspired intrigue that result from two drastically different worlds clashing with each other. The JSDF want to help the people suffering under the empire but can't because of the government wanting to avoid conflict and a political fiasco, there are the people in charge in our world who want to exploit the world inside the gate for resources like oil, there are the people in charge in the special region who want to avoid annihilation at the hands of the JSDF, and Itami and the group are stuck in the middle trying to be the voice of reason.
From what I've seen of the Manga, the Anime is quite a bit tamer when compared to the much more sexually explicit and politically charged source material. I've read that the original author is a bit of a Jingoistic nut. Fortunately, at least so far I haven't seen anything that could really be interpreted as anything especially extremist in nature. Though that could just be the censors trying to stick it to the author.
But what I love best about this series, and the reason I wholly recommend it, is that it portrays the military as a force for good
. True it's not MY Military. But as the son of a veteran, I appreciate this goes to great lengths to portray the best parts of a modern military. The code of honor, the brotherhood, the devotion to humanity and decency even when faced with the most despicable parts of human nature. and it does it all without going to the extreme of either over-fetishizing the Military, or demonizing them like a lot of military anime do.
I also deeply enjoy how the people in the Special Region are better off simply by default of the JSDF being there to give them modern conveniences and services. It's also nice to see a reminder of how good we have it by comparison to those who existed centuries ago. It's really shocking seeing how little the common person in a medieval setting really had, and how the 'rich people' of the Special region react to the common products the ordinary people of our world have. It's surreal seeing a medieval princess treat a Cup of ramen like the greatest thing ever.
My favorite part so far is how Rory cut through the bullshit and called out a politician for trying to undermine the JSDF. Calling her ' a spoiled brat' for trying to paint the JSDF as an oppressive colonial force when (At least so far) they've done nothing but help the people and it's always Cathartic to see hundreds of barbarians get totally genocided by the JSDF.
Theres a lot here that makes it a great watch, despite it's issues. Highly recommended.