Gate: Thus the Japanese Self-Defense Force Fought There

Spoiler Alert!

*yawn*

Getting up early can be a pain, but it’s worth it today.

“Shinbashi, this is Shinbashi!”

Ah, you’re finally here.

You’ve got the day off and the annual doujinshi convention is finally here! You’ve already read through this year’s catalog and decided on what titles to look for!

You get off the train and make your way to the exits.

As you walk, you somehow feel that something’s not right. The usual crowd chatter around you seems off. In fact, you can almost hear people screaming. But from where?

Pressing yourself against a large station window, you see people running on the streets.

What’s going on?

Suddenly, you see several blue dragons flying over and attacking the crowds. On each of their backs is a man wearing strange armor, carrying a lance.

Dragons?! It can’t be!

You run out onto the streets and see people either running around in blind panic or even simply cowering. If this keeps up, the doujinshi convention will be cancelled!

You run up to a lady kneeling and trembling on the ground, covering her head with her hands.

“Get up! It’s dangerous here!”, you say.

The lady looks up.

“Who are you?”

“I..”

You hear gunshots and turn to see one of the dragon riders fall onto the street below.

A moment later, the rider gets up and charges a nearby policeman with a sword!

You must help him!

Dashing over, you tackle the rider to the ground, pick up his sword and thrust it into his chest. A spray of blood gushes forth, splattering on you.

You turn to the policeman, asking if he’s alright.

He’s staring at you in shock, along with several onlookers.

You walk up to the policeman and tell him, “Officer, you must evacuate everyone to the Imperial Palace!”

Hopefully, they’ll let the people inside. If not, it’ll be a bloodbath…

Gate: Thus the Japanese Self-Defense Force Fought There (ゲート 自衛隊 彼の地にて、斯く戦えり, Gate: Jieitai Kano Chi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri) is a web novel, light novel series, manga and anime written by Takumi Yanai (柳内 たくみ, Yanai Takumi). There is also a sequel novel series, Gate Season 2: Weigh Anchor, as well as several spin-off manga.

In the summer of 20XX, a portal to another world, the “Gate”, suddenly appears in the Ginza district of Tokyo. An army of monsters and humans wearing strange, ancient armor emerges and kills many of the people near the Gate. Eventually, the Japanese Self-Defense Force (JSDF) routs the invaders, thanks to their more advanced weaponry and tactics. A few days later, the Japanese government sends a JSDF expeditionary force through the Gate to the other world, now officially designated as the Special Region (特地, Tokuchi), in order to establish accords with the Empire, the government behind the invasion.

Upon their arrival, the JSDF is attacked by a massive army which they annihilate over several days. Afterwards, they construct a forward operating base around the Gate, which is located on Alnus Hill in the Special Region. 1st Lt. Youji Itami is assigned as leader of the 3rd Recon Unit with the mission of investigating the Special Region, where magic, dragons, and elves do exist. In the course of his travels, he aids the locals, including the Imperial Princess Piña Co Lada, by defending a town from a marauding army and fighting the huge Fire Dragon, thus paving the way for negotiations. Along the way, Youji befriends several skilled, beautiful women who accompany him with his unit. The Alnus base soon grows into a small community where the JSDF and Special Region natives coexist. Meanwhile, other countries on Earth grow jealous of Japan’s exclusive access to the Special Region.

The JSDF Forward Base on Alnus Hill, with the Gate at its center

When Youji discovers that the Empire has slaves from Japan and “convinces” Crown Prince Zorzal El Caesar to release them, the humiliated prince seizes control of the Empire from his father, Emperor Molt Sol Augustus, and commences an all-out war with the JSDF. The JSDF quickly retaliates and evacuates those opposed Zorzal’s warmongering including Princess Pina and the Emperor. The Imperial anti-war faction establishes a new government with Pina as Crown Princess while the defeated Zorzal goes into hiding with his supporters and desperately uses outdated guerilla tactics in fruitless attempts to discredit the JSDF. Prince Diabo, Zorzal and Pina’s brother, eventually allies himself with China in his own desperate bid to become Emperor. The Gate itself is later discovered to be slowly destroying Earth and the Special Region as both worlds inevitably drift apart. Not only must the JSDF end the Imperial civil war, but also find a way to close the Gate.

Left to right: Lelei, Youji, Rory, Tuka

Main Characters

Youji Itami (伊丹 耀司, Itami Yōji), a 34-year old 1st Lieutenant of the JSDF, commander of the 3rd Recon Unit and an otaku. Honest, compassionate and easygoing, he is a slacker with no goals in life besides indulging in his hobbies. After losing his family at 13, Youji lived an unremarkable life before joining the JSDF, where he barely passed officer training and gained a reputation for being good at running away from trouble. His superiors assigned him to Ranger and Special Forces training to discipline him, but he somehow passed that as well. Promoted to first lieutenant for helping to evacuate civilians when the Gate first appeared, Youji is now a respected hero to the JSDF and Special Region natives alike.

At a hearing in Tokyo over the JSDF’s conduct in the Special Region

Tuka Luna Marceau, a 166-year old high elf. Cheerful yet reserved, she is an adolescent by elven standards. When her forest village was destroyed by the Fire Dragon, Tuka becomes the only survivor to be rescued by Youji. Traumatized by her father’s death, Tuka goes into denial and even once views Youji as her father! She eventually overcomes her denial after the Fire Dragon is killed in a final battle. Like many of her people, Tuka is a skilled archer and can use spirit magic, which she mostly uses to either make arrows fly faster or cause others to fall asleep.

Lelei La Lalena, a 16-year old human sorceress. Calm, brilliant and thoughtful, she is wise beyond her years and rarely displays emotions of any sort. A descendant of Rurudo nomads, Lelei was an apprentice to Cato El Altestan, the sage of the Coda village, and was among the refugees evacuated by Youji’s unit. Eager to learn about modern-day Earth, she quickly masters the Japanese language and soon acts as an interpreter for Youji’s unit. Lelei quickly surpasses her teacher after learning about modern science to enhance her magic skills. Some of the magic she can use includes magic missiles, flight and telekinesis. Lelei eventually learns how to create temporary Gates between Earth and Special Region, but it is extremely taxing for her.

Levitating dozens of swords at once to attack the Fire Dragon

Rory Mercury, a demigoddess and the Apostle of Emroy, the god of war, death, violence and madness. Playful, sensual and somewhat bloodthirsty, Rory can be pleasant to those who are not her enemies. While wandering the land, she helped Youji fight off the Fire Dragon from attacking refugees and became fascinated with the JSDF soldier. Although Rory appears to be a 13-year old human girl, she is actually 962-years old. When she turns 1,000, she will become a full goddess. She wears what appears to be gothic Lolita dress, but it’s actually her priestly attire. Despite being the Apostle of a death god, Rory is recognized as a beloved heroine throughout the Special Region. Supernaturally strong and fast, she can use her huge halberd to devastating effect and her body can quickly heal from any injury. Rory later makes a contract with Youji that allows any injuries he suffers to be passed onto her instead, in exchange for him becoming her servant when he dies.

She can practically decimate armies by herself!

Personal Thoughts

This story reminds me of when Commodore Matthew Perry first arrived in Japan with his “black ships”. Like the Empire, the Tokugawa Shogunate was suddenly confronted with a technologically superior enemy and forced to accept peaceful terms because war would be utterly disastrous on their end. There were also various factions in Japan who wanted to keep fighting despite being outmatched, since their centuries-long pride on being powerful warriors wouldn’t allow them to accept this humiliation. Even those who made peace with the strange foreigners felt threatened constantly, forcing them to learn everything they can about the foreigners’ methods and technology in order to be on equal terms with them.

The Empire here is inspired by the ancient Roman Empire, particularly with its Senate and its royal family. Without any real challenge to their power for centuries, the Empire and its people grew arrogant and saw other peoples and races as slaves at best and uncultured barbarians at worst. When confronted with a technologically powerful enemy, those who sought peace with them prospered while those who wanted war, such as Prince Zorzal, were eventually ruined. What the story misses is that being completely at the mercy of an enemy much stronger than you can be appalling, whether that enemy is benevolent or not.

A number of modern-day political issues shown here could apply to real life as well. With sudden access to a new world, many countries outside Japan are shown to be quite ruthless in their efforts to gain access to the Special Region, resorting to kidnapping, trickery, intimidation and force to gain land, natural resources and people with unique skills. It’s much like how the early settlers of the U.S.A. gradually took more and more land from the native peoples, driven by greed and using their superior weapons and technology.

Moral

There’s always someone better than you.

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