Hey there folks, today I’m bringing you another new segment that I’ve been thinking I might do every once in a while when I’m sufficiently annoyed with (and/or liquored up after) watching a show. There are those shows that have interesting concepts and are great, those that have dumb concepts that still manage to be good, those with bad concepts that are bad, and the most frustrating of all of them, the ones that have a great idea but the execution falls short or in some cases fails completely. Whether it’s poor directing, a wonky budget or some other cosmic force, there are shows that, well, Could’ve Been Great. So I’d like to show you a couple of these that I’ve stumbled across in my time. That being said I don’t think I’ll be doing these often, maybe once or twice a month. And without further ado, let’s get into this steaming pile of disappointment.
GATE had a lot of promise in my eyes. The show is interesting only for the first few episodes and reaches its peak with a climactic dragon fight, but otherwise almost immediately afterwards it becomes boring, formulaic and dull. It’s so overloaded with tropes that whatever plot it might have had is sunk beneath the immense girth of the mass of clichés like the lost city of fucking Atlantis.
The characters themselves are unmemorable to the point where I can’t remember what half of them even looked like, let alone their names. They’re more like generic puppets to be filled with the barest possible personality to be sold as overpriced figurines and boobie mousepads. The designs for them are tragically uninspired as well, to the point where you can guess the personalities of characters based on their appearance alone. That and the histories of the characters are almost all paint-by-numbers in anime tropes.
If you haven’t heard of GATE, a portal leading to an unknown land suddenly (and inexplicably) appears and an expedition is sent in only to have a nigh-invincible army appear and begin slaughtering everything that is thrown against them. Experienced soldiers die in droves, and this new army seems to suffer no casualties. With their otherworldly weapons and unusual tactics they wipe out any resistance. The only thing that even manages to faze them is a monstrous fire breathing dragon, and even then it only takes a handful of soldiers to kill it! And even then the defenders have to deal with their own warring nations and scheming corruption within the government. The odds are stacked, but they must prevail!
Sounds interesting, right? Well tough. It isn’t. That’s because for basically the entire story our perspective is planted firmly with the invincible modern day army. It’s just bullying a technologically inferior nation into giving up their resources. This isn’t entertainment, this is US foreign policy! But that’s the thing that truly aggravates me about this show, the fact that the plot is following the wrong people! This is a huge problem with GATE. The fact that our protagonists are hyper competent Mary Sues whether they’re from The Real World™ or Generic Fantasy World #8351 is just trite and dumb. Speaking of dumb, the defenders of the proud fantasy realm aren’t the brightest bulbs either. “What’s that? This invincible army that we just pissed off is coming through the portal? Better attack them with most of my military force in an intentional suicide attack just to get rid of any potential conspirators against my supreme rule that may or may not exist!”
(Ursakar Creed you most certainly ain’t.)
But going back to the characters for a moment, there is potential for a good story with the elf moe-blob in the top right of the first picture. She is the sole survivor of the dragon attack on her village. Everyone she knows is dead including her father, and she can’t emotionally deal with this and so lives in a state of denial, believing him to still be alive and close by, but not here right now. It’s too bad it’s shown only when the show thinks the audience is about to forget about that aspect of her character. Which might I add is pretty much the only aspect of her character. Again if the show focused on this character pretty much exclusively and actually gave her some personality besides a nice rack it might have been halfway decent, even powerful if there was a halfway competent writer on set.
If you’ve ever seen more than 10 episodes of this show you should ask God for your time back. It’s pointless to try but damn if it’s not more constructive than this aggressively stupid show. If you want a good fantasy show, go watch Overlord. That show needs way more attention. Or if you’re looking for something more in the vein of the Oh-No-I’m-Trapped-In-An-MMORPG genre of anime (which really needs a snappier name. GameTrap maybe?) check out Log Horizon. It’s even got a second season (unlike Overlord)!