Trust high school students to have enough time for both teenage angst and fighting alien invaders.
By: Nicole S. Castro on April 07, 2022 at 14:40 PHT
There is no shortage of sci-fi + school life anime out there, with Japanese high school students out to save the world from alien invaders. But today, we're going to do our throwback with one of the most popular ones among international fans and is considered a true classic, Gate Keepers!
Gate Keepers (Japanese: ゲートキーパーズ) originated as a tactical role-playing game in December 1999. It was developed by Entertainment Software Publishing and published by Kadokawa Shoten for PlayStation.
The game was then adapted into a manga series written by Hiroshi Yamaguchi and illustrated by Keiji Gotoh. It ran from 1999 to 2001 in Kadokawa Shoten's Ace Next magazine. The English translation was licensed by Tokyopop.
While the manga was ongoing, the series was adapted into a 24-episode TV anime by studio Gonzo, which aired from April to September 2000. The main anime series was followed by a 6-episode original video animation (OVA) sequel called Gate Keepers 21, which was released in 2002. The main characters in the OVA sequel were the next generation of Gate Keepers.
The story is set in 1969, when Japan was experiencing intense economic and social development after the end of World War II in 1945. Unknown to humans, alien/interdimensional beings called Invaders had emerged with plans to take over the world.
To fight the Invaders and defend the planet, an elite but highly secret organization of peace-keepers called the Alien Exterminating Global Intercept System (more commonly known as A.E.G.I.S.), was set up with special funding from the government. They rely on the ability of "Gate Keepers", who have the power to open dimensional "gates" of paranormal energy that give them their superpowers.
Enjoy feeling like a superhero with the anime's opening theme, Asu no Egao no Tameni (For the Smiles of Tomorrow) by Yumi Matsuzawa
The plot of the anime revolves around Shun Ukiya (CV: Takahiro Sakurai), a student from Tategami High School who discovers his Gate of Wind after Invaders attack near his hometown. He discovers through his childhood friend Ruriko Ikusawa (CV: Ayako Kawasumi), who wields the Gate of Life, that their school was a façade created by A.E.G.I.S. to actively recruit new Gate Keepers.
The bulk of the anime introduces the rest of the cast as they go on missions to fight the Invaders. These include the talented pianist Reiko Asagiri (CV: Mayumi Iizuka) who possesses the Gate of Illusion, the athletic Kaoru Konoe (CV: Naoko Takano) who gains superhero-level physical abilities after awakening her Gate of Close Combat, and the quiet Megumi Kurogane (CV: Rikako Aikawa) with the Gate of Walls.
The turning point of the plot is when Megumi betrays A.E.G.I.S. and joins forces with main antagonist Reiji Kageyama/Yuji Mitsuoka (CV: Tomokazu Seki), a former AE.G.I.S. commander whose Gate of Foresight was warped into the Gate of Darkness.
Reiji and Megumi kidnap Ruriko and brainwash her to hate others, awakening her Minus Gate of Genocide. But Shun, who has been secretly in love with Ruriko, saves her and destroys the effects of the brainwashing, effectively restoring her Gate of Life.
Meanwhile, Megumi realizes that her feelings of bitterness and envy against Ruriko were unfounded after she realizes Ruriko harbored insecurities just like everybody else. Megumi then goes to help Shun, Ruriko, and the cast defeat Reiji during the final battle. Reiji eventually re-emerges years later as an A.E.G.I.S. authority, using his funds to contribute to A.E.G.I.S.' work.
Comments and Summary
All in all, we give Gate Keepers a 3.5/5 stars. It was an entertaining, well executed anime that made us look forward to the Gate abilities the most (as it should, since it originated from a tactical role-playing game). The plot of the anime is by no means complicated, but balanced enough to be condensed into 24 episodes with some revelations about Shun's past as well as why Reiji turned into the antagonist he is now. Reiji's and Megumi's personalities and their awakening of the dark versions of their gates add depth and moral complexity to this series.
While the anime understandably focused more on the budding relationship between Shun and Ruriko (who ended up happily ever after in the TV anime), we kind of wish the anime leaned a little less towards classic school life and had a better balance with the realities of war and moral corruption in A.E.G.I.S. Had it done so, the series may have reached epic levels that would have left an even stronger impression on fans.
Still, we think the TV anime by itself does great in terms of introducing viewers to the fascinating concept of Gates (and how cool it is to fight with them). For those of you curious as to how the universe of Gate Keepers took a more serious turn, we recommend checking out the Gate Keepers 1985 (GK1985) novel, written by Ko Yamaguchi and illustrated by Akiko Asaki. Take note that this novel was published in 2003 and differs from the manga series written by Hiroshi Yamaguchi and illustrated by Keiji Gotoh from 1999 to 2001. But if you're looking for something darker along the lines of war anime 86, the novel might be worth checking out.
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NICOLE S. CASTRO
Nicole is based in the Philippines and works as a freelance Japanese Translator/Interpreter and copywriter (English). She is a JLPT N2 passer who watches anime to "study" for N1. She has a long career history on LinkedIn (with primary focus on media and translation), but her anime watchlist is much, much longer.