I’m not familiar with the original Gate Keepers series, other than watching a few clips on Youtube. Apparently it was aired in 2000, but to my eyes looks quite a bit older, possibly even being a deliberate throwback towards 80s anime. Watching the opening to its sequel, I was instantly hooked, and after being informed that I needn’t see the original first before watching the six-episode OVA that followed it up in 2003, I bought it on the cheap at Half.com. I don’t impulsively buy DVDs like this very often, nor do I watch very many OVA titles. This is definitely a break for me from the regular rotation of new/current anime that I’ve been watching so far this year.
My initial impression of this series is that it’s going to be a “dark” take on the shoujo heroine genre, which I’m not going to pretend to have anything more than a superficial understanding of. The central protagonist, Ayane Isuzu, is an expert killer of “Invaders” (zombie-like humanoids dressed like the “strangers” from Dark City and able to materialize en masse like a hundred Agent Smiths from The Matrix), dispatching them using powerful energy fields generated by cell phones. She carries out her duties with ease and in an elegant fashion but seems to take little pleasure in the heat of battle or even in victory against her foes I’d say that her lack of traditional charisma would make her an unlikely central character, but it’s just as likely that her detached demeanor has drawn her more fans than if she were a bright and cheerful girl like we’d expect.
In a meeting with her boss, a thus-far unnamed man who wears sunglasses and doesn’t leave his car, he reminds her that “it’s been over 30 years since our society was taken over by Invaders. Their numbers are increasing. We no longer have time to spare.” He advises her on recruiting a promising new gate keeper from her high school, a student named Miu Manaduru whose gate-power enables her to fly (or at least jump to extraordinarily great heights, it’s sort of unclear). It isn’t long before the stoic Ayane approaches the social, cheerful Miu, making for an awkward partnership in their fight against Invaders. While it appears that they have a long way to go in developing any sense of true teamwork, their powers complement each other effectively, even if their personalities don’t.
The animation in this episode has held up really well, and while this wasn’t a groundbreaking debut episode or anything, I think that it could hold its own against most action series today. I don’t know if it’s just because she reminds me of Ogiue from Genshiken, but I really like Ayane, even if she’s doing very little to make herself particularly likable or even intriguing so far. Being a quiet and impatient person myself (that probably rubs people the wrong way from time to time), maybe I just identify with her, or at least her preference to get tiresome tasks done without any fuss and with as few words as necessary. I’m rather certain that she’ll eventually drop this shell as more is revealed about her, why she fights the invaders and where her powers came from (not to mention certain details about her family, briefly alluded to during a battle scene). No cliffhanger here, but I’m left definitely interested to see where this series goes from here.