More than thirty years after the Invaders last threatened Earth, they have returned en masse to attack humanity once again. Although AEGIS is no longer the organized force it once was, the Gate Keepers still exist, directed by a mysterious figure. Isuzu Ayane is a solitary, antisocial Gate Keeper with a distaste for both the city she fights for and the memory of her father… Ukiya Shun.
summary by Madoka
Highs: Striking animation; some treats for fans of the original
Lows: Too little time to devote to characters
Rarely does a sequel surpass the original, but Gate Keepers 21 is above and beyond a better series than its predecessor. Gone are the comedy and clichés, and in their place are a darker, grittier atmosphere and a heavier storyline that humanizes the enemy and adds more conflict. Although there are gaps in character motivations and backgrounds, Gate Keepers 21 is a far more attention-grabbing series than the original Gate Keepers.
It’s obvious that the creators spared no expense in the animation department of this series. Explosions, battles, gate effects and more leap from the screen in a flurry of action. Crisp visuals, although dark to match the mood of the story, blow away the poor computer effects in the previous series. Even though this OVA is a sequel, it is not necessary to have seen the previous story unfold to understand this one. Nods to the series including a visit to the old AEGIS headquarters and glimpses of old characters are a nice touch for fans of the first series.
But fans of the original may be more confused than a viewer new to the world of Gate Keepers, as the short length of the series leaves little time to explain the motivations of some returning characters and the history of any of the current Gate Keepers team. Most mystifying is the change of heart by the current leader; last time the seasoned viewer saw Kageyama, he was decidedly opposed to helping the human race. There is no mention of what caused this transformation and the uncertainty steals away almost all the sympathy he might have as a character. There is barely enough time to devote to even the new characters, depriving them of the opportunity to be given sufficiently detailed backgrounds or development.
Gate Keepers 21 is a good, albeit short, series. With such a strong foundation for an extended series, another television series to continue the struggle against the Invaders is almost a guarantee.
Highs: Fixes many of Gate Keepers‘ mistakes; Gonzo knows their animation; theme songs are a nice addition
Lows: Not enough time for proper background; might not appeal to Gate Keepers fans
Well, I’ll be damned. I didn’t particularly like Gate Keepers at all; something about a cheesy storyline and flat characters just didn’t light my fire. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that Gonzo must’ve burnt plenty of midnight oil to make sure that Gate Keepers 21 was a decent anime.
I strongly believe that Gate Keepers was marred by its characters and predictability, and Gate Keepers 21 rights many of the wrongs. Instead of a lighthearted and comedic tone, we’re given a bleaker and far more serious atmosphere. Instead of a highly predictable story, we’re given a dreary and decidedly atypical plot. Instead of static stereotypes, we’re given realistic and round characters. Many of the mysteries behind Gates and the Invaders are also revealed. Also, you have to hand it to Gonzo for putting together a beautifully animated series; when they need to, they really know how to flex their animation muscle to make your jaw drop at all of the right moments. And hey, the theme songs really set the mood. Haoto by Nogawa Sakura and Ima, Egao ga Areba by Watanbe Junko will have you tapping your toes and swaying your head to the beat; they’re even enjoyable to listen to by themselves.
Many of the characters here are developed rather well, but a length of 6 OVAs puts a severe constraint on time. It would’ve been helpful to get a lot more background information on many of the characters. It’s never quite explained why Kageyama Reiji has mechanical body parts, why Isuza Ayane hates her father or even why Tachikawa Satoka is Isuza’s rival in AEGIS. However, there really aren’t any wasted scenes that could’ve been removed in favor of adding background. And while I prefer the show without comedy because it complimented the atmosphere much better, fans of Gate Keepers might feel something missing. There are a few scant traces of comedy, but for the most part, it’s nonexistent.
This anime definitely came as somewhat of a surprise considering its predecessor. If a sequel is ever made that sticks close to its darker roots, you can count me in.
Gate Keepers 21 can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.