The year is 1969. Just as Japan is prospering in a time of economic recovery, a new worldwide threat arises, simply called the Invaders. Slowly infiltrating society as they pose as normal human beings, their ultimate goals are unknown. Earth Defense Organization AEGIS is looking for people with the ability to open gates to another dimension for the power to defeat this new enemy. These are the Gate Keepers. Ukiya Shun is about to discover a new power and a new life as he begins his mission.
summary by Madoka
Highs: Original time period
Lows: Too many stereotypes; terrible CGI animation
Gate Keepers is a mishmash of anime stereotypes. The only original element of this series is the time period in which the story is set, but it does little to take advantage of that asset. Gate Keepers tries to include too many story elements at once to stand out as a quality series, yet still barely manages to pass as entertainment.
With the story taking place more than thirty years ago, the time period is the most original part of the series. Little clues reinforce the uniqueness of the setting, such as black and white televisions and a mention of the Apollo moon landing. This small amount of creativity is an under-used aspect of the story; the Gate Keepers don’t seem hindered by the lack of any technology or any other limitations of the time period. With the appearance of high-tech gadgets, including mecha wielded by AEGIS, the story might as well take place in modern times.
The time period is where the originality ends. High school teenagers with powers? Check. Clueless male surrounded by infatuated females? Check. Mecha? Check. Invader of the Week? Check. With a cast of characters defined by stereotypes, there is little in the way of character development beyond the obligatory confessions of love (why waste time giving Ukiya a personality when all you need is a piece of tape across the nose to define him as a tough guy?). Although the character design is visually pleasing, most of the effects are sub-par with garishly noticeable computer graphics. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen more obtrusive CGI work in any anime I’ve seen to date.
If you want a series to spoon-feed you cute girls, powers and mecha, then this is the one for you. Gate Keepers still manages to be fun to watch if you enjoy any one of the many stereotypes used in the story.
Highs: Packs great music; some creative aspects
Lows: Flat characters; easily predictable; virtually nonexistent atmosphere
Once again, I am baffled by Gonzo’s apparent fascination with teenagers and military weaponry. The concept behind Gate Keepers is the tried and true “secret organization run by teenagers whom have to protect the world” formula; for the most part, it does not deliver.
So where does Gate Keepers deliver? In the music department, Tanaka Kouhei (Angelic Layer, Violinist of Hamelin) went all out. Every piece of music, from the opening to closing theme songs and even background music, is a pure treat for the ears. Many series tend to slack off on background music, but this one definitely did not; it helped capture the feel of old comic book heroes like Teen Titans and X-Men. There are some creative aspects that would catch the attention of some people, as well. The James Bond-ish style that AEGIS uses with its gizmos and gadgets makes things look good, and although unoriginal, the Gate powers are used in some interesting ways.
Where does this series not deliver? For starters, every character, whether good or bad is flat and uninspired. Character development is usually done in the first few minutes of a character’s introduction and left at that. The fact that everyone is static makes them and their interactions easily predictable, but what makes it worse is that the plot in each episode is just as predictable. After watching the first three minutes of each episode, I already knew how everything would roughly turn out with exception of the exact dialogue. Guessing and seeing your guess come true kills much of the fun factor that this series may have had going for it. On top of that, a lack of atmosphere made many parts feel faux. If the year is 1969, you would expect to hear music or see fads from that era, but nothing was ever done to make it look like it. The addition of mecha and hi-tech weaponry should be out of place, but they are not.
I know that Gonzo is not trying to make this show the cream of the intellectual crop, but they should have attempted to give Gate Keepers more than what it was. The seeds for a good show are sown, but the harvest is never given any proper nutrients.
See also Gate Keepers 21.
Gate Keepers can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.