Have you ever wondered what it would be like if a portal to fantasy world opened up in modern day? Wouldn't it be great to see how magic could make modern day more interesting? People could use magic to fly, cook more easily, etc. Of course, rarely does one consider the problems magic could cause in modern day society like how the introduction of new wild life could upset our existing ecosystem or how crime could change. It's not pleasant to think about the bad things that would come with a portal to a fantasy world, but it's always interesting read about how society would react to this. So toady I'm covering Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There, a manga that does cover how societies could change if a portal to fantasy world opened up.
*Warning this manga has many explicit scenes of violence and nudity. This manga can be NSFW at times. You have been warned*
In Gate, a portal to a fantasy world opens in the middle of the Ginza district in Tokyo where an army from another world begins to invade. There is huge number of casualties, but eventually the Japan Self Defense Forces suppress the foreign army due to the fact that the foreign army comes from a society that resembles ancient Rome. Soon enough, the JSDF easily pushes into the other world and tries to put an end to the conflict with modern day tactics and technology.
It's not often that I encounter writing so well done that it makes me actively think about what could happen later down the line, but Gate makes me do this because its writing is phenomenal. What makes the writing so great is that it thoroughly builds the societies within each world and then fills them with people with their own agenda. For instance, though the JSDF is fighting the other worldly empire, there are multiple layers to the conflict itself like how Japan is being politically pressured by other nations in our world to let them have access to the portal and how Japan is trying to resist those pressures. Also, the other world is fully fleshed out as well by having its society, people, and the war effort on their side being explored in depth. The writing combines all these of these story elements together extremely well and it makes you wonder what would happen if another element came into the story.
I would be lying if I didn't say that the art in this manga is extremely good because the amount of detail put into many panels is insane and the way the art is used is spectacular as well. Every single battle scene is beautiful. The way the art captures the explosions and the movements of either large armies or multiple modern day equipment is exquisite. The characters look amazing as well, even when in battle, because extra care is given to how a character is feeling in every situation they are in. The art direction is also extremely good, as it knows when to switch between an ultra realistic art style and a cartoony aesthetic. The manga uses the realistic art to enhance the grittiness of action or dark scenes, while using the cartoony aesthetic to enhance absurd or comical scenes, which give the reader a good feel of the gritty parts and the light hearted of the world in the manga. Over all, this manga has some of the best art and use of art I have seen to date.
It feels like every action scene came straight out of a Michael Bay movie. In fact, I'm sure if Michael Bay read this manga, it would inspire him to make a work with a similar premise. In any case, every single action scene is awesome because the scale of each conflict feels large and intense. Even the small battles feel epic because we get to see almost every single action in a battle. It's just so exhilarating to see so much well drawn action packed into so few panels. Also, what makes many of these action scenes so effective is that there is a good amount of build up to many of these action scenes (excluding the first event in the first chapter). Before each action scene, we get to see why each side is fighting and the implications beneath each fight, which add even more weight to action in the series. This manga knows how to balance its action and so when an action scene comes a long, it is nothing less than epic.
There is a large cast of characters in Gate with distinct personalities, but not many of them are explored that much. Gate primarily focuses on First Lieutenant, Itami Youji, and his unit whose job is to gather information on the other world. Each member of Itami's group has their own distinct personality, which is great especially when they interact or clash with the colorful characters from the other world, but they don't really go beyond their designated stereotype. Through the series, there isn't much character development; instead most of the characters feel like points of perspectives for the conflict in the series. This is a good and bad thing because it further fleshes out the world and conflict in the manga, but there aren't many characters that a reader can get invested in.
Despite its many good elements, Gate's opinion's on other nations and the portrayal of the military is controversial. Specifically, the portrayal of nations that aren't Japan is that they're evil, greedy, or a combination of both. This black and white view on other nations mars the otherwise realistic narrative and breaks immersion because relationships between nations are much more complex than what is portrayed in the manga. This problem caries over to the portrayal of the JSDF because the JSDF can basically do no wrong. Every single thing the JSDF does is the correct action and there are almost no consequences to their operation in the other world.
Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There smashes our world with a fantasy world and explores the ins and outs of what would happen in a fantastic way. The art direction is beautiful and masterfully done, whilst adding to gritty action and complementing the slower parts of the manga. Each action scene in the manga would be at home in a Michael Bay film and they have weight to them. The writing is well paced and it presents the reader with both sides of the conflict, while also prodding the reader's imagination at what could happen next in the story. Though the characters are more vessels to carry the story along, they have enough personality to carry the reader through the story. The Rhetoric in this manga is its only blemish because it feels out of place, it's inaccurate, and it breaks the immersion of the story. Over all, Gate is a fantastic manga that I can recommend to anyone.
These images were taken from Mangachapter.net, Mangahere.co, and Mangaupdates.com. I do not claim to own any of these images.
You can also read Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There here.