We’re about at the point of GATE where I stopped reading the manga— the stupid elf girl arc. God I hate her. This show has the most pathetic understanding of human psychology imaginable— her dad is eaten by a dragon, she decides her dad is still alive and he’s actually a foreigner of a different race who speaks a different language, and the only way to convince her her father is dead is to make her kill the dragon herself with a rocket launcher. Ok. For sure, most anime have all this stupid shit about memory loss but none take it to this level.
But anyway, I wanted to talk about one specific aspect of the show that tons of people are attacking it for— how it functions as imperialist propaganda glorifying the Japanese military. There’s no denying it— it certainly does that. But here’s the thing: as propaganda, it’s laughably ineffective. It almost approaches parody of propaganda, as if it were written by an anti-imperialist critic. It has the invaders admitting (quite smugly, in fact!) that the main reason behind their conquest is so that they can dig up oil. Even Donald Rumsfeld wouldn’t openly admit that. It also shows the glorious Japanese military murdering thousands of people armed with nothing but swords. Woot woot JSDF Banzai!!! Taste the might of the glorious Japanese army!! Add to this the fact that it portrays the Chinese and Americans as evil imperialists because they want to do the exact same thing the Japanese are already doing and so far it’s not making the greatest case for the glory of the Japanese empire.
The part where it is a bit more effective as propaganda is on a slightly more subtle level— how it shows how life in the JSDF is so much fun with lots of cute girls (come on, is anyone dumb enough to buy that?), and how the JSDF is filled with people who just want to help everyone. But again, it’s not entirely making a good argument for the JSDF here either since they usually have to break their orders to help the natives.
In my opinion, the most effective aspect of the propaganda is how they compare the Japanese to the natives. For example, the scene where the animal people think they’ll be kicked out of town since the bunny girl murdered someone; or how they have to rely on the Japanese’ superior knowledge of earthquakes; or how the Japanese care about all their citizens unlike those barbaric foreigners; or how everything Japan does is justified by the attack on Tokyo (which is quite reminiscent of 9/11); or how the Japanese don’t want conquest like the brutal empire they’re “not” conquering. Again, this last point is undermined by how they nod and wink and settle for friendship and nothing but mineral rights and “free” trade. Regardless, Maoyuu Yuusha was infinitely more effective propaganda for this sort of cultural imperialism.
So, I guess my point is, everyone is up in arms about GATE, but this isn’t anything new. GATE is just laughably incompetent as far as propaganda goes. Even fucking MAHOUKA made a (slightly) more convincing argument for killing all the Chinese. And then we have many much more effective shows, like Maoyuu Yuusha, Gunbuster, Outbreak Company, Muv Luv, Gasaraki, Gigantic Formula, etc., etc.
Then again, take all this with a grain of salt, I thought the propaganda justifying the Iraq war was equally laughable so what do I know.