Episode 08 – “Japan, Beyond the Gate”
The highly anticipated visit to the real world and the confrontation with the Japanese Diet may not be as thrilling or astonishing as I had dreamt it would be, but it does a good job of keeping the series on the track that was established in previous episodes, bringing Itami and his compartriots to the forefront of the geopolitical stage. That’s not to say we don’t have fun exploring Japan for the time, as Pinya and the others have very insightful reactions to the many oddities that exist only in our world, including skyscrapers, beef bowls, and subways. The observation that Japan has a lot of skyscrapers due to its high population density may seem a bit obvious to us, but I think it goes to show, in reality, how unusual it is to have a society like that not only in the Special Region but our world as well.
Much of the episode is dedicated to the Diet press conference, in which a Diet member attempts to problematize the JSDF’s actions in the Special Region. Once again, this is not unlike what goes on in our non-anime world, as many people who are in and outside the government question how the military is being used. It’s perhaps an impossible thing to justify since it’s highly dependent on your perspective. However, from we’ve seen so far, I think we can agree that Itami’s actions have been just, thus far.
Itami has been set up as a largely comedic character, concerned with otaku goods and little else, meaning he’s very straightforward with his actions. He helps people simply because they need help, and he asks for very little in return. Rather than hidden Machiavellian intent, an increasingly popular characteristic for male protagonists these days, Itami possesses a transparency that is so candid that it feels deceptively complex rather than outright naive.
On the subject of characters, Rory gets a lot of screentime this week, which I’m mixed about since she might be my least favorite character of the series, though it’s difficult to articulate exactly why that is. Maybe it’s because I feel that she has the least reason to be in the group and because we know so little about her. We do learn that she is essentially a demi-god, but I think until we meet more of her kind, she’ll continue to be a character that feels disconnected from the rest of the cast.
“You said that one-fourth of the refugees died. That’s incorrect. Itami’s squad saved three-fourths of them.” ~ Rory Mercury