Gate Keepers 21 (2002) Review

Synopsis

Thirty years after the original gate keepers, the invader threat has worsened. Only a small, privately-funded resistance group is left to face the onslaught. Ayane Isuzu must reluctantly team up with rookie Miu Manazuru if the last remaining gate keepers are to have any hope of victory.

Review

The story in the Gate Keepers 21 series is decidedly darker than the original series. Decades have passed, and Aegis is no more, yet the invaders have grown in power and threatened Japan with obliteration. The invaders are once again led by a human gatekeeper of enormous power who is manipulating them for her own means.

Ayane Isuzu, who is actually the daughter of Shun Uikiya, is the most powerful gate keeper left. She dislikes using her own gate power, however, because she harbors resentment towards her father, who had the same power. Instead, she relies on synthetic gates that can be created using specially programmed cell phones.

Ayane works for Reiji Kageyama, the nemesis from the original series, who has apparently had a change of heart and now fights his own private war against the invaders he once commanded. Miu Manazuru is a classmate of Ayane’s who has recently discovered her gate ability. Reiji has ordered her to work with Ayane, but Ayane’s critical attitude and anti-social personality have made this difficult.

Although the story sounds a bit contrived in its own right, it does continue the original series? plot relatively well. Those not familiar with the Gate Keepers series will most likely be confused because there are quite a few references to the original. Unfortunately, almost none of the original characters make an appearance during this series.

The characters that are in this series are not nearly as enjoyable as the original cast, but this could be ascribed to its much shorter length. Perhaps if this series had been extended, the characters would have had time to develop, but we’ll never know.

Ayane is a sullen, misanthropic girl who has almost no personality whatsoever. She seems almost like a clone of Megumi from the original series rather than the daughter of Shun, right down to the faux glasses she wears. Unfortunately, her criticisms and observations don’t have the same element of humor and sarcasm as Megumi’s; they are just cold and insulting. She does exhibit some change later on, but it is too late to fully redeem her character.

Miu is a popular girl, who has almost no common sense. She is like a remix of Reiko, but, unlike Reiko, her incompetence cannot be attributed to her childlike nature. Apparently, she’s just stupid. It’s no surprise that Ayane is disgusted with her. Her actions are not cute or humorous, just inexplicably dumb and frustrating.

Overall, there is little if any humor in this series, despite the fact that comedy was a hallmark of the original. There isn’t the same subtly self-deprecating tone this series has no sense of parody about it, although much of it is still over the top.

The action is still good, especially in the first and last episodes. There is plenty of wholesale destruction, and the choreography is pretty well done. While it may sound bizarre, the concept of using cell phones to bring in virtual gates is actually rather interesting in practice. A sword-wielding gate keeper comes on the scene about midway through to add to the action as well.

The animation is really nice. The colors are noticeably washed out in comparison to the original, which gives this series a more serious tone. The invaders have a much more disgusting way of materializing and are, in general, much creepier. The explosions, gate powers, and other special effects are very well rendered, and CG is incorporated very effectively.

Musically, this series is excellent. The intro track would feel at home in any anime movie out there. The soundtrack is very dramatic, accentuated by drums and strings, giving it an Asian flavor that sounds both traditional and modern.

Conclusion

While the storyline will not stand on its own, Gate Keeper fans will enjoy the references to the original series. Unfortunately, the few characters in this OVA series are flat, and not very enjoyable. Many will be disappointed that almost none of the original cast is included, and the signature humor of the series is noticeably absent. As it is, Gate Keepers 21 provides a short glimpse into the future after the original series that most fans will want to check out.

  • Audio: Great soundtrack
  • Video: High quality animation with lots of action
  • Plot: Based on the original series
  • Style: Nicely done character designs and city environment
  • Characters: Bland cast
  • Violence: Moderate
  • Language: Mild
  • Nudity: None
  • Genre: Scifi
  • Episodes: 6
  • Rating: 3.0 of 5

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