Thirty-two years have passed since the initial defeat of the Invaders. A.E.G.I.S is all but dismantled now and has become an underground organization consisting of only a few Gate Keepers left to save humanity. One of the members, Ayane Isuzu, is sick of society as a whole, though she continues to defeat the Invaders out of spite for her father. Suddenly, she learns of the revival of Machine General (Kikai Shogun) and Devil Count (Akuma Hakushaku), but a mysterious ghost girl now accompanies them. It is up to Ayane and the remnants of A.E.G.I.S to stop them and save humanity once again.
It’s a worthy follow-up to the series, but I still like the original series - mostly because I found Gate Keepers to be more serious than the original. This time around things got more morbid too – there was definitely more blood. It’s not like I can’t stand blood (gory I barely gave a chuckle while watching the OVA, whereas the original had me laughing all the time. Also, it’s no longer a harem anime. It’s more of a bishojo anime.
The characters were less charismatic as well. Ayane and Miu were OK, they reminded me of Megumi and Reiko, but the only character I truly
liked was Satoka Tachikawa. She’s just one cool chick and her gate power is really interesting. I also like how characters from the original series made an appearance. I won’t be specific just to avoid giving out spoilers.
And since some characters reappeared, Tomokazu Seki and Masami Suzuki came back to play their respective characters once more. Even Takahiro Sakurai made a cameo appearance. Once again, they impressed me with their voice acting.
While it looks the same, Gate Keepers 21’s animation improved a bit. First of, the invaders had an upgraded design. I think there were more invader types compared to the original. Things were gory visually too, since there were scenes that showed how humans transformed into invaders. Before they just put on shades and they would become invaders, right? It’s a lot different this time. There were even scenes of limbs being disemboweled. Of course, the CG was still good as ever.
As for the music, it was OK. The song “Ima, Egao ga Areba” sung by Sakura Nogawa was similar to the opening of the original Gate Keepers, “Asu no Egao no Tameni”. As for the other song, “Haneoto” by Junko Watanabe, it’s not something I like. It was really gloomy and kinda boring. The same goes for the BGM – The BGM became more eerie and dark as well.
I would give it a “Good” rating. It’s not as good as the original series, but I’m glad to have watched it anyway. It’s definitely worth it, and it’s a good way to end Gate Keepers.
There's a horde of stock alien invaders rampaging about in the city. There's a pack of (more or less) cool girls using superpowers, throwing about deadly cell phones & easily crushing those invaders like small bugs. Six episodes of this ahead.
Is that all? Well, the short answer is: No.
Seeing the genre-eviscerating Madoka★Magica shake the mahou shoujo fandom today makes me wonder even more as to why GK 21, being nine years older and attempting basically the same thing, went barely noticed. Perhaps because no one had expected that a follow-up to a light-hearted shounen/action/adventure/harem series would be a gloomy mahou shoujo deconstruction. Yet it's
exactly this. Enjoy.
So, there are Invaders. And there are Gate Keepers. They do kick Invaders' asses using their cool superpowers and pavement-melting mobile phones. So simple… Wait, but why someone who possesses a superpower would need some extra gadgets?.. Pardon, these superpowers _what_?.. Sorry, _how many_ Gate Keepers?!.. And those Invaders are… WHAT??! Oh sh**.
The first thing that strikes in GK 21 is the perfectly undefinable genre and tone. The ‘mood pendulum’ swings violently between horror and parody, the most cruel and disgusting scenes getting exaggerated to the point of ridiculous, pathetically bombastic action sequences being run over by dramatic introspections, gags and puns thrown in every now and then… However, the more facts about the setting are revealed, the less room for humour remains. This is a dark and serious genre deconstruction. Accept it and welcome the Apocalypse.
As for the series' connection with its prequel… Are there any references to GK TV? Yes. Does one need to watch GK TV to enjoy GK 21? No. GK 21 is good enough as a standalone work, one can understand what's going on without knowing any facts from the prequel.
Gonzo did a great job. The series abounds in computer-generated imagery, yet it doesn't seem too ‘artificial’. The dark atmosphere to fit the plot is skillfully created by subdued colors and weird camera angles. And there are quite a few showy battle scenes. As for character design, it's quite typical for Gonzo. Some do like their style (me too), some don't (well, tastes differ).
Sound effects are really well thought-out and performed. Plane jets and car engines, big city noises and eerie distant sounds in abandoned streets — everything sounds very realistic. Background music, though hardly being something very special, fits the action quite well. The neo-classical opening song is fascinating, the upbeat ending theme is also not bad. As for voice acting, the whole cast did a good job, but Mamiko Noto (Ghost Girl) is the true star of the show, so believable as if being a crazy ghost were her full-time occupation.
In the beginning, Gate Keepers look like a bunch of rather typical characters. Given the series' length and number of fighting scenes, one could assume that they would not change till the end. And that would be a mistake. Each of the Gate Keepers gets her share of character development, and relationship between the two main protagonists, Ayane and Miu, changes dramatically through the series. And on the other side there's Ghost Girl, the most convincing mad villain. So much human, her feelings quite understandable — and still totally mad and dangerous.
I liked GK 21 the moment I've seen the trailer for the first time, and I still enjoy rewatching it years after. This short series is definitely worth giving it a try.
Just one remark: use official subtitles, as fansubbers often tend to turn GK 21 into a total mess. And even with decent subs, google ‘Manyoshu’. Ancient Japanese poetry is important to the story, make sure that it makes sense.
I personally thought it was great even though I haven't seen the first Gatekeepers. The characters were connected by their pasts that it made the story better. The art was amazing and seemed very real. I enjoyed watching it.