GATE features an engaging story that is unfortunately ruined by the presence of atrocious main characters. These were my sentiments after watching season 1 but I held hope for improvement given since both seasons were rated quite highly. The 2nd seasons failed to create any sort of intrigue behind the main characters since the protagonist, Itami found himself in the same formulaic scenario throughout the show.
The story line behind this show is honestly the basis for any interest you will ever have. The nation of Japan encounters great difficulties coming to terms with the newly discovered empire. Heavy political, military, and moral dilemmas are presented and they are usually resolved in a very satisfactory manner that shows the people making the decisions have some sort of conflict over the matter. The moral problems however, are extremely predictable in how they are solved and almost exclusively involve Itami. Whenever one of these moral issues occurs, the supporting characters actively point towards Itami for it to be solved. Of course, he always helps whatever issue the poor woman must deal with despite every other character hinting at massive repercussions for his actions. The reason this occurrence becomes a problem is because this is how all moral conflicts are solved in this show, the solution is always to do what you want to do.
The show features a small amount of CGI that would've been socially unacceptable 3 years ago. But watching this show in 2019 when CGI has been more commonly accepted, the action scenes that use CGI to render tanks, planes, and other vehicles can be well appreciated. This show doesn't impress with a variety of gorgeous scenery or locations, rather it keeps all the events in the story confined to about 5 different settings.
The OP isn't terribly enjoyable if you have watched other OPs with heavy electronic music. I can't really say much objectively about this part of the show since sound is very much up to interpretation. From a comparative standpoint (I have watched around 150 shows), I found the music to be rather average. Hence why I have scored this part a 5
This is the part where minor spoilers may come up about the main characters. I'll leave a spoiler-free TIL at the end of this section.
The order of the following characters is determined by how dreadful I found that character to be.
Piña Co Lada, the princess of the newly discovered empire, staunchly pushes for the peace talks to go through after witnessing the immense power of Japan. The show follows her persistence in convincing her father to pursue an alliance and her vain efforts to protect Japan from the dictatorship. As she is the character that is most in tune with the main story line, she is far more interesting to witness than any side-plot with Itami and his harem. The show also chronicles her fall to despair and dread, showing that her character adapts to what has happened in her kingdom. She is the most developed character out of the entire main cast.
Tuka Luna Marceau, the only known survivor of her elven village, has to deal with a serious mental condition. She resorts to a believable coping method but one that would be very detrimental in the long run. However when confronted with reality, she adamantly denies it. The problem with this character comes after she has accepted the truth but keeps using that coping method anyway solely for comedic and pandering effect.
Lelei la Lalena, a 15 year old wizard girl, is an extremely dull character. Very similarly to the first season, her initial role in the story is purely translating/transcribing. Only about half way through the season, she leaves this post (with Itami of course) to go out for reconnaissance. After they complete their main objective, they go to her hometown and we get to meet...her sister and her teacher. What follows is an awful scene where her sister is jealous of Lelei's accomplishments and ponders about Itami's marital status. You can probably guess what the girls around his argue about for about 30 seconds and then never bring up again. What might have saved Lelei's character from being exceedingly monotone would've been her speech at the master's promotion ceremony (I don't remember the exact name). She was pictured to be holding various books after coming back from Japan and one was about chemistry (she called it philosophy). If her white robe thesis speech would've made an intriguing connection to the science of our world, it would've made me believe that she was an interesting character. Instead the viewer is greeted with scene 1: "You got this Lelei!" to scene 2: "How did it go Lelei?"
Rory Mercury, the apostle of the death god, is a complete travesty of a character. She is a thousand year old goth loli (because anime) and behaves like a cliche teenager for the audience's amusement. Despite being among my most disliked characters in the show, I can't find better words to describe Rory than "generic". In both seasons, she is an invincible killing machine that follows Itami wherever he goes.
The protagonist himself is easily the worst of the main cast. He is presented as an die-hard Otaku, a detail that is scarcely brought up unless the author needed it for comedic effect. The problem with Itami is how his behavior remarkably mirrors that of a cliche harem protagonist (oh wait he is one). Watch any number of harem shows and you will have a good idea of how to describe 90% of them with one sentence. Itami is no exception to this trend and it is a tragedy he was chosen to be the main character of the show. Even the story told from the perspective of even one of the soldiers under his command would've been more interesting.
TLDR (Spoiler Free)
The main cast turns in to a generic harem rom com except Pina.
I continued watching to enjoy the development of the main plot, I was thoroughly impressed with the direction it took but I despised the time that was used on Itami and his harem.
Overall Rating - 5