While the original series was purely great animation, inspiring soundtrack, heart-poundingly cool attack moves and a tiny harem, it set the stage for the follow-up works which made the whole franchise so epic. GK is a great example of how something good can become great through future add-ons. The sad, futile and tragic end of the humans was in stark contrast to the false hope offered by the TV series’ conclusion. This is the essence of GK and why it is one of my all-time favourite shows.
GK 1985 was a novel released in the early 2000s detailing the fall of AEGIS and is the bridge between the TV series and the OVA. The last time I checked on Amazon JP, there were still 5 second-hand books available and no reprint. But now, all are GONE! OMG.
Oh by the way, I’m officially opening up Riuva to anime fans who want to contribute articles of good standard. These will be fully credited. It’s mainly for people who do not own a blog but want to indulge in the occasional keyboard wank of an intellectual type. Just email me.
Let’s now get Crest to talk about Gatekeepers.
This article is mainly on my personal reflections on the anime, Gatekeepers 21, the OVA to the GateKeepers series by Gonzo. It might not be that educational or informative as other articles found on the net on this series. This article is based totally on the OVA, though some references have to be made to the series of Gatekeepers and the Novel of 1985 and will take it that you have at least have some knowledge on the Gatekeepers series. This has been edited for the use on RIUVA, cheers.
Gatekeepers 21: The Story continues…
Gatekeepers 21 is the chronicles of the young gatekeepers, Ayane Izusu , Miu Manazaru , Satoka Tachikawa on the year, 2001.This is a period of the 2nd millenium where a new era is beginning, where life, society and the world on the transition of change.
For the better or for the worse? That’s the question.
“This city is full of lies and deceit.” – Reiji Kageyama.
A city that knows nothing of the invaders, a city where people are the invaders, the invaders are the people, one and the same. The Gatekeepers fight against the Invaders, in order to protect the people. And yet the people do not know, they even fear the Gatekeepers. For what do the Gatekeepers fight for them? It is a duty that brings little happiness to them, and what do they get in return? And is the city worth all this?
One of the reasons I love this anime and the series is of its poetic futility, the futility that what they might be doing in the end might be all worthless and the world is never distinct as it seems.
I will go by the approach of different characters then I will go by the general review of the anime and my personal reflections.
Reiji Kageyama – The one who holds light and shadows in his hands.
My favourite character of GK 21, Reiji Kageyama is one of the reason for my love of GK21. His transformation is astounding on any level, from an self-absorbed jerk to a tragic figure who plays the surrogate father to Ayane.
“I hate humans because I am a human, you will never see that, Kikai Shogun.” – Reiji Kageyama from the Gatekeepers series.
“Indifference only makes the lies and deceit even uglier” – Reiji Kageyama from GK 21.
Both sentences from both series seems to be the same, speaking on Reiji’s disdain for humanity. Does this means that Kageyama still remains the same person who hates humanity so much? Kageyama’s distaste for hypocrisy and decadence is still as strong as ever, the mechanics of decency is systemically crushed, how people cower over the strong and bully the meek.
The city is where morals are hollow words, followed by people in the letter and not in spirit. The indifference of people willing to accept and wallow with the decadence just makes the lies and deceit even uglier. Herein lies the transformation in him. In the past, Kageyama would have chosen to destroy this world, choosing to eradicate the insects running all over in fear, humanity was worthy of nothing in his eyes. Cleansing was not in his mind, extinction was in his thoughts, they were undeserving of something known as redemption.
The Kageyama in GK 21, now believe in something slightly different that he would in the past. In the 5th episode, he told Miu that once a man called people as maggots. That man is Kageyama of the past. He now see irregardless of how futile this world is, how the city continue to be decadent, how base humanity remains, a difference is made in the good people at the fringes of the madness.
Kageyama now sees the Invaders as nothing more as people who have lost their humanity, souls who had lost their way. To relate this to something that I have thought, in the PS2 game, Grandia II, the protagonist was transformed into a monster and he was challenged whether does he retains his identity?
“As long I have a heart, I still have my humanity, irregardless of what I am” – Ryudo from Grandia II
Perception of Reiji
This view is probably one that Kageyama now holds and sees in the Invaders, this is probably he himself received the grace and help of the original Gatekeepers especially Shun Ukiya.
Even how the deluge of people who walk on the streets, wearing different faces and thoughts but all have lost their humanity are crushing the small glimmer of goodness and the futility of saving a few, it has to be done. For a difference is made, no matter how small.
He sees a need to protect these people and restore back the lost Invaders back, even how futile and useless it is. This is why the AEGIS Network was formed.
I find it highly ironic that after 30 years, people have forgotten everything, the Invaders, the Gatekeepers, selfless individuals who earned nothing. Do people forget things so fast, or is this cyclical? This cycle of endless repetition of our mistakes for we are so terribly short-lived?
Back to the AEGIS Network point, AEGIS was destroyed in 1970 as shown in the Novel, Gate Keepers 1985. It happened when one of the Invaders top executives, Mugen Majuu managed to devour and clone the Supreme Commander of AEGIS, who happened to possess one of the strongest gates in existence, the Gate of Curve.
With AEGIS completely destroyed, Kageyama proposed a new organisation to take over and control Gatekeepers that still wish to fight the Invaders, he was joined by Shun and Jim Skylark, the British Gatekeeper of Supersonic.
AEGIS Network was outlawed but it was well funded and offered great pay to the Gatekeepers who worked under it and it has scant regard for the laws such as able to drive without any licenses. The funding needlessly came from Kageyama’s speculation in the stockmarket.
It seems that Reiji in GK21 and the Reiji in Gatekeepers are two total different people but it’s just seeing it from different angles. His loathing for society and the city has not changed but he seem to have a new belief in humanity even that might be tinged with futility.
Instead to be someone who sits back and be indifferent to all the depravity and the rotten city, he chose to be someone who did something, even how seemingly worthless it is.
“To paraphrase it, we are murderers” – Reiji Kageyama
One theme in the anime, is the question on what is humanity and what makes us human? The invaders can be creatures that has lost their humanity or twisted humans with twisted hearts? Such themes can be found in the games, Kingdom Hearts and Grandia II.
Kageyama minces nothing on the fact that the Gatekeepers are destroying lives, in fact he find it something to be afraid of. This opinion of his contrasts with Miu at the start, at the earlier episodes she had a naivety that she was playing a heroine role but yet was uncertain and overwhelmed. This was evident in episode 5 where she was forced to see this reality cruelly
Ebony and White Future
Back to the Gates, Kageyama seems to be only the person on the planet having dual gates, retaining his original Kuroki minus gate, the Black Minus gate and having what seems to be a variation of his original gate that existed before it turned into the Black Minus Gate.
I always have been intrigued by what is his original gate, Ket told me that it is the gate of prophecy and the original colour seems to be gold whereas the Gankou, gate of Foresight is white.
I made a deduction that every Minus gate will be the reverse of the original in nature, not just in powers but in its entirety. Going by this, Kageyama’s black Minus gate is the power to destroy material objects using the power of the shadows.
So this means his original gate, if we follow this deduction, will be a gate where using the power of light to create happiness for others as explained by the original anime perhaps in the sense of material objects or immaterial objects.
One more thing to take note is that his Gate of Foresight’s actual mechanics is slightly different from the one that he said in GK21. In the novel, he told people that the Gankou gate, works by predicting the future and seeing possible futures and try to work it from there. After all, the future is created by choices, with many different choices you will have many different futures. Kageyama explained that he can only try to abstract a definite result.
However, the Gate of Discernment, Gankou gate still allows him to more or less see the future through all those “hunches” that he had in the anime.
How he manage to destroy those Invaders in a snap in Episodes 2 and 6? I can only say that in the possible future, those Invaders will be destroyed, what leads to this? I guess only Kageyama knows the answer to that.
Ayane Izusu – The successor to the Legendary Hunter.
At the beginning when I saw GK 21, I thought Ayane’s mum was Megumi Kurogane, having that look of apathy, the nerd look and they both wear cosmetic glasses, but they are not exactly the same. Pretty amusing of me to think of this, however you never know with animation studios.
The Ukiya Family
The first opening of GK21, Haneoto had frames of childhood photos of Miu and Ayane, it provided a window for us to peer into her past which slowly unravelled along the anime. I initially also had questions on her hatred towards her father. But to the opening animation first.
One thing really struck me was the photo of Ayane smiling in the temple, in her kimono and holding that bell. Anyone who have seen the anime know that she offered smirks most of the time but why in that photo she smiled?
One thing to note is that she is very attached to that bell, I think it is not the bell itself being very precious, it is the representation of what it stood for. Maybe the representation of a family? A complete family?
Ayane’s closeness to Ukiya’s younger sister, Saemi Ukiya Ikeda, who from her surname likely to have married her childhood sweetheart, Takeshi Ikeda who most viewers of the original GK series know, tell us something about her relationship between her father and Ayane
If she really hated her father with malice, her closeness to his sister and going to her place for dinner would be jarring. Her seemingly different behaviour towards her aunt seems to hint that her behaviour towards others is more of a façade.
It really tells when Ayane shouted at Junichi uncharacteristically and smiled when her young cousin offered a toy to her, at that moment the seemingly cold and cutting Ayane Izusu seemed much more like a normal teenager.
Those scenes also let us onto one very good reason for her hating Shun Ukiya, Ayane said that she hated him for abandoning her and and her mother.
This is where some knowledge of the novel will come in very handy, in the novel 1985, Shun died in 1988. If we are to take note of this, Ayane was only 4 when he died. So naturally he won’t be there to take care of the mother and daughter, thus this is why Ayane hated him for not able to take care of them.
All this is really evident when she hated using her real gate, the same gate as her father, the Gate of Gales and using the UP-15, the Toyota car that her father used in the original GK series, this distaste was very obvious when they went to the old base at Tategami High School. The distaste of having anything to do with Shun Ukiya or any memories of him.
This is probably the reason why Ayane took up her mother’s surname instead, her mother was known to be Youko Isuzu. It is quite surprising that it was not Ruriko or Kaoru but Gonzo works in strange ways.
A real irony in this, is that how similar Ayane and Shun are actually are. Shun Ukiya hated the guts of his father for abandoning him and his mother for he died so early but that changed at the later parts of the Gatekeepers anime.
This is also the same for Ayane at the last part of Episode 6, when she seemed to mistook Kageyama for Shun for a moment and going to the grave of Ukiya in the ending credits.
Ayane and Megumi: Doppelgangers?
Another one thing I don’t really understand is why she wore cosmetic glasses, is the glasses some metaphorical shield to hide her personality or purposely make herself into a social maverick? This is where I have no answer, for the answer can be easily interpreted into so many ways.
However, although she and Megumi Kurogane both wear cosmetic glasses and seem to be very apathetic to the world but they are very very different in personality.
Megumi Kurogane suffered from a severe lack of confidence and wanted someone to treat her with respect and love, but Ayane did not really wanted that.
What Ayane wanted was a way to break free from the society, to be able to do something more “interesting” as she herself always put it that way, she wanted to be free from the deceit and decadence of the society
In this point, she and Megumi are quite similar as both wanted to move away from all the self-indulgent society but what they wanted to do it was quite different, Ayane wanted to find a way to change it and improve it whereas Megumi wanted to destroy it.
Unlike Megumi who saw herself as a very important person to the world, Ayane more or less disliked herself. This was shown in the last episode, where she told the Ghost Girl, “Someone who hates herself shouldn’t want someone like himself or herself as a friend”.
It is quite likely that Kageyama influenced Ayane as she sees him as a father figure of sorts, from how she valued his attention and concern in the anime and in the last part where she saw Shun. I propose this because as her thinking is very similar to those of Kageyama as seeing a need to make the world better even though both see the world as one that is corrupted and this attempt is futile
It is quite amusing to see that Kageyama was influenced by Shun and Ayane was influenced by Kageyama.
Ayane’s love of birds is one subtle way of showing her desire to be free from the responsibilities of society, the need to keep up appearances, the need to get a good job, the need to play dirty to survive.
This is a very escapist attitude in my opinion, but I believe people sure will have moments wishing that they could just fly away from all the burdens that society gives them. “I never chose to do all this, why I have to do all these things?” I believe some of us have such thoughts as today’s society seem to control us though we make up the social fabric that binds us.
It is because of this thought, the thought to do something different from all these, just a need to do something more interesting underlies the relationship between Ayane and Miu.
Ayane primarily uses the imitation gates, gates that were created by electric impulses, think of how electric currents generate magnetic fields, it could be a similar way of how the gates, other dimensions, are created this way.
Though the gates are definitely inferior to the real things but the imitation gates offer strategic value as they can be used simultaneously and different gates can used at the same time.
However, her Gale gate is still as formidable as her father’s, as shown how she destroyed the Kikai Shogun and the Akuma Hakushaku, another point to take note is that she still used the same techniques that her father used against them despite how she hated the memory of her father.
Miu Manazuru – The hesitant heroine
I did not really liked her a lot at the beginning, I saw her as a clumsy person who was more of a hindrance then help to Ayane and being very pretentious. Compared to Ayane and Kageyama, she was more of being thrown into this battle, she did not carry the more noble beliefs that they have, to save humanity, to help this society.
At the start I found her to be rather against the grain of the characters such as Ayane and Kageyama, as in Miu always carries a smile on her face, like to chase after boys, wanted to be the soccer manager.
However after a while, I liked her more as she showed a very human nature and it is very possible that she is the foil to the serious Ayane.
In Miu, we can see the flaws of humanity but from all these then we can see the beauty of humanity.
This statement might sound rather contradicting, as one might ask how does this make her different from the Invaders who are rude, deceitful and does not care for others?
I think the Invaders as people who have lost their humanity as mentioned earlier, but what is humanity? Humanity is not on having morals or virtues, humanity is not about being a perfect saint. In my opinion, humanity is the ability to care for others. Humanity is a pretty mixed bag of stuff, to be human is to bear the goodness and the darkness.
In my opinion, Miu and Ayane are the protagonists of the anime, not just Ayane. As the story goes on, it shows how Miu tries to be friends with Ayane and Ayane asked her why she wanted to be friends with her? Why did she wanted to be friends with a seemingly weird person? Why she is able befriend almost everyone, what she wants to achieve from all that?
“So your savoir vivre is to laugh ambiguously at everything” Ayane said to Miu on Episode 2. Miu tries to befriend everyone yet what drives this thought of hers on? Is it really for selfish reasons or is it motivated by reasons that’s much harder to articulate?
I find Ayane’s remarks on her that episode are because Miu seems to be like the others, distancing from Ayane and mocking Ayane because she’s different and not relating to others.
Ayane always want to do something interesting as she herself said, she sees Miu’s ability to fly as some kind of representation of the bird that she always wanted to be
In a kind of sense, she sees Miu’s personality and presence to be the wings that can let her fly. Her seemingly nonchalance attitude to life and society seems to represent the freedom that Ayane wanted.
Miu’s seemingly genuine good-natured personality and her simple ways make her so much carefree then Ayane, not thinking about society, not disturbed about the crowds. Her life seems to be a normal one, go out with friends, date with friends and be the soccer team manager.
Her naivety is really shown when Kageyama and Ayane told her about the truth on invaders, the shock on her faces when she realised that the Invaders are actually human beings and not the so called aliens that she thought.
Two good moments that show this is the one on Episode 2 when she first knew that the Invaders are actually living organisms, infectious and very human, Miu was shocked.
The second one is from Episode 5, where Chinami and Naoko transformed into Invaders in front of Miu. Miu seemed to be afraid, afraid to see the scenes happening of her best friends transforming into monsters….
She just sat there, not doing anything till Satoka came and saved her from them.
However the Invaders that she thought to be aliens in the beginning actually turned out to be human beings. And when she saw her best friends, Chinaki and Naoko turning into Invaders and were beckoning her to come to them, she simply cowered. The fear seized her, the apparent crushing blows of her dreams and the horror of her friends changing. She could not do anything and was at a total loss till Satoka sliced them into shreds.
The blood on her blades was a sober sign of the invaders’ humanity and those supposed monsters in her eyes were her friends. She was only spurred to action till Satoka’s cold words telling that she would not want to die, especially under the hands of her friends.
Miu was confronted with the decision whether to go with Satoka and the rest in fighting the Invaders or….
“Use your gate of Flight to bring you to the safest place that can be in this world.”
Miu at that time had made her mind, “to go and restore her honour” in her own words.
To work her very best so she would be a difference to people around her. For others and not for self.
So she could try to make everyone happy.
And she and Ayane flew in the last episode, carried by the Gate of Flight with the flying birds.
Satoka Tachikawa – Rival or ….
Satoka actually in my opinion would be better with more time dedicated to her as her personality and role in the anime seemed quite sketchy compared to the detail of Ayane, Kageyama and Miu at times.
Satoka Tachikawa is quite the loud mouth but she has a very strong desire to win and that more or less describes why she is so intent to see Ayane as a rival but the latter don’t see it that way.
She joined Aegis at 1999 and she seems to be transferred in by Kageyama. I sometimes wonder if she was not paid by Kageyama, will she still carry the motivation and desire to go and fight the Invaders? Although if we are to see her in a very particular pessimistic tint, she could very well be just another of those potential invaders only she is on the other side.
Unlike Miu, Satoka understood the situation very well and her responses to the Invaders tells something about her
“Well.. at least you all don’t need to act as though you are concerned and show restraint”
Although this is said in sarcasm but from what I see from the anime, Satoka more or less resembles Ayane and Kageyama in that they all are social mavericks and more or less not constrained by social niceties.
She though don’t seem to believe in the beliefs that the two carries but her straightforward nature is similar to them in one way. Satoka sees the Invaders as people who no longer lived an honest life, but she sees them as humans as well the other two do.
Her potential as a Gatekeeper really shows when she did a Full Gate Open in the last Episode, not many gatekeepers are able to do full gate opens. If she carries some maturity like Ayane or Kageyama, she would probably be a better gatekeeper.
All in all, a character that could really develop into a very interesting one if more time was given to her.
Her gate, the gate of tearing is a gate where she materialise energy into the form of blades and swords. They comes in many different shapes and sizes yet their destructive power changes little. Satoka uses them in different styles, we could see the swords sometimes used as a cleaver or sabre sometimes.
One thing interesting to note is that, she cannot really summon any more swords when her hands are already armed with blades.
Yukino Hojo – Appearing yet again.. will this be her swansong?
The gatekeeper of ice appears once more in the GK21 anime, ever the same gatekeeper with a love to recite tanka poetry.
Though I won’t go and list down all of her poems, I will like to mention one which she said to Ghost Girl at the last Episode
“The brandisher of the blade over those dwelling of the mortal is but a fool dulled to the heart.”
This sentence captures the psyche of the Ghost girl perfectly, Yukino was pointing out that the Ghost Girl though possess the Gate of Oblivion which was the “blade” in the line was too clouded by her loneliness and desire to have Ayane as her friend to actually see anything right. These emotions “dulled her heart” in the eyes of Yukino.
“My kind, gentle thoughts of the world are betrayed, but I am not a bird so I cannot depart it.”
One of my personal favourites of her lines, this sentence can be used to describe Ayane’s outlook on the world succinctly.
Yukino and the Gatekeepers
Yukino is actually a very deep character and she actually knows more what then it seems, despite her seemingly lack of screentime in the anime. Her lines definitely make up for it, we can draw a comparison between the relationships of Yukino with Ayane/Miu and with Ruriko/Shun.
Yukino helped Shun to rescue Ruriko several times with the visions she sent to him and she came out to help the Gatekeepers several times in the original series. In GK 21, Yukino helped Miu to understand about Ayane and told Miu that Ayane was always crying almost like a young child.
Yukino was quite spot-on in this statement, if we are to relate back to Ayane’s past, she is always alone in her eyes. She desires change, to fly like a bird but being unable to, hates herself for her failure. Hating herself for being so helpless and her childhood past further imprints this emotion of helplessness into her.
Thus despite of her exterior, we can easily see that Ayane is miserable, living in days with deceitful people, the uncaring crowds that only bother about themselves, yet she could not change this world or get away from this world. This strong sense of worthlessness is further compounded with the fact that her attempts to restore the Invaders back to ordinary people seems to have no visible result.
Miu and Yukino also seems to share a particular affinity aswell, from how Yukino opened her gate of ice to resuce her and asked Satoka to save Miu. Yukino would be consumed by the gate if she persists in using it but she still opened her gate to save Miu from the Invader outbreak at Tategami High. The fact that Miu actually got an uniform for her shows her thoughtful nature to people and she later admitting that she actually had her mother sewed it for her showed her honesty as well.
One thing I found quite fascinating was the words uttered by Kageyama “This is the second time, you are fighting with us.” Why did Kageyama actually said that? Was the first time possibly when Yukino came out to help the Gatekeepers against Kageyama? Or he was referring to a later incident?
I liked Yukino a lot as a character and I find how she seemed to rediscover friendship and companionship once again in the original Gatekeeper series very poignant. Especially when Kageyama told Miu that Yukino never aged because of her Gate, it really chimed in my mind that why is she always so willing to help the Gatekeepers again and again.
The affinity that she shares with the two generations of Gatekeepers are apparent in the series and GK21. Yet I think that Yukino tried to make sure, that Ruriko and Shun know of each other’s feelings and Miu and Ayane being good friends, is because it is likely that she don’t want them to repeat her mistakes in the past. The loneliness that she is confined with her pet ermine, Hisui probably spurs her on to help others to avoid her fate.
As a Gatekeeper, Yukino is definitely one of the most powerful gatekeepers in the world and should be on par with Kageyama. Her gate of Ice beside able to create ice shards and snow, it also allows her to teleport instantly. With such great powers come even greater payback, Yukino was left never to age for her time was consumed by the gate. So when the day comes when the gate finally consumes her whole, will it be a release for her?
Review and Reflections
GK 21 is a very unique anime on its own. What made this anime so great despite the relative lack of action are the themes behind the anime and the character development in the incredibly short timespan. It is fitting that this touch makes the series great.
The rather quick end of it somehow weakened the quality of GK 21, it could be very probable that Ayane knew the Ghost Girl’s weakness from the start but we the viewers are hardly clued in on this.
The fact that Satoka Tachikawa was relatively underdeveloped also undermined the anime but maybe this was done in order to ensure a smooth pace in the anime which was quite nicely done but it could be expanded with 1 or 2 more episodes.
What makes me watch this anime once in a while again and again is the fact that the anime is actually tragic and the futility of the Gatekeepers is really emphasised though in the end the Gatekeepers triumphed but how long will this triumph last?
The connection with the past
The anime actually celebrates the past, there is quite a strong lean to the 1st millennium where society was not so constricted. The anime seems to harken back to the past where people were allowed to choose. The choice of life, the freedom to live by our whims and fancy. Perhaps the city that we live in now takes up its own existence and consumes ours to fuel it. Is this because of the corruption that was spoken seems to have set in even more. Like a decay on a tree, it has gradually eaten to the core of the tree.
This could be seen on Kageyama saying that now more then half of the human race are potential Invaders and how Invaders had actually evolved.
Compare this to the original GK series, the Invaders were in huge amounts but this definitely pales to the estimate of half of the entire human race. If we were to draw back to history, there were always attempts by man to try to rectify the excesses of his contemporaries. Plans and laws were set to stop corruption, gambling, prostitution and other vices. How successful were they in the past and now? As Kageyama said, who knows what lies behind the doors? In the GK 21 series, it seemed that now there is not even an attempt to actually try to correct all these. “The indifference only make the lies and deceit uglier”
Another subtle way of the anime celebrating the past can be seen how Ayane wanted to get out of the city, get out of society. To be able fly like a bird, above the dirt of the city, in this new millennium, we seemed to be shackled by society. Society are supposed to be made of us but society has actually controlled us instead, gone are the days where one could just live alone away from society, away from the duties that society gives to us. We were once given a chance to choose to stay or leave but we no longer are able to. We are no longer able to fly in and out of the cage of society for the door has closed on us
The anime also examines the relationship of the individual and the society through the clandestine Aegis network, how they have been fighting society(the Invaders) for society, the members of the Aegis network, Kageyama and Ayane are social mavericks as they tend to be much different in relating to others.
The lines of light and shadow
One thing which I find it quite powerful to me is the fact of how the Gatekeepers are actually forgotten by the common people despite of what they have done. Have all the policemen that we have saw in the original series, saluting to all the Gatekeepers gone? Do people forgot things so fast, or we all meant to continue this cycle to no end?
The case of Hashimoto is a good example, his desire to find the truth
behind the Invaders led him to lose his humanity, he was willing to do anything even trumping charges onto innocent people. And I think that what’s the worth of such a truth in the end? It really gets philosophical as I go on in my opinions of the anime.
The fact that the Invaders have evolved and being the shadow of the light of humanity, what does this means to the human soul? Does this mean that we have learnt to be more devious and twisted, or has the shadow behind us actually have a consciousness of its own?
What causes us to step out of the lines that hold the boundaries of ordinary people and invaders firmly? In fact what are those boundaries? As Satoka had mentioned that she sees invaders as people who don’t live honest lives. What’s honest living? Those who don’t commit crimes? Perhaps the eyes of human law is not enough to differentiate them.
“In the past, Invaders were once lifeless machines….” As said by Ayane in episode 2, in the GK series we saw that the Invaders are more mechanical and will disintegrate upon contact but in GK 21, they have began to be more organic and the soul of the being actually is retained in the crystal. Why is this so? Have we finally grown up to a new level, what made us grow up to this new level?
As Ayane said, Invaders are now actually infectious and people could just suddenly be an invader. Why? Has the city provided us enough temptations for us to lose our humanity so easily? In the rush of daily social life, we interact with the society and in the process of social integration we have lost our humanity? The Invaders want a life of chaos and they were turned into Invaders by a world where laws govern our life and this bind grows tighter with more and more regulation of the society and this world.
Society and the rules of humanity.
The anime really inspired me to think about what is humanity and how is it relative to society? Is humanity and society has integrated so closely that we cannot even differentiate them? If one individual has done everything that society wants, does that make them human? What is like to be human?
To be aware? Of ourselves and the world?
As I said previously, I think to be human is empathy, sympathy and other good values for themselves and for others. However in this society, in the rush to meet demands of our life we have decided to forget about the people about us. Yet what is our life and who dictates it? Ourselves or society? And even so, are we really able to choose what we want in the end?
Students of Newton will know that for every action, there will be a reaction. In response to the laws of society, have we chose to react by giving up our humanity resulting in Invaders?
Why is it that a child is borne innocent and grows up losing it? Is it because of knowledge that awakens a latent emotion in their soul? Must the child die so the adult in them can grow? Why the past seemed so much carefree in the eyes of present?
Beside the questions on humanity, one theme I see in the anime is the Gatekeepers themselves. Great powers come with great responsibilities so as to quote from Stan Lee, but in the case of GK 21, is the gates anything but our hopes as Kageyama said?
Remember that the Invaders were a result of the Black Minus gate, and the gates that are used to fight the Invaders, the very creation of the gates themselves.
Price of power
It is as though the anime is parodying how we have used technology to clean up the mess that we ourselves have caused with technology. Has evolution of humanity caught up with the evolution of technology?
Many of the Gatekeepers lost their happiness to the Gates, gates to another dimension. It seemed as though every time when the Gatekeeper opened the gate, he/she had to sacrifice something in order for the gate to be opened. For the case of Ayane, her father died young and she was miserable trapped in this society.
Kageyama suffered a terrible childhood as well and now have lost much of his body to his gates. His close companions seemed to have gone as well. “Even Megumi is gone as well….” – Kageyama from the Novel, 1985. Yukino Hojo lost her time to her gate and now is left alone with her pet ermine. I suppose that most of them did not chose to have the gates, why do they have to pay for things that they didn’t want?
And the Gatekeepers are pursuing to achieve something that seems impossible, trying to make the world a better place. In the final episode, we could see how each of the Gatekeepers fell in combat, it seemed to symbolise how futile their attempts are compared to the countless Invaders which represented their task.
“Our powers are too small compared to the lies and deceit of the city.” – Kageyama, that summed up the hopelessness of the situation and how the Gatekeepers sacrificed so much but only to be replied in a manner that is shown by this sentence
“My kind, gentle thoughts of the world are betrayed, but I am not a bird so I cannot depart it.”
In the end, what the Gatekeepers could only do was to achieve the status quo of the society though Ayane finally managed to do what she dreamed of all the time with the help of Miu. And that was to fly. Becoming a bird. What it represents is transition, a form of release from memories. Escapism often lies in looking back to the past, but she chose the future to gaze at.
A real phantom?
Satoka’s words to Ayane on how the Ghost Girl’s minus gate seemed to be the Gate of Restoration and she asked Ayane whether does she believe that the Ghost Girl chose to do this intentionally. Or was she so blinded by the hate that arised from Ayane’s rejection so she undid all everything in a rage.
In my opinion, I think that Yuurei Shoujo intended to transform her gate into a minus one as she thought she had achieved what Ayane wanted, a city without the noisy, rude and inconsiderate people that both hated. Only the birds that Ayane liked flew around, she thought that by doing all this, Ayane would be friends with her but she was wrong.
So in her hate, it is likely that she decided to reverse the effects so Ayane would still be her miserable self but the Ghost Girl did not see that Ayane actually wanted something more then that. Ayane wanted to be a bird and not to rid of the city of everyone but to better it.
Gatekeepers 21 was the soul to what seemed to be a simple series. Yet simplicity is perhaps the hardest to achieve in our complex state of society.
First of all to Gonzo for doing such a great OVA that has a different flavour from the previous GK series
The many fan sites helped me a lot especially http://www.geocities.com/aegisfiles/gk21.html and Chou Nuriko who contributed to many of the sites that I got my information from.
Ket of Nandayo helped to answer some questions that I had
To you who is reading this right now