We last left GATE with Youji being assigned the commander of the third recon team in the manga, and the JSDF going through the gate and meeting with an enemy force in the anime. The second episode covers the last bit of the first chapter to hit some points that were left out of the first episode as well as going through the second chapter.
This episode included the battle for Alnus Hill, which happened at the end of Chapter 1 of the manga, but the wait was worth it. Instead of just seeing the destruction afterwards, we actually get a long account of the battle. I like that the animators took the time to add in detail like this, but I hope that later on down the road they don’t add too many battle details at the cost of developing characters/factions and general world building.
The anime didn’t necessarily develop the United States more than the manga, but to me it seemed like the anime presented Dirrel and his cabinet as more underhanded and looking to profit as much as possible. This could lead to some interesting events in the future, and if it does, the anime gets points for setting it up better.
The anime gives Koda/Coda Village an actual scene and shows Youji getting a map and info from the village chief before it is mentioned for directions. The manga mentioned a map from the village chief, but never actually showed the team stop at a village. This scene also refutes the arguments some people have about the JSDF being too violent and extreme (when they defend themselves and their home, the soldiers will do what is necessary to secure safety, but they are also peaceful when they meet civilians) while further developing the character of the soldiers as a whole..
Just about everything in the anime seems to be...toned down...from the manga. This is definitely intended to be able reach a wider audience, but it also undeercuts the weight of the events that take place.
Now it’s the anime’s turn to introduce people in a flash. Don’t worry if you can’t read the writing, I immediately forgot all of the information that was thrown at me, again. It doesn’t help that I’m not good with names, but introducing 11 people in 9 seconds isn’t very conducive to actually retaining the information given.
Youji is less professional on job. It is important to have the right waifu, but while exploring an unknown land in which you have been attacked multiple times is not the optimal time to hold these discussions. Youji may be an otaku, but he is also a serious soldier when he is working, and the anime makes it look like he is a slacker with little discipline. Make no mistake, Youji takes his job seriously, even if his only reason for having it is to support his hobby. There’s a difference between supporting your hobby and being unfocused while on a recon mission, and Youji can definitely turn on “Serious Mode” despite how the anime portrays him.
The manga is more serious and intense, benefiting from not pulling punches which makes the world seem generally more realistic and the stakes higher.
In the manga, it is made more explicitly clear that the JSDF was simply taking defensive positions on Alnus Hill, despite pressure to go on the offensive. This seemingly minor detail gives the reader insight into the JSDF’s intentions - not to enter another world and begin carelessly killing everything that moves like the Empire did in Ginza, but to prevent any enemy force from being able to attack Japan.
Piña Co Lada’s conversation is much more drawn out and detailed than in the anime, making her look less like an arrogant person looking for battle (this is also helped by not showing her in armor in this scene like the anime did, but in a more stately dress). So far, Piña seems to be a much more detailed character in the manga, with a greater sense of justice and more individuality as she stands up to her father (the Emperor).
From Chapter 2 From Chapter 1
Also a detail that wasn’t mentioned in the anime, the JSDF took prisoners from the allied army that the Emperor sent to retake Alnus Hill in addition to the 100,000 hostile soldiers that were eliminated. As some object to this number and say it is excessive, the JSDF soldiers did not necessarily want to dispatch 100,000 enemies, but they did want to protect their home. This is well illustrated through Youji’s comment as he walks through the aftermath of the assault of the enemy’s allied army on Alnus Hill.
Conversations in general seem to be longer than the anime, but especially where the Emperor is concerned. The manga portrays him as being much more ruthless, not caring what happens to the army because he is more worried about maintaining his control (the Imperial Army was basically wiped out in Ginza, so the smaller nations that the Empire has conquered and subjugated now have more military strength; the Emperor sends them to their deaths to equalize the power balance once again).
The only major downside to the manga is the jump from Youji being assigned command of Recon 3 and then being on the road the next time we see them. They talk about a map they got from a village they visited, but it isn’t shown, which felt like a big opportunity to develop the world of the Empire more as well as the individual characters under Youji’s command had been missed.
(Also, the village name is spelled “Koda” in the manga as opposed to “Coda” in the anime, so there can be Ani-TAY in-jokes)
The anime and manga seem to be playing tug of war - one doing more here, less there, the other doing less here, more there. It feels like some events may be moved around a bit or multiple things conflated in the adaptation to an anime format, but it isn’t at any foreseeable detriment to the story so far. I would say that the manga does a better job of going in-depth into the politics/empire as well as the JSDF’s position. So far the anime has been doing a great job of covering the events of the manga, even if it does leave off some of the nuance and weight of some things. I’m not particularly fond of the way the anime portrays Youji, but it isn’t terrible. I’d just like to see a more serious Youji like in the manga.
AnimeGATE is a series on experiencing an anime and its manga source material simultaneously. But really, “it’s about ethics in anime adaptations...”