Ever since I really started watching simulcasts on Crunchyroll and Funimation, I’ve been exposed to some fantastic and interesting anime. One of my personal favourites of these past 12 months has been GATE. That show for two seasons so far (I’m expecting one more at least) has been a fantastic story about the “what if” question of how we’d deal with a fantasy world suddenly being accessible in our own. But what’s really given this show some staying power with me has been their tremendous range of interesting characters.
So this week I decided to spend a round of Spotlighting on my current favourite on the show: Empress Pina Co Lada, leader of the Rose-Order of Knights of the Empire.
While you have a consistent cast of women surrounding Youji in Lelei, Tuka and Rory, for me Pina actually comes off as the strongest of all the women in the show. I’m not talking in terms of battle prowess, because if I was, Rory would have something to say about it, I’m talking in terms of the cliche feminist bullshit definition of what a “strong woman” is. Unlike all the male leaders of the Empire who wanted to fight and flex their metaphorical muscles around in attempt to thwart the “invading Japanese”, Pina knew right from the very moment she saw was the JSDF were capable of, they were beyond outmatched and would’ve been fighting a pointless war that they’d lose and lose badly. Granted, she uses Youji and the JSDF in the early going, but she realizes pretty quick that it’d be in her best interests to not fuck with them as they could destroy her entire kingdom at the snap of their fingers.
Once fully committing to bringing peace between the Empire and Japan, Pina takes on a much more meaningful role as the bridge between the two sides, almost like a peacekeeper. It’s become all about preserving her nation now, no longer a warring state, no longer the dominant ones of the world, they’re now the little fish in the pond. And when in this role of peacekeeper, she exudes a ton of strength, courage and loyalty to the Empire, even if that means admitting defeat and trying to stay peaceful with the newly arrival of Japan in their world.
Now it’s really once she’s exposed to Japan and in particular their otaku culture that she becomes an absolute treat to watch throughout the series. It is nothing short of hilarious to watch this dignified, elegant princess (at the time) being given a BL (boy love) doujinshi and see the look on her face that start with shock and horror and ends with joy and being quite turned on by the idea of two men…enjoying each other’s company, shall we say?
She is at her best after this point, becoming much calmer and much more open with everyone. She still retains a lot of her stern and super serious personality that she has to have as a Princess and soon-to-be Empress of the Empire, but when she is away from her political objectives for just a little while, she’s much sweeter and quite adorable, especially when dealing with the unfamiliar Japanese culture. Her reaction to a handshake (a wedding-only gesture in her culture) is priceless and her pure enjoyment when she and the rest of the main cast go to Japan for their first time, something I was really disappointed was not re-visited in Season 2.
And because I am that kind of guy, I can’t help but mention how stunningly beautiful Pina is. Granted, pretty much every female in GATE is absolutely gorgeous, but in Pina’s case it’s really the moments in Japan that really set her apart from them rest. Seeing her dressed more like a normal girl in our world would, it really showed off just how truly drop dead gorgeous she is, as she spends the majority of her time in clunky armor that may give the viewers a little cleavage, but it’s still armor. And let’s be honest, no one looks sexy in prison garbs, I don’t care how much skin it shows. Her being imprisoned in Season 2 was not enjoyable for me in any way whatsoever.
What Pina brings to the table in GATE is more than just her looks though. Like I said, she plays a major political role in the show and it’s quite arguable that she is actually the most important character in the entire show. After all in Season 2, her imprisonment becomes a great problem for Youji, for the JSDF, for Japan, for everyone. She’s the link between the two worlds on behalf of the Empire, like Youji is almost considered the link for Japan. And when you write a woman as being that important in the show, she’s believable in that role and even with her being naked a couple times in bath scenes she’s still not looked at with such lustful attention but instead looked at as a vital character to the show, you’ve done a great job with the writing.