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Gate hit the airwaves and the internet July 4th of last year, and did it with a bang. The clever story begins with a mysterious portal opening in the modern-day Ginza district of Tokyo. Through that gate comes a pillaging hoard of dragons, knights and orcs, cutting a path of medieval-style destruction through the peaceful modern shopping district. The crisis gives rise to an at-first unlikely hero, an otaku slacker on his way to a doujinshi sale. His knowledge of strategy and tactics that save the day aren’t just from playing MMORPG, he’s a member of the JSDF.
Gate is the adventure of the Japanese Self Defense Forces (JSDF) expeditionary foray into the unknown land. The JSDF quickly establishes a base around the Gate to secure the entrance to Japan. The current empire that rules the land on the far side of the gate has to learn the hard way that the swords and shields they arm themselves with are nothing compared to the firepower of the JDSF’s modern military. The characters we meet in this anime – those who grew up in this world of battles, dragons and mages as well as the people exploring it from our world -- have to be brave. This list points out some of the bravest.
10. Tarou Kanou
Minister Kanou is the Japanese minster for defense. We never see Kanou in the special region or in combat, but he is willing to risk his career to maintain a Japanese presence in the special region. He is forced to play political games and be prepared be sacrificed by those with more political power in order see his plans through. He also trusts Itami and is willing to put his fate in the hands of a man many years his junior. Putting your fate in the hands of another is evidence of bravery, indeed.
9. Rory Mercury
Rory may look as though she’s a 13-year-old girl with a love of lolita fashion, but she’s really a demigod and apostle of the war god Emroy. Her super-human strength that makes taking down a giant ogre a simple task and her love of slaughtering her enemies has given her a fierce reputation. She takes on her enemies with a true bloodlust, their deaths creating an aphrodisiac-like response in her body.
An immortal demigod may not be afraid of much, especially when it comes to their own health and safety. But for their friends it is a different story. When you watch Rory you realize that she is still very connected to the mortals in the world despite being 961 years old. Her interactions with children and the elderly show that she hasn’t let go of her human life. The attachments that human life brings also mean not letting go of the memories of the people she has lost in the last thousand years, and for an immortal that might be the bravest thing of all.
8. Mari Kurokawa
Sergeant First Class Kurokawa is a member of the 3rd recon team and a nurse. She has the patience of a saint dealing with people, but that patience runs short if you are in the way of her treatment of the sick and injured. She is often right in the thick of the action when the team engages in combat. You even see her armed on occasion, as we never forget she is a trained member of the army.
Mari also sets up a clinic in the red light district of the capital of the empire. She operates in a dangerous environment behind enemy lines to give life-changing care to a population of a county that is in a de facto state of war with Japan. The people who do this kind of work giving care in a dangerous environment, either a warzone or in a third-world slum are some of the bravest angels among us.
7. Shino Kuribayashi
Sergeant First Class Kuribayashi is one of the soldiers of the 3rd recon team under the command of Itami. She is a powerhouse in hand-to-hand combat. Her blind charge in the battle of Italica, engaging in close-quarters combat alongside Rory is legendary. Her ability to go toe-to-toe with men twice her size is beautiful. She also seems to be a bit of a sadist as she enjoys the thrill of battle.
Shino’s actions can be categorized as brave, or just overconfident, but we’ll say brave for the sake of argument. She’s human, she’s trained, but she’s simply human and can bleed and die like anyone else. Yet she seems to charge onto the battlefield without a second thought. She is an uncompromising soldier and when given an objective will achieve it or die trying.
6. Cicero La Martos
Senator Cicero La Martos is a member of the Imperial Senate. He is widely respected as an elder statesman. His family dates back to the founding of the empire and is extremely wealthy. In the beginning of the story, we see he is confident that the armies of the empire will prevail and is considered a pro-war senator.
Cicero then witnesses the power of the JSDF in action and comes to the same conclusion that Princess Pina had, the Empire cannot stand against Japan’s military. He is also won over by de facto ambassador Koji Sugawara and his examples of Japanese craftsmanship. We consider the change of hawk to dove an important part of the plot and understand there is amazing bravery in admitting that you’re wrong -- especially when your choice is not popular.
5. Tuka Luna Marceau
Tuka is a young elf girl with childlike personality despite being 165 years old (which is rather young for an elf). We first meet her when her village is destroyed by a massive fire dragon and she is rescued as the sole survivor by the 3rd recon team. We find her advice is pivotal in driving off the fire dragon as it attacks the refugees from Coda village. She has some useful skills like archery and some nature magic including a spell that can put large groups of people into a deep sleep.
Tuka also has suffered a psychotic break. She was extremely traumatized by the destruction of her village and the loss of her father. When your life span and the lives of the ones you love are almost indefinite, the idea of going on without them for hundreds of years can be quite the shock. Tuka latches on to the closest authority figure she can find, Itami, and begins to call him father. She occasionally spends hours searching the refugee camps for her father, denying that he died. We put Tuka on the list of the brave because of what happens later in the arc. After the team destroys the fire dragon she faces the fact that her father is dead, and when we come to terms with enormous loss we are truly brave.
4. Koji Sugawara
Koji is a member of the Foreign Affairs department and works with the JSDF to make political inroads into the empire. He’s basically the de facto ambassador to the special region from Japan. He works tirelessly and clandestinely to seek out the peace-minded influencers in the government. He has to curry favor with words and gifts to represent the positive things peace will bring the empire. Koji knows especially in the early days that if he is caught he’d be treated as a spy -- and those connected with him would be as well.
Koji truly puts it on the line when the tentative truce with the empire begins to crumble. He opens the ambassadorial residence to some of the political refugees fleeing the crackdown. He could have turned the people over to the empire, he could have said they weren’t Japanese citizens so it didn’t concern him, but he didn’t. Koji stepped up and sheltered the peacemakers, knowing that without them a real war would begin and lead to a slaughter like the land had never seen before. The willingness to stand up publicly for your principles behind enemy lines as you stare down the shaft of a spear is some of the greatest bravery of all.
3. Youji Itami
Captain Youji Itami is the most likely unlikely hero to grace anime in a few seasons. He openly admits, “I work to support my hobby, you know. So if you asked me which I’d choose, my job or my hobby, my hobby takes priority.” Youji’s hobby is anime and manga; Youji is an otaku. He is also one of the most positive examples of an otaku in anime. He is a grown man, not a high school student. He is uncharacteristically (for an anime otaku) confident in his abilities, and particularly his ability as a soldier. He doesn’t even have a social disorder like an inability to talk to people.
Youji was simply heading to the doujinshi sale when the invasion happened and did he panic? No. He jumped into the fray at Ginza in nothing but cargo shorts and a t-shirt, taking on a heavily armed knight and dispatching him quickly. When he was deployed to the other side of the gate, he and members of the 3rd recon team faced dangerous encounters again and again as they explored the vast territory. Throughout it all, he was a complete rock of a commander. He was dependable and willing to put himself on the line for his platoon or any civilians in danger. His willingness to put himself on the line for perfect strangers is the bravery we expect from our armed forces.
2. Pina Co Lada
Princess Pina is the crown princess of the Saderan Empire and leader of the Rose Order of Knights. She has a stubborn, prideful personality and a need to be taken seriously. She is willing to fight enemies and prove her valor and value as a knight. She attempted to prove that valor in the battle of Italica despite being ill-equipped to defend the city. She has the best interests of the people of the empire firmly in mind when using her influence and power.
She is also a pragmatist. Princess Pina recognizes that the empire is greatly outmatched by Japan’s military. She understands that in an all-out war they could never beat the JSDF and she begins to put the wheels of peace in motion. She plays the political games and becomes a secret envoy to Japan against the wishes of the Empire, risking charges of treason all for the sake of peace. The people with everything to lose putting it on the line for peace, they are the bravest.
1. Lelei la Lalena
You may think that having magically assisted telekinesis, the ability to compress air until it explodes, or a genius intellect would make someone arrogant -- but not Lelei. The hyper-intelligent, multilingual mage has her feet firmly planted in both magic and science, providing support and translation to the JSDF as they explore the special region without a hint of arrogance. She only shows an abundance of curiosity.
Lelei may have powerful magic but she is only 15. For the most part she is on her own in the world. Yes, she has a trade, magic, she has a mentor, Cato, and she even has the JSDF. Yet, she is on her own. She is a nomad by nature, traveling far from her homeland outside the empire. Her self-sufficiency and willingness to throw her lot in with a group of people that possess unrivaled power, the JSDF, is very brave indeed.
The brave people we listed from this universe all made the list for different reasons. We have warriors, statesmen and those coming to terms with their own demons. We do believe that those who charge into battle are brave and deserve our praise; anime is filled with these heroes of action. We also thought it would be a good idea to praise the warriors for bravery in other aspects of their lives. It’s only right to give praise to the brave who don’t always fight with their fists but use words and deeds to win hearts and minds.