Gate Keepers 21
Once again, the world is threatened by "invaders" - mysterious sunglasses-wearing MiB lookalikes. They have the ability to mutate humans into their kind and are seeking to rid the world of the human menace.
Enter Isuzu Ayane, a geeky kid who looks like a tech freak to everyone around her. But no one knows that she possesses the power of the Gate, which she uses to destroy invaders. Teaming up with Manazuru Miu, her brainless classmate, they fight invaders to save the world (as usual).
This is a story about two girls: one who always acts like she's got PMS, and one who's so stupid she won't know she's having PMS.
You see, these two girls are "Gatekeepers" - people with the ability to call forth super powers from another dimension to destroy "invaders". Just like in the original series, the invaders come from another dimension, but can masquerade as humans until they are called into action. Then, our Gatekeepers appear and kill them.
Even the characters are so common, they're downright annoying. Ayane is aloof, anti-social, and hates everything, everyone, and everywhatever. All she does is stand around and insult Miu while trying to remain expressionless. Cruel, yes, but not when you find out that Miu is so utterly stupid that you feel like taking each volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica and bashing her on the head in alphabetical order. The other characters are either carried over from the first series, or just placed there to give some roles to unemployed seiyuu.
Saying there's character development in Gatekeepers is like trying to find an ADSL modem in King Tutankhamen's burial chamber - even if there *was* one, it wasn't used at all. The *only* difference between the heroes and the emotionless invaders is that the invaders wear really cool suits.
Surprisingly, Gonzo once again had a hand in making this sarcophagus. Just like the other Gonzo efforts, GK21 is really detailed and employs a lot of CG in the action scenes. From the spinning gate effects down to the color displays of Ayane's cellphones, everything shows quality artwork and excellent animation. Did I say cellphones? Yes, Ayane kills invaders by tossing cellphones set to different gate settings that either blow up, shoot, or create something. These effects are superb as well, and show that even though the concept was poor, Gonzo pulled through with their top-notch visuals.
Unfortunately, that's all the good things I can say about GK21. The plot, just like Gatekeepers, takes a stab at humans and their hidden desires and puts out some philosophical questions here and there, then tries to flesh out the implications with corny Godzilla/Ultraman action scenes. Our menacingly evil triumvirate (the brains behind the invaders) are no more than a talking stone head, a bassy-voiced man in a giant pink flower, and a spoiled girl who keeps lauging like a serial killer in pursuit of a squirrel inside a spinning washing machine. If you look *really* carefully, you an almost spot the zipper behind the rubber monster suits. As expected, the invaders are generic and bland, but we encounter a few new "designs", like the car/monsters that resemble the baddies in Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors (anyone remember this one?) and gargoyles.
The story occasionally steps into the realm of the B-grade horror flick - the invaders can take over human bodies in really grotesque assimilation scenes (their eyeballs spawn tentacles that snake through their victims' mouths), then as they turn into Borg... I mean, invaders, their skin starts peeling off and voila! - a new invader. This gives us the opportunity to watch as our intrepid heroes get trapped in some dark building/corridor/alley with hundreds of invaders surrounding them and no means of escape. No matter how much I yelled for Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith to appear and annihilate the alien scum, they didn't. Fortunately, budget *was* used in the action scenes and they are done quite well, although a little unbelievable.
As the story develops, some references are made to the original series and some key parts of the story also involve the original, so this will definitely shut the lights on many people who are new to Gatekeepers. And while you're groping for the light switch, it ends with an anti-climatic and slow-paced final battle. Ick. The most noticeable change, however, is the mood of the anime which shifts from the light-hearted and fun feeling of the original to a brooding, dark setting in the sequel. This may not go down well with fans of the original series, and so it's really up to you.
Music is almost non-existant, and the OP/ED songs, while contaning elements of the old OP/ED songs, are neither memorable nor exciting. Sound effects are quite realistic, though.
The explorer that first discovered Tutankhamen's tomb in Egypt is believed to have been "cursed" for opening it. Well, you won't be cursed for watching this but you won't be finding any treasures either.
Gatekeepers 21 is like smearing lipstick on a pink vacuum cleaner - it looks pretty, but still sucks.
Three stars because it looks really pretty. Fans of the original Gatekeepers series might want to add a star depending on how much you like the story getting darker and more serious than the first. Otherwise, don't bother or someday you might find some mummies in your closet ... — Enoch Lau
Recommended Audience: For teens and up, since the invaders are really grotesque when they transform, and the assimilation scenes are gory and intense. Nothing else to object to other than violence.
Version(s) Viewed: R3 DVD release from Century Universe, Japanese language with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (6/6)
Gate Keepers 21 © 2002 A.E.G.I.S. / Gonzo / Kadokawa Shoten / GK Project 21
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