Divine Gate – Review
Original Air Dates: Jan 8th, 2016 – March 25th, 2016
Synopsis: The Divine Gate opened, bridging the gap between our world and the worlds beyond, sending the world into an era of chaos. To restore order, the World Council formed, sealing the way to the Divine Gate, allowing it to fall into legend for the common man. Now, a select few have gathered together, each seeking to reach the Gate and remake their world, to achieve their dreams and wishes. But will reaching the Divine Gate be so easy? Just what lies beyond the Divine Gate itself?
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Divine Gate has a unique visual look compared to the other shows that aired over the winter season. Its style heavily relies on hard black outlines, and thick shadows. The style matches that of the phone game the series was based on, and is an attempt to tie the visuals into the dark and brooding nature of Divine Gate’s story and characters. But for me, it has the detracting effect of making the whole thing look a tad childish, like an overly simplified depiction of good vs evil. I will praise the use of CGI however, as Divine Gate’s CGI is used to depict a few fleeting action packed sequences and blends in so seamlessly that, unless you’re looking for it, it’s very hard to spot.
Linny: The unusual colour palette definitely leaves an impression thanks to its unique look. The bright splashes of colours with the hard outlines and dark backgrounds make for an interesting visual experience. It does use a fair amount of CGI and while it manages to make the CGI look good, it may still turn off a viewer who dislikes CGI in general. Hopefully, the gifs should help you decide how you feel about the show’s visuals.
Tom: Divine Gate’s visuals are the least of this anime’s problems however. Divine Gate is riddled with hammy monologues and grating voice over that plague it from episode to episode. Divine Gate wants to be dark and brooding, but is constantly undermined by the melodramatic writing that continually oversells its already angst ridden concepts. Our main character, Aoto, is a dark, brooding young man with a tragic backstory of forceful/abusive parents with an obvious twist that, by the time it’s revealed in episode four, you’re bored of the supposed mystery already, but the show likes to pretend that it was clever enough to pull the wool over your eyes. Perhaps even more distracting is Divine Gate’s bizarre naming scheme. Throughout, various characters from literature and history are brought into play, like King Arthur, Shakespeare, Oz, Santa Clause, and more. There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to the long list of literary or fairy tale call backs and ultimately gives Divine Gate this odd pretentiously feel, like the creators thought they had something deep to say, but, deep with a mobile game, really? Really?
Linny: This cannot be stressed enough. Prepare yourselves, nay, BRACE yourselves for some nonstop emo teenage angst and heavy handed analogies and voice overs. Every single character in the show apparently has the darkest and broodiest origins and we are constantly reminded of it through Divine Gate’s monologues. Oh, and don’t worry if you dislike the starting cast, this show will keep introducing new characters, even right up to the very last episode, so you might still find someone to connect with.
Tom: The slew of additional characters starts mid-season with such a sizable addition to the cast that I can’t even remember the precise number. These characters are both allies for our main trio of Aoto, Midori; a young girl regretting the loss of a childhood friend, and Akane; a hot-headed young man searching for his father, as well as Arthur; the king and instigator of the battle to reach the Divine Gate. It’s just too much at one time, and while they appear on screen prior to their main introduction mid-season, they’re never given enough screen time for us to connect with any of them, or leave a lasting impression. Characters beyond the main trio, and Arthur himself, get zero development, making their actions hard to understand, particularly concerning one character’s late game betrayal.
Linny: Due to the lack of proper development, the villains also feel cliched and seem to simply be evil for the sake of being evil. The developments in the story start to feel even more generic, predictable and bland thanks to the lack of additional information that usually helps add flavour to a show’s take on a common trope, such as the young hero being recruited by a school due to his talent and high levels of skill and power. Thanks to the over usage of poetic monologues and drivel, what little information we are given is coated in so many layers of melodrama that the average viewer is likelier to zone out rather than be sucked in.
Tom: There’s a lot of concepts thrown around throughout Divine Gate: betrayal, familial love, friendship, ambition, etc. But none of it comes together. It’s clear the overarching idea is that all of these are broken versions of things like trust, or love, etc and tie into each character wanting to use the Divine Gate to wish their lives into a better place. But outside of that, none of these themes merge well, meaning each character’s struggle feels disconnected from the others and the overall progression of the story. Divine Gate forces itself to be dark, when really this could be played without the angsty melodrama and it’d work all that much better. Often it feels try hard, with an over reliance on monologues and painfully overwrought depictions of depression and post traumatic stress.
Linny: The divulging of information mainly through poetic monologue is an exercise in frustration. The twists and reveals become predictable as they follow well known tropes to the T, adding nothing new to them other than the convoluted story telling style, which could still be redeemed as artistic or refreshing by some viewers.
Tom: The convoluted story could be considered artistic, if not for the narration, which acts as a substantial subtractor, often spelling out the emotions of the characters in painful detail. It manages at every turn to make everything heavy handed. The climax of episode seven sees a swath of characters meet an untimely end, but having never gotten to know any of them it all rings hollow, especially once Divine Gate reveals, within its final minutes, that none of that blood bath mattered anyway. Even when the series makes gutsy moves that some audience members might appreciate for sheer brutalities’ sake, it again undermines itself one final time in what seems like an attempt to damage its entertainment value for literally everyone it can.
Linny: Divine Gate starts off intriguing with its visuals and the concept of the Divine Gate itself but that plot device quickly starts to get ignored in favour of character drama. The heavy usage of analogies and monologues may be an attempt to stand out from the crowd and it is a risky gamble as it may be over reliant on that single aspect. It could win fans for its visuals and convoluted narration so long as the viewer was on the lookout for something exactly like that.
Tom: Divine Gate’s origin comes in the fashion of a 2013 Japanese Smart Phone game that never made its way west. Divine Gate is a mishmash of concepts that never properly come together, and although the series teases a continuation in its final moments, I can’t honestly recommended anyone watch Divine Gate in hopes of answers to all the nonsensical developments that define the series. Divine Gate is best enjoyed on the surface level, for those looking for some action, melodrama, and a whole lot of angst. If you’re looking for any form of deeper entertainment then Divine Gate really isn’t something I’d recommended.