First Look: Divine Gate

DivineGateTitle

Video game adaptation by Studio Pierrot
Streaming on Funimation

Premise

After the Divine Gate opened, our world and the worlds beyond became connected, bringing an era of chaos. To restore order, the World Council was formed and the Divine Gate fell into legend. Now, a select few have gathered to attempt to reach the Gate and remake the world. But what will they find when they open the door?

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Zigg’s verdict: Too Much, Too Soon

Despite the urban fantasy well being sucked almost dry over the past few years it’s still one of the most interesting settings to do if you’ve got some ideas, and hoo boy does Divine Gate have some ideas. Too many ideas in fact. This first episode is nearly a non-stop stream of buzzwords, exposition, character introduction and subplots related to things we barely know about. The net result is that it’s confusing and bad at establishing a solid foundation for the world or why we should care about anything that’s happening in it. There’s also a solid coating of early 2000’s DARK AND EDGY over the whole thing which makes it a lot less fun than something this ridiculous really should be.

That’s a shame because there’s actually some entertaining stuff to dig out here. Artwork is generally solid and I’m a big fan of some of the character design, especially of Akane and Midori and their bizarre fairy counsellors. Even the slightly darker elements have potential, with Aoto’s relationship with his parents and family having enough possible twists to it to surprise. The show needs to straighten its plotlines out fast but there could be something here for sure.

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Iro’s verdict: Trying Too Hard

Let’s just get this out of the way: the main guy (Aoto?) is so utterly insufferable that it loops back around to hilarious. Unfortunately, it’s not quite enough for Divine Gate to reach so-bad-it’s-good status. Apart from that specific plot thread, there’s a distinct air of “mid 90s kids show” that I can appreciate, as well as some really nice character design (that’s also very mid-90s; everyone’s color coded to their elemental powers and everything!). If I were 9 years old, I’d probably love this show, but hooooly hell having Divine Gate spend half of its runtime trying to make its main character dark and edgy and mysterious and troubled and blahblahblah is just too much for me to deal with. To sum up as Divine Gate might put it, this show may fill the holes in Studio Pierrot’s production schedule, but it can’t fill the holes of the heart.

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Artemis’ verdict: Make It Stop

The boy stared emotionlessly out at the world with unseeing eyes. The unceasing rain should have chilled him to the bone, yet he did not feel the cold; he had long grown numb to it, for it did not come close to the coldness in his heart. It was as cold as ice iced ramen, which he ate only to remind himself of who, or rather what, he truly was. He did not deserve warm food. He did not deserve anything. Tilting his head towards the sky, the boy allowed droplets to trickle like tears down his face, from loose stands of golden hair down sharp pale cheekbones. Around him, he could hear the accusatory whispers of the faceless crowd, though not the words – the roaring of the exposition rain drowned them out. He only wished it would drown out the pain of his soul along with it, wash away the agony of existing in a world which had never wanted him to begin with. [Note: best read while listening to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata]

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