The basic premise behind this anime is- A group of school kids are blessed with powers that allow them to open special gates which transfers special abilities into them which they use to defend the Earth from incognito aliens (called matter of factly "Invaders"), who have the ability to merge and transform into various objects and commit mass destruction. They belong to a secret organization called AEGIS and divide their time between school, tracking down new gatekeepers, and fighting the aliens. The kids are- Ruriko, your average, pretty schoolgirl who uses her powers to enhance a bow and arrows- Shun, probably the main character, a thick headed but easygoing young man with a band aid always on his nose, who enhances his bokken, a wooden samurai practice sword- Menage (called "Specs" in the English dub) your typical big brain kid- and Reiko the bubble headed girl, whose power is filtered through playing piano (which inevitably gets smashed by the aliens before she can use it). So, its another in the long tradition of Japanese special forces saving the world from destruction the we all (count me as one of the kids raised on Ultraman) know so well.
The three episodes from Vol. 2 of this lighthearted action anime are-
Episode 4: SEARCH FOR A NEW FIGHTER- Ruriko, Shun, and Reiko are sent by AEGIS to track down a potential dormant gatekeeper, a big hearted and overly emotional thug, Bancho
nicknamed "The Big Boss". While on the train ride, Reiko's stupidity and hunger makes her get left behind at the wrong stop, so Shun and Ruriko have the task of evaluating Bancho as a keeper. When they meet Bancho, he passionately (crying, yelling) takes on a group of thugs, and while he isn't actually a gatekeeper, he does latch on to Reiko, calling her princess, and tagging along with the duo as they investigate Invader activity on the area. Anyway, the Invaders are trying to shut down a local salt mine, and they merge into a giant centipede and a wall while fighting Shun and Ruriko, who finally defeat them thanks to a gate power amplifier that shows up just in time. Bancho follows them back to AEGIS and becomes a charter, secondary member.
Episode 5: CHARGE TOWARD YOUR DREAMS- In this episode they meet the most powerful gatekeeper yet, a young girl named Kaoru, who channels her powers directly, no need of a weapon, and posses amazing physical skills. Kaoru, however, isn't the least bit interested in defending the Earth from aliens, and sees her gift as a blessing for her athletic career. Though, the normal kids shun her, and her wunderkind athletic career is rather hollow since she has never lost. Shun offers to duel against her in kendo (swordplay), making the arrangement that if he wins a match she will join, but she beats the tar out of him. She is only convinced when she witnesses an alien attack while leaving AEGIS. The Invaders transform into a section of highway and smash the main road in Japan. Only with Kaoru's help do they manage to defeat the aliens, and Kaoru realizes that it is a more worthwhile pursuit than winning athletic medals.
Episode 6: INFILTRATE THE HAUNTED DORMITORY- Things get chaotic as the gang fights off aliens disguised as giant red lanterns. Chaotic, because everyone tries to fight separately and gets in each others way. Back at the base, they are informed that there will be a new system, with one member of the group being assigned as leader. Hijinks ensue as each person supports their own ideas of who should be leader and the mysterious goings on at the girls dormitory seem to be the perfect puzzle to solve and establish a clear leader. Everything points to a mysterious door in the dormitory that no one is allowed to open (is it Invaders on campus!), and as students begin to disappear, Shun goes undercover as a girl, and everyone shows up, vying for the position of leader by solving the scary mystery. Although a pretty simple story, and very obvious, this comedic episode, for me, was the best one.
Really this is nothing we haven't seen before, which is a problem with anime. As I was looking at the kids, every characterization, the affable lead guy, the level headed, kinda' stuck up girl, the strong physical girl, the brain, and the air head girl, I had pretty much already seen in Tenchi Muyo, and there are probably countless animes I haven't seen that do the same. How may superpowered schoolgirls are we going to see before it gets old? Since I was jumping in on the series, I read reviews of Vol. 1 to get a feel of what I had missed, and I found out that the setting for the series is 1969, something that wouldn't have occurred to me while watching it. Which begs the question? Why have a period setting at all if you aren't going to exploit it and just do the same old- kids saving the Earth with superpowers and gadgets? Its like the writers took a standard idea and just thought saying it was set in 1969 would separate it from the pack. It has pretty typical action, upskirt shots on the schoolgirls, whining teen drama, and heavy on cute jokes. The animation is pretty slick and vibrant, but still just a tv show, so it has that usual cost cutting pasted in still shots, no ground breaking impressive Cowboy Bebop, Blue Sub No. 6 animation. But GateKeepers does take advantage of combining traditional cel animation with digital techniques. All in all, not terribly original, but if you shelled the money for Vol. 1 ($29.90 MSRP!!!) and liked it, I'm sure Vol. 2 will no doubt please you.
The DVD: Pioneer does a nice job with this competent, Region 1, run of the mill anime. Picture- Can't say much other than its pretty much a perfect transfer of a new tv cartoon. Very crisp, colorful, and sharp picture. Sound- Once again, pretty much perfect. Original Japanese audio, as well as an English dub, optional English subtitles. Extras- Nice array of extras- Special Ending Credits, which are basically the original end credits to the first two segments, which are omitted on main section so it plays smoothly between episodes.- A big Gallery of the Japanese DVD and vhs artwork- a whopping 39 pages of line art- DVD credits- And, finally, inside the DVD a Special AEGIS agent card, and, my favorite, a reversible cover so you can display either the Japanese (Kaoru shedding her school clothes) or English (your usual group shot) cover versions.