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grayfox123

Thoughts on the Judgement Gate.

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grayfox123

One of the big questions about AMG that has been ''disturbing'' me has been how Keiichi and Belldandy passed the test of the judgement gate, where everyone else (or so the movie and the manga imply) failed.

 

After thinking about this for such a long time.....I have two theories.

 

1.The ''trust'' theory. 

 

As shown earlier on in the manga...when Keiichi and Peorth have ''the discussion'' about the implications of Welsper's attempt to do away with Keiichi by time manipulation....Keiichi appears to understand that Bell would outlive him by eons (though that might change...which is another discussion). His acceptance of the fact that he might leave Bell behind shows(or implies) that he trusts that Bell can live/go on  without him when his time on Earth is up....which implies a deep level of trust (or love) in his relationship with Bell. And Bell in turn trusts Keiichi deeply....and believes in him, and accepts him with no doubts at all. One could say the same about Keiichi which is why Bell thought that her not telling him about the Ultimate Force sealing his desires...and the Gate would have led to her not trusting him....but Keiichi in my opinion was not angry (disappointed....but in my opinion with the System)..because he trusts Bell so much that he believes she did not tell him for a good and selfless reason (and also because separating from Bell to him is probably a fate worse than death...as it is for Bell).

 

So....the deep level of trust between Kei and Bell= passing the Gate safely.

 

2.The loophole theory.

 

It seems to me that the Judgement Gate was set up to force Goddesses/Gods and Humans to confront the consequences of their relationships(Relationships in this case meaning romantic).This amounts to scaring the would be couple with the fear that ''Your mortal lover would die....and leave you behind''.

 

That is one big loophole.(Ygdrasill is a rather imperfect machine come to think of it).Call it the Sorrow Loophole.

 

There is always the risk of sorrow in any relationship. Even if Bell and Kei were both human beings....there is always the risk that one half of the couple would die..and leave the other behind early.Or get divorced, or one half of the couple falls ill and is bedridden with a chronic illness (Like stroke, head injury etc).Sorrow is the great risk of living. 

 

Gate seems to  think that people are so scared of sorrow....that they would fail the test. Obviously Gate has no understanding of relationships(and completely underestimates people's ability to overcome sorrow).. There is always the risk of sorrow in any relationship.(Hence Bell's famous saying in chapter 59 of the manga.....If you fear sorrow , you cannot love at all). Bell and Kei's love had by the time they went through the Gate had long since made them lose their fear of any potential sorrow....and anyway they were too focused on the joy waiting for them in their future to worry about sorrow.(Aren't they a great couple?)

 

Someone in the Heavens needs to fix the gate (Or Tyr -sama would have to keep interfering with the Judgement Gate when a test is in progress).

 

Just one more thing.....

 

Apart from Bell in Kei's experience crossing the Gate in both the movie and the manga.....we have no example of other couples crossing the Gate(save for what appears to the the Faerie Morgan passing through the gate in the Movie...and Tyr and Hild's experience which is not fully explained or elaborated upon in universe)....so my above analysis is limited by the lack of ''cases'' to compare to the ''control''(Bell and Kei). It would have been good if Fujishima-san had done some side tales about other couples passing the Gate..but for now...we can only speculate, based on the limited info we have...that other couples failed because of ''lack of complete trust in each other's ability to face the sorrows ahead in the relationship'' (In Tyr and Hild's case...maybe they did not think that their respective sides would be able to accept the relationship...with the whole enemy thing going on between Heaven and Hell).

 

And that's my thought on the matter.

 

Anyone else have any addtional ideas? Even I still feel there is some more to add to this.

 

 

 

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vanagandr

I really agree with a lot of the points mentioned above, as the whole Judgement Gate seems to be a rather... controversial and possibly broken concept, considering that it originated from the Movie where it acted as the motivational force behind the antagonists. Then, when the time came for the manga to reach its conclusion, Mr Fujishima just imported the same idea to the story as a final hurdle that the couple had to pass before they could have a wedding ceremony. 

 

While I understand that he may have wanted a bit of a climactic ending to the story, the way the Judgement Gate was introduced had its... problems and not to mention some unfortunate implications. For instance, in the manga Belldandy and Keiichi's first kiss was as early as the 11th chapter, and even back then there were flowers appearing all over the place (with Keiichi even lampshading that fact). Still, no Test triggered by that little incident which appears to be forgotten along with several of the early chapters of AMG, and while it could be argued whether it was too early for such a thing to occur, in my opinion, the whole concept of the Judgement Gate only appeared during the development of the Movie (almost a decade later). 

 

Because of that, there's virtually no evidence or mention of other couples similar to Belldandy and Keiichi throughout the rest of the main story, at least as far as the manga was concerned prior to the last story arc. There, just like in the Movie, a goddess fell in love with a mortal and ended up having to live without him, although the big difference was that in the Movie, Morgan failed to pass the Test while in the manga the Lake Goddess simply outlived her lover. The latter case was primarily a better way to draw a parallel to Belldandy and Keiichi's relationship, instead of the situation in the Movie that probably resembled Hild and Tyr's failed relationship.

 

Now, there is no doubt that Urd was originally meant to have a different mother than her two younger sisters for a very early point in the story, yet I doubt that the author had a concrete backstory as for why Hild and Tyr separated. The closest thing we have seen as an attempt to bring the subject up was during Hild's first appearance in the manga when she asked Belldandy if she wanted to know why they separated. After that, we haven't learnt anything in regards to Hild and Tyr's eventual separation or how Belldandy's mother got in a relationship with Tyr. Personally, I think that the author left it like that so that he might have something to use as a plot for an eventual arc that never really happened, and was eventually incorporated into the whole "failed the Judgment Gate Test" list of couples. Honestly, given their positions and respective roles, I always thought that they had to give up their personal happiness for the sake of maintaining the fragile peace between their realms, as it was implied that things used be far more violent in the distant past, and in the process provide a better world for Urd to live in. 

 

But... with the Gate now officially part of the manga, I suppose any kind of rationalisation will always have to deal with the fact that even as a retcon, it's still part of the manga. So, is there anything other that allowed Keiichi and Belldandy to pass the Gate?

 

An honest answer is... time. Considering the slow progress of their relationship, Keiichi and Belldandy had enough time to develop the necessary bond that goes beyond a mere crush or an infatuation. They had the chance to fall in love and by the time they faced the Gate, it proved to be the reason they passed the test. If they had to face the same challenge all the way back to their first kiss on chapter 11, I can say for certain that their fate was going to be eerily similar to that of every other couple that tried to pass it before them. In other words, if the rest of the couples had to face the Test too early, it was almost certain that failure was the only possible outcome. But with no additional information as to how long those couple had waited before facing the Test, it's hard to reach an absolutely definitive conclusion.

 

Another element are the hurdles Keiichi and Belldandy had to face together even before the Test. Think about all the story arcs and you'll see many incidents like the Lord of Terror, Urd's two sides being separated, Welsper,  the Angel Eater, and so on. Did all the other couples had to face such odds together? Especially the ones where one of them is a mortal (just like Keiichi is). Each one of those incidents allowed the couple to become stronger and brought them together, helping the necessary trust to develop between them. So, by the time they faced the Gate, it was yet another hurdle amongst several they had already passed. This is both tied to the trust element, as well as the time issue, given that it took them a couple of years living together to gain that experience. Did the other couples had such an opportunity? That we'll never know.

 

Overall, I still believe that the Judgement Gate was a less than perfect retcon to bring the story to an end with one final hurdle for the couple, or in video game terms... give us a Final Boss to beat before the ending credits. There were some good elements for sure, but there were also many issues and problems associated with its introduction as well as the implications for the earlier chapters, as Urd's efforts to get Keiichi and Belldandy together can now be seen as problematic. Additionally one could also argue that Peorth's later efforts to make Keiichi tell Belldandy that he loved her fall in the same category. Still, I don't generally take this last minute development as something truly central to the story, as a thorough analysis can bring more and more issues to the surface, discrediting a lot of the early chapters that in my opinion hold the original magic of the story. I do appreciate the later chapters of course, but one must remind themselves that AMG was a story that lasted for 26 years in real life. A lot has changed during that time in the author's life and it's only natural that some ideas had changed too, resulting in certain inconsistencies. 

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Keiichi Morisato

The problem is that it really makes no sense in the manga series. It was a concept that was created by Gohda-san as a plot device for the movie, focusing on Belldandy's relationship with her mentor, Celestin. I hadn't really thought about this movie for the longest time. But, I think it's more likely used as a means of testing your partner's fidelity. If you truly love each other, then you would remain together. If not, then you would be separated for all eternity. I was kind of shocked that Fujishima-san adapted it for the manga. The original OVA series, which was also directed by Gohda-san, hinted at the fact that Keiichi and Belldandy were bound together through an "innocent wish" that Belldandy granted as a child. The Judgement Gate just seemed like a physical manifestation of testing that theory.

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tedne

Is it actually known who first had the idea for the Judgment Gate? Do we know for sure that Fujishima got it from Gohda instead of the other way around?

On a different tangent I often had the impression that there were several apocalyptic dry runs at a grand finale, especially the Angel Eater arc and the Welsper arc. 

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ehbowen

In my own thoughts on the story, both movie and manga, I think that the Judgment Gate's usage by Heaven is actually as a projection by/protection from evil. Allow me to elucidate. Keiichi and Belldandy, in the years they have been together, have slowly but surely been bringing their two worlds together. Skuld is best friends with Sentaro, everyone from Heaven knows Megumi, Tamiya has a crush on Peorth (but who wouldn't?), and so forth. This process would only accelerate if/when K & B formalized and cemented their relationship. And we haven't even begun to talk about kids!

Now, who would be against bringing two disparate worlds together in a peaceful fashion? In my mind, only evil. And I think it would be an evil which runs deeper than the adversaries depicted by Hild & company...Hild actually seems to be a not-unreasonable sort, if you don't fall for her little schemes. So, ultimately, I would argue that the Judgment Gate is most likely to be Evil's tool for keeping the separate worlds separate. That's the projection. The protection bit and why the Gate is used by Heaven comes because Heaven knows that an all-out assault is likely to target any such bridge across the realms. They want to keep that assault at arm's length unless they can be absolutely sure that the bridge is strong enough to hold.

 

Edited by ehbowen
Comma fault.

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winedrinkingcritic

The Judgment Gate is somewhat idiotic to me. People are forced to watch their lovers grow old with them everyday. People watch their life partners die halfway through the relationship everyday, and yet somehow through the sorrow, they still manage to move on with their lives. To suggest that the Goddesses and the Angels are somehow more damaged by it than a normal human relationship seems just dumb to me. Having said that, Fujishima had to present at least SOME reason for why Keiichi and Belldandy's chaste relationship was dragged out far beyond believability, you know, other than the fact that if he ever solved that problem, the manga would immediately end because he wouldn't have the "will they/won't they" jokes to fall back on like they always do.

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Keiichi Morisato

I think you have the wrong idea about what the judgement gate really is. in 2000, Hiroaki Gohda produced the Ah! My Goddess movie and the central theme of the plot focused on what Celestin believed that Kami-sama, the goddess support system and the mentor gods that instructed the goddesses and their lack of understanding when it came to the suffering of those who lived on Earth. he attempted to correct the problem by destroying the "gate of judgement" but that Heaven had sent its warriors after Celestin where he was defeated and placed in a prison within Earth's moon. The gate of judgement was created as a test of the gods that measured the love of two people. If they truly loved each other, then they would remain together when they passed through the gate. If they failed the test, then they would be separated forever.

It wasn't something that Fujishima-san had created for the manga series but that he would eventually use the plot device from the movie as a catalyst for ending the manga series. The Judgement Gate was used as a relationship test for couples who would pass through it. Fujishima-san seemed to take the idea behind the gate and give it a twist from what we saw in the anime movie.

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winedrinkingcritic

Yes, but Fujishima's explanation that sexual relations between gods and humans were forbidden before the test completely contradicts urd and peorth's attempts to seduce keiichi earlier in the series. it makes it look like urd and peorth were intentionally trying to separate keiichi and belldandy forever like the villains. that couldn't have been fujishima's intent from the get go. I simply don't think he thought it through.

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Keiichi Morisato

I think that Fujishima-san rushed that final storyarc due to fan pressure. For the longest time, I know that there were a lot of fans, both in America, Europe and possible Japan, who wanted Fujishima-san to use elements from the original OVA series and the movie and to incorporate them into the manga. But, he had resisted them for so long. The idea behind the Judgement Gate in the manga version just seemed to be too rushed. When he started that long-running arc three or four years prior to the manga ending, there was no mention of the gate. I just think he used the gate as a pre-text to end the series and to bring with it a finale to the relationship of Keiichi and Belldandy by having them marry in the final chapter.

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vanagandr

From my perspective, I think that the way the series ended wasn't actually the originally intended one. If you recall, there was a mention of Keiichi's birthday, and I seriously doubt that the whole thing was brought up just for Belldandy to buy Keiichi a watch. It's entirely possible that he intended to finish the series with the conclusion of Hagall's coup, but probably realized that the way the whole thing was set up, more or less lacked the climactic sense of an ending. As such, he dropped the Gate as a means of providing the series a final antagonist (of sorts), especially after we found out that Hagall wasn't actually the Big Bad. 

As KM mentioned above, the Judgement Gate was meant as a pretext to end the series with a marriage, and as such, he needed a plot device to wrap everything up, as well as to answer a few remaining things about the series (such as the situation between Tyr and Hild). The main problem is that the way it was handled created several plot holes when such a thing wasn't even necessary. If you look at how the same plot device was introduced in the Movie, it's an example of good use of this idea, while the same can't be said about the manga. 

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Keiichi Morisato

What many fans forget to realize is that the manga was originally to be ended when Keiichi-chan built his own bike. This was a well-known, established fact from way back when Dark Horse Comics was publishing the manga series in a monthly comic book format. This was revealed by Toren Smith way back in the late 90's. I was one of the few members of this community who was actually engaged in intelligent discussion with Mr. Smith and I even saw some of my letters published in the letters page of the manga comic. But, the way the manga ended was so abrupt. Once before, Fujishima-san wanted to end the manga series, some five years previous from where it originally ended. But, Kodansha didn't want it to end because it was one of their best performing manga titles. Kodansha opted for Fujishima-san to continue Ah! My Goddess but also allow him to create a new manga series (Paradise Residence) while cutting back on the number of Ah! My Goddess chapters published each year. I recall that the manga went down to nine chapters per year while allowing Residence Paradise to be published every several weeks or so.

Personally, I don't see Toppu GP lasting too much longer and we could see a new manga series appear from Fujishima-san. Either that, or perhaps a new anime season for Ah! My Goddess. Where it stands, there has been no news on either front.

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winedrinkingcritic

Yeah, I'm holding off on the Toppu GP video comic adaptations until it's finished it's run. I stopped at issue seven because that's the end of the first book release. I would love to see them finish adapting the Ah My Goddess manga material into new episodes.

Edited by winedrinkingcritic

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