All right, this is perhaps one of the most WTF moments in my anime viewing for a very long while. If you know my viewing habits, I have a clear bias toward action shows: I do not like them. They generally try too hard in the GAR part, showcasing action scenes for a long time with a flimsy storyline. There is no shock, the characters are annoying in general and all in all, it is just the same old thing.
The same old thing stereotype can hardly be true in this series. This has mouth-watering, jaw dropping fight scenes that make a shoujo freak like me grasp in total amazement. It has crazy levels of animation that will be close to perfect if they can somehow manage to maintain this level. Lastly, and most importantly, the WTF factor just strikes firm. I am glad someone mentioned this series in the “What should I blog” because I have gained major interest in this series now.
A recap for those who have not watched the first episode, this is a story based in Japan about zombie-like spirits that are ravaging the area. The Ministry of Defence has an anti-paranormal special forces group called the Supernatural Disaster Prevention Office. The fourth platoon is a group of elite personnel with supernatural abilities. They engaged zombie-like spirits during one of the attacks, and managed to kill two Level B creatures in two different missions. However, on the aftermath of the second killing, they were ambushed by a lady who is a Level A spirit (most powerful). It seems like the main lead knew her, and the whole team perished.
Just after the demise of the fourth platoon, another Level B spirit appeared on the main streets. The Ministry of defense fodder forces were struggling to repel them, only for the Ministry of Environment elite forces to come to the rescue. After luring the Level B monster away from the masses, Kagura dispatched the spirit with one clean slice of her sword. The Minister of Defense discussed the demise of the fourth platoon, only for a woman on a wheelchair to come into this meeting.
This woman is the minister of environment, and she introduced herself as Jinguuji Ayame. Her assistant is Nikadou Kiri and they came to seek help. It is clear that there is a struggle for power between ministries, so Ayame proposed a compromise in which she gave them detailed information on the locations of the Level A spirits. She also warned them that their numbers are growing, and they are the ones that have been creating Level B spirits.
At the end of the battle, the spirits have manifested on the corpses of the soldiers that have died fighting the battle earlier on. Kagura and the others managed to kill off these Level D spirits. In their headquarters, Kiri and Ayame observed the tapes and realized that Yomi, their ex-compatriot was leading the spirits. Kagura is shaken by the appearance of Yomi, who greeted the crew sinisterly. Iidzuna Noriyuki was told by the Nabuu Brothers to chase after Yomi. Kagura decided to tag along, while the others were going to repel against a new onslaught of spirits.
Noriyuki and Kagura entered an underground electrical generator to hunt for Yomi. Noriyuki mentioned that Yomi’s target is the Ministry of Environment. They decided to split up, with Noriyuki leaving his pet with Kagura. Kagura was muttering that she wanted to save Yomi, and we also realized from her mutterings that Noriyuki is Yomi’s fiance. Suddenly, Noriyuki’s pet was slain, and Yomi was the culprit. Kagura was reluctant to unsheathe her blade, and Yomi said she would force Kagura’s hand. After a few rounds of battle, Kagura is able to subdue Yomi.
Yomi taunted Kagura, asking why she was not killing her. Yomi asked whether it was Kagura’s fear of killing a human, or the fact that they knew each other. Yomi mentioned that she hated Kagura and took advantage of Kagura’s shock to kick Kagura away. Yomi then called Noriyuki a coward, and that triggered Kagura’s fighting spirit. Kagura then decided to stab her sword into the wall, using the flammable gas to cause a combustion as Kagura escaped through the hatch.
However, Yomi appeared again with the tired-looking Kagura and asked if she expected Kagura to kill her so easily. Yomi’s summoned spirit appeared and dislocated Kagura’s arm while tangling her in mid air. With that, Kagura was helpless as she was held by the spirit, and Kagura mumbled why Yomi-oneesan had to do that. The last glimpse showed Yomi dying her relationship with Kagura and ready to decapitate Kagura.
This series is probably trying to use the shock element to surprise its audience. Considering the amount of publicity set up to display the fourth squad in its website, they happily killed the whole cast in the matter of seconds during the first episode. That, to me, makes you completely confused since the fourth squad looked to be a team well in control of its destiny. Without any warning, they died just like that. That is great story telling, and the same ploy (well, of sorts) still works.
To repeat the stunt of sorts again by killing the main girl Kagura is also a masterstroke, keeping audiences confused. Even though the skeptic will tell me that Kagura is not dead unless there is a corpse, I am totally intrigued on how the series will go now. As noted by Aroduc, the uniting element of both episodes is the relationship Yomi has with the “main protagonist” of each episode. The presence of Yomi is an enigma, and I wonder how the story will go.
Will it go forward in the timeline? Will it go backwards to understand the relationship between Yomi and Kagura? How did Yomi become a level A spirit? What is it about the failed exorcism three years ago? Will there be a “raise dead” for the main characters during the fist episode? There are many unsolved questions that are interesting to be solved in the future. I cannot wait to see how this series unfolds.
I think Ga Rei Zero really pumps itself up for great expectations after the first two episodes. The soundtrack is spectacular, and that in itself is an understatement. I like how they use ambiance and sound effects with good measure, and it is one of the few series that makes me notice how the music/sounds are in unison with the mood of the series. Few series can make me take note of that, and it is clearly one of the rare cases.
Animation continues to be top notch, and I believe that it might just be the top action series by a long shot. I will end off with one thing. Try to keep this series in your sights for at least a few episodes. It might be platinum.