This anime is the prequel of the Gai-Rei manga (not an adaptation of it) and was made to explain the past of the lead heroine, which was only hinted there. Although it can easily be watched by anyone, the fans of the manga will definiyely appreciate it a lot more for enriching the setting with further details. It will also be a nice recommendation to anyone who likes action/gore/supernatural/mystery/lesbians, since it is mostly style than substance.
The show was animated through a collaboration of studios AIC Spirits and Asread. Both of them are very bad in their overall works, since the first deals only with forgettable harem shows, while the later is notorious for the very bad adaptations it makes out of books and manga. Thus be warned that the show is not made with much quality.
The director is Aoki Rei, who clearly is talented as he has taken over both bad and great shows and managed to bring out the best of whatever their settings could offer. Thus despite the bad studios behind animation, he succeeded in making the best of what he had.
ART SECTION: 8/10 [Soldiers with Power Scouters that detect invisible ghosts and chicks with motorcycles kicking ass of a building tall spider freak.]
Analysis: General Artwork 2/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 2/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 2/2
The production values are good on a basic level, so the optical department does a great job in keeping you watching for more. The level of detail is quite nice and the colors have proper antithesis. Even lighting effects are used properly to hide or focus something important. As for eye-candy, there is a lot of it too. Semi-appearing phantoms? Check! Huge spirit ass-kicking monsters? Check! Japanese schoolgirls fighting and kissing in short skirts? Check! Secret organizations with high-teck gismos, and a hint of Feudal setting as aesthetics? Check again! There is a high amount of eye candy in the series that exists purely for fan pleasing. There is a gay afro-hairdo exorcist, poke-eating pseudo-lesbians, kawai secretaries and so on. If you like this sort of thing, you will not be disappointed.
Of course it is not perfect when it comes to the finer details. Most ghosts and SWAT soldiers are copies of one another. The huge monsters are rather crude-looking while moving. The battles lack choreography and are practically random slashes, bulky CGI monsters and crude energy beams. The scene changes are usually sloppy too. But if you are a viewer who doesn’t care about directing, you won’t mind all that and you will probably give it a perfect score.
SOUND SECTION: 8/10 [Huge chained hairy dragon, I summon thee!]
Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 3/4, Sound Effects 3/3
Nothing bad in overall. Voice acting had no real problems, with everyone talking with proper pinch and tense that fitted the situation they were in. Sometimes it sounds far-fetched and retarded but it’s not like they were ever talking about philosophy in a serious way. Music themes were catchy but not memorable in any way. Sound effects had strength and did spice the otherwise blunt battles.
STORY SECTION: 6/10 [Lesbians kissing and slaying ghosts; just for our pleasing!]
Analysis: Premise 2/2, Pacing 1/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 1/2, Conclusion 1/2
The premise is simple yet interesting. It is about the formation of a demon-hunting duo, where one crosses over to the dark side. It is nothing much by itself, yet the presentation is what makes it appear rather catchy. They included school comedy, some ecchi and a lot of yuri innuendos that had nothing to do directly with the story but are there to make the tragedy more bold. It would be quite dry without them.
They also included traditional feudal Japan elements, such as Miko priestesses and youkai along with modern multi-corporations and secret organizations. These elements are again not directly necessary to the plot but are supposed to offer a situation where obedience in the old ways still exists in modern world and creates issues despite the progress in technology. The contrasts also made the drama/gore in the end to look more shocking for combining occult medieval gore in an advanced and secured present.
There is also an uncommon way of presenting the story. The first two episodes are chronologically the last ones and then a flashback begins to explain how we got there. Although this way you know from the start that things won’t end nice, at the same time you are intrigued to find out how did that happen. And knowing it will be a bad ending is a nice hook, since most are accustomed to expect cheery happy ones. It is a smart way to tell the readers that the story is not some generic yuri/mahou shojo variant and does make you interested in learning how everything so fluffy went to hell in the end.
Other than that, the story has lots of plausibility issues, since there is a huge amount of magic and super advanced technology which makes lots of things to feel like they happened too conveniently. If you have monsters that can magically appear anywhere they want or bend human will, then you get a chaos of randomness. Of course this can also make the story unpredictable and thus exciting for many but it is true that if you ever ask yourself if an event could be prevented somehow, you will probably not get an answer. It happened because the scriptwriter said so and there was no way to protect against it.
CHARACTER SECTION: 4/10 [The ghost of Kannazuki no Miko returns to torment me yet again!]
Analysis: Presence 1/2, Personality 1/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 0/2
There are about 30 characters in the series and in effect only three are the only ones that matter (the two leading girls and the big bad). All the rest are basically there as flavoring. Although each one covers a different aspect of the setting or the story, it is rather sad to see how none of them do much other that pointing out various sides of the heroines. There is no development for them and even the motives of the main villain are left vague (since it is still a prequel and you are supposed to read the continuation in the manga). Of course, since you know that they will all die horribly right away there is also no reason to expect them to develop or appear in the manga later on, but it is still a rather lazy part of the cast.
And now for the main heroines, which are also the meat of the show. One is the shy and innocent one, and the other is the out-going and depressed one. They make a fine duo and their interaction with each other as well as all the rest make you to care about them. The change of heart one of them shows happens in a rather straight and predictable manner but on a basic level it is excused and works.
Other than that, I can’t say they are that different or that memorable in overall. They are simply good for what the story is. Although they are focused upon nicely, they are otherwise not amazing as personalities and there isn’t any actual catharsis since one just passively stares at the events and the other one… well, dies.
VALUE SECTION: 1/10 [Freedom has no price]
Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 0/3, Memorability 1/4
So what are my after thoughts about it? I wasn’t thrilled with anything in it, other than the interesting flashback mode in the story. It is mostly for those who are fans of the manga, which to be honest never were that many to begin with and after all these years the title is practically forgotten by everyone.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10 [Amusement park, here we go!]
It is also one of those shows that bet too much on emotion rather than careful planning, so it is just events that happen with the sole reason to make you laugh or cry and not because it makes sense in-story. I mean you are supposed to pay attension to the yuri or the action and not mind how the heck does everything work. If you have a villain who can appear anywhere he likes and bends human will then you are just looking for the sake of gasping with a tragedy you already know it’s coming and not to see if there is an actual strategy somewhere in here.
The characters aren’t as great as you may think at first. You are only taken in by their tragedy, which is mostly imposed by magic or brainwashing that can’t be prevented. And the secondary cast is just there as background decoration and cannon fodder.
The action is not that good either. There aren’t many interesting battles in it.
I am not an emotional guy and I am sure not a fan of the manga. So I see this as nothing more than superficial, short-termed, easily forgettable fan pleasing through cheap shock effects. It is by no means a masterpiece but plays its cards right most of the time.
Oh, come on, you are dressed as a geisha and yet I can see you are nothing more than a cheap concubine.
Other similar deified garbage: Kannazuki no Miko, Elfen Lied, Mnemosyne, Blood-C.
Do you want to watch a good demon-slaying series? Then watch Monomoke.
Do you want to watch a good yuri series? Then watch Revolutionary Girl Utena.
Do you want to watch a good dementia series? Then watch Serial Experiments Lain.
Do you want to watch a series that combines a lot of genres without becoming bull? Then watch Vision of Escaflowne or Brigadoon Marin to Melan.