Ga-Rei-Zero - Reviews

Alt title: Ga-Rei: Zero

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VivisQueen's avatar
Jun 23, 2011

Story

Ga-Rei: Zero’s beginning works like an exhilarating kick in the nuts. It comes out of nowhere, knocks our breath out, and then leave us just as suddenly to gather our whirling thoughts. In it, a team of special armed forces are trying to contain an outbreak of supernatural beings in the city. As their members fall one by one, they soon realise someone they once thought a friend has turned against them. It’s worth elaborating on how fantastic that opening is and how skilfully it introduces us to a complex concept of demons and demon hunters while neatly covering the main characters, because that is as sophisticated as the show gets. Two episodes later, the story doubles back to describe a tepid tale of friendship betrayed by circumstance that never quite measures up.

In the style of Berserk and Gungrave, Ga-Rei: Zero concerns a spiralling tragedy of two individuals who form a profound friendship that sadly cannot last, and how one of them becomes the enemy. Unlike Berserk and Gungrave, it attempts to depict this in half their running time, which has some important consequences for the plot. Primarily, the show manages only fifty percent of the intensity. In such revenge plots, the build-up to the unlikely enmity is what makes the rest matter. Not only must we care deeply about both characters, but we must feel convinced that their eventual antagonism is as natural as their initial friendship. Ga-Rei: Zero either has not got the required time to get us that involved or the creators did not have the talent to think up something interesting for the middle.

The show essentially exploits clichés to hammer home the fact that the protagonists, Kagura Tsuchimiya and Yomi Isayama, are TOTALLY BEST FRIENDS, LOOK THEY EVEN KISS LIKE LESBIANS, THAT IS HOW BESTEST FRIENDS THEY ARE! Much of the vital setting up of the friendship features them sharing baths, teasing each other during work, and even an entire episode of Kagura trying to set Yomi up with a lover. A lot of this, rather than proving insightful glimmers of joy in their staid existence as demon hunters, actually feels more like filler. We get mixed in with that the straightforward tale of a powerful family of demon hunters who hate the adopted Yomi and wish to stop her inheriting the position of head of the house. Finally, when the reason for Kogura’s and Yomi’s split becomes apparent, it turns out to hinge as much on silly, avoidable misunderstandings and some supernatural mumbo-jumbo as misfortune. Of course, there are Yomi’s evil relatives weaving nefarious plots, but some of the characters’ lack of common sense constitutes half the problem.

As for the backdrop of demon infestations and demon hunting, it feels superfluous. The mythology behind the demons’ existence never becomes a significant part of the story. The reason for that is that Ga-Rei: Zero is a prequel to the manga, Ga-Rei, and as such assumes the audience knows all the relevant details. For anyone unfamiliar with the manga, like myself, the omission will be understandable but nevertheless detracting.


Animation

Ga-Rei: Zero uses its budget to exciting effect during action sequences, although the memorable ones occur at too low a frequency to elevate this to the top echelons of animated works. Otherwise, the animation will largely fail to leap out and shriek demands of admiration at the audience. For a show aiming at constant ominousness, I find the milieu surprisingly tame. Splashes of blood here, a contorted demonic face there, and plenty of dark spaces which have little to do with well-placed shadow and more to do with the gloomy colour palette.


Sound

We get cinematic orchestral compositions for tense sequences and softer, nondescript ditties for personal pauses. Generic j-pop songs bookend the episodes. Anyone who remembers Ga-Rei: Zero’s token soundtrack by the end most likely paid no attention to the other, more interesting things on offer.


Characters

There are one or two noteworthy facets to the protagonists: I like Kagura’s contrasting shyness and super-powerful abilities while Yomi tries to smile through all adversity, leaving us to wonder what churns beneath her facade. Beyond that, they’re wholly unremarkable.

The problem is that the show has little room to develop them beyond the obvious using scenes that feel decidedly perfunctory. Setting aside that their friendship develops in leaps of cliché, their personalities leave no lasting imprint in our hearts. Consider the intense feelings the ingenious Griffith (Berserk) or brutally ambitious Harry McDowel (Gungrave) evoke - Yomi’s tormented teen performance, in anticlimactic contrast, evokes only pity and a vague frustration as she hurtles from one bad, emotional decision to another.

Ga-Rei: Zero also leaves its secondary cast in limbo. Some have moments of sheer irrationality not befitting their profession and life-long training as demon hunters, mainly so the plot has a reason to deliver a tragedy. But most don’t even get that.


Overall

Ga-Rei: Zero shares a setup and cluster of themes with shows like Berserk and Gungrave but executes them to a less successful degree. What it lacks are complex characters to suck us into its emotional storm. Kagura and Yomi are too predictable to deliver the wavering friendship dynamic required to anchor this kind of plot, and portrayals of their relationship often resort to superficialities. Nevertheless, with commendable visuals providing one or two highlights, and an easy-to-digest narrative, this is an effective marketing ploy for the manga. Those who like what they see here may just check out the literary version.

6/10 story
7.5/10 animation
6/10 sound
6/10 characters
6/10 overall
Varagauzer's avatar
Dec 19, 2013

Very good start, throughout the series the main theme focused is friendship, which is nice but it becomes repetitive and boring.

Story

As I said before it starts off really good, but after the first 3 episodes or so I lost all interest because:

  • Most of the series focuses on friendship and the friendship between Kagura and Yomi is forced and it takes up too much of the screen time, it honestly feels like fillers.
  • Only 2 characters are potrayed alone, so when they killed off most of the others, I really didnt care because I didnt get a sense of what their purpose was in the anime.
  • The battles are boring (really stylish effects are used and the anime keeps a grim atmosphere but the fights are not well done, its just a bunch of simple slashes)
  • A lot of wasted scenes, all of which were uncecessay to the plot.
  • It doesnt even feel like it was finished I mean they didnt even get that butterfly guy caused all of the mess.

A few things I'd like to point out to, I like the idea of being an exorist one of them truns to the dark side, that idea was neat.

Schools girls fighting demons!?!?!? (I really don't need to say much there)

As far as friendship goes I don't think I would bathe or kiss my frisnds as Kagura and Yomi did.

Animation

Very dark and atmospheric, it was very pleasing to watch, problem was during the fights they would stop and pause and cry out their feelings trying to force some emotion into the moment, I just skipped past that before I fell asleep.

In terms of the battles they were very slow and progressive, it could have been done much better.

Character design again was very simple and basic nothing to facinating to look at.

Sound

I did like some of the ghostly and haunting soundtracks this anime had, unfortunately I hated the opening and ending themes.

Voice acting ws good no complaints there.

Characters

Only 2 characters were focused alone adn eventually I lost interest in them as well. Funniest was when they tried to kill off some of the secondary characters they tried to make the death look sad eg. Kagura's father he didnt get much screen time, I didnt care whether he lived or died, if they had foucsed him a bit more, give some more insight into him I would've cared.

Overall

Meh, just another forgettable anime, I do have an issue with the first episode though, the characters in those yellow suits, I thoought they were the main characters sice they were focused a lot and then they were killed off, my opinion, the anime would have probably been better  if they were the progatanists instead.

What I really dont like is anime that start off so well and then trun out into utter mess, this is another example of one of those anime.

5/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
4/10 characters
5.5/10 overall
Lucifer's avatar
Oct 30, 2009

Story

Ga Rei: Zero’s high octane first episode introduces us to a troupe of interesting characters, filled with spirited action, a dark storyline and… death. Within twenty-two minutes, it offers a plot twist to shock the viewer.  As a result, the quick pacing is disorienting, foreshadowing a show in love with combat and slacking on story.

Ga Rei: Zero is anything but that. From episode two, the narrative takes a decidedly steady stride after forcing our heads underwater. Letting us come up for air, its easy to take in the world. Set in an alternate version of Japan, the government is engaged in a secret war with the paranormal enlisting the help of exorcists. Being from a family of exorcists herself, Kagura is pulled into the struggle of ‘good vs. evil’. Now in any other anime this set up would be an excuse for large-scale battles between spirits and their hunters. But Ga Rei: Zero uses it as a frame to focus on the associations of its characters.

Centering on the relationship of the dark-haired Yomi and the younger Kagura, the story seems more slice of life than science fiction, as the two grow to love one another as sisters. At times it appears like the plot is having an identity crisis, focusing on the playful exchanges of the pair before shifting gears into a supernatural skirmish. While jarring at first blush, the writers took effort to weave the two strands together, carefully paving the heroine’s path to a momentous climax.  

Animation

Midnight hues evoke a gloom that haunts over the cast. Colors are appropriately muted during moments of tension. These scenes feel almost like watercolors at moments, fluorescent lighting casting a thin haze over the crisp drawings. Serving as the perfect stage, these set pieces host seamless animation, though the action can seem a bit stiff at times when slow motion is used. The only major detractor is the obtrusive CGI, a blending of cell shading and realistic textures, which feels out of place. A glaring example is the gargantuan Kasha beast in the first episode. Its flames look plastic and the edges of grey skin are jagged from poor aliasing.

Sound

The brisk opening "Paradise Lost" by Minori Chihara has a tinge of pessimism while reflecting on the ties of love. It’s pleasant to the ear while tied to the motifs of the Ga Rei: Zero, which is what every OP should do. The ending theme "Yume no Ashioto ga Kikoeru" by Mizuhara Kaoru is filled with melancholy, sober when compared to the Chihara’s offering. Both pieces are excellent and are accompanied by an appropriate soundtrack that has a similar sound. The voice acting is done well, Kagura’s innocence perfectly captured while Yomi’s expressions are handled expertly from teasing to tender. Nothing really stands out from the supporting cast except for Mitogawa, the villain, whose innocent tone is both vacant and eerie.

Characters

Ga Rei: Zero offers the typical shounen tango of heroes and baddies as a young heroine comes to term with the assertive grip of ‘destiny’. Kagura questions if it’s acceptable to kill the possessed corpses who still look human. The protagonist’s vacillation is the girl’s tragic flaw that inevitably leads her to the footsteps of the stunning conclusion. Admirably maturing Kagura through the twelve episodes from vulnerability to independence, Ga Rei: Zero executes an effective coming of age tale.

Yomi acts as a foil to Kagura’s growth. As the story progresses, she becomes less and less grounded in reality. It’s disheartening to watch her mentally unravel, her transformation is perversely beautiful as the once a supportive guide becomes the antagonists.

Sadly, the supporting characters are an expendable commodity in this production. The audience is introduced to a whole platoon of faces, from those in the Minstry of Defense, to those in the Agency. The program has no shame, liberally murdering likable persona throughout the installments.

Overall

Taking a simple formula of mixing Ghostbusters, Men In Black, and a bit of high school drama, Ga Rei became a wildly popular manga in Japan. Ga Rei: Zero serves as a prequel to the drawn word, focusing on the relationship of Kagura and her adoptive sister Yomi. Narratives of this nature raise a few questions: Is it accessible to those who are not familiar with franchise? If so, does the program offer anything to those foreign to the series?

The answer to both is an emphatic yes. Ga Rei: Zero serves a powerful story, wrought with impact, memorable characters and excellent production value. Not only does it reinforce the happenings of the main storyline, it seduces you into the dark embrace of Kagura’s world, imploring that you give the manga at least a passing glance.

8.5/10 story
8.5/10 animation
9/10 sound
8.4/10 characters
8.7/10 overall
vgrfx's avatar
Feb 5, 2011

Ga-Rei Zero was a surprise I never heard of it, it wasn't written about and touted as anything special. Iit is one of the best anime’s I have watched in a very long time, even among those I think are great this stands out. From the very first episode I was shocked and gripped I couldn't stop watching. The animation is very good high quality in fact no distractions here not sloppy at all. This is no unnecessarily happy rejoiceful anime nor is it wrist slitting depressing like some. It is honest to the bone. This is what really pulled me in the plot and the manner in which the story is told. They were surprising and refreshing. I'm a big fan of main stream popular anime like Bleach and Naruto but if you want something different more realistic this show really stands out. The beginning and the end were really stand outs and the middle explains and sets everything up. It's a well balanced story that is just ambiguous enough to make you curious, what else is going on outside of the main story and what will happen next. I'm purposely vague even this I feel may reveal too much. My only real critique is that it's only 12 episodes long but it's high quality and very satisfying.

 

As far as my review scores go I never thought of the sound the animation as I say was top notch I'm not big into the opening and ending animations but these didn't give away much of the plot like I have noticed some can. The characters all weren't fleshed out but you learned what you needed and I liked them they managed to make you care for them and I hated some but still they managed to may you sympathetic to them. I really hope there is more of this anime or manga.

10/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
Bestanimeserie's avatar
May 9, 2013

Story 6.5/10  The show starts of great, you get introduced by a team of special forces who are trying to stop an outbreak of supernatural beings. When the team members are all dying one by one they realize that one of their team members is fighting against them.This show really has a great opening because you get introduced to all the side characters while also covering the main characters. 

Then after the first 2 episode's the show flashbacks to explain how it happend and gives you a view on the main character's past. it gives you an nice backstory of how the two main characters became friends and how they got into the team of special forces, it does feel like fillers but you get an nice backstory how both girls deal with fighting monsters and growing up.

The ending is satisfying altough some things are not explained in the show, wich is kind of a let down so the total score is a 6.5 if this show did explain things than it might have been good. 

Animation 8/10 The action in this show looks great and this show does a good job on the basic animations: the backgrounds look good, I personally liked the character designs tough most of the troopers and monsters are copies of each other. the colours are a bit gloomy wich really suit this anime. the only bad thing in the animation is the CGI the monsters look bad if they are in CGI but for the most part the animation does a great job at keeping you watching.

Sound 7/10 Sound effects in this show was good since it added someting extra to battles, in the sad moments of the show the sound strengthen that even more. The voice actor were not bad they matched the characters, the OP and ED match the show and I found them pretty good overall the sound in this show is great.

Characters 6/10 The main problem this show has that it is too short for any real development, the two main characters do have some stronger points but minus them all the other characters are really flat tough I must say I really laughed at the introducing of Nabuu and Nabuu other than that not much likeability in these characters.

Enjoyment 7.5/10 Overall I got from this show what I expected great action scene's a few moments of yuri (lol) and good animation, the mayor things a disliked about this show was some of the characters and the ending but overall this show is pretty solid and if you like horror/supernatural shows you should try this out.

Thank you for reading my review if you have any tips, or things you want to say just leave a comment and i'll make sure to reply.

6.5/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
6/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
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