Bringing another review back from the ancient vaults because I found a few more in the internet time machine database that would load up. This time we go back a decade again to talk about what still remains one of the very best first episodes in an anime to-date as well as one of the coolest goddamn swords around. While the Wuhan continues to spread and genocide the boomers I find it hard to find anything new to write about as I’m incredibly stressed out, living in Los Angeles where the stores have nothing and even to get in to see that there is nothing is a 3 hour long line of sick people to wait with for your turn and a soon full lockdown no doubt.
It’s hard to write but it’s even harder to have things to write about, I’m all stressed and so doing anything is difficult – even enjoying anime, though I’m doing my best to keep up with the airing stuff (catching up 3-5 episodes at a time though) and in my spare time from games and anime I made a surprisingly popular VRChat World (my third so far); a prepper’s bunker prepared for Corona-chan. That being the case, I figured I’d dig in to the old archives that I could find again and put something up for you to spend a few minutes going back in time to before the world was ending. Expect a few of these posts over the next month or so. As usual, the pictures from back then aren’t maintained so these were just added now and mostly from google image search (though tried to keep them relevant-ish).
Originally Written In 2010
Before I start with the review, let’s just get this out of the way. This show has probably THE BEST first episode in any anime or tv show or anything else. I’ll get to how I feel about the show as a whole, but just speaking about the first episode alone – it was amazingly well done and directed and the most awesome first episode of anything that I know of. This alone is worth watching the show for – or at least watching the first episode for. Though be warned, don’t go searching stuff about this show or you might ruin it. Just go watch it if you haven’t.
Since finishing Kyouran Kazoku Nikki which I thought was completely excellent I’ve continued a good stride of apparently watching every awesome show I hadn’t watched in the past because I either never heard of it or thought it would be extremely mediocre at best. I had no intention of watching great shows, actually all these shows I’ve gone into expecting them to be shit. But surprisingly, only the opposite has happened;
I’ll probably do an entry for all of them, but my most recent one is as you can guess from the title, Ga Rei Zero. I expected this to be, well, the way it’s stated on most places and summaries – some sort of yuri fanservice pointless violence show. You know, Highschool of the Dead with good art or something, and i REALLY hate HSOTD. But, I saw that reaction image for a long time now of Kagura (from Ga rei zero) and it made me really want to watch the show. Apparently this is true for many people as almost every time I see it posted people ask what it is and quickly add it to their watch-list.
Anyway, it was nothing like it seems and actually has a really good, and really pretty fucked up, story. Great characters who get very good character development as the main point of the show is focused on the two main girls – though really just one of them, and not killing demons and lesbians which is how it sounds if you read a synopsis. This is a story about two people, and with the veil of a more cliche plot to use to push the story forward, it really gets it’s actual plot across very well.
Fanservice? Not really any. There is one scene that lasts about 2 seconds with them in a bath, and that’s it – and it’s there to show how close they are and how much they are like real sisters where they are comfortable bathing together and whatnot, and one other time for about 3 seconds which I can’t explain due to spoilers. That’s all the ‘fanservice’ and it wasn’t even really service, as it was really character and plot relevant. The only fanservice that really IS fanservice would be the secretary girl (super cute) who usually wears a full men’s suit to work, wearing a bit of a girly outfit and having her hair in a different way. There was nothing slutty or panty shots or anything like that, but good old-fashioned fanservice that gives fans something they want to see without it having to resort to ecchi garbage. Aside from that, tits, panty shots, butts for no reason? None of that.
Yuri? Both yes and no, is it obvious that the main two girls like each other? Yeah. Is it overbearing and enough to make the show a ‘yuri’ show? No. The love between the two first off is more like mother and daughter (which is even said in the show itself) but even if you want to look at them as being lesbians (which is sometimes completely unavoidable as they kind of are supposed to be) this is never something that matters more than say someone being straight in some other show. It’s there sure, but it doesn’t effect anything at all other than the closeness of the two girls and isn’t something the show wastes time on. Their closeness is very important, but not the overall “is it a lesbian thing or not” aspect, just that they have a tight bond.
Pointless violence/gore? Not really. There is action, and it’s very nicely animated at that, and actually this is a dark show, with a fucked up story, and revolves mainly around two members of a special team that kills demons. So yeah, there’s blood and action from time to time, but pointless it’s not. Though again, don’t get the wrong idea, the whole demon killing stuff is just a plot mechanism, not the actual plot.
Anyway, I’ll skip to the other stuff.
The art is fantastic throughout. The quality, the style, the fluidness of it all, all of it is constantly extremely high and well done. It’s actually really amazing to see a show that’s kind-of recent with art that sustains that high of quality even in a show that only spans 12 episodes. It really looks great the entire time which is pretty hard to find with this level of consistency both in old and new shows.
Throughout the show there is a light film grain, the grain really does a lot more than you’d expect – it’s light and you get used to it, but it ALWAYS is there and it always keeps the atmosphere of the show where it wants it to be and honestly has the same feeling of extremely well done atmosphere as Kino, which used an effect along the same lines, though in that case it used scanlines and was a bit more creepy rather than somber because it made you feel like you were watching through a camera – and like someone was watching you. Which was, again, done on purpose. Or another good example is Boogiepop Phantom which also did this very well and controlled the entire feeling of the show and atmosphere with just this added touch being used in such a smart and not-overbearing way. Anyway, the grain really does an amazing job at keeping the atmosphere without you consciously paying attention to the fact that it’s there, it’s done really well.
Also, worth mentioning about the grain is that it is missing on the first two episodes – this is actually really significant once you start the third and you’ll understand why the grain isn’t there beforehand. I thought this was a really great choice on their part as it really gets the atmosphere perfect and starting it when they do also does so even more.
The presentation of this story is extremely unique too, as far as I know anyway. I’ve never seen another show that starts out the same way and on such a scale as this one, even after seeing over 600 shows the first two episodes were actually very surprising throughout. The rest is great too, but the way they begin the series is definitely my favorite part, and this beginning also has a very obvious effect throughout the rest of the show for reasons that would be really apparent if you’ve seen it or if you watch it. This was really one of the best introductions to a series (the first two episodes, or even just the first one for that matter) I’ve ever seen I think.
The music is great and always matches the mood and scene without ever feeling out of place, yet it keeps from being intrusive and overbearing.
The only real ‘main’ characters are Kagura and Yomi. Kagura would be an easy guess as to my favorite in the show, and it’s ALMOST correct and also she’s the reason I watched this to begin with. She’s got amazing eyes, and she’s really cute, though what’s nice about her being ‘moe’ is that she isn’t in a show like K-ON – instead she’s in a very serious and dark show so she actually has character, personality, and purpose (oh and really good art). (Side note from 10 years in the future – it kind of reminds me of how they did things with Akane in Psycho Pass). Also, she is voiced by the wonderful Chihari Minori!
Yomi isn’t bad either, but looks wise she’s just a more mature Saten from Railgun (whom is adorable but that’s for another time) so I always call her that instead, though she’s far from being a level 0 like her visual counterpart. Both are really good and the relationship between them is done outstandingly well. The whole ‘lesbian’ thing is barely there, and it’s clear that Yomi treats Kagura like her daughter or little sister and Kagura sees her as a big sister. I won’t say theres no yuri feeling to it, but it’s definitely not something that is important to the show or focused on, all that matters is that they are extremely close which is focused on heavily.
My ACTUAL favorite character however is Kiri, the apparent ninja who works as a secretary to the groups boss. She’s extremely cute, wears a man’s suit all the time with one very moe exception, and has a lot of other good things about her too. Some of her bigger moments are near the end though, so I don’t want to spoil anything.
But this closeness is really really fleshed out throughout the series, you don’t just have to accept it or deal with some very hard to believe ‘we met and now we are super close!’ bullshit. Actually, the one of the main plot points in the show IS how their relationship got the way it is and is what almost the entire series focuses on, actually it’s all the series focuses on because they are the story and the main characters.
Anyway, overall this show was a really damn good surprise and regardless of expectations or how it sounds I’d suggest at the very least watching the first two episodes.