*Powerful opening episode plus a strong ending makes Ga-Rei Zero a definite must see for action fans.*
“Will you kill someone you love because of love?”
Those who have already seen Ga-Rei Zero (GRZ) are probably sick of reading the quote above, but it is nonetheless an effective quote to advertise for GRZ. I still remember what initially caught my interest in GRZ, it was the amazing trailer. Boy, how misleading it was …
Don’t get me wrong, Ga-Rei Zero is quite fabulous indeed. The synopsis may sound generic, but the technique used to present the story that will eventually lead into Ga-Rei (manga) is what makes this gem a success in this recessional era. The excitement level of GRZ can be described by a simple parabolic function (think of the letter “U”), though the initial point stands out a lot more than the ending. This is analogous to say you drop a ball from great height and watch it fall down and slowly climb back up. But no matter how hard it tries, in the end it cannot go back to the initial height.
The plot of GRZ is extremely well thought out and well executed to say the least. Given the length of the series it is a very enthralling little show. Demon hunting may be the first thing come to mind after reading the simple summary of the anime. But what lies beneath that outer layer is the fragile little thing known as friendship and what happens to it when that treasure betrays oneself; that is the true moral of the story. Please keep in mind that GRZ is simply the prequel to the actual story in Ga-Rei (manga) thus you may find some unsatisfactory conclusion with regards to certain people or certain things.
Giant CG rolling dinosaurs on fire seem unnecessary but they served their purpose. The way some of the dramatic scenes were animated could have used a little more work. For instance it is possible to create a more nauseating scene by using a more unique camera angle/position rather than attempting to semi censor the scene with dull lifeless angles. On a more positive note, the animation quality is pretty consistent throughout the series and the characters themselves look great, especially when compared to the drawings in the manga. The battle animations are perhaps the most notable positive feature to the show. Fluid dynamic animation plus smooth scene to scene transitions also helped make GRZ one of the better animated shows of the season. It is evident that a lot of effort has been put into the show by the animation crew, even the backgrounds in each scene is very detailed.
As should be expected from an action oriented anime, the music is very outstanding. From the OP to battle BGM to ED, they all suit their theme well. The OP was nominated by fans as one of the top ten 2008 anime OP. Voicing-wise, Minori Chinhara was great playing as Kagura, and the unrecognizable voice change for the OP just makes it all the better. While there are not many superstar level seiyu (ie. award winners), it seems all characters received a suitable voice for themselves thus you will unlikely to have to clean your ears after watching each episode.
Unlike most single season anime, GRZ is not one where you should marathon through in a day. It is as if Ei Aoki (director of GRZ) just had an uncontrollable diarrhea. He literally dumps all the nasty stuff at you right from the start. You are bound to be confused after the first two episodes. Take it easy, we have all been through that stage. It will be tempting to keep on watching, but take my advice if you want to retain some sanity; stop there and think about what happened so far as things will go downhill from here.
If you don’t quite enjoy watching flying limbs or spurting blood, I suggest you stick to the TV release as they censored the “ugly” stuff in most cases. I also don’t recommend fans of Natsuki Kuga from Mai-HiME (or Natsuki Kruger in Mai Otome) to watch this as there is a certain someone here by the name of Natsuki Kasuga who also happens to be a motorbike chick with strong connection to dual wielding pistols. Though the difference here is how minor a role she plays and the cruel fate that awaits her.
One thing that I didn’t enjoy about GRZ is the sudden appearance of cheesy RPG-like weapons after episode one. Bullet shooting suitcase? Metal drill knuckle? Outrageous combat wheelchair? None of that were in the trailer! And none of those were anywhere near as exciting as the hot motorbike or the dual pistols. Now that I think about it, I feel like I got trolled by the trailer. Anyway, aside from the opening episode I wouldn’t call GRZ particular “groundbreaking”, but it is unquestionably one of the best (if not THE best) action anime for the fall season of 2008.