Monday, January 5, 2009

Final Thoughts: Ga-Rei - Zero

Two huge fight scenes, Yomi being bad-ass and emo at the same time, and some surprising cameo appearances, Ga-Rei - Zero ends with a sizzle and a sniffle.
EPISODE 11: Disturbance of Fate
More Screencaps from Ga-Rei - Zero 11

Bad Yomi faces off with Tsuchimiya-dono while the wounded Kagura watches, transfixed. Even though she's younger and relatively less experienced than the older master, Yomi manages to give Tsuchimiya-dono a hard time. Her Ranguren is likewise able to hold its own against the mega-powerful Byakuei. Then, Tsuchimiya-dono makes the wrong decision and young Kagura finds herself carrying on the family duty too much too soon while Yomi goes on a rampage, this time against her former comrades. Kiri is a hot ninja! I freakin' knew it!

EPISODE 12: Yearning Prayer

Yomi rapes Kagura!! No, but she comes close -- she sticks a twig on Kagura's shoulder -- but Kagura suddenly finds a heretofore never-been-seen Inner Strength and Conviction (TM) and uses it to defeat Yomi. Yomi, who has gone emo since the last episode, accepts her fate, glad to hear that she has finally succeeded in her Great Quest of Turning Kagura Into a Lesbian (GQTKIL for short). Sure enough, Kagura kills Yomi while declaring her pure and eternal pocky-eating yurincest love for her.


Well, there's Ga-Rei - Zero for you and it has turned out to be a big disappointment. Well, yeah, sure the last two episodes were great, and that was a mighty heart-wrenching finale, b-b-b-b-but DUDE, WTF???

Honestly, I think Ga-Rei - Zero suffered budget problems or maybe the show got an unfortunate early cut. I don't really know what's going on behind the scenes but this is the only acceptable explanation. Otherwise, if this is really what they intended in the first place, then I, along with a lot of other people who stuck to this series, got cheated. Who wouldn't feel that way? The first episode held so much promise yet all the subsequent episodes just couldn't come up to par. I truly expected some sort of connecting episode between Episode 1 and the flashback episodes, and there was (Episode 10), but it was nothing more than a recap episode cleverly disguised as a legitimate episode. They never explained how Yomi knew Tooru, other than that paltry one-second flashback that didn't even make much sense. What happened to Tooru's back story? What about Natsuki and Tooru's heavily implied dynamics?

Here's what I think: Ga-Rei - Zero should have been about Yomi's rise and fall. Kagura, of course, is required, but she shouldn't have been made a main character. She gets development in the manga. They should have left it at that. If instead of dividing its focus on both Yomi and Kagura, the show poured all its talents on developing Yomi, the show would feel that much more complete. Because Yomi's story of course would include Kagura and it would include all the other side characters who didn't get the spotlight in the manga.

Apart from the fact that the show did not fulfill my initial expectations, what else does Ga-Rei - Zero have to offer? Don't get my rantings above wrong because this show does deliver the goods. The one thing I admire about the people behind the series is its wise use of resources. Production values remain pretty much consistent. Nothing beats the first episode, of course, but all the other episodes have pretty high quality. The story, although it suffered from plotholes, was not all the lesser for it. If you think about it, Ga-Rei - Zero needed its first episode to be that shocking in order to hook its viewers to an otherwise generic storyline. That's a very clever way of telling a story and I admire the anime's creators for it.

Let's see, what else? I think perhaps if I didn't expect so much from the show, I would have felt less disappointed in the end. I should have followed my own advice. Because honestly, the series is a true prequel. It explains everything in the manga: why Noriyuki is such a perverted fuck, or why Iwahata hates him so much, or why the old fugly Jinguuji took Ayame's place as the new leader of the SDCD, or why Kagura acts all nice but detached.

This show has lots of potential. If you like that in a show, Ga-Rei - Zero might be enjoyable. Just don't expect too much or get too involved with the possibility of an intricate plot, because intricacy is a plague that Ga-Rei - Zero just narrowly avoids.