January 14, 2010

Ga-Rei Zero, Episode 02


So Episode 01 of Ga-Rei Zero ended with every character we'd been introduced to, including the two apparent leads, turned into cold cuts at the hands sword of a schoolgirl dressed in a black seifuku.  How can Episode 02 top that?

Well, first it pees all over the dismembered corpses of Our (fallen) Heroes by bringing the recently defeated (via Holy Water-based Aerial Bombing) Category B monster back to life, and putting the few remaining grunts in mortal peril because of it.  As if their day wasn't going poorly enough!  They're outclassed and outnumbered by one monster, and Our (fallen) Heroes' success turns to ashes to boot. 

 ...and then the Category Cs come back, too.  At this point, you just know the grunts are saying "F*ck you, Ga-Rei Zero, just f*ck you."


But then, with a roar of the finest Detroit diesel mounted in a honest-to-goodness HMMWV, a new force descends upon the battlefield!

clockwise from upper-left: Iwahata, Noriyuki, Nabuu and Nabuu, Kazuki.
The Ministry of the Environment's Agency for Supernatural Disaster Prevention disposal team have entered the fray!  Iwahata is armed with magical gauntlets that transform into giant drills.  Kazuki carries two oversized briefcases... that conceal a multi-rowed, gazillion-barreled gatling gun each.  Nabuu and Nabuu, identical twins, wield rifle-sized revolvers with barrels that look like they'd accept 5" rounds.  Noriyuki has... laser weasels.  Yes, you read that right.

Our (new) Heroes perform an overrun assault on the Cs, while Noriyuki rides alongside on a motorcycle, thus providing his laser weasels (I love typing that) clearer fields of fire.  The HMMWV then goes on a headlong suicide charge at the B.

Gotta love Nabuu and Nabuu hanging out the sides, providing fire support during the zOMGtankrushkekeke!  It turns out that this isn't a case of Iwahata trying to emulate the kamikaze, but that there's a plan involved.  They distract the Cat B and begin leading it towards their secret weapon...

A schoolgirl in a white seifuku named Kagura.  We're doomed. 

But it turns out that Kagura is more than just a Pocky-munching joshikousei.  She's also gifted at the art of the sword, and barely blinks an eye at the sight of the monster in front of her.

She whips out her sword, which has the name "Michael" engraved on the scabbard, leaps to the attack...

...and actually splits her opponent in twain.

Her foe defeated and exorcised by the power of joshikousei, Kagura enjoys the great taste of Chocolate Pocky, exclusively by Glico!

Pocky, the official snack food of Ga-Rei Zero!  Ask for it by name!
But all is not well in Tokyo.

Our (new) Heroes feel a powerful, evil, energy wave.  They turn to face the enemy...

...uh oh.  It's the schoolgirl in black from the first episode.  She appears to have finished off all the grunts ("That's it, I'm calling my agent!  I'm not taking this sh*t for any damn show... glurk!") while we weren't looking.  Our (new) Heroes look pained, particularly Kagura and Noriyuki.  Suddenly, Kagura's phone starts ringing.

Oh. This cannot be good.  The head of The Agency tells Our (new) Heroes that the source of the evil energy is Yomi Isayama, and that she is classified as a Category A...

...and she ain't alone.  That thing behind her is the spirit beast Ranguren, which is contained in her sword.  A short, sharp, and essentially one-sided fight takes place, but before Our (new) Heroes get turned into paste, Yomi grabs onto Ranguren and they leap away into the night.  Then, as if that wasn't enough, most of the ex-grunts stumble out of the darkness with the Cat D headcrabs sucking on their brains.  Our (new) Heroes, joined by more Ministry of the Environment grunts, take on the new threat, while Kagura and Noriyuki chase after Yomi.

They follow her into the tunnels below Tokyo.  Of course, they come to a T-intersection and split up, at which point every logical viewer starts screaming "NO!  DON'T DO IT!" at their screen, and every fan of slasher movies reaches for the popcorn and Sno-Caps.

Soon enough, Yomi finds Kagura.  After a short talk where it becomes obvious that Kagura doesn't want to hurt Yomi, the inevitable begins.

It also becomes obvious that if she was trying, Kagura could defeat Yomi.  In fact, the Evil One says as much during the in-battle diatribe, but ends by saying, in effect, that she will win because Kagura is too nice and good, and therefore will lose because "good is dumb."  She also points out that if Kagura is stalling for time, nobody is going to come to save her.  Yomi says that the rest of Our (new) Heroes are about to be overrun by the ex-grunts, and that Noriyuki can't come to Kagura's aid, because "he was a coward in the end."  In a last-ditch attempt to escape, Kagura throws her sword, severing a gas main.

Kaboom!  On the surface, manhole covers shoot skyward on towers of flame, drawing the attention of Our (new) Heroes, who indeed are locked in what looks to be a losing struggle with the ex-grunts.

Kagura staggers out of the tunnels, gasping for breath, exhausted but alive.

Oh, SHI-...

Ever have a bad day at work?  Well, that ain't nuthin' compared to the sort of day Kagura is having.  Her friends are either dead, about to die, or turned to the dark side, her hand has been bitten by a huge spirit beastie, and she's unarmed.  In comparison to that, spilling coffee on yourself and being chewed out by the boss because the quarterly report was late is a walk in the park!

Of course, Yomi has to go for the fanservice move of slitting Kagura's seifuku open while making it perfectly clear that she's about to die.  Tears in her eyes, Kagura asks "why?  Why?", ending with an empassioned "Yomi-onee-chan."

"Don't call me that!"

Black screen, sword-slashing noise, wet sound.  Roll credits.

Two episodes, two groups of main characters dead at the hands of the girl in black.  What's next, she kills Hokkaido?  Find out next time, in Ga-Rei Zero, Episode 03!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:54 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
Post contains 1020 words, total size 9 kb.

1 This show sure is nihilistic.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at January 14, 2010 11:51 PM (+rSRq)

2 I cheated; I looked at the credits.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at January 14, 2010 11:53 PM (+rSRq)

3 Are you QUITE sure of that, Steven?  

Posted by: Wonderduck at January 15, 2010 12:29 AM (Cpxcy)

4

Not even slightly. She could die and then come back. It's happened before.

Or she could be the first of an army of clones.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at January 15, 2010 02:07 AM (+rSRq)

5 Two questions, if I may:

1.  What's with the Pocky? Given the lack of deliberate misspelling of the name, it must be some sort of promotional consideration--either that, or the show's producers actually want to get sued.  Glico Foods' advertising deparment may not have considered the possible negative connotations of being associated with this blood-and-guts-fest

2.  Is there any obscure (to Westerners, anyway) signifcance to the girls' names?  I ask this because at first glance, it looks like the scriptwriters just decided to name them after characters from Azumanga Daioh, one of the sweetest shows in all of Japanese animation.  That would suggest a deeply warped sense of humor on the scriptwriters' part; imagine if Steven King had called his rabid demon dog Lassie, instead of Cujo, and you've just about got it.

Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at January 15, 2010 02:27 PM (c62wM)

6 Regarding #2, and they're named after my two favorite characters from AzuDai, to boot.  If there's anything we're missing, I sure don't know about it. 

For #1, I can only assume that there's some sponsorship involved.  Pocky shows up all the way through the series...

Posted by: Wonderduck at January 15, 2010 06:33 PM (Cpxcy)

7 Like Pizza Hut in the Lelouche series whateverthehell it was called.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at January 15, 2010 06:51 PM (+rSRq)

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