February 11, 2010

Ga-Rei Zero, Episode 06

When last we watched Ga-Rei Zero, we got filler and lots of it.  In what may have been one of the greatest upsets of all time, what we didn't get was Pocky.  Chocolate-covered biscuit stick fans everywhere mourned.  Perhaps we will get Pocky and plot this episode?  One can only hope...

We open in that location of choice for wire-fu movies, a bamboo forest.  We don't usually get to see hordes of zombies swarming out of the forest, however.  Yeah, like Sammo Hung could deal with that!

Hung might not be able to, but sure as shootin' Kagura's father and Byakuei reckon they can.

I so want to make a "Ga-Rei Zero Episode 06, Colts 3" joke right now...

In another part of the anime, Kagura and Yomi are walking in the middle of the street.  It appears they're hunting a sound-related nasty, as every word they speak (softly) echoes weirdly... not at all like the echo you'd normally get in deserted downtown Tokyo.  Assuming, that is, that you could FIND a deserted part of downtown Tokyo at any time of the day or night.

As if on cue, the only trucker on the Tokyo streets pulls right up behind the girls and starts leaning on the horn.  The sound begins to feed back and the feedback feeds back, and so on and so forth, until all the glass in the area shatters.  Only a quick intervention by Yomi and Ranguren saves them from being diced into little chunks.

And there's their Category B nasty: a floating tree dressed as Arlecchino.  Yeah, terrifying I know.  "Oh no, a comedic larch!  Run away!  A humorous weeping willow, we're dead!"  Rolling her eyes, Yomi prepares to turn it into kindling.

Er?  It appears that sound isn't the only thing the Deadly (but funny) Dutch Elm can mimic.  Yomi is knocked back by herself, and the Amusing Ash floats up to the roof of a nearby parking garage.

Kagura's turn, and she's trying everything she can think of, but the Mirthful Maple of Murder somehow manages to turn the tables on the Schoolgirl in White!

Indeed, she's even been wounded, with a gash on her left leg.  Things look bleak for the lass as the Capricious Cedar of Cruelty closes in for the kill...

Cedar chips for everybody!

Yomi FTW!  No silly tree will kill her imouto! 

Oh.  Crepe.  Guess the Oafish Oak of Outrage doesn't travel alone.  If only there was some word to describe a large amount of trees!  Again, things look bleak for our heroines, when from out of nowhere Mei, Yomi's adopted cousin, appears and yells that Ranguren can take care of the horde.

Ranguren performs a houkoha into the skies!  The energy released by the blast triggers every car alarm in the parking garage, and the sound begins to feed back, and again and again and again...

The overload of sonic energy disrupts the trees mimics Category Bs.  Literally whirling into action the two heroines hack and slash their way through the nasties!

Triumph is theirs!  Mei steps forward, apparently to congratulate them on their hard-won victory.

Instead, she begins to subtly berate Yomi, and by extension Kagura, for their extensive property damage.  Didn't she know that this particular beastie is known to travel in packs?  Just because she's been given great power doesn't mean that great responsibility doesn't come with it... and so on and so forth.  Say this for Mei: she may be a conniving beeyotch, but she does have style.

I mean, look!  First it's a naginata...

...then it's a parasol!  Certainly more decorative than the Schoolgirl's swords, and much more useful in a gentle shower.  This show has more tricky weapons than any series ever... from an umbrella-sword-spear-thingy to an exorcist's water heater?  How can you not like Ga-Rei Zero?

As Mei strolls away, it's obvious that doubts exist in Yomi's mind.  Insidious, that Mei. If she wasn't such a scumlicking powerhungry little gnat, I'd like her.  Meanwhile, somewhere else in town...

Kagura's dad (or "KDad") has returned again.  Yomi's father (or "YDad") is concerned about his appearance.  To his eyes, KDad is pushing himself much too hard, which KDad shrugs off with a stoic "It's my job."  YDad wonders if KDad is obsessing over catching "him."  Him?  In the conversation that follows, it's becomes clear that "him" is the thing that killed Kagura's mother.  KDad says that he'd be hunting "him" even if it hadn't killed his wife, because it's his job to exorcise the supernatural baddies.  Hrm.

Back at school, Kagura is hanging out with her friends, who are on the swim team it turns out.  A splash fight breaks out, soaking the bandage she has on her leg.  As we all know, a wet bandage on a sword cut is a terrible thing, so it's off to the nurse's office to get it rewrapped.

The nurse turns out to be a skilled practitioner of the healing arts, and a nice lady to boot.  Kagura feels a connection with her right away, and everybody is cheery afterwards.  Nice little scene, this.  It's the little moments that count.

Glowing blue butterflies?  How very odd... except we've seen them before, briefly.  Back in the first episode, when the Schoolgirl in Black killed the entire cast, one of our heroes steps on a blue butterfly.  Then, when Kagura's mother is killed, there's one in a tree nearby.  Ominous.

Oblivious to any threat imagined or perceived, Yomi and Kagura make plans for dinner... cream croquettes and Flocky (not Pocky) for everybody!  When they get home, however, YDad tells Kagura that KDad has returned home and that she should probably go to him.  She unenthusiastically goes.

He's been lightly wounded in some fight with a supernatural beastie.  As she bandages his back, he explains the process that a member of the family needs to go through to be able to control Byakuei.  Those chains aren't for show, they literally connect the Spirit Beast to the soul of the "master."  Any injuries Byakuei suffers, as unlikely as that might be, are transferred to his connected human.  To make matters worse, the Spirit Beast slowly eats away at the soul, until it is no more and the "master" dies.  

Indeed, it's only because of a fragment of "the Death Stone" that helps to control Byakuei that a person can survive the ceremony that binds them together.  That it is also provides a boost to one's healing ability seems like a poor tradeoff to me.

Leaving again, KDad notes the bandage on his daughter's leg and posits "Let your guard down, huh?"  A short lecture ensues, then ends with "Get stronger."  Nice to see that his excellent parenting skills are intact.

Back at HQ, Kiri has a disturbing report.  There's been a major uptick in human-based supernatural creatures.  All of the available forces are engaged, and still more nasties are appearing.  The Boss sends everybody out to help.

Nabuu and Nabuu, in action.  No wonder their gun barrels have such a huge aperture: they're really a multi-round shotgun!  Holy crepe on a stick!  Meanwhile, back at school...

...the animators have decided to be fanservice-friendly again.  It's post-swim team practice, and the two girls are showering off the chlorine when one steps on a hairclip, cutting her foot.  Together, the two head off to the nurse's office.

"Your foot's bleeding."  "Not THAT much!"  A blood puddle?  In a school hallway?

Oh dear... yes, that's a body up there in the doorway.  The girls understandably panic and half-run, half-limp away.  While behind them...

...a killer comes into view. 
Meanwhile, somewhere else in town, Mei is freelancing to help out against the horde of nasties.  She's directed towards a particularly virulent spot of "dark ki," the power that draws the supernatural things to the human world.

Reaching her destination, she confronts the source of the ebon energy...

...a young boy?  Okay, that's weird.  He doesn't look particularly menacing... except if you've ever watched any anime, white-haired boys are almost always bad news with a capital "Evil".

And this one is no exception.  Remember that KDad has a fragment of "the Death Stone" implanted in his hand to help control Byakuei?  That red thing replacing the boy's left eye is the Death Stone itself!  It's power is immense, and the supernatural beasties are drawn to it like flies to honey.  Mei does what any right-thinking person would do when confronted with such a thing.

Well, that was easy enough.  Death Stone wielder dead, the whole onslaught should co... hey, shouldn't there be more blood?  Like, big fountains of the red stuff pouring out of the exit wound?  Maybe a coil of intestine or two, just to make things interesting?  Perhaps a kidney on the point of the blade?

YEEOWTCH!  Well, it's not like she intended to let go of her weapon anytime soon.  I do believe, however, that it's time to run away.

Oh.  Never mind.

Just to make things worse, the Kid walks up the naginata's shaft, taunting Mei as he does.

Then the butterflies come.  Oh crepe, we've found the Big Bad.  He's the one that killed Kagura's mother, the one that KDad is hunting.  While the butterflies congregate on Mei, he yanks the spikes out of her hands, removes the naginata from his stomach, turns it around and...

...well, that's it for Mei.  Killed by her own weapon as the butterflies wisp away.  Ga-Rei Zero kills off another primary character.

Meanwhile back at school, the running away is too much for the wounded foot, so the girls hide in the first place they can think of: a big locker.

If you think I'm going to say I didn't enjoy stitching this shot together, you're nuts.  Fanservice is part of the horror film mentality, and never let it be said that Ga-Rei Zero doesn't know its horror roots.

The girls stay quiet as the murderer slowly walks in...

...and as the killer slowly walks by outside the locker.  Finally, it seems like the killer leaves and the girls relax slightly.  Just then, of course, the killer begins to pound on the locker with that metal pipe, eventually ripping open a hole in the door.

A hole plenty big enough to drag them out, one by one, then to do horrible messy things to them.  The girls scream in fear and prepare to die.

Which is when, like an avenging angel in white, Kagura arrives.  A single swing of Michael XII disarms the killer... whose only reaction is to turn to face her.

It's the nurse from before.  And a brainsucker.

Now that she's slowed down a notch, Kagura finally realizes that the nasty is not only human... but someone she knows and likes.  She backs up as far as she can, shivering in fear and indecision.  Tears rolling down her face, she begins to mutter the motto of the Agency over and over: "It is our job to eliminate those who spread the taint of death to the human world, it is our job to eliminate those who spread the taint of death to the human world, it is our job to eliminate those who spread the taint of death to the human world..."

The Brainsucker-directed nurse lunges, Kagura screams, there's a flash of white...

....and the nurse lies dead.  A stunned Schoolgirl in White stares at the corpse, then vomits uncontrollably for a few moments.

Until her friends come out of the locker.  Their eyes going back and forth between the body and the Schoolgirl in White, one asks a question: "Kagura?"  Fade to black, roll credits.

Now THIS is more like it!  Horror everywhere, action a-plenty, Mei croaked, Kagura forced to make a terrible decision, tension in every scene during the second half... a heckuva episode.  But now Kagura's secret job has been revealed... or has it? 

We'll find out in Episode 07: Everybody Dies (again).

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