February 28, 2010

Ga-Rei Zero, Episode 09

When last we met, Mei was taken over by a piece of death stone and got all "gimme your stuff" to Yomi, who replied with a "Oh no you dint!" and stabbed her in the face.  Which brings us to Episode 09, also known as "the Episode where everything goes kablooey."

Okay, so Mei lived through having her own naginata shoved into her sinus cavity?  That's the only thing it could be... it's sure not like Yomi needed medical attention after the fight, after all.

All right, never mind then.  Excuse me, Ga-Rei Zero?  Could you explain just what the hell is going on here, please?

I'll take that as a big "no," then.  Thank you very much.

And just how did The Gang get here anyway?  If you're anything like me, and god help you if you are, you're scratching your head right about now.  C'mon, show, explain yourself!  I demand to know what's going on.

Y'know what?  Fine.  Be that way about it.

Oh.

I'm sorry for doubting you, Ga-Rei Zero.  All is forgiven.

"Two hours before, the Grunts in Blue requested that their trousers forthwith be dyed brown."  Meanwhile, the disposal team from the Agency stands around kibitzing and waiting their turn.  Just as the Cat B Flaming Armadillo begins to cause some panic amongst the Grunts ("Run away!"), Iwahata gets a call: get the team to a nearby park on the double.  Off they go, leaving the Grunts to their destiny.

Once they arrive, all are shocked and horrified at what they find.  Someone's been littering!

The Schoolgirl in Black lies... well, not dead, because we've already seen her being rushed into surgery, but she sure doesn't look like she's in good shape.  Mr Laser Weasel stands over the prostrate form of his tsundere fiancee, a look of stunned disbelief on his face.  Nobody bothers to reach for a cellphone while this scene is going on.

Back at the hospital, current time.  Iwahata and Kagura are meeting with the surgeon who tells them that they managed to keep Yomi alive, somehow.

Yay!  So she'll be able to go back to Exorcising in no time, right?

Doc Cheerful replies with the high-level bedside manner they teach in all medical schools: "What are you talking about?  She's lucky to be alive."

/Homer Simpson
D'oh!
/Homer Simpson Off
It appears that whatever fate befell Yomi, it was expertly aimed.  Her body was pierced by pointed objects in 108 places.  Every nerve cluster, every tendon had been severed.  Her throat is ruined, and she probably won't be able to talk anymore.  As if all that wasn't enough, her right eye was damaged too.

Finally, Doc Cheerful ends his recitation of malice with "Even normal life is impossible for her."

While Yomi is in a coma, the Gang searches for clues.  While there's plenty of evidence of pointed objects at the site, such as holes in the cobblestones, no such objects are actually found

Of course, Mei's mangled corpse is found, and there's plenty of evidence that points to Yomi being the killer.  Motives are discussed, with the obvious one being the whole power play she and Uncle pulled off.  The Boss and Motive Power Kiri are clueless about how Yomi got injured, going as far as to suggest that she injured herself to deflect suspicion.  Right.  She stabbed herself 108 times.

In another part of the city, at an earlier time, Mr Laser Weasel and his father have a... let's call it a heated discussion.  Father points out that now that Yomi isn't going to take over the reigns of power of her Clan, there's no reason for their arranged marriage to continue.  Noriyuki  objects to this callous disposal of his fiancee, until Father points out that he also is the heir to a Clan, and does he intend to provide care for the crippled Schoolgirl in Black forever?

Mr Laser Weasel is... conflicted.  He doesn't want to leave her, but yet duty insists that he does so.  And so, after going to see her once while she's still in the coma, he won't go again... or maybe he will.

Either way, his moping and lowing is getting on everybody's nerves.  Why, he doesn't even go out drinking with Kazuki anymore, the bum!  Meanwhile, Yomi dreams...

...flashback to the night she killed Mei.  The Big Bad is there.  She confronts him, asking if he's the one who turned Mei.  He replies with "those feelings were in her heart all the while... then she put them into practice."  And with that reveal ringing in her ears... she comes out of the coma.

For two months she was in the coma, and the first people to her bedside are The Boss and her Motive Power.

Followed immediately by the Schoolgirl in White at a dead run.  After a heartwarming reunion, Kagura steps outside to call Mr Laser Weasel, and the Boss... well, the Boss questions Yomi.

While she can't talk, she does have some small amount of movement in some of her fingers, so she can still do the "tap once for yes, tap twice for no" routine with the Boss.  After some warmup questions, the Boss comes right out and asks "Did you kill Mei?"  Tap.  "Was it unavoidable?"  Tap.  "Nothing to do with personal feelings?"  After a very long pause, tap.  And then...

Oh crap.  "Did you blame Mei?  Did you blame Mei for taking the inheritance from you?

"Did you blame Mei and kill her?  ANSWER ME!"  (Um... that bandage on her throat ain't for show, Uncle...)

Fortunately for everybody involved, Kagura comes back just then and makes it clear that no wimpy accountant is going to skewer her 'older sister'!  He leaves, taking the family sword, Shishiou, with him.

Flashback again to That Night.  We learn that the Death Stone is a fragment from the Nine-Tailed Fox, and that its powers are strong and quickly destructive to the bearer, unless it's sealed like the piece Kagura's father (KDad) uses to control Byakuei.

Turns out that Big Bad has a pure, crystallized piece, unsealed.  It's also far bigger and more powerful than any previously known stone, yet he can handle it quite well with no harm... and has for the past three years.  When Yomi accuses him of having given some of it to Mei, it turns out that she wasn't very compatible with it, particularly the regenerative powers... and that he's looking for an appropriate person to share it with.  Someone strong both spiritually and mentally.  Someone like the Schoolgirl in Black.  "You're a good match... particularly your hatred."

Back to the current time.  Kagura is spending all her free time at the Hospital, caring for Yomi... which includes feeding her the usual lousy hospital food.  The Schoolgirl in Bed, like any sane individual, hates it, to which Kagura says "Now, now, eat it all or I won't give you any sweets tonight."  Wait, could it be?  Could we be seeing a return of... of... no, I won't get your hopes up.  Lets move on.

As we know, Yomi has some small amount of movement in a finger, so she can manage to make very simple text messages on her cellphone... and I'd like to give a round of applause to the fansubbers for their efforts here;  well done!

"Um... Mr Laser Weasel-chan appears to be busy right now, Yomi.  I'll tell him to come visit you."

Oh, Yomi, if only you knew...

...and then Noriyuki's Father shows up.  She's pleased to see him, her future father-in-law.  He's quite kind, asking about her injuries and hoping she'll recover.  However, because she's a cripple now and no longer the heir to her Clan, the wedding to Noriyuki is off, and he won't be coming to see her... ever.  "Don't think badly of him, though... it's all my doing," he says as he leaves.  Have a nice day.

Yep, that'll go a long way towards speeding her recovery.  The physical is only one part of the patient, the emotional/mental side is important, too, and it appears that Noriyuki's Father learned his bedside manner from  Doc Cheerful.  Jeez louise... you'd think there could have been a better way to handle that, perhaps more tactfully.  Like, maybe, skywriters outside her hospital windows?  Throughout the scene, we have a voiceover flashback to That Night.  Big Bad points out that Yomi really did hate Mei, which she doesn't come out and deny.  "You have the right to bear this stone.  You're not the bad one, it's obvious that people hate.  It's everybody else, they were the cruel ones.  They broke apart the family you worked so hard to create.  You see, you were betrayed by everyone

Still, she's got Kagura.  Like any devoted sister, she's glad to help out.

But Yomi can't help but feel awful about it all, and the Schoolgirl in White can sense that.  "'Don't bother with me anymore.  Kagura, you should live your own life.  Don't waste your time on me.'  Were you thinking such things?  Baka.  Here, eat up!"

YES!!!  IT'S BACK!  POCKY HAS MADE ITS RETURN TO GA-REI ZERO!

The chocolate covered biscuit stick of hospitals everywhere... only from Glico!

Remember Episode 04?

It's about time, Kagura.  You're a victim here, too...

"I hate this.  Why do you have to be the one to suffer?  It would have been better if we were just normal sisters without being exorcists or having a destiny.  I wanted to have been born as your normal sister, Yomi.  Living under the same roof, going to the same school, having the same dreams, liking the same person, having a fight, making up, arguing over stupid things... I wanted to live as normal sisters like that."

...and with a huge effort, Yomi moves her arm for the first time.  "Let's be together forever, Yomi-oneechan."

Later that night, Kagura says that the Boss talked about Mei at work today.  "Everybody doubted you."

"But it wasn't you, right?  You wouldn't kill a person out of hatred, right?"  Yomi doesn't tap.  After a short wait, Kagura gets up.

"I'm going to the bathroom."

"I'll be back in a minute, so go ahead and sleep."

Uh-oh.

Oh hell... Kagura, you idiot.

Flashback to That Night.

"You weren't the bad one, yet you're the only one who suffers."

"This is the stone of your dreams.  It'll release you from your pain and suffering, and grant you all that you wished for."

"Hey."

Ow.

"I can save you, you know."

And right on cue, the Big Bad appears in normal time, and all hope is lost.

"I can erase your pain, your suffering."  And not just the physical part, either. 

"As I thought... you're compatable with the stone."  And the scars begin to disappear.

"The pain is the evidence that your nerves are regenerating."  And Yomi is healing... and breaking.

"What is your true suffering?"  And Yomi is gone.

"What is your true hatred?  It is everything that gives you misfortune.  Tell me, what do you hate?"

...and with no injuries remaining upon her body...

...the ascended Schoolgirl in Black smiles.  Meanwhile...

...Kagura is finally having an attack of the smarts.  "What am I doing?  I should be with her, she needs me!"  Finally figured that out, did you?

Oh, and that whole "needing you" thing?  Yeah, maybe not so much anymore.  Good job, imouto.


"Yomi!"


"Yomi!"


"Yomiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!"

Fade to black, roll credits.

Whew.  This episode had everything anybody could want... violence, melodrama, sadness, happiness, Pocky, and a distinct sense of reality behind it all.  Except for the supernatural parts, that is, of course. 

In an e-mail to me, reader Siergen thought that this episode had two plot holes in it the size of battlecrusiers.  First, he wonders why they didn't just ask her what happened, instead of asking leading questions pointing towards her killing of Mei.  Second, why not just let her text or type the answers?

To answer the first part, remember that she was in a coma for two months, during which time they were gathering evidence, doing dna tests from samples at the site of the Yomi/Mei fight... that conclusively placed Yomi at the scene.  It was clear from the questions they asked that they knew she killed her adopted cousin; the questions were just to try and clarify the situation.  But why the "yes/no" routine?  Why not let her use a keyboard or just her phone's keypad?  Simple enough: at the time, she couldn't.  All she was physically able to do was simple messages with one finger.  It wasn't until Yomi's final night that she could even move her arm, and that took a big effort.  Fine motor control was pretty much beyond her.  When all the person being questioned can do is answer "yes/no", you have to ask leading questions, and there wasn't anything more important to ask than "did you kill her?"  Eventually they would have gotten around to more detailed things, when she was able to answer in a more complex way... but before that happened, everybody she loved abandoned her (in her opinion) and the white-haired prettyboy Big Boss got his claws into her.

So Yomi is gone, replaced completely by the Schoolgirl in Black.  We seem to have caught up with the start of the show, and we now know exactly why she's the way she was.  What will we see in Episode 10?  We'll soon find out, and I can't wait.

UPDATE: I know it seems like I'm leaning more and more on quoting dialogue verbatim the past few episodes, but there's little else I could do without ruining the flow of emotions behind the conversations.  Rest assured, after this episode it'll be back to normal.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 12:18 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 I'm still not satisfied - she stabbed herself 108 times?  Through enough nerves and tendons to totally paralyze herself?  Then carefully hid the object(s) she used to stab and paralyze herself?

And in their years of experience fighting evil spirits, the organization has never before encountered an enemy that tried to sow suspicion in the ranks, or tried to possess a member?  Perhaps my previous experience with fiction like Bureau 13 is to blame, but I can't help but think that their first instinct should have been to think that she was being framed or controlled.

I admit that the rest of the story and execution are good enough for me to forgive this one failing.  And doing it this way, rather than a more believable (to me at least) method of separating Yomi from her friends took fewer episodes.  There more than story crammed into the series as it is...

Posted by: Siergen at February 28, 2010 02:17 AM (NDp0G)

2 Think of it as a differential diagnosis, Siergen.  It's never lupus.  Sure, it sounds ridiculous, but maybe she had Ranguren puncture herself 108 times.  In-world, it's not impossible... which is why they test for lupus on House.

Not that The Boss seriously believed that she did it to herself.  It's just a possibility.

And it's mentioned in this episode that the Agency has only been around for 3 years... by the Big Bad, no less.  So, no, maybe they haven't faced an enemy that sows discontent and distrust.  Look at what we've seen so far: flaming armadillos, brainsuckers, deadly harlequin trees, that weird-ass thing in Episode 03, the HG Wells Martian, zombies... and the Schoolgirl in Black.  Other than that last one, nothing that could be considered a source of cloak'n'dagger work.

Posted by: Wonderduck at February 28, 2010 02:30 AM (mfPs/)

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