March 22, 2010

Ga-Rei Zero, Episode 12

Last episode, the Schoolgirl In Black took on The Agency... and won, killing KDad, The Boss, Motive Power Kiri, one of the Nabuus, the HMMWV and a gazillion grunts, turned Mr Laser Weasel into a bowl of pudding, and scarring Isayama along the way.  It looks bad for the Tokyo, and by extension the entire world.  But don't forget that the Schoolgirl in White, Kagura, has taken up the mantel of Byakuei's Master.  It's time for a showdown!

But first, it's time for some red-hot paperwork action!  Actually, Kagura returned to the office, only to find a note from Mr Laser Weasel.  We never get to see what it says, but "I quit" seems to be a good guess.  Maybe "I'm running in abject terror" would work, too.  Isayama, quite sensibly, says that it's better that way; no use in him getting killed because he can't actually bring himself to hurt his former fiancee.  What's left of the Disposal Team is going after the Schoolgirl In Black, even though she just kicked their butts all the way 'round Tokyo, across the Kanto plain and nearly to Hokkaido.

"Take me with you.  Take me...

...to Yomi."  Okay, now it's time for a showdown!


Speaking of the Schoolgirl In Black, she's on the run, being followed by a bunch of Grunts from the Ministry of Defense.  With guns.

Lots of Grunts.  With guns.  And they've got her boxed in, too!

Gotta love Lurch there on the right with the naginata.  When you're, apparently, as tall as Yao Ming, I suppose a sword on a stick would be a good weapon to use...  Grunts above her, firing down.  Grunts below her, firing up.  Whatever will a supernaturally-powered killing machine like the Schoolgirl In Black do?

That's right!  DEATH FROM ABOVE!  RUN AWAY!!!  The shocking thing is that the Grunts don't manage to perforate themselves when she leaves their line of fire.

She disarms (haw!  Get it?  "Disarms"?  I kill me, I really do!) the first Grunt in line and takes his gun... which just happens to be the favorite weapon of the Japanese animation industry as a whole:

The Fabrique Nationale P90 PDW!  Who says slaves to the Death Stone need to use swords?  She briskly ventilates the uphill team, while Ranguren eats the downhill force as a quick snack.

Somewhere nearby, the Disposal Team has found the new replacement for the dearly departed HMMWV.  The Ministry of Defense force has loaned them a chopper, and their commander apologizes for not slowing the Schoolgirl In Black down more.  Iwahata, ever the wit, says something to the effect of "Are you kidding?  If it wasn't for you guys, we'd still be back in traffic."  Guess the Grunts are being used much like Hansel & Gretel's used breadcrumbs, leaving a trail of dead bodies to make it easier to track her down.

But once you run out of Grunts, the trail stops, and that's the case here.  She's somewhere in a heavily wooded area, but they can't pinpoint her exact location.

Oh, but they can.  Kagura has built in GPS and SatNav!  Or, her fragment of Death Stone is resonating, telling her that there's another fragment nearby one of the two.  "Warmer... warmer... nope, now colder... wow, ice cold..."

Somewhere in the forest, Yomi's back, and she's just as disgusted with herself as she was the last time she overcame the Death Stone.  This time, though, she also realizes that she's losing the fight against the supernatural rock and as a result, losing her self-awareness.  She's being swamped by emotions... "...these feelings.  The hatred, this sadness... is this what I wanted?"

"Yep!  Sure is, Schoolgirl In Black.  Then, when you completely bond with the Death Stone, you'll be able to destroy this world you hate."  Oh hell, the Big Bad is back.

*ping*

"Death Stone, are you really granting my wish?"

"My real wish?"  Uh-oh, the Schoolgirl In Black is back, and she's pissed.

GPS-enabled Joshikousei are the hot new gadgets in Japan.  Get yours now, only at Electronics Hut! 

The Schoolgirl In White knows the Schoolgirl In Black is nearby, but the Disposal Team realizes there's something that needs to be taken care of first.

Supernatural Grunts!  Bunches of 'em!  Finally, our remaining heroes get a chance to work out some of their aggression issues.

Oh yeah, Nabuu is now dual-wielding the giant revolver-shotgun things, in tribute to his late brother Nabuu. 

And Iwahata is now using the remaining multi-barreled briefcase gun with the built-in CD changer (no joke) as a tribute to the cursed-with-suck Kazuki and Motive Power Kiri-chan.  If Kagura ends up using the Rocket-powered Wheelchair of Awesome, the show can end right then and there without a resolution: it just couldn't get any better.

Alas no, she's just using Michael XIII, the bullet-powered sword.  You'll note the twin magazines strapped to each of her hips... yes, I know that's where you were looking.

After the wave of Supernatural Grunts is disposed of, Kagura reloads her sword.  You have no idea how weird it was to type that sentence.

Next wave: human-based zombies!  Of course, Kagura begins to freak; she still can't handle zombies.  They begin to close in, and she freezes.

*BAM!*  "We'll take care of these mooks, Kagura.  She disengages, leaving Nabuu and Iwahata to cover her advance-in-the-other-direction.  She follows the pull of the Death Stone.

Until...

"You're late, Kagura.  How's your father?"  Ooooh, that's just cold.

"I lost my family when I was young, then Father adopted me.  Then you joined us and it was like you were my little sister.  And then you stabbed me in the back."  Nice going, Kagura.  Still, the Schoolgirl in White apologizes for leaving her.  "I had a mental image of you, and tried to force you into it.  I wanted to say I'm sorry."

"Before you die?  Or before you kill me?  We'll know soon enough." 

And the Schoolgirl In Black is actually surprised to see Byakuei appear.  Maybe this won't be as easy as she thought.

Finally!  The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny begins in five... four... three... two... one...

...AWWWWWWWW, come ON

When we come back, the fight begins.  Floating like fast-moving zeppelins across the sky are the dueling Spirit Beasts, and beneath them, the Monochrome Schoolgirls go head-to head.  The Schoolgirl In Black taunts her opponent with an "are you sure you're good enough to kill me?" 

Uh-yup.  In fact, it's pretty clear that even with the Death Stone aiding her strength levels, the Schoolgirl in Black is no match for Kagura and her bullet-powered sword.  One stroke, two, and then...

...killshot!  Or it would have been, if the Schoolgirl In White had been able to deliver it.  She can't bring herself to pull the trigger, as it was.  The Schoolgirl In Black smirks: "You're pretty much a joke, aren't you?"   And then, with a single bound...

...she leaps over Kagura, grabs Byakuei's kite string binding chain, and...

...flips it around Kagura's throat.  It looks bad for our heroine; she can't break free and she's losing brain cells fast.  But she has a bright idea!

She raises Michael XIII; you can't see it in this screencap, but the Schoolgirl In Black's eyebrows go up in a manner that actually made me laugh out loud.  But just what is Kagura planning?

She... fires her sword?  A round ejects...

...and catches the Schoolgirl In Black right between the eyes: *ploink*  After a brief moment of recovery, the Schoolgirl in Black throws her sword (which dispels Ranguren, by the way), which of course Kagura deflects easily.  In that moment of distraction, however, her opponent charges.

In the NFL, that'd be a penalty for spearing.  A fine open-field tackle, though, and enough to ruin Kagura's concentration and send Byakuei back to where-ever he comes from.

Oh, this isn't going to be pretty.

What was that about spearing? 

"Beg for your life, Kagura.  If you do, I'll kill you without any more pain."

"You know, Mei begged for her life.  Uncle died shamefully, begging for his.  Kazuki cried and screamed until the last moment, too.  So did The Boss and Motive Power Kiri.  They shamelessly cried and screamed, writhing on the ground."

"How did your father die?  Did he die horribly?  You wanted a Sacred Beast, right?  When he died, you were kind of happy, weren't you?"


Maybe you went a little bit too far with that last bit, Schoolgirl In Black.  I'm just sayin', is all. 

*WHAP*  Yep, next time you'll know not to put quite so hard with the mental torture and anguish.  That is, if your brain is still in your skull after the Schoolgirl In White tried to bash it in with a rock.  Or if you remember any of this after the concussion.

Wait, that's it?  Bash the baddie with a rock and the whole fight is over?  LAME.

"Do NOT talk about my father that way, you bitcYOW!"

You're going to have to do better than that, Schoolgirl In White.  It's time for Round Two!  All we need is a Ring Girl to walk through holding a round number card.

The Schoolgirl In Black seems to have gotten a second wind.  Who knew that having your skull crushed gives you more stamina?  Say goodbye, Red Bull, now fratboys'll be bouncing stones off their heads to get an extra erg of energy!   Around this time, Michael XIII has its hilt carved up, releasing all the bullets.  No more buwwets?

LAAAAAAAAASER WEAAAAAAAAAAAAAASEL!

It's Mr Laser Weasel!  He's here to save the day!  A flood of laser weasels swarm after the Schoolgirl In Black, who summons Ranguren to fight them.  Houkouha and laser weasel flash and growl, making a sound like the End of the World.

Amidst the chaos, Noriyuki grabs Kagura and they run away.

Hey, where'd everybody go?

Away from the Schoolgirl In Black, Kagura and Mr Laser Weasel have a heartfelt talk, with each apologizing for not being able to kill their friend.  Of course, Noriyuki wins the "poor poor pitiful me" contest.

After all, Yomi even gave him a dart-dagger-thing and begged him to kill her, and still he couldn't do it.  "Hate me if you want, but I couldn't kill her."  Even though she was going to kill his best friend, he couldn't do it.  Yep, Noriyuki wins the "I'm pathetic" argument hands down, and walks away.

And then the Schoolgirl In White's spidey-sense starts tingling again, and off she goes.

Back at the shooting gallery, Nabuu and Iwahata have finally finished cleaning up the trash.

And Yomi is gone.

There is now only Zool the Schoolgirl In Black.

But this time, the Schoolgirl In Black comes to the Schoolgirl In White... who calmly says "I will kill you."  This would normally be enough to equal badassery, but Kagura brings out the big guns: the Disposal Team's mantra.  "Exterminating those who spread the taint of death to the Human world is our job as exorcists."

As sad, emotional music swells in the background, what must be the final duel begins.  As do the flashbacks.

I didn't know that K-On! era KyoAni had anything to do with this show!

Yomi's voiceover: "Only you Kagura.  You are my last treasure."

"I love you, Yomi-Onee-chan."  I completely expected a "Don't CALL ME THAT!" out of the Schoolgirl In Black, but no such luck.

With her Death Stone glowing brightly, the Schoolgirl In Black disarms Kagura, shattering Michael XIII.  "I already taught you that you lose when you strike simultaneously!  THIS IS THE END!"

Yes.  Yes, it is.



Flashback.

"Death Stone, if you truly let me follow my heart's desires, you know what my true wish would be, don't you?"

"That is... Kagura.  I want to protect her from any misfortune.  Anybody who cause her misery, or put her in danger... I want to eliminate them."

"Please, I beg you... protect her."

"Even if the cause of that misery... is me."


*Sklish*


"You've become strong, Kagura.  You really have.  I'm truly proud to call you my little sister.  I love you, Kagura."  And she dies.

Leaving the Schoolgirl In White (with a splash of red) triumphant... and despondent.  And then...

...zombies.  Isn't it always zombies?  "Go away.  Leave me alone.  Because right now...

"...I CAN'T STAND MYSELF!!!"

Oh dear... Kagura is seriously broken.

...and she's got Byakuei at her disposal. 

"DEVOUR THEM!!!!!"


Then the tears come, and don't stop.  And Byakuei tears through the zombies like a Claas Harvester through a field of wheat.

Watching over the scene, Iwahata muses that Kagura has "killed the person who was most important to her; there's nothing she can't kill anymore."  Which, if you think about it, is pretty damn frightening.  She just took down the greatest supernatural threat to mankind there's ever been, and controls the most powerful Spirit Beast known.  The greatest threat to mankind might now be... the Schoolgirl In White.


Somewhere in the forest, Mr Pathetic sobs over Yomi's cellphone.  Loser.

And Kagura screams her throat out in a killing frenzy.  Good thing she's on the side of the angels... she is, right?

"Everything was turned upside down due to one little emotion.  Was it strong enough to overcome the Death Stone?  Or did it grant her wish?  Well, it doesn't matter."

"I still have time."

On that ominous note, fade to black, roll credits.

But NO!

It's time for the epilogue!  Cut to a hospital...

It's The Boss!  She's alive!  Well, I didn't expect that...

...and Kiri-chan is alive too!  But there's something different about her... she's calling The Boss "Onee-chan," and talking about a nightmare she had.

"A woman in black stabbed me in the stomach.  And you were there.  I was sure we were going to die there in the dream.  But she left, just like that.  She was in a lot of pain."  So Yomi might have been fighting the Death Stone even then, eh?  Still, it's implied that Kiri-chan suffered some serious mental injuries, and The Boss, we learn, isn't The Boss anymore.  Let's see, who's next on the "where are they now" list?

Noriyuki-Loser-san has become a street fortune teller with a knack of actually telling fortunes.  Next?

Nabuu and Iwahata are still in The Agency, working for the New Boss... an aged crone who was the boss before The Boss became The Boss.  My brain hurts, let's move on.

Kagura's friends!  They're still around, and they're wondering what happened to Kagura.  "Was it the truth?  She disappeared two years ago, and I began wondering if ghosts and stuff like that really were true."  And the Pocky is back!  I knew it couldn't stay gone for long!!!  Next!

Uh... who's this?  It turns out his name is Ken, and he's a new exorcist.  As such, he's paired with The Agency's best person.

Who eats a lot of Pocky.

And has a Death Stone fragment in her earlobe.  Yep, it's Kagura.  I liked her better with short hair.

Dear god, what IS that thing?  Whatever it is, it's messin' with Tokyo Tower (of course).

Well, time to earn the money.

Fade to black, roll credits.  For real this time.

Ga-Rei Zero is actually a prequel to the manga Ga-Rei.  Ken is the main character in the manga, and Kagura has a supporting role.  Yomi/Schoolgirl In Black is, near as I can tell, the main antagonist, having been brought back by the Big Bad (I think; I'm not sure).  Basically, the anime fills in a lot of holes in the manga, from all reports.  So it's based on the manga, but is its own story, completely stand-alone. 

As you can see, I really enjoyed this series.  It's the perfect length; I'm not sure they could have gotten another episode out of the storyline and the production team realized that, it seems.  The animation could have been better, I suppose, but it's plenty good as is.  The music isn't fabulous, but it's not a hindrance either.  The show's main strength is in its characters.  Kagura and Yomi are complex individuals that grow and change in interesting ways throughout the show, and I grew quite fond of both of them.  I actually felt for both of them, and that doesn't happen too often in any sort of media. Kudos to the seiyuus for very strong performances; it's pretty clear they enjoyed themselves.

Ga-Rei Zero
isn't the greatest show ever, but it's entertaining as all get-out with good action, a good story, good characters, drama, humor, and some truly over-the-top moments.  The twist at the end of Episode 01 was pure genius, a great way to draw in the viewers and keep 'em tuned in. 

If you like action shows, or good characterizations, Ga-Rei Zero should be on your must-watch list.  It isn't currently licensed here in the US, but it sure should be, and it won't surprise me in the least when it gets picked up. 

I'll admit, I was surprised by the show being as good as it was.  I went into it for the cute girls and Pocky, after all... but the rest of it kept me coming back.  It will you as well.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:46 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 2863 words, total size 28 kb.

1 I found Pocky at a grocer near my apartment.  There's a Hummer dealer a few miles south, but I'm waiting until I locate a couple of female teenage exorcists before I buy one... 

I'm hoping this shows up in R1 - I want to hear my friends' reactions after watching the first episode!

Posted by: Siergen at March 23, 2010 04:40 PM (THTGl)

2

No, because Yomi returns! Uh, at least, at Ga-Rei mangas. Her name is IZUMI ISOYAMA, but she's shy!

And, of course, The Agency commanded by The Boss who was The Boss before The Boss be The Boss says that "there's no relation between both!". Sure thing, and MIB was chasing a farmer instead of a bug dressing a farmer. lol

Posted by: SGT Rene6AdE at January 27, 2011 11:42 PM (aHBUb)

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