Animation: Fair
Depth: Fair
Design: Good
Characters: Good
Story: Fair

Type: TV   (12 episodes)

Vintage: 2008


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Will you kill someone you love, because of love?
Verdict: Reviews @ Archen's Anime Page

Ga Rei Zero

Summary: >

The Tsuchimiya family has a long tradition of fighting off evil spirits, but lives in the family are often cut short with such a dangerous task. Kagura had spent her life in the highly strict family, and her mother is killed while she is still fairly young. At her mother's funeral she's fated to meet another girl from the same clan named Yomi.

Yomi asks that Kagura stay with her family for a while, and the two grow very close: to the point where they consider each other sisters. No one could have imagined the how things would conspire against Yomi, and how she would eventually turn on everyone she cared for. Hardest of all for Kagura, is that she may be the only one who can stop the girl she loves as a sister.

Thoughts: >

I picked up Ga Rei Zero knowing nothing about it, and within the first few minutes it had all the hallmarks of a title that was trying way too hard to be cool. And then the first episode had an unexpected ending that totally floored me. The second episode did another spin on the first and I was hooked. Confused, but hooked. I will warn you however, that if you like to research the titles you watch, the first two episodes are best experienced if you don't know what is going to happen. If by this point (or by the end of this review) you haven't watched it, it looks interesting, and some idiot hasn't spoiled it for you: consider watching the first episode before looking up any more.

Ga Rei is a manga series which is a-typical girls with superpowers fighting evil monsters. Gai Rei Zero is a prequel to the manga (that's where the zero came from) and this anime should have been yet another fluff title in that vein, but instead it was spun around to make a very compelling tragedy. The first two episodes are a vision of what is to come. Episode three takes the story back to where it started. Yomi is sweet, kind, cheerful and becomes like a big sister to the withdrawn Kagura. That's nearly a polar opposite of her in episodes 1 and 2. So what in the hell happened to her?! Instead of having a story leading up to a climax with a tragic ending, we see the tragedy first and the rest becomes a mystery that slowly fills in the blanks. I seriously loved the way they decided to do this. The drawback of this approach is that it front loads the series and feels slightly anticlimactic.

This title is far from perfect though. It does step into a few gimmicks and while some of the elements are amusing, at times it felt inappropriate. There was at least one occurrence where this anime had to work around the sub par source material provided by the manga. The character designs, and animation were clean and well done although some of the monsters looked a bit lame. Sound wise the soundtrack was good, and Funimation can credit themselves with another top notch dub. As for the characters, there are basically two of them: Yomi and Kagura. There are two or three more characters that play minor roles, but everyone else is just a peripheral. That's fine though, because it shows this title knows what it should be focusing on in only 12 episodes, and not dabbling with characters that don't matter.

There is one pivotal thing that makes or breaks Ga Rei Zero, and that's how much you can empathize with the characters. If by the end of episode three, you don't feel the tenderness forming between Kagura and Yomi, this title will at best be just another girls fighting with swords. Personally I was hooked and adored the two girls, but I'll warn you that the more you get attached to them, the more emotionally exhausting it is to watch when you know how it will develop. Aside from that, the final confrontation (at the end) was a good conclusion for the series, then they kind of dropped the ball with some extra dialogs that tarnish a decent ending, and on top of that tie it into "the saga will continue" type of thing. I wasn't happy with that, but it's not the end of the world I guess.

Perhaps I should rate this as average, but I give it credit for having a lot of guts with the way it was done, and in particular am impressed by execution which made this title better than it would normally have turned out. It nearly trips into using too many gimmicks, it almost gets too ominous, it focuses on two characters very well, but then mostly ignores the rest. They key thing is that at 12 episodes it managed to fit everything in a package that was just right for the length (at 26 episodes this would have been a disaster). If you're the kind who can really take to characters like me, this can be a heavy watch. By the end I loved Yomi, hated what she did, but couldn't really fault her for her decisions either so needless to say it worked well on me. Ga Rei Zero is average as a girls with swords fighting {whatever} type of title, but the bar raises quite a bit if you can relate to the characters.

Quote: >

Yomi: Let's be sisters then. Starting now, you're my lackey!

Kagura: I thought I was your sister.

Yomi: You are. And the younger sister's job is to be the older sister's lackey.

Screen Caps: >

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reviewed by archen in 2011