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Friday, July 8, 2011

Ga-Rei-Zero Blu-ray Complete Series Impression

The paranormal gets personal with sword wielding friends

Very few anime start and hit as hard as Ga-Rei-Zero from FUNimation. The action ramps up to insane levels and no life is spared and just when things reach a fever pitch with characters viewers just met … it’s time to see where it all started. Not for the young of age, the action and violence gets crazy but there’s also one solid story to follow, let’s take a look.

Story – Teenage exorcists with swords and other extraordinary weapons help protect Japan from things that go bump in the night. Most threats are lower level but these supernatural entities can ramp up pretty fast leading to exorcist such as ‘sisters’ Kagura and Yomi to take-up the fight with their teammates. This government backed counterattack unit takes on these threats but are not always the hunters. Kagura comes from a family with special holy powers and a demon bonded to their spirits used to fight evil. As her mother passes she taken in by the slightly older teen Yomi and her father. Kagura’s father is all about the job so Kagura must learn to be stronger and it’s under Yomi she accomplishes this. Yomi too comes from a family of spiritual users and with her sword and spirit beast she fights these evil spirits until she is one day possessed by one and turns on her former team, fiancĂ© included. As Yomi cuts down those she once loved will Kagura have the heart, the sprit and power to stop here big sister or will Tokyo burn at the hands of one who once protected her?

Fast and furious my friends. The story starts off in the future then backtracks to show you who these characters are and the relationships the form so while starting with a bunch of who’s the viewer is very quickly made to care. The core to the story is both Kagura and Yomi. Both share much in common, truly become family but both end up targeted due to their family background. The tragedies that unfold feel gut wrenching and this is a testament to how well the tale engages the viewer. The action, bloodshed and gore seen in episode 1 are not the norm but it hits home like a punch to the gut with action not fully understandable at first. Crazy battles show many characters falling until a clash of sword wielding girls the … whoosh, back to the past. The growth of Kagura as a fighter and Yomi as a sister makes the ending very cool, very epic. It’s a great story with great pacing, just very well done and full of action (as well as relationship moments to crack up for).

Animation and Art Style – While not as slick Persona Trinity it’s not that far off. The Tokyo setting rocks and is well detailed with awesome creature designs and action that plain rocks. The style is fluid and the emotion of each character can be felt. Designs look great with little signature appearance points to each character that break them out of the usual paranormal anime mold. Yes these are two girls in school uniforms with swords but their personalities shine more than their outstanding looks. The action unfolds in darker environments leaving the character building to mostly daytime settings so very well done on using lights and darks. At times Ga-Rei-Zero feels like two anime, in a good way, very pleasing to watch.

Voice work and Music – The emotional range is quite excellent as the anger, pain and suffering collide with happiness and true joy in Ga-Rei-Zero. Going from such high paced action to the background story really required a lot from these voice actors and they do an admirable job. The music is standard anime opening/closing fare that’s not too memorable but the sound effects are great and with the proper sound system in place really rock the house with the action that is brought so well.

Miscellaneous – Not many anime would take the chances of starting at the end but Ga-Rei-Zero pulls it off in spades. The lack of intro songs showing characters in the first few episodes leaves the viewer wondering what’s going on, who should be alive, why did that person die, who are these people while setting up the back-story that is soon to unfold. Hooked from the press of play is what Kagura and Yomi do and after 1-3 episodes there is no point in not finding out what just happened.

Overall, Ga-Rei-Zero is sure to please supernatural anime fans with a thing for sword wielding schoolgirls. The action is amazing from the word go and the relationships built feel real and connect with the viewer. There are sad moments followed by gruesome with ‘what-the’ moments thrown in and its pulled off quite well, not to mention looking pretty in HD. Highly recommended action; that’s what Ga-Rei-Zero is.

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