Yes, that title is way too long. Sue me :)
There will be a certain amount of spoilers.
Ga-Rei Zero had been introduced to me by my friend Andy Kitkowski’s blog. He raved about how crazy the first episode was, so I had to watch.
You know what? It was all that. Heck, it was all that and more! It was spectacular, it was amazing, it was sublime. And it was twenty minutes.
Ga-Rei Zero is the anime prequel to the manga known as Ga-Rei, the problem is that the manga had not been translated to English, and honestly, most of us have not heard of it. I think this also affected our experience as we’ve known the anime was a prequel, and couldn’t invest ourselves fully, I don’t know for certain, as I did in fact know of the manga’s existence before watching the anime.
The anime’s first episode focuses on a team that kills evil spirits, and then you don’t see them in the rest of the series, which is part of what made that anime so great; they could allow themselves to go all the way, they didn’t have to hold back for the characters’ sake, kind of like George R. R. Martin in his A Song of Ice and Fire series.
The second episode is also cool, we finally get to see the protagonists of the series, and the main villain, and the supporting cast. And they fight, and we find out they used to be friends.
Thus we get to what is the bulk of the series, when we see the characters’ past. Blah blah blah, we loved one another, you were like my big sister, you were like my younger sister, we had to fight monsters together. And perhaps if I came to the series from the manga, already caring for the characters, I’d have loved it. Perhaps if the first episode wasn’t so great (the second was also very good, but compared to the first, it was nothing), I wouldn’t have minded.
But the first episode was that great. And I did not care for the characters prior to this anime series, and so I didn’t finish watching the series.
I’ve heard there’s a great paraplegetic fight around the tenth episode, but I didn’t get there.
It’s especially vexing, but I suspect also successful in one regard though, you really want to know about some of the villains, the monsters, butterfly-boy. But for that you’ll probably have to read the manga, so I guess the anime series also was created to draw more readers to the manga.
The art in the series is on the very high end. Character design and technique is very sharp, buildings look good, nature is especially lush and vivid. The monsters look a bit too CGI for me, but I think that may be on purpose.
Kagura, the younger character is especially cute.
The opening song is the same as the ending song, except when it’s played at the end of an episode there’s no art. The art is of good quality, the song has a nice up-beat tempo, and shows you some of the background story which is what most of this anime is (which then leads to the first Yomi-arc of the manga). But, the words matter here, they kinda have in them what this is all about, about betrayal.
Sadly, the YouTube video is like in most cases, lacking translation of the lyrics. The lyrics matter, somewhat.
You know, if the series was actually about the awesome characters in the first episode, I think I’d have liked it more.
Score: First episode: 10/10. Second episode: 8/10. Onward: 6/10? It was ok, but nothing special, and not what I really set out to watch, in the context, maybe even 5/10.
Feel free to watch just the first episode, or the first two, and treat it like an open-ended OVA. Well, the first episode resolves itself, more or less.