Ga-Rei-Zero‘s first two episodes makes one very nostalgic for the anime that was distributed in the early 90’s. There’s school girls with swords, giant mythical creatures and violence galore. Then all of that fades away into the current trend that plagues the anime medium today, generic formulas and cliches that have been done to death. Ga-Rei-Zero is a prequel to the manga, Enchained Spiritual Beast: Ga-Rei by Hajime Segawa. The show follows two female characters, Yomi Isayama and Kagura Tsuchimiya together as they fight against demons that threaten the nation of Japan. Televised in the winter of 2008 in Japan, Funimation has released it here in the U.S. in a DVD/Blu-Ray Combo pack.
One of the biggest problems of this release is the by the HD transfer on the Blu-Ray discs. Upscaled from an SD master, the show is presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. While it’s not terrible looking, due to the show being fairly recent, it could look a hell of of lot better. In no way is this Funimation’s fault, its simply what they had to work with. It would have been nice if they could have just released it on DVD with some bonus stuff, as opposed to getting the same thing twice, but again it’s probably what they had to do since they licensed it.
The audio options on the Blu-Ray are a Dolby True HD 2.0 Japanese mix and a Dolby True HD 5.1 English mix. The DVD’s have the same mixes, just in standard versions of both the Japanese and English. The English mix has some more going on for it dynamically. When the action kicks up, the 5.1 mix utilizes the most out of the surround channels for hordes of monsters, demons and other great sound effects.
The show has a great set of characters designed by Osamu Horiushi, of Full Metal Panic and Burst Angel fame. The director of the show, Ei Aoki, who directed the 2004 TV show Girls Bravo makes a pretty bold move to present the audience with some shock factor at the entry of the series. It’s one of the best introductions to a set of characters that automatically warrants attention. The main problem with the series is that after the phenomenal first couple of episodes, the show begins develop the various character relationships and plot elements in ways that we’ve seen before and then becomes very predictable. The drama is there involving Kagura and Yomi and there is a great sense of tragedy for the pair. The ill fate of them going after one another looms throughout and yet we are bombarded with episodes of them acting like as cookie cutter characters.
The action is the very highlight of the entire 12 episode series. Whether it’s a Chimera slaughtering a bunch of demons to fighting enemies with a missile launching wheelchair, Ga-Rei-Zero definitely brings something to the table. There’s a few extras that showcase some of the actual locations used in the series. It shows the production team going to various locations to get accurate depictions of them, in order to use for backgrounds. Since the show takes place in Tokyo, the production probably wanted to give their audience some sense of reality, even if it is just animation. Overall, it’s a solid show that’s worth watching at least once. It has some really great moments and some bland ones but it definitely is better than most stuff coming out nowadays. Highly Recommended!