Monday, December 27, 2010

Anime Review: Gai Rei Zero

Like I've said before, I'm trying to watch more shorter shows now because of time and I remembered a number of people were happy when Funimation licensed this one a few months back and it was only 12 episodes long. So, after a lot of arguing with Hulu (their player has started being really strange in the past few weeks, I think it's either them or the school network since I'm not the only one with this problem) I swore I was going to avoid the hulu player for the next few months. I really liked the show and really didn't like when the next episodes would go up but the wouldn't play, !@QWDSFC! 
Gai Rei Zero
Summary: In Japan there are two top secret organizations whose job is to fight the paranormal. The Paranormal Disaster Countermeasure Headquarters, under the control of the military department who relies more on technology than supernatural experts and the Supernatural Disaster Countermeasures Division, located within the environmental agency and who employs people with experience fighting these monsters. Kagura and Yomi are both part of the SDCD and both come from a long line of exorcists and are prodigies with the sword but recent family upheavals upset this status quo with disastrous results.

The Good: It's hard to pull a good show when the majority of it is flashbacks but GRZ does this pretty well. It helps that, instead of having the characters have a lot of flashbacks, it's one continuous flashback that lasts for 2/3 of the show and then flows into the current time line pretty well and it then makes sense for why the story started when it did. And, trying to be as spoiler free as possible, this is a character driven story and I felt that the character progression in here was pretty good and explained everything by the end. A little details I liked, occasionally I roll my eyes and go "ANOTHER gun/sword? How boring..." and, even though our two leads use katanas here I was very amused by all the other weapons in the series (including, briefcase guns, giant drills, an iron, a motorcycle, and the most pimped out wheelchair ever). I think it was those little details that show that the staff had fun with this too, and it just cracked me up.

The Bad: There are two first episode spoilers in this series, which isn't bad at all, and most people going in probably know both of them. I tried to be vague about them in the summary but, especially since this is a prequel to a manga, it's generally treated as a "you should know this already" so be careful which takes away the whole point of it.

The Art: By and large the sword fight scenes looked very nice (one or two towards the end looked lower budget, thicker lines and not as fluid) but the firey CGI monster that appeared in the first and last couple of episodes looked hideous. Oddly enough, the hummer the heroes ride around in looked fine for most of the series but in those scenes it was pretty obvious CGI as well. True it was moving around a lot more during those scenes (and it was pretty detailed) but the budget felt a bit oddly placed. Speaking of which, and why in the name of the anime gods do Kagura and Yomi have the same outfits for the whole series? They even have the same outfits after a three year timeskip and it makes even less sense why they're wearing their school uniforms for so much time out of school.

The Music: I'd actually heard the OP before during an AMV and liked it, which is odd considering I like my AMVs to use English songs so I understand why they were chosen. I hadn't realized it was an anime OP so I was surprised to hear it again when the OP finally popped up here (it doesn't show up until the fourth episode or so, I think the ED showed up in the second or third episode). I found the OP to be one of the few where, even after I've seen it half a dozen times, I end up watching it almost every time. The images and the song beat fit so well and the lyrics seemed to convey how it was an upbeat show at times and a tragic show at others (even if the line "this is my Tír na nÓg makes absolutely no sense, I even double checked the meaning because it made so little sense). The ED foreshadows a lot of that tragedy and I liked that song pretty well too. Oh, and watch the last bit of the animation at the end of episode 11, it's a bit different and I thought it worked out perfectly. The background music, like the OP and ED, also manages to convey the underlying tragedy in the show and I both really liked it and remember it which should say something.

So, I liked the series and I'll end up getting it sometime once Funimation gets the DVDs out (watched this streamed as I mentioned earlier). Just gonna be farther down on my list of stuff to buy and in the meantime I'm trying the manga as well. That's not licensed and it also does not appear to be completely scanlated even though the series finished in Japan this past year so if I find all of it I'll post a review, otherwise it's a bit pointless. I'm liking it so far, far from being the most imaginative story in the world but it's far from the worst either and I've had fewer webcomics to try recently so I need something to read on the internet anyway.