A scene that will not be out of place in Highschool of the Dead. There are no zombies here though.
Today’s review is going to be for a typical shounen anime titled Ga-Rei –Zero-, a 2008 title that has no hope whatsoever to dethrone the current ‘Anime of the Year 2008’ title holder One Outs. But what isn’t typical for this anime is that this anime is a prequel for the manga with almost the same name, Ga-Rei. Usually, a manga-based anime mostly followed the plots laid out in the manga, with various degrees of creative licenses being applied, kinda like what you can see in Giant Killing and The World God Only Knows. But here, this manga-based anime will tell you what happened before the events in the manga takes place.
The manga this anime is based upon is not a title in my reading list before watching this anime, therefore I also helped myself to read a few volumes of the manga after I finished watching this anime. This is because I want to know why a prequel anime was made instead of a typical manga-adapted anime series. That’s the reason why this review comes up later than it could have been. A few interesting things reveals themselves after watching the anime and reading the manga, read on to see what they are.
The modern-day Japan is infested with ghosts, demons and things like that, therefore the government uses tax-payer money and created a covert exorcism squad under, of all ministries, the Ministry of Environment (the other exorcism squad under the Ministry of Defense made more sense). The two main protagonists are part of the setup, but one of them was lured to the dark side by the promise of limitless power. This prequel anime shows you how the conversion process unfolds, you know, like what you can see in the Star Wars prequel trilogy?
The story in this anime itself is quite decent. It begins with plenty of fast-paced action scenes before the main storyline started. The flow of the story is smooth but the pacing is slow for a shounen genre title. I have to mention that the plots are predictable though. This also applies to the ending, which is set up to be continued by reading the manga. The main male protagonist in the manga doesn’t appear at all, except in a single scene in the final episode. FWIW, despite the slow pacing and predictable plots, this anime by itself isn’t really a bad one to watch.
Then I went ahead and read the manga. For clarification, I read the manga all the way until the part where the main female protagonist of this anime that turned to the dark side (let’s call her ‘Miss Anakin’ for convenience sake) finally meets her end. Surprisingly, it doesn’t really take much reading to reach that part, and I will elaborate on this later. And this is where my beefs for this anime originates.
My first problem with this anime is that the writer of this prequel anime doesn’t keep enough consistency between the elements in the manga and events in the prequel anime version. When the manga made references to the events in this anime (with the flashbacks thingy of course), there are times I exclaimed to myself ‘Hey, that isn’t what the anime has actually shown to me!’. For example, when the manga/anime other main female protagonist explains who Miss Anakin is to our clueless main male protagonist, she describes Miss Anakin in very flattering terms (e.g. she likened Miss Anakin as her father’s equal when in the anime Miss Anakin wasn’t portrayed to be so). Plus, some flashbacks in the manga are depicted differently in prequel anime too, like the battle between Miss Anakin and the main female protagonist’s
mentor father. Considering that the manga comes out first before the prequel, any discrepancies between these two will be squarely blamed on the anime.
My second problem with this anime would be the disproportionate amount of importance placed on Miss Anakin, and as a whole, in the storyline itself. This by itself is fine, IF YOU DON’T READ THE MANGA. The storyline in this anime focused more upon Miss Anakin than the other main protagonist, and this will highly likely make you think that she will become a prominent character in the manga. But after I read the manga, it dawns to me that her role in this series (prequel anime + manga) is actually less important than the prequel anime made her to be.
This may be caused by the combination of the facts that the manga itself isn’t really a great piece of storytelling (I’ll put my neck on the open and says that this manga isn’t even Naruto’s level), plus the Tengu resurrection arc, which seen the demise of Miss Anakin, is underwhelming at best (not on par for example with Bleach’s Soul Society arc). For me, she dies too early for my liking, before the potential of her character has been fully explored. Here, you have a 12-episode anime series that focused on her more than any other character, yet in about 3 manga tankoubons, she died. If the Star Wars comparison is used, it is like Darth Vader dying in ‘A New Hope’ instead of ‘Return of the Jedi’.
But then again, I have not read the manga past the Tengu resurrection arc, and I have no plan to in the near future. Who knows if the writer of this anime suddenly channels Akira Toriyama and plays the resurrection card further down the manga storyline. Despite me not liking what happening to Miss Anakin, I don’t want her to come back to life either.
Character development is actually the biggest positive aspect this anime has. After all, the plots in this prequel are supposed to prepare the two main protagonists for the real story that would be told in the manga. In this regard, this anime has done really well here, and continuation from the ending by the manga are done largely seamlessly. Not only that the two main protagonists (these two characters are also the best in this anime, at least) benefits from this prequel good character development strategies, but so are some of the other side characters like that guy who used to be Miss Anakin fiancée.
What he says is correct in so many levels. These two girls should have learned their true place.
The character designs in this anime is quite decent, although they are not exactly original. Black hairs are surprisingly common too, which can only be good considering the settings of this series. The anime’s character designs looks better too than the corresponding designs in the manga.
Voice acting gigs in this anime is just average in general. The only good voice acting gig in this anime is the blue butterflies kid, but he has too little airtime for him to ever make voice acting gigs in this anime sounds better.
The OST and the ED theme are not worth talking about, only the OP theme is something worth listening to.
The animation quality in this anime is good, even in fast-paced scenes. This anime also has better integration of CGI and traditional animation, unlike the previous title reviewed here in this blog. Choreography in action scenes is very impressive too, even eclipsing what you can see in Katanagatari. The director has done very good job on this anime’s presentation aspects, but he/she should have ensured that this prequel anime is consistent with the manga.
7 out of 10. One Outs is still the best 2008 anime reviewed in this blog. If you have read the manga, you should avoid watching this anime though.