Ga-Rei-Zero: Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)
April 18, 2011 by Dennis Amith
“Ga-Rei-Zero” is an exciting, action-packed supernatural anime series that combines humor, drama and violence and yet be fresh enough to separate itself from other similar style of anime series. I also like the fact that this may be the start for FUNimation Entertainment to start releasing Blu-ray/DVD combo sets as well! Recommended!
Images courtesy of ©2008 Hajime Segawa/Garei Zero Production Committee. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Ga-Rei-Zero: Complete Series DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes) BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 16×9 HD Native, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English RATED: TV MA COMPANY: Kadokawa Pictures/FUNimation Entertainment RELEASE DATE: April 12, 2011
Originally Created by Hajime Segawa
Directed by Ei Aoki
Series Composition by Katsuhiko Takayama
Storyboard and Episode Director: Keiji Gotoh
Music by Noriyasu Agematsu
Character Design by Osamu Horiuchi
Art Direction by Yoshimi Umino
Anime Production by AIC Spirits, asread
Background Art by Production Ai
Featuring the voices of:
Kaoru Mizuhara/Alexis Tipton as Yomi Isayama
Minori Chihara/Leah Clark as Kagura Tsuchimiya
Chika Horikawa/Kate Oxley as Chizuru Yanase
Eri Kitamura as Natsuki Kasuga
Hirokazu Hiramatsu/J. Michael Tatum as Kohara Michael
Ken Shiroyama/Mark Stoddard as Norisada Iizuna (Noriyuki’s father)
Mai Aizawa/Anastasia Munoz as Ayame Jinguuji
Maki Tsuchiya/Trina Nishimura as Kiri Nikaidou
Megumi Matsumoto/Brina Palencia as Kazuhiro Mitogawa
Minoru Shiraishi/Scott Freeman as Kazuki Sakuraba
Mitsuru Miyamoto/Chuck Huber as Kiriya Konparu
Mugihito/Kent Williams as Naraku Isayama (Yomi’s father)
Norio Wakamoto/Bob Carter as Nabuu Brothers
Nozomi Masu/Jad Saxton as Miku Manabe
Rikiya Koyama/Christopher R. Sabat as Kudō Kusuno
Ryouko Tanaka/Jamie Marchi as Mei Isayama
Sayuri Yahagi/Cherami Leigh as Mami Izumi
Shinya Takahashi/Jason Liebrecht as Noriyuki Iizuna
Kagura and Yomi may look like ordinary school girls as they walk the streets of Tokyo clad in short skirts and knee-high socks, but they’re the heroes you scream for when monsters creep out of the darkness. These sword-toting sisters are part of an elite counterattack unit that specializes in suppressing outbreaks of supernatural activity. They train together, live together, eat together, and spend their nights disemboweling demons with sacred blades together. Tragedy strikes when Yomi is possessed by a dark spirit and Kagura must choose between raising her weapon against the eerily familiar face of ultimate evil or watching her flesh and blood slaughter innocent citizens. In a life-or-death battle that pits sister against sister, survival may be the greatest agony of all. This limited edition comes with an art box.
“Ga-Rei-Zero” is an exciting, action-packed supernatural anime series that combines humor, drama and violence and yet be fresh enough to separate itself from other similar style of anime series. Worth watching! In 2005, “The Enchained Spiritual Beast Ga-Rei”, a manga series created by Hajime Segawa was serialized by Kadokawa Shoten for Monthly Shonen Ace Magazine. The series would last for 12 volumes and from 2005-2010 and an anime series titled “Ga-Rei-Zero” which aired on television in 2008. Now, “Ga-Rei-Zero” receives its Blu-ray and DVD release courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment. The Blu-ray release comes with a special edition slipcase and comes with both Blu-ray and DVD versions of the series. Directing the anime series is Ei Aoki (director of “Fate/Zero” and “Horou Musuko”) and screenplay is by Katsuhiko Takayama (“Demonbane”, “Ai Yori Aoishi ~Enishi~”, “Stratos 4”) with music by Noriyasu Agematsu (“Girls Bravo”, “Kamichu!”, “Rosario + Vampire”). Character design is by Osamu Horiuchi (“Full Metal Panic!”, “Burst Angel”, “Last Exile”) and art background by Yoshimi Umino (“Love Hina Again”, “Macross 7”, “D.N. Angel”, “Blue Seed”). Anime production is by AIC Spirits and asread. “Ga-Rei-Zero” is a prequel to the manga series and sets up the main storyline which features protagonists, Kagura Tsuchimiya and Yomi Isayama, two best friends who are like sisters and are heirs of important Japanese exorcism families. As both groups take on different levels of ghosts and evil supernatural beings, one night, Yomi Isayama went missing. Flashforward and there are high levels of monsters appearing and someone is slaughtering the various departments responsible for taking on the monsters. When Kagura’s group goes to investigate and dispose of the monsters, she realizes that the person responsible for killing the exorcism units is Yomi Isayama, her best friend who was like an older sister who has now become her greatest enemy. “Gai-Rei-Zero” focuses on the the history between Kagura and Yomi and how close the two were… but eventually how their friendship ended and most importantly, how Yomi became an evil being. “Ga-Rei-Zero” features the following characters:
- Kagura Tsuchimiya – The main protagonist from the Tsuchimiya exorcist family. After her mother’s death, she went to live with Yomi Isayama and both became great friends and like sisters. But when Yomi went missing, Kagura finds out that her once best friend and sister is now her greatest enemy.
- Yomi Isayama – Another protagonist who was Yomi’s best friend and sister. She lost her parents at a young age to specters and now wants to become an exorcist. She is betrothed to Izuna Noriyuki and “Ga-Rei-Zero: Complete Sereis” focuses on how she went from becoming a loving friend to an evil person.
- Noriyuki Izuna – A person who is betrothed to Yomi and was a playboy. He uses Kudagitsune (spirit pipe foxes) to spy and fight against the evil supernatural beings. nd is also a friend of Kagura.
- Kouji Iwahata – An agent of the ministry who doesn’t like many people. Strong, powerful spirit-user, he seems to also be homosexual with eyes on Kazuki.
- Kazuki Sakuraba – Young, sarcastic and works for the agency. Uses specialize suitcases (with gattling guns) as weapons.
- Nabu Brothers – Two large brothers who are twins and both have the same name and finish each other’s sentence. Employed by the agency and excellent with firearms.
- Michael Kohara – A large man from Australia who barely wears any clothes. He is also the weapons maker for the Agency.
- Ayame Jinguuji – The Minister of Environment and the granddaughter of Fujiko Mine.
- Kiri Nikaidou – Ayame Jinguuji’s personal assistant who helps her duties as minister. Loyal to Ayame.
- Kazuhiro Mitogawa – A boy who once worked for the agency who has murdered so many. The primary antagonist of the series.
“Ga-Rei-Zero: Complete Series” features episodes 1-12 on two Blu-ray discs. Here is a basic, spoiler-less summary of each episode:
- EPISODE 1: Above Aoi – The Japanese Ministry of Defense’s Paranormal Disaster Countermeasure Headquarters are sent to eliminate the Kasha’s in Tokyo by sending in their 1st and 4th Division.
- EPISODE 2: Expression of Hatred – The Japanese Ministry of Defense’s Paranormal Disaster Countermeasure Headquarters has to intervene after the loss of the 1st and 4th Division. The SDCD featuring Kagura and team try to find out who is responsible for the monster regeneration and mass killings of their exorcist division.
- EPISODE 3: The Times of the Chance Encounter – A flashback on how Kagura went to live with Yomi Isayama and her family at a young age.
- EPISODE 4: The Cause of the Duty – A flashback on how Kagura went on to join the SDCD.
- EPISODE 5: Obstinate Feelings – Yomi is engaged to Nori and Kagura wants to make sure the two grow closer instead of fight against each other.
- EPISODE 6: Beautiful Enemy – The SDCD take on Category D monsters. Meanwhile, Kagura has to make a difficult decision when a person she likes is possessed by a demon.
- EPISODE 7: Chain of Blame – After the events in the last episode, Kagua is given time off and must deal with her friends who saw her kill someone. Meanwhile, tragedy hits home.
- EPISODE 8: Whereabouts of Revenge – With the death of an important person in Yomi’s life, Mei becomes an exorcist. Leading to a confrontation between Mei and Yomi.
- EPISODE 9: Spiral of Sin – The aftermath of Yomi vs. Mei’s battle and confronts the white haired Kazuhiro Mitogawa.
- EPISODE 10: The Other Side of the Tragedy – Yomi goes missing and Kagura and the SDCD take on Kashas in Greater Tokyo and returning back to the present storyline.
- EPISODE 11: Turmoil of Fates – Someone evil goes after Kagura’s father.
- EPISODE 12: Yearning Prayer – Yomi has now become evil and now Kagura knows she must confront her former best friend in battle.
VIDEO: When “Ga-Rei-Zero” was released on television, it was standard definition. So, one shouldn’t expect too much from this upscale which is presented in 1080p High Definition but at the same time, one thing you will notice is how much noise is featured throughout the series. Not sure if this was intentional for the flashback sequences but another thing that I noticed is the softness that is featured as well. I also noticed some halo-ing around the edges but I will give credit to the art direction as the painted backgrounds were well-researched and they do look quite awesome. So, it was a pleasure to see that the anime studio did not go half-ass in terms of visual presentation. While an upscale, you can see the difference between the accompanied DVD versus the Blu-ray release, in which the Blu-ray version does look much better and colors are more vibrant as well as the detail for the series. AUDIO: “Ga-Rei-Zero” is presented with an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 lossless soundtrack. While the first two episodes do show promise and I will say that watching both in Japanese and English and feeling both are well-done in the voice acting department, the series actually focuses more on a friendship of two young women who later become enemies. While I was expecting more LFE and surround channel usage, if anything, dialogue is clear but felt the overall soundtrack was OK, nothing immersive. I did notice that the English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix does utilize the action a bit, primarily for the first two episodes and I did notice certain explosions being heard through the surround channel but because the way the series is structured, it’s important to note that while episode 1 and 2 are action-heavy, the other episodes are not all action-heavy and are more dialogue-driven. Subtitles are in English. SPECIAL FEATURES: “Ga-Rei-Zero: Complete Series” comes with the following special features on Disc 3:
- Location Specials – (130 minutes) A lot of research went into the creation of the various scenes for “Ga-Rei-Zero” and a total of six special features featuring the staff on location is included. Standard definition.
- Series Premiere/First Episode Promo Videos – (1:04) The Japanese promos for the first episode (in Japanese with English subtitles).
- DVD Promo Videos – (:48) The commercial promo for “Ga-Rei-Zero” DVD release.
- Textless Opening Song
- Textless Ending Song
- Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers.
EXTRAS: “Ga-Rei-Zero: Complete Series” comes with a cardboard slipcase.
“Gai-Rei-Zero” is one of those series that starts off literally with a bang and then the story changes to show us a flashback which led to that big bang and then it ends and will make any viewer of this series want more. After all, “Gai-Rei-Zero” is a prequel to the manga series and the problem is, the manga has not officially been released in the US yet, only in Europe. So, with a sigh, I can only hope that the manga series will gets its release in the US someday. But on its own, this anime series was definitely enjoyable, entertaining and some may find it trying to please viewers who want action, drama and a darker storyline. I have to admit that the first episode was a shocker. Having not read the manga series, we are introduced to characters in the first episode, who I expected to be the main characters of the entire series. An intense group sent to kick some supernatural arse! Plenty of blood and violence, who would expect anything less from an action series? But at the end of the first episode, all those characters you were rooting for, they are all killed off. The first thing that came to my mind was… Did I accidentally put disc 2 of the Blu-ray in my player? What’s going on here! Eventually, we are then introduced to a new group in episode 2 and once again, it looks like this new group with characters we are starting to get into are nearly decimated. So, needless to say… I was even more confused and was asking myself, “are there any main characters for this anime series or is this one of those unique anime series where everyone dies right away?”. But eventually, we start to understand that the series revolves around Kagura Tsuchimiya and her best friend and a person she looked up to as her older sister, Yomi Isayama. Two sweet young teenagers who are very happy, very loving and they both happen to be from exorcism families that kill off evil demons and monsters. But by episode 2, we see Yomi Isayama killing nearly everyone and thus the storyline focuses on friendships and relationships. We learn that both young teenagers have lost their parents due to these monsters, especially this mysterious kid with white hair that appears to be quite an evil person. But the rhythm of the series is changed as the all action, violent episodes 1-2 are replaced by a more happier time when both teenagers first meet each other and they eventually grow up with each other and care for each others needs. But all it takes is one unfortunate incident and the world of these two teenagers are turned upside down. Saying anything more can easily spoil the series but expect to take a lot of twist and turns throughout this anime series and see the various mood of the series go dark/violent to happy and cheerful and then slowly ebbing towards a more tragic storyline that eventually sets up the manga series. A series that we can only hope, will be released in the US sometime in the near future. As for this Blu-ray release, I have to admit that I was surprised that it included both Blu-ray and DVD discs and its a pretty good strategy if FUNimation Entertainment are following what the other major American studios are doing by offering Blu-ray and DVD for the same price as one release. FUNimation Entertainment was smart when they released completed series for the price of a season box set and now it looks as if FUNimation Entertainment is going forward with a new strategy for physical media for anime fans. And as long as these fans are being charged double, the fact that you are getting both in a release is pretty good. Also, making its return are the thick cardboard slipcases. It’s important to note that the case and the case for the Blu-ray and DVD’s uses DVD casing and not the blue BD cases. So, for those wanting consistency with sizing on their shelves, may be disappointed by the height and for those who are looking for thinner slipcases may be upset with the thicker slipcase. Otherwise, it’s subject to preference and some may welcome the return of the thicker slipcases. As mentioned earlier, this is an upscale that does display quite a bit of noise (intentional?) and a softness. Perhaps it was the intention of the studio since this is a prequel and features flashbacks but by no means is this series HD native. I do credit the background scenery as the crew really went all out for their research in capturing the look and feel of Tokyo. And those location research features are included on this Blu-ray release, which I found pretty cool! Also, you get the original Japanese first episode promos as well as the DVD promo as well. Overall, “Ga-Rei-Zero” turned out to be quite an exciting anime series. It definitely keeps you interested and hooked from beginning to end and there are a good amount of twists and turns and if anything, you are literally left with wanting more. And hopefully that “more” is the manga series which we can only hope, will be released in the U.S. someday soon. If you are looking for an action series with drama and humor but can go from violent to happy and then suddenly tragic within a 12-episode span, “Ga-Rei-Zero” will surely entertain you. Sure, the series may not be the best when it comes to video and audio quality but it does deliver in storyline and I definitely like what FUNimation Entertainment is doing by releasing a Blu-ray and DVD combo set as well. “Ga-Rei-Zero: Complete Series” is recommended!
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