“I do not believe in ghosts, astrology, palmistry, John Cage, love or God.” – Gore Vidal.
The supernatural anime series Ga-Rei Zero has a few problems facing it. For starters there are plenty of supernatural anime out there, so it has to try to find an angle that will capture people’s imaginations in order to attract the viewer. This angle appears to be lacking. However, the bigger problem is that it is a prequel to a manga series that has never been published in English (it is currently licenced by Tokyopop in Germany.)
The series follows the Supernatural Disaster Countermeasure Division (SDCD), a secret branch of Japan’s Environment Ministry. It is the branch of the government designed to mop up all kinds of evil monsters, ghosts, zombies and so forth. In the first two episodes we learn that one of the SDCD’s members, Yomi Isayama, has gone rogue and become evil. The other members of the Division, especially the young Kagura Tsuchimiya, have to battle and kill her in order to prevent any more disasters. Episodes 3 to 10 then go back to the true start of the story, detailing how Yomi and Kagura first met, before the story returns, half-way through the tenth episode, to where it left off .
This non-linear plot only adds to the confusion created already. Luckily, as Ga-Rei Zero is a prequel, having extensive background knowledge of the original is not, strictly speaking, needed – it would just be nice to have it.
The plot is not really sustaining enough in order to make it entertaining. The action, however, is good. The best bits involve the odd selection of weapons that the SDCD use. Examples include a sword that also acts as a shotgun; a pair of briefcases which open up to reveal a mass of machine guns inside; and a steam iron full of holy water. It does make it a bit more amusing too.
This collection also has plenty of extras to go with it. In this three-disc set, the third disc is full of extras, the main one being a six-part series of location scouting, which goes into the choice of the locations, animated in great detail. There are also premieres, promo videos, textless opening and closing songs, and trailers.
Despite this, the plethora of extras does not really make up for a series that is pretty average on the whole. The animation is good, but the plot is lacking. What we really need is the original manga, published in English, so that we can give it a proper and true judgment.