Ga-rei-zero, episode 4

Four episodes in, GRZ finally gets a proper OP, it’s pretty solid, nothing outstanding, but the upbeat song fits well, and the opening scenes do a good job for pumping you up for what’s to follow. For a twelve episode season, they’ve made some interesting decisions. Obviously, the most obvious being introducing and demolishing the cast in episode and then reintroducing a new cast in episode two. Keeping the show OP and ED-less in episode one (very nice use of sound effects and background music instead). And now holding off introducing the OP until they were 1/3 through the season. I guess, even though it’s a short season, the plot has a singular focus – the breakdown of Yomi and Kagura’s relationship, and the turning of Yomi – so they feel like they can be a little unconventional.

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Episode 4 starts off with the hottest scene of the fall 2008 anime season, which leads to a funny scene between regular guy Sakuraba and his menacing looking, but gentle pursuer Iwahata.

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Otherwise, the episode uses the opening battle between Yomi and apparently some Half-Life Striders, to establish Kagura, as the rookie, who’s all-too-eager to jump into battle, but isn’t allowed, because she needs more seasoning. Beyond that, they introduce some of the other team members, including Izuna, who we quickly learn is engaged to Yomi, and their eccentric weapon-master Michael, who just happens to stop by to take away almost all of their weapons for some cleaning and refreshing.

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Which means when the inevitable battle begins, Yomi gets to jump into battle using a choice of um-unconventional weapons.

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Because of the situation, Kagura gets forced into action with Yomi and her killer iron, and does a good job holding her own, even saving Yomi from some tentacle action, until she comes face-to-face with a zombified version of a woman she helped save earlier. Like all newbie heroes who came face-to-face with killing a human (even though we all know zombies are no more human than flying pigs), Yomi hesitates which opens the door for her father to enter and save the day with Byakuei, the largest, most fiercest pipe-fox I’ve ever seen. Quite the departure from the cute xxxHolic pipe-fox. A subsequent scolding follows.

All in all, it was an enjoyable episode, that continued to build on Yomi and Kagura’s relationship, while allowing the spotlight to fall on Kagura and some of her early challenges as a spirit warrior. For a show that was so dark and dramatic in the first couple episodes, I’m really impressed with how they’ve been able to mix in comedy, fanservice and some of their unique characters. The team also gets passing mention, but I thought they did a good job of offering some crumbs about their dynamic, which I imagine will be touched upon in future episodes. Finally, I leave you with some more fanservice.

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