「葵上 －あおいのうえー」 (Aoi Ue -Aoi no Ue-)
Sharing in the same premise as the GA-REI manga, GA-REI -zero- brings us supernatural action of a different flavor with a completely new cast of characters. Produced by AIC Spirits and asread, the series should benefit from the former’s previous work on another supernatural anime—Tokyo Majin Gakuen Kenpuchou.
Aside from the existence of evil spirits that can’t normally be seen by the naked eye, it’s a bit difficult to assess where this rendition is headed; however, the first episode did an awesome job in grabbing my interest with scene after scene that could only be described as “intense”. I mainly attribute this to the excellent use of music throughout, which had me looking up who actually composed it. As it turns out, the music is done by Agematsu Noriyasu, whose only other work I’ve heard something from was in Girls Bravo (barring opening/ending themes). I can’t say the music in Girls Bravo was very memorable, but the usage of Noriyasu’s work here really establishes the tone in GA-REI -zero-. There’s also a lot of foreshadowing via a recurring flashback thus far, so my interest is piqued enough to want to see how things turn out. What throws me in for a whirl though is that all of the main characters were killed at the end of this episode (with plenty of censoring), leaving me wondering where the next episode will proceed from since there was no preview. There’s always the possibility that this first episode is actually the last in the series chronologically, but I seriously hope it’s not as I’m not a huge fan of this storytelling approach. (Omni mentioned that this was used in Touka Gettan.)
From what I’ve seen so far, I have no complaints about the production quality since it looked consistently good. What caught my interest the most though were the characters. In particular, the heroine of the series, Kasuga Natsuki, whose ability to fight evil spirits with a sport bike is as unbelievable as it is amazing to watch. Played by Kitamura Eri (Otonashi Saya in BLOOD+), Natsuki has this cool-calm exterior that I want to see a lot more of. It doesn’t hurt that she’s easy on the eyes either. The main protagonist, Kanze Tooru, on the other hand is played by Maeno Tomoaki, who’s still relatively new but starred in Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto ~Natsu no Sora~ last season, plus Toshokan Sensou the season before that. He does a really good job portraying a Tooru here, so I’d actually like to see more shows he’s involved with down the road. Support cast also features a nice assortment of seiyuus, with the likes of Koyama Rikiya, Yahagi Sayuri (who took over as Mami for Fukuen Misato), and Kakihara Tetsuya (who’s actually not annoying when he’s not playing anyone named “Kazuki” or “Kouichi”).
Supernatural horror action has never been a genre that I really look forward to, but GA-REI -zero- has started off with a very strong first showing that will surely keep me around for at least another episode or two. In fact, I somehow get the feeling I’m going to end up watching this one all the way through just to have something different from all the other series this season. Anyone else ready for episode two already?
– Kanze Tooru (観世 トオル) : Maeno Tomoaki (前野 智昭)
– Kasuga Natsuki (春日 ナツキ) : Kitamura Eri (喜多村 英梨)
– Shindou Masaki (進藤 マサキ) : Kakihara Tetsuya (柿原 徹也)
– Kusuno Kudou (葛野 クドウ) : Koyama Rikiya (小山 力也)
– Konparu Kiriya (金春 キリヤ) : Miyamoto Mitsuru (宮本 充)
– Izumi Mami (和泉 マミ) : Yahagi Sayuri (矢作 紗友里)
– Isayama Kousen (諫山 黄泉) : Mizuhara Kaoru (水原 薫)