For the adaptation of the Ga-Rei Zero series during the past Fall Season, the creators came up with a daring idea. Since the original manga was reportedly poor, they decided to screw the manga, and go with a concept of their own. The result is a downright shocking first episode, followed by the rest of the series which attempts to explain what the heck happened back there, focusing on a cast of completely new characters.
And what do you know? It actually worked.
The strength of this series is that due to the really strong first episode, you’re going to want to finish the series, to find out what drove these characters to do what they did. Even through the boring parts, the whole thread that the first episode created remains. Because unfortunately, the building-up part of the series does remain a bit boring. It takes a relatively large amount of time to warm up to the characters, and especially Kagura isn’t likable from the start.
Nevertheless, this series managed to avoid collapsing under the weight of its first episode, mostly due to some very solid storytelling that appears once the series hits its second half. This is a series that’s not going to pull any punches, and it’s got quite an amount of ruthless scenes as the show goes on, rather than being an idealistic tale of friendship.
So all in all, the series managed to deliver for me, even though there were times in the beginning that made me doubt. It’s a really solid and focused series, in terms of both production-values and storytelling. The characters themselves are not really something special, but yet they never get in the way of what makes this series important and they do manage to bring the series to life. It managed to deliver on the promises it made in the first episode, and that’s something not every series can boast (Tokyo Majin Gakuen Kenpuchou, anyone?).