Monthly Archives: February 2010

Ga-Rei Zero: Enticing!

If you like the following movies:  Kill Bill, Resident Evil, Shinobi, and The Lord of the Rings, and you want to see a good mixture of elements from these movies in a 12-episode anime, then watch Ga-Rei Zero!  Ga-Rei Zero involves two close friends, Yomi and Kagura, who consider each other a sister, but are not blood-related.

Yomi and Kagura

Yomi is older than Kagura, and mentors her in being a warrior against supernatural evil beings.  Calling themselves exorcists, Yomi and Kagura work for the Supernatural Disaster Countermeasures Division (SDCD) of the Ministry of the Environment.  They are experts in eliminating supernatural zombies and monsters through some very fancy samurai swordmanship.  While the younger Kagura becomes better and better throughout the series, we are left in suspense throughout the entire series wondering how Yomi started on the good side then went rogue and became an agent of evil.

SDCD members, Noriyuki, Nobu twins, Kazuki, and Kagura

Kazuki with machine-gun suitcases. Remember Desperado?

Mariachi's from Desperado. Remember the machine gun guitar cases and the rocket launcher?

The series reminds me of Kill Bill because of the swordsmanship and schoolgirl fetishism:  similar to Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill, the schoolgirl-dressed henchwoman at Lucy Liu’s side, both Yomi and Kagura are dressed in their school uniforms throughout the entire series.

Gogo Yubari from Kill Bill

Ga-Rei Zero reminds me of Resident Evil because of the zombies and nasty monsters that SDCD fights against.  There are many gory scenes throughout the series, and fortunately, most scenes are shown in Hitchcock style:  you see the blood spatter, but you don’t see the point of contact.

Mei reminds me of the characters in Shinobi:  Heart Under Blade.  Mei is dressed in long cloth, has pink hair, and carries a big blade.  She also is shown beautifully against the moon in the background, similar to Kouga Gennosuke’s flying into the air at night with the moon in the background.

Mei, with the moon in the background

Finally, Ga Rei Zero reminds me of the ring in The Lord of the Rings:  just like the Ring magnifies a person’s evil emotions, the death stones that the evil boy Kazuhiro keeps bring out the worst of the dark sides of two characters (you’ll have to watch the series to find out who).

Kazuhiro, keeper of the death stones to rule them all?

For the two characters who are affected by the death stones, would they have done the same things had they not been affected by the stones?

Macross: Do You Remember Love? A Believable, Well-Illustrated Space Epic!

Why is Macross: DYRL, which came out in 1984, still popular today?  It’s because it is a believable, well-illustrated space epic:  we can relate to both the good guys (humans) and the bad guys (Zentradi and Meltrandi) because both share the same human DNA!  That’s why I, and probably a lot of other people, like it more than Macross Frontier, in which the bad guys are a bunch of insects, the Vajra.  We just can’t sympathize with the Vajra because they don’t have any human resemblance.

Not only can we relate to the humans and the Zentradi/Meltrandi, but we can also relate to their mecha.  The SDF-1 looks like an aircraft carrier, and the valkyrie fighters look like modern fighter jets.  In the valkyrie’s battloid mode, we see our humanoid image not only in the arms and legs that have human joints, but also in the head:  the VF-1S and VF-1J’s heads look like a human mask.  The only exception is the VF-1A’s head, which looks like a cyclops.  The Zentradi have the the Nousjadeul-Ger, and the Meltrandi have the Queadluun-Rau, both having humanoid form.

VF-1S, VF-1J, VF-1A


Miria's Queadluun-Rau

In addition, we relate to the human cultural elements:  the importance of music and songs in moving people’s emotions, and the dramatic love triangle among Hikaru, Misa, and Minmay.  In Macross 7, music becomes more about being a weapon, which we find hard to relate to because that’s not the case in real life.  I think this is why Macross 7 is not appealing.

Macross is well-illustrated in its artwork and sound effects.  There is amazing detail, more than you’d find in normal cartoons.  For example, when the SDF-1 momentarily loses its internal gravity system, each of the chairs and tables individually tumble.

Everyone is well-dressed in costumes and uniforms.  Each weapon has its unique sound:  the valkyrie gunpods emit a rapid-fire sound, and the Zentradi/Meltrandi lasers echo a high-pitched sound.  The movie also intrigues us with advanced technology, like holograms, the vakyries’ nuclear-powered engines, hyperspace fold, and robots that clean garbage from the street (like the Roomba that was released in 2007)!

Did this garbage-collecting robot from 1984 seed the idea for the Roomba in 2007?

Finally, Macross has a great epic story:  humans are returning to their homeland, Earth, and are fighting against a formidable enemy, the Zentradi, who are at war with the Meltrandi.  We have captivating protagonists:  Hikaru, our humble hero who chooses between two women; Roy, the mentor figure and experienced soldier; Max, an expert fighter pilot who falls in love with a beautiful enemy ace pilot; Misa, a high-ranking military officer; and Minmay, the cute performer who charms everyone with her songs.  We have worthy adversaries, the Zentradi and Meltrandi:  Miria, the Meltrandi’s ace pilot; Bodolza, the Zentradi leader; Quamzin/Kamjin/Khyron, the aggressive Zentradi commander; Britai, and Exedor.  I think that having such worthy adversaries makes a good spectacle because we see the intense struggle between good and evil:  it’s the same reason that when there’s a worthy villain in a James Bond film, like Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, we are drawn closer to the characters’ struggle.

Le Chiffre from Casino Royale

What do you like most about Macross?

Macross Chronicle Magazine, Issues 38 and 39

I really like the magazine covers of issues 38 and 39 of Macross Chronicle.  Issue 38’s cover features the Queadluun-Rau.

There’s a nice fold-out poster of the Queadluun-Rau.

This issue also has character sheets for Millia/Miriya.

Mi-ri-a 639

Issue 39’s cover has the VF-1J with GBP armor!

And a great fold-out poster!

There are also some really cool drawings of the VF-1J w/GBP armor.

So many missiles in the armor!