As we head into the penultimate episode of Ga-Rei Zero, I really feel it important to take a step back and look at what has lead us to this point. To give the weight of the events that have lead Yomi to turn against the people that once her friends.
So much of it begins with Yuu. We learned a few episodes back that he refused to accept the mantle of a Vanquisher, and because of it, was denied a position as head of the Isayama family. It’s implied he felt that was unfair, but accepted it, at least until his daughter, Mei, was old enough, when he planned to rule the family through her.
Which we knew, because that’s exactly what he did after Naraku died. He wasted zero time in forging his brothers will to grant himself a position of power, without doing any of the dangerous work that would normally grant him that privilege. The question of how much he knew about Mei’s involvement in Naraku’s death is never addressed, but considering he forged Naraku’s will, it seems possible that he not only knew, but supported it.
With his hold over the family established, he then basically turned Yomi out on the street, making sure to take literally everything he possibly could from her in process. Had he been able to, without rousing too much suspicion, I’ve no doubt he would have bodily thrown her out of her own home. As she was raised by Naraku, doing so would have looked bad, which is really the only thing that prevented it, though he makes it clear he wouldn’t offer her crumbs of bread if she were starving in front of him.
Having raised Mei to be of a like mind, it’s no surprise then that seeing Yomi brought so low still wasn’t enough for her, prompting her to try and kill Yomi with the Shishio, the very sword Naraku gave her, as a sign of her truly being worthy to be not just his daughter, but his successor. Mei even brags about killing Naraku, wanting to hurt Yomi, and eventually driving her into the rage that caused her to kill Mei.
Then, of course, came Mitogawa, who took away Yomi’s ability to speak, or care for herself. She cannot even defend herself against the accusations Yuu and the SDCD are levying against her. Nori’s father breaks off their engagement, and Nori himself never shows up to see her.
Never mind all the loss and humiliation she has suffered, much less her years of distinguished service to not just the Isayama family, but the SDCD, the accusations of murder are stacked on her without hesitation, or remorse. The only person left she knows believes in her, and trusts her, is Kagura.
Yet, even there, Yomi finds only more heartbreak. Kagura refuses to even entertain the thought that Yomi could kill someone. She has put her on such a high pedestal, that Yomi can’t help but see how far she will have to fall when the truth inevitably comes out, and Kagura, too, abandons her.
Into all this come Mitogawa, with not just promises of healing her shattered body, but a way to push back against the impossible number of injustices, cruelties, and betrayals she has been handed. Yomi knows she shouldn’t accept it, but the other option, a future as a forgotten, unwanted invalid, is too terrifying for her to bear.
She she accepts that which Mitogawa offers, and soon finds herself driven by the Banestone to kill everyone she ever loved, for every slight, real or imagined. She has no control, is so flooded with hate and rage by the Banestone, she is all but a passenger in her own body. Even when she thinks, when she hopes, Nori will save her, by killing her, he fails her.
Yomi knows Kagura, for all her skill and talent, is too soft, to kind hearted, to actually kill her. Her only chance is with Nori, who can do nothing but sit and watch as Kazuki dies a slow, painful, death. Yomi’s last, best chance to end this rampage is gone. With it, any hope she might have had.
She gives up. She surrenders to the monster that has taken her over. It is the final injustice, the last cruelty, that even in her revenge against those who wronged her, those she loves most must suffer as well, by her own hand. There is nothing left in her to fight with.
The reason this all matters so much is because despite Yomi’s actions, she is not truly a villain. She is, instead, a good person pushed too far. A decent person who has had too much ripped from her unjustly. She is a tragic figure, who has been left with nothing to lose, and that is something that makes anyone dangerous.
More than all that, though, Yomi is a battered soul, seeking some kind of fairness in a world that has none. It’s important to bear all of this in mind as we near the end.
We pick up exactly where we left off last time, as Yomi prepares to strike Kagura down. That this scene has now played out three times in the course of the show is no accident, either. The weight of it, the fact that, consumed by her rage, Yomi is even willing to kill the person she loves most in the world, is significant, and the hinge upon which the entire series turns.
She doesn’t get to, as Garaku, Kagura’s father, arrives, nearly putting a Phurba in Yomi’s back. She deflects it, leaving Garaku to mourn the loss of her as he summons Byakuei, and the two prepare to battle for Kagura’s life.
Yomi talks a moment about Byakuei, and the Tsuchimiya family, mostly about how powerful the dragon is, and how it grants such prominence to Kagura’s family. She finds it all so annoying now, how lauded they are, and can’t recall why she ever looked up to them. Garaku, unmoved by such monologing, just stands there while she vows to end both the dragon and the Tsuchimiya family. Only when she moves, does he.
In every way, he gave her every chance to back down from this course of action. Hard ass though he is, terrible father that he was to Kagura, he honestly gave her a chance to retreat. Lost in the power of the Banestone, Yomi fails to see it.
It does, however, get Kagura out of immediate danger, as Yomi sets Rangurren on Byakuei. The dragon nimbly dodges the chimeras Roar Wave, and the two clash in the sky over the city.
As the two spirit beasts battle it out, Garaku and Yomi clash, the elder Tsuchimiya proving a far more capable combatant than Yomi expected. Torn by their battle, Kagura begs them to stop battling as Garaku captures Yomi in Byakuei’s chains.
Garaku calls on Kagura to help him finish her off, but she freezes up, her desire to save Yomi over riding her sense of duty. Yomi sees the opening and directs Rangurren to attack the paralyzed Kagura, forcing Garaku to block the attack with Byakuei. The Roar Wave doesn’t harm the dragon much, because Garaku takes the damage instead, his back being seared.
With him momentarily incapacitated, Yomi escapes the chains, and slices Garaku open. Kagura can only watch as her father takes a mortal wound, because he chose to save her. Garaku, the man we have seen as such a terrible, uncaring parent, lays down his life for his child without a moments hesitation.
Shocked that Yomi is truly capable of such acts, Kagura stands, frozen, as Yomi goes to give the killing blow against her father. She doesn’t get the chance as she is once again interrupted, this time by Kiri, who nearly kills her with some daggers attached to nearly invisible, but incredibly sharp, wire. Yomi only avoids it by a hairs breadth.
Kiri isn’t alone, either, as Ayame is on the scene. Kagura rushes to her father as Yomi falls back a bit, preparing to battle the other two. Her Banestone acts up, however, revealing itself and inflicting crippling pain on Yomi. Kiri and Ayame see it, and after a brief moment of surprise, Kiri tries to take Yomi out. Rangurren blocks her attack, and Yomi manages to grab on to him, escaping for the moment.
Elsewhere, Kouji is watching Kazuki’s remains being placed in a body bag, shocked beyond even outrage. Nori sits on the ground, horrified by his own inability to save his friend, or stop Yomi. The Nabuu brothers try to comfort him to no avail.
With Garaku being rushed to the hospital, Ayame and Kiri examine this new turn of events. Thanks to the Banestone they saw, they figure out what happened between Yomi and Mei very quickly. Kiri is horrified that their suspicion of Yomi drove her to this, but Ayame shuts that down very quickly.
Despite her often soft outward demeanor, Ayame is the head of the SDCD for a reason. Yomi knew the rule against using unsealed Banestones and chose to break it. Whatever the reasons, whatever the external factors, it was her choice. Now, she is an enemy, and must be stopped, same as any other specter. It’s a hard, cold, and unforgiving mindset, but in her position, it’s the only viewpoint Ayame can allow herself. Anything else would lead to hesitation, and hesitation leads to too much death.
Later, Yomi staggers down an alley, Garaku’s blood all over her, as she struggles with the horrific things she’s done. Overwhelmed by grief, she tries to take her own life, but the Banestone won’t allow it. Yomi is trapped, the devils deal she made leaving her no way forward.
A deal made in a moment of fear, doubt, grief, and pain.
Soon after, the SDCD begins to notice the spirit energy observation teams are dropping off like flies, targeted by Yomi. She knows they can track her with the observation teams, so is getting rid of them. One could easily see why Mitogawa wanted her so badly, as it allows him to move about freely as well. In fact, from the moment he killed Mei, this was clearly his goal.
Mitogawa is such a dick.
Ayame orders the lat surviving observation team to evacuate their post before opening a desk drawer. Inside, we see a glimpse of a picture of her, standing and holding the arm of a man who’s face we can’t see. She removes a wedding ring from the drawer, and puts it on, smiling slightly. That done, she orders the Disposal Team into action, deciding to join them in the field for this one. Yomi must be stopped.
Kouji and the Nabuu brothers head out, pausing to try and get Nori to join them. All he can do is sit there, prompting Kouji to tell the brothers to leave him. He’s in no shape to be in the field, and would likely get himself killed. Still, he encourages Nori to join them if he gets his head together.
Nori barely hears them, though, staring at the Phurba Yomi gave him, so he could kill her, coming to realize that it was truly what she wanted. That she trusted him, more than anyone, and how deeply he has failed her. This, more than anything, destroys him.
Meanwhile, at the Tsuchimiya household, Kagura sits with her dying father. A Banestone is a powerful item, though when one is sealed, its regenerative abilities are severely dampened. The wounds Yomi gave him are proving more than it can handle, and Garaku has little time left.
Nor is this the only injury Kagura has taken. Her arm is in a sling from where Rangurren bit down on her. While her friends, what there is left of them, head out to hunt her sister, she can only sit and watch her father die. As much as she has resented him, she still loves him.
He rouses himself enough enough to ask if she is alright, probably the first time we’ve seen him express concern for her. She claims to be fine, asking how he feels, but he blows that off, telling her not worry about him. Kagura knows he isn’t, and tries to apologize for having failed him, and for her lack of experience.
Garaku has a seizure a moment later, griping his chest as his Banestone glows. Behind him, the seal that contains Byakeui appears as the dragon tries to escape. Remember, Byakuei is held in check by both the Banestone, and the bearers will. As his life fades, Garaku is finding it harder and harder to control the dragon, making his situation all the more desperate.
While that’s happening, the last observation team runs into a little problem with their evacuation. Yomi arrives, and with the help of Rangurren, removes the last means the SDCD had to monitor her movements.
Back at the Tsuchimiya home, Byakuei continues trying to break free, but Garaku manages to stop him, though the exertion takes a considerable toll on his already battered body. Kagura urges him to be strong, but Garaku admits that he can’t be anymore. He’s growing too weak now, and the dragon will escape.
Kagura reminds him the Banestone can help him heal, but Garaku knows it can’t. Death is coming, and very soon. Before that happens, he lets Kagura know he has something important to tell her. Assuming it is a final lesson, probably on how to assume control of Byakuei, and be a proper Vanquisher, Kagura simply nods, ready to be the student once more.
Instead, he apologizes to her, and begs her forgiveness. Because of the duty all of the Tsuchimiya line must inherit, Garaku knew that one day, Kagura would inherit Byakuei. Once that happened, he knew that her life would likely be short, and end brutally, as her mothers did, and as his now has. He didn’t want that, not for her. More than anything, he wanted her to live a long life, to be happy, and fulfilled. He knew that, because of their duty, she would likely lose her parents at a young age, which has now happened, and pushed her to be strong, so she could handle it, and herself, once she was alone.
He knows it was hard, and that he was harsh, but it came from a place of love, and a desire to protect the daughter he cherished so much. Asshole that he has been, hard ass that he has been, it is impossible not to understand his feelings on this. As a parent, and a human being, who has failings, he did what he could, what he thought best under the circumstances, to give his child the best chance at a good life he could.
Suddenly understanding, Kagura can only weep at the love he has always been showing her, that she couldn’t see.
That evening, in an industrial park, Yomi encounters her former allies, the SDCD Disposal Team. She and Ayame taunt each other a bit, until Yomi admits that she plans to kill everyone, every living thing, on the entire planet. With that, she unleashes Rangurren on them, drawing Kouji and the Nabuu brothers away, thinking Ayame and Kiri easier targets.
Ayame corrects her on this in style.
Why, yes, she does have a chain gun attached to her leg. Where did you think Quentin Tarantino got the idea? Also, her wheelchair is motorized, outfitted with blades, and has holy mantras on the wheels. Plus, she handles it the same way Natsuki handled her motorcycle back in the first episode. Remember kids, disabled is not the same as incapable.
Ayame manages to land a hit on Yomi, cutting her leg open with one of the blades. Because they are blessed, much like the Phurbas Garaku uses, the Banestone can’t heal it. She finishes her assault off by punching Yomi in the mouth, pushing her back into a barrier made by the wheel tread.
Realizing she’s trapped, Yomi tries to distract Ayame with conversation while looking for a way out, claiming Ayame is heartless for trying to take the life of one of her subordinates. Ayame corrects her again, calling her a former subordinate, telling her that she’s killed people more precious to her than Yomi could ever hope to be, and reminding her that those who choose evil do not deserve mercy.
Yeah, under that overly polite exterior really does lurk a lion. Ayame is hard core.
At about that moment, Yomi realizes Ayame wasn’t playing into her gambit of distraction, but was instead distracting her while Kiri set up more traps. Razor fine wire criss-crosses everywhere, meaning if Yomi makes a move, Kiri can cut her to ribbons. Yomi fakes some confidence, but Kiri don’t buy it and sets the trap in motion, severing several pipelines and dousing Yomi in steam. Trying to escape, Yomi is bushed deeper into the multiple layers of barrier that Ayame put up with her wheelchair.
Elsewhere, Kouji and the Nabuu brothers continue to battle Rangurren, with little luck, the massive spirit beast too strong for even the three of them.
Back with Kagura and her dad, she tries to make everything seem like its going to be okay, saying that this is the first time they’ve ever had a real conversation and being generally chipper for his sake. She wonders if she had trained harder and been a better Vanquisher sooner, if they could have spoken easier. Garaku doesn’t know about that, because even then, he wouldn’t have known what to say. Kagura finds that humorous, as they are family, and for the first time, Garaku cracks a smile, realizing how foolish his own statement was.
Over at the industrial park, Kiri thinks they got Yomi, but this declaration comes a bit too soon, as Yomi emerges from the steam, having managed to overcome the barriers, and goes to kill Ayame. Seeing what she is planning, Kiri takes the only action she can, and puts herself in the way.
A short distance away, Kouji gets blinded by Rangurren’s snake tails, and collapses. One of the Nabuu brothers jumps in, literally wrestling with the chimera’s mouth, and getting bitten while protecting him. The other Nabuu uses that opportunity to shoot it, and it suddenly vanishes.
This is mostly due to Yomi having problems of her own. Despite having impaled Kiri on the Shishio, Ayame has used that as an opening, and wrapped one of Kiri’s wires around Yomi’s neck. Attaching it to her wheelchair, Ayame bails, activating the freaking rocket under the seat, which drags a choking Yomi away.
Kagura and Garaku’s conversation continues as he asks if she feels love, or hate. He encourages her to forget them all, to clear her mind, and find peace. The truly strong, he says, carry the full weight of their responsibility on their shoulders. They never cast away their feelings, but instead, carry their happiness, their sadness, and their hate, and endure all of it, for the sake of others. It is easier to find peace, and feel nothing, and he would like her take the easy way, but he knows she is his daughter, and like him, will take the hard road, and be truly strong.
Kagura will carry the weight of her responsibility, and her emotions, because that is who she is, and she is truly strong. Stronger than she even knows.
With that said, Garaku collapses, his time at an end. He must pass Byakuei to her now, while there is time. She begs him not to die, but there is nothing that can be done.
As he passes, so too does the Nabuu brother that was bitten, as Kouji watches, helpless to save him, or comfort the survivor. Ayame crawls to a dying Kiri, trying to hold her. Garaku gives the Banestone to Kagura, and is gone.
Yomi returns to Ayame and Kiri, yanking the Shishio out of the latter, and summoning Rangurren once more. Defeated, Ayame can only wait for death.
Finally, Kagura places the Banestone that holds Byakuei in her ear, and removes the bandages and sling on her arm as it heals her. Master Michael arrives, to give her a new sword, the Michael 13. With it in hand, wondering what her own soul wants, Kagura turns to go hunt down her beloved sister, and kill her.
And so, we wrap up most of the plot lines in Ga-Rei Zero, and say goodbye to most of the supporting cast that has survived to this point in the story. All that is left is for Kagura to face Yomi, and either kill her, or die trying.
As a penultimate episode, Turmoil Of Fates does pretty much everything right. We finally learn what motivated Garaku to be a harsh father, and Kagura is given a chance to reconcile with him before he dies, passing on the family legacy to her. Yomi struggles against the power of the Banestone, finds she cannot control it, and with what she thinks is her one chance to be stopped gone, gives in and becomes the villain it wants her to be.
Though it isn’t explained fully, we learn that Ayame wasn’t always in a wheelchair, and are given some hints about what put her there, with her backstory strongly implying that she had to kill her own husband after he was taken over by a specter, losing a leg in the process. We also learn that her polite demeanor is a total front, and she’s a complete BAMF.
The insinuation that she and Kiri are closer than they seem is continued as well, with Kiri sacrificing herself to protect Ayame, an effort that now seems to have been in vain, as Yomi is positioned to kill them both easily. All this, plus the loss of one of the Nabuu brothers, leaving the SDCD with little to mount in the way of forces against Yomi as she continues her rampage.
Of course, there is also Kagura, who now fully understands the weight of being a Vanquisher, and seems poised to accept the very responsibility that not long ago she wasn’t certain she even wanted. The losses she has suffered, of friends and family, compel her to embrace her heritage, though in many ways, she still struggles with it. Not so much resolve, she feels a responsibility to at least to face Yomi, and try to stop her. Not for duty, or legacy, or because it is her job. Instead, it is because she loves her, and knows, somewhere, deep down, Yomi doesn’t want this.