When we began this journey, the show asked one, single, simple, yet terrible question. Could you kill someone you loved, out of love? That question has been the driving force behind everything that has happened to this point.
With Nori, we learned that no, he could not. This is not a bad thing, in many ways. Nori is only human, and despite the circumstances, watching Yomi slowly kill Kazuki, to take the life of the person he loved most proved to great a task. Even if she desperately wanted it.
So, now, it falls to Kagura. Ayame and Kiri are dead, as far as we know. One of the Nabuu brothers has fallen. Nori is out of commission, and Kouji has seen better days. The Disposal Team is in tatters, without leadership, and facing an enemy that they must first forget they care about in order to defeat.
For Kagura, the question of whether she wants to or not no longer matters. Nor do her doubts about whether she wants to even be a Vanquisher. She has taken up the Banestone that binds Byakuei to her soul, the legacy her parents have left for her. Her choice is made, and she can no longer entertain questions of a life without specters, blood, and death.
The first order of business, however, is Yomi. So, devastated by loss upon loss, Kagura sets out to find and kill her sister. To take the life of the person she loves most. I would say for better or worse, things end here, but there is no chance for better. There is only worse.
We begin at SDCD headquarters, as Kagura looks over Nori’s desk. He is gone, and as she examines the results of the investigation he sacrificed everything for, Kouji arrives, holding a bandage over the eye that took a hit in his battle with Rangurren. He tells her that Nori left, and asks her not to think to harshly of him for it.
Fighting now, he says, would only sap his will to live, and if one is to die, it’s best to do it while there is still a sense of purpose. Kagura lets him know she isn’t worried about death’s purpose, but rather, is seeking to understand life’s. Kouji is bothered by this, but considering what she faces, can think of no comfort to give her.
Elsewhere, Yomi runs through a forest, pursued by the remaining members of both the PDCDH and the SDCD. The Mobile Units and the Suit Squads are both taken out by her and Rangurren, leaving no survivors.
At their base camp, these two groups who once couldn’t work together at all give the grim news to the commander, who has taken severe injuries. He takes a radio and informs Kouji, who is aboard a PDCDH helicopter that they have failed to either stop her, or track her.
Kouji, now bandaged up, takes this news and offers a bit of kindness in return. After all, he, Nabuu, and Kagura would still be trying to get through traffic if the PDCDH chopper hadn’t picked them up. As far as he’s concerned, they are all angels. The commander takes this with relief, before asking after Kazuki, and learned he died.
Once they are done talking, Kouji asks for ways to track Yomi. Kagura solves this by using her Banestone to resonant with Yomi’s, guiding them straight towards her.
In the forest, amid a pile of bodies, Yomi struggles to hang on to any semblance of her self. The unsealed Banestone in her body has a will of its own, a desire to wipe all life from the Earth, and despite having lost all hope, she still fights it. Because that is who Yomi Isayama is. She doesn’t give in, even when she wants to.
It’s a battle she cannot win, however. While the Banestone may have fed on her own rage at first, it is now piling its own into her as well. It’s overwhelming, leading her to wonder if she has anything left but hate. She tries to deny it, assuring herself that this was not what she agreed to.
Mitogawa, dick that is, arrives and assures her it was. He chastises her for not reading the fine print. The Banestone thrives on the strongest emotion, the post powerful part of ones soul. Yomi collapses, dropping her cell, which shows the screen shot of her and Kagura. Fighting it with all she has, she questions if she can even believe Mitogawa. She wonders if she even knows what she wants, before realizing that she does.
She knows just what she wants. Exactly what she needs.
Back on the helicopter, Kagura pinpoints Yomi’s location. Kouji relays the order to bring them down, and the three hit the forest floor. They are quickly greeted by a veritable army of specters. Kouji thinks they look right hospitable and decides to dance with them. Nabuu likes the tune, and they throw everything they have at the specters.
It’s worth taking a moment to point out that Kagura’s new sword, the Michael 13, is outfitted with a bullet clip. No bullets obviously, but a casing loaded with gunpowder. When she squeezes the trigger, the force of the gunpowder firing is directed up the length of her sword to allow her to increase her cutting speed. While it isn’t remotely realistic, it is super freaking cool.
At least, until zombies show up. Despite everything she’s been through, Kagura still balks at the sight of them. To her, it is the same as killing an innocent person. Nabuu and Kouji tell her to push past them and find Yomi, leaving the riff raff to them. Nabuu has both he and his brothers BFG’s, and Kouji has his hand drill and one of Kazuki’s briefcase weapons.
In other words, they totally have this under control.
Kagura slips past the zombies, and soon, finds Yomi. Completely in the thrall of the Banestone, Yomi attempts to taunt Kagura a bit by asking her dad is doing, but instead of playing along, Kagura simply tells her the truth. She tells her that they were able to talk, and for the first time, she saw the real him, and felt like she had a father. Yomi, taken aback by this, reminds Kagura that she, too, lost her family. She was taken in by Naraku, yes, and had Kagura as a little sister, but that was never a real family.
Kagaru shakes her head, telling Yomi that wasn’t what she meant, setting her back again. She asks Yomi to forgive her, telling her that she believed in her, and that wasn’t enough. She was selfish, needed Yomi to be something she wasn’t, and refused to see the truth. If she had looked, she might have seen, and been what Yomi needed. For having not done this, for having failed her, Kagura asks her forgiveness.
Yomi reminds her it is too late for that, and Kagura admits she knows. Yomi ponders if these will be Kagura’s famous last words, or just the last words she’ll ever hear. She considers that an important distinction.
The small talk done, the summon their spirit beasts. Yomi pulls out Rangurren, and Kagura unleashes Byakuei. At last, their battle begins.
As the spirit beasts clash, Yomi and Kagura do the same, pulling their swords and attacking each other. Thanks to the Michael 13, and Yomi not knowing what it could do, Kagura quickly gains the upper hand, her blade at Yomi’s throat. She hesitates, though, unable to deliver that blow. Yomi stares at her for a moment, giving her ample time to finish her, and when Kagura doesn’t, gets angry and attacks again, managing to get one of Byakuei’s chains around Kagura’s throat, choking her.
As she gives Rangurren an order to hit the dragon with a Roar Wave, Kagura reverses her grip on her sword and fires off a round, sending the casing into Yomi’s face. Startled and hurt, Yomi releases her, and Kagura maneuvers Byakuei out of the Roar Wave’s way.
Thinking Kagura is distracted watching Byakuei, Yomi chances throwing her sword at Kagura’s back, but this gets deflected with a well placed piece of chain, forcing Rangurren to vanish. Yomi wasn’t so foolish as to waste her only opening, however, and grabs a stick, tackles Kagura, and drives it into her shoulder.
The Michael 13 clatters away, and Byakuei vanishes as Kagura looses her focus, wracked with pain as Yomi digs the stick into her shoulder. Begging Yomi to stop, the only response she gets is that Yomi wishes to hear her beg for her life, making her beg for death even sweeter. She tells Kagura that Mei begged, as did Yuu. Kazuki, Ayame and Kiri as well. They all begged.
Knowing she has the upper hand, Yomi asks if her father was any different. Did he suffer? Did he he fight the inevitable? She points out that Kagura is better off now, with him dead, as she got a Spirit Beast. She could have settled for less. All of this serves to only anger Kagura, instead of break her, however, and Yomi is taken by surprise when Kagura punches her, then grabs a rock and knocks her over the head.
Yomi manages to get her hands on the Shishio, though, forcing Kagura back. As she regroups, she manages to get her own sword and defend herself. Yomi isn’t letting up, though, pointing out that Kagura has strength, a spirit beast, everything she needs to win, except the will to take this fight seriously.
She’s right, too. Even with her life on the line, she can’t bring herself to kill Yomi. Before Yomi can kill her, however, Nori arrives and intervenes, attacking Yomi with his pipe foxes, driving her back long enough for him to grab Kagura and retreat.
With some space, Nori tends Kagura’s injured shoulder, which will heal quickly enough thanks to her Banestone. She picks up on his mood, and tries to reassure him, saying she couldn’t kill Yomi, either. Nori takes that about as well as you’d think, pointing out that they are both cowards. Yomi, he reminds, will not hesitate to kill them. He tells Kagura about what happened in the tunnels, that Yomi begged him to kill her. Again, she tries to comfort him, but he throws the Phurba Yomi gave him to the ground and tells her that it isn’t okay. That he deserves all the blame he gets.
With that, he leaves her alone.
Yomi, though, drives her sword through her cell phone.
As night falls and the moon rises, Yomi finds Kagura waiting for her. She asks if Kagura is ready, and she admits to Yomi that she is as ready as she’ll ever be. Kagura tells her it is a Vanquishers duty to dispose of spirits who defile the natural order, and with pride, Yomi tells her she sounds like a real pro.
With that, they clash.
As they battle, Kagura remembers everything they have shared. All the moments of love, friendship, and yes, sisterhood she has had with Yomi. Through crossed blades, she tells her. She tells Yomi she loves her, and always will.
Startled for a moment, Yomi catches her next strike and creates an opening, reminding her that a shared strike is a loss, something she taught her. As the Banestone emerges from her forehead, she shatters the Michael 13.
Her sword is high and out wide. Exactly as Kagura hoped. From her hip, she pulls the Phurba Nori left. Yomi is wide open, and completely defenseless. Seeing Kagura’s plan, Yomi can only watch as her little sister closes the distance.
The battle is over. Yomi has lost.
As a writer myself, I can’t help but feel that what happens next was the entire reason the series was created. This one, incredible, powerful, and poignant moment. It is what everything has lead to, and the culmination of all the character development, plot points, all of it. It is writing perfection.
Kagura closes in, the Phurba in hand, eyes focused and determined. Yomi sees it, knowing that Kagura is going to kill her, and in that instant, we are taken back to when she she knew. When Yomi knew what it was she wanted. What she needed.
I cannot do justice to this with my words, so rather, I will quote her’s. Yomi’s soliloquy.
“Banestone. If it’s true that you feed of the raw emotion gnawing away inside of me, then you must know what it is I really want. My deepest wish. My only wish, is to protect Kagura. From unhappiness. From the cold, cruel whims of hard luck. From liars, users, cheats. From high minded idiots who would think nothing of putting her in harms way. From heartbreak, and disappointment. From herself. But, most of all, whatever it takes, protect her from me.”
“Protect Kagura from me!”
As she thinks this, Yomi crawls across the ground, fighting off the influence of the Banestone to reach her dropped cellphone, able to overcome the agony, the rage, the hate, long enough to gather that phone to her, the image of the two them smiling on the screen, and curl around it, holding it to her chest.
We see that when she drove her sword through the phone, the blade cracked the part of the screen that held her image.
Yomi smiles as the Phurba pierces her chest. Her wish has come true.
The two collapse, Kagura still clutching the Phurba as Yomi’s sword rolls away. Crying, Kagura can only listen as Yomi strokes her hair, telling her how good she’s gotten. How strong. She tells her how proud she is of her little sister, apologizes, and tells her, “I love you, too.”
Yomi falls, dead.
Alone, shaking, crying, devastated, Kagura hears the zombies gather around her. In a rage, she summons Byakuei and unleashes his fury. As he destroys, she screams, crying, railing against such a cruel fate. The unfairness of it all is too much, and she rages against the world.
A short distance away, Kouji and Nabuu watch, arriving too late to help her. They try to understand the world as well, and grieve for Kagura. Kouji feels that she has done what a Vanquisher must, sacrificing her emotions for her duty. Nabuu doesn’t agree. He sees it. For Kagura, her emotions and her duty are now the same thing.
It is as Garaku told her. The strong carry the weight of their emotions. Their failures, their losses, the grief, sadness, anger, and hate, as surely as they do their joy and love. Nabuu understands this, that Kagura has become truly strong.
Elsewhere, Mitogawa laments that everything went wrong over a simple wish. He can’t help but wonder if Yomi mastered the Banestone. No matter what, he feels he still has time. He’ll just wait, and pick his moment.
Ayame arrives at a hospital to visit Kiri. She survived the battle with Yomi, it seems, but Kiri suffered substantial blood loss, and apparently, brain damage. She has the mind of a child now, referring to Ayame as big sister. She tells her about a bad dream she had, where a scary woman was trying to hurt them, and stabbed Kiri in the tummy. In the dream, Ayame told Kiri that she’d see her again in Heaven, but the woman left, because she had somewhere to, and seemed sad. Ayame doesn’t tell her it was a memory, instead promising to stay and play with her all day.
Elsewhere, Nori is playing at being a psychic, advising women on their love lives and bumming meals out of them. As he’s hiding, Kouji and Nabuu are still in the Vanquisher business, despite allegedly being retired.
Miku and Chizuru are walking home, wondering what ever happened to Kagura, who fell off the world and hasn’t been seen by them since. Speaking of, Kagura is teamed up with a new Vanquisher, who is not dealing with his new duties well, despite her passing on the Michael 13 to him.
As I said before, Ga-Rei Zero is a tragedy. It is not Kagura’s tragedy, however, that is the heart of the story, but rather, Yomi’s. Orphaned, taken in by a adoptive father, who raised her to fight the things that destroyed her life, she loses him, along with everything she’s built. Eventually, she is pushed so far into a corner, she lashes out, falls to darkness, and becomes a monster. Then, she must rely on the person she loves most to stop her, and leave Kagura with the scars of killing her beloved sister, friend, and mentor.
For Kagura this too is a tragedy, but one she comes out the other side a stronger, if more bitter, harder, and broken person. As Nabuu laments while she destroys the zombies, she will never again allow herself to love another. Not fully, not completely. That part of herself, she will lock away forever. That is her tragedy.
The biggest thing about Ga-Rei Zero is the unanswered questions of Mitogawa. What were his goals? Why was he doing this? How did he end up the way he did? So many things left without resolution, yet, at the same time, not really needing to be resolved. This is the way in which Mitogawa is the most successful villain ever. While we never really understand his motives, we also see that he is never really defeated, either.
Yes, the true villain, the real monster, got away with it all, and lives to torment another day. That, folks, is the real tragedy, and one of the better lessons Ga-Rei Zero offers.
Sometimes, the bad guy gets away, unpunished, to commit terrible acts all over again.
With that, I wrap up my Ga-Rei rewatch. Thanks for having joined me. It’s bee a real blast, getting to share this, one of my all time favorite animes, with you guys. While Ga-Rei Zero never makes any best of lists, it’s easily one of the better animes I’ve ever seen.
I’ll be back in the near future with another anime rewatch, so keep an eye out. Might even be a hidden gem you didn’t know about, or a personal favorite of your own.