Will you kill someone you love, because of love?
At first, it was hard for me to relate these words — these theme words — to Madoka Magica. However, as feelings of desperation (not really despair yet, IMO) seem to be running rampant through all of the important characters of the show (even Kyubey shows a whiff of it or three sometimes), and as more and more bad events happen to the characters, this concept becomes increasingly possible. Especially as we’re seeing Homura trying to pull out all the stops (at least, all she can see with her middle school life experiences) to keep Madoka from becoming a magical girl while Kyubey’s pulling out all of the stops to get her to take that wish of faith. That being said, at this point in the show there’s no foregone conclusion, and given Madoka’s potential according to Kyubey, everything remains on the table in regards to where the show can go. That couldn’t be said about Ga-Rei –Zero-, the source of the top phrase.
Unlike Madoka Magica, which has been building things up slowly with little quick hits every now and then to keep you guessing (until the latest episode which hit and then some), Ga-Rei Zero started off with a bang, and let the viewers know where exactly things would end up. It is a tale of two girls, Yomi Isayama (aka “the better Yomi”) and Kagura Tsuchimiya, who work as exorcists who fight the supernatural while being in school. Both come from families of exorcists, and both get close enough to develop a very close, loving, sisterly relationship after each experienced some form of personal tragedy when they were younger. This rapport helped both girls accept their destined roles to fight evil spirits and provided each other with a strong support whenever times got rough. As the series goes on, a series of unfortunate events happen to Yomi and Kagura, and a strain on their relationship deepens as life continues to get worse in different ways for both girls, with the phrase at the top of the post becoming more and more prescient. That constant feeling that things keep going south no matter what anyone tries to do is a main point that Ga-Rei –Zero- shares with Madoka Magica for me.
In terms of occupations, unlike being a magical girl, being an exorcist is something that someone is born with rather than an opportunity to choose or not, and the job is acknowledged enough by outsiders that a government agency made up of them works to help eradicate harmful supernatural phenomena. However, while there is some form of recognition by people outside of the exorcist families and organizations, that same isolation from the rest of “normal” society that is present in Madoka Magica is present here. Plenty of significant events help to drive that point home, and we as viewer definitely get the impression that being an exorcist is still a raw deal. Although given what Madoka and co are going through, it would be a tossup to say which job is the worse of the two.
In terms of impact, because Ga-Rei –Zero- focuses on the characters a lot more than Madoka Magica does, the struggles of the characters in the former hit me much harder given my preference in what I look for in a show, and the show leaves more of a visceral feeling to it. At this time, I can’t say that Madoka won’t leave a mark on me, but while it’s fun to watch, until recently it has been very hard to care about the characters in the show besides QB, which helped to deaden the impact. At the same time though, to me each show focuses on different things; given the initial relationship between Mio and Kagura, we knew that would be the main focus of Ga-Rei –Zero-. By contrast, we’re all if Madoka, given the rules that QB deigns to offer whenever he chooses, will be all right by the end of the show fighting against everything that seems set to drive her to make a decision to save others, to put it mildly. But both have remained engrossing while watching them, which is a lot of what I hope for.
As a prequel to the later manga Ga-Rei, Ga-Rei –Zero- a more serious, darker work than it’s successor, and from my limited experience with the manga, it’s definitely a better of the two. And if you want to watch something along the same dark feel as Madoka Magica while waiting for episode 11, especially after the epicness that was episode 10, it would be hard to go wrong with this.