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Episode 1: On the Ancient Stage of Stone

 

Review by Brian Shea

January 15, 2011

 

Summary

 

Four JSSDF (Japanese Strategic Self Defense Force) pilots on a carrier plane are prepped on their mission by Commander Tamotsu Hayakawa: stopping an enemy possessing a bomb laced with industrial waste. The plane flies over their target's base and drops the four 'TA' units, labeled Focus One through Four. JSSDF technicians monitor each pilot's heart rate and blood pressure throughout the operation. A number of vehicles pass through a gate to the estate of the Gowa family. Two of the Focus mechs cover the others as they climb up the base before them. At the Gowa estate various crews set up cameras and computers as Daizaburo (head of the family) and Kazukiyo Gowa (his eldest son) arrive to see Kiyotsugu (Daizaburo's second son). The JSSDF technicians notice that the heart rate and reaction time of Yushiro Gowa, youngest son of the Gowa family, and pilot of Focus One have quickly surpassed that of his TA's. The TAs work their way on top of the building. Kazukiyo and Kiyotsugu discuss Yushiro's impressive test results, aware of the fact that he can't control his abilities yet. Kiyotsugu discusses the fact that each mental burst from Yushiro causes a phase shift in his TA. He wonders if Yushiro will be able to withstand the tests they are putting him through. Kazukiyo is concerned only with the collection of data. They think of an event from eight years ago where a masked dancer was in a trance on a stone stage, causing a large burst of energy around it. The TAs continue to work their way into the building as Yushiro's results increase. Focus One makes its way to the bomb and its owners. Hayakawa orders a stop to things, revealing that the entire mission was a simulation. Captain Kahoru Kaburagi, one of the technicians is relieved to know that Yushiro will be returning to his normal life now that this test is over. At the Gowa estate preparations are finalized around a large stage of stone.

 

Yushiro, in a dressing room with his mother Yukino and younger sister Misuzu finishes putting on his Noh dancer costume, which features a large red mane and a mask. Misuzu thinks there's something strange about him. Yukino tells her not to speak to Yushiro before his performance. Technicians finalize the preparation of their lights and cameras surrounding the stone stage. On the stage stands Sorachi Kengyou, thinking about the events of eight years ago. Kazukiyo asks whether Yushiro will be able to accurately perform the ancient dance of the Gasara. Sorachi thinks there's nothing to worry about. In an outpost in the middle eastern desert a countdown is made and a reaction occurs inside of a large webbed object. At the Gowa Estate, preparations are finalized and Yushiro slowly starts walking out to the stage as music and chanting occurs around him. Yushiro begins his dance and Kiyotsugu immediately starts noticing reactions in his data. In a lab of the multi-national corporation Symbol, it is noted that some outside entity is tampering an experiment they are performing. Council member Meth says to continue with what they are doing. The Gowa technicians notice that Yushiro's dance is impacting the surrounding gravity field. His heart rate above 300, Yushiro breathes heavily and has a vision of a blue haired girl wearing a mask in front of him. Symbol technicians say that the subject of their experiment, a girl named Miharu is slipping out of their control. Meth thinks that Miharu, who is known as an 'invitator,' is attempting to fuse with another entity. Meth wants to regain control of her regardless of whether she suffers some damage by their efforts. While Miharu's physical body is entrapped in Symbol's lab, Yushiro has a vision of her attacking him with a knife. He steps around her thrusts with ease. Yushiro continues with his dance. The Symbol technicians continue to try to take control of Miharu with no luck. Miharu wraps her hands around Yushiro's neck, as if she was strangling him. The sky above them turns white. The deep voice of "F" orders Meth to stop the flow of oxygen to Miharu. In Yushiro's vision, a white vortex appears behind Miharu and her mask shatters. Miharu yells at Yushiro to stop, to not bring back the 'terror' She, and the white vortex disappear entirely as Symbol gains complete control over her. Yushiro continues with his dance and a cylindrical distortion starts appearing from the sky which causes circular imprints to start appearing in the stone ground in front of him. A red light appears in the sky within the distortion. Yushiro thinks about the 'terror' that Miharu spoke of as the red light continues to descend towards the ground. Yushiro suddenly stops dancing and his heart rate quickly starts going down. Gowa's father and brothers are shocked that he was able to stop dancing while in the trance. Kazukiyo yells at Yushiro to start dancing again. Yushiro takes off his mask and tells the light from the sky to go away. The light and cylindrical distortion suddenly ascend back into the sky and disappear. His brothers are disappointed but Kazukiyo is happy that they at least were able to get some data. Another Gowa brother, Kiyoharu is told of the recent events over the phone as he watches a news report about a weapon of mass destruction going off in the Middle Eastern country of Belgistan.

 

Commentary

 

One of a countless number of mecha anime produced by Sunrise in the 1990s, Gasaraki stands out from the crowd as one of the most complex, if not the most complex mecha anime ever made by them. If you had a difficult time understanding things from this summary, it's not you! Whether it's the technical information or the countless number of characters (many of which have similar sounding names, like Yushiro's three brothers), things are very technically complex right from the start. As I go through the series I'll try to make things as easy to understand as possible, and at the very least will try to explain anything extremely difficult to comprehend in the summary. In this first episode we're put right into the middle of things as the powerful Gowa family attempts to summon a mysterious force using a dance performed by the family's youngest son, Yushiro. At the same time a mysterious corporation known as Symbol is performing their own experiments with a girl named Miharu and the two come in contact with each other. While the complexity of the show is certainly a big problem at times, it's also a significant strength as well. The technology and the manner in which military operations are conducted on this show are extremely realistic. Those looking for many different complex types of mecha will be disappointed, as there's only two unique mecha used throughout the show, but if you're looking at something completely different from the norm when it comes to mecha shows this is a show that might interest you. Another thing that stands out right from the start is the show's terrific opening and ending sequences. The opening sequence is unique in that it is comprised almost entirely of footage from future episodes, which actually change with each episode. Overall an this was an alright episode, nothing great, but enough to get me interested.

 

Overall Rating

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3.5 out of 5 stars
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Buy the collection (eps 1-25) on DVD from Amazon
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