"Time is written on the wind, fate is not carved in sheets of stone, these are the words I hear."
Yushiro is the fourth son of the Gowa family (he has a younger sister, Misuzu, in addition to his brothers), and one of the test pilots for a new piece of military hardware referred to as "Tactical Armor", or TAs — in other words, Humongous Mecha. He is also involved in a ritual dance (based on traditional Nou (or Noh) dance movements), overseen by the Gowa family, which appears to be a type of Summoning Ritual. During his first attempt at this ritual, Yushiro is attacked by a vision of a teal-haired female wearing a mask (probably Ko-omote, see below) who no one else can see, and who, before she disappears, begs him not to bring back the "terror". At the same time, in another part of the world, a mysterious organization is conducting an experiment of their own — involving the same teal-haired female, a girl named Miharu...From there, Gasaraki delves into the political, with the Gowa family and the mysterious organization called Symbol essentially using governments as proxies for the battles of the Tactical Armor units and Symbol's "Metal Fakes". Gasaraki also delves into the spiritual with the history of the Kai, who used the power of the summoned Gasaraki to essentially rule ancient Japan; the continued attempts to summon the Gasaraki; as well as the question of just what the "Gasaraki" are.Gasaraki was produced by Sunrise, directed by Ryosuke Takahashi of Armored Trooper VOTOMS fame and originally aired in 1998. ADV Films released a translated version. It is a bit notable for more recent anime fans as the first big "series-wide" directoral job a certain Goro Taniguchi had - he was "assistant director" for the entire show and helped to make it (somewhat) comprehensible. His work here would lead to him being allowed to fully write, direct and produce Planetes (which could not possibly be more different from this show) and Code Geass (which, on some level, might be seen as Gasaraki's spiritual successor - it takes on a lot of the same fundamental themes as Gasaraki, just from a different viewpoint).
This series provides examples of:
Abnormal Ammo: The Plastic Rounds used in the TA's 25mm machine guns for riot suppression, the gun is also switched to single shot when using them, and the HESH rounds used by the US Navy Fakes during their assault on the gowa building, HESH rounds are a Truth in Television however.
Aloof Older Brother: Yushiro has three of them, though Kiyotsugu and Kiyoharu probably show the most concern for him out of the three Kiyoharu goes so far to help him get in contact with his TA platoon so he can find Miharu, on the other end Miharu had Tsuna, who she ends up killing cos he tries to kill Yushiro.
Badass Normal: The Kugai, which goes up against two top of the line mecha armed with only a sword, and wins. also Yushiro, especially later on when he ends up taking on a F-22 jet fighter with a badly damaged TA, despite being told repeatedly that a TA is no match against jets.
Batman-Gambit: Nishida's plan to restore Japan's honor by intentionally causing the economic collapse of both the US and Japan's stock market/economy by using Japan's economic information and liquid assets as a weapon of sorts, forcing Japan to endure 3 years of poverty, being confident that Japan's people would be able to endure such hardship. It gets derailed slightly when the US president Takes A Third Option, lifting the wheat trade embargo and admitting defeat, resulting in Japan getting what it wanted mostly peacefully. Although Nishida was satisfied with this, he still felt he had failed, and takes his own life.
Beyond the Impossible: Yushiro frequently does things with a TA that are considered both suicidal and impossible.
Cooldown Hug: Averted; Daizaburo is about to give one to his daughter, Misuzu, to dissuade her from using her powers as a Kai — and right then, his eldest son Kazukiyo shoots him in the back, killing him.
Something of a deconstruction, it's revealed that most of them (except Kazukiyo) abide by some code of morality as the series goes on. i.e., upon learning that Miharu is a Kai, Kiyotsugu refuses to disclose said knowledge to protect her from Kazukiyo. And when Kiyoharu is the one who spills the beans, Kiyotsugu is all Oh Crap.
This is probably a case of Older Than They Think combined with Self Plagiarism. Ryosuke Takahashi, the director of Gasaraki, is also famous for Armored Trooper VOTOMS, a series from The Eighties that uses many of the themes Gasaraki allegedly "stole" from Evangelion. In particular, the cosmic force in the series is fairly similar to Wiseman from VOTOMS, Yushiro and Miharu's relationship is much closer to the one between Chirico and Fyana than the one between Shinji and Rei, and SYMBOL is very similar to the Secret Society.
Eagleland. The darker, more sinister variety of Type 2 Eagleland. Though its aimed at its government rather than its entire society.
Expy: One of the biggest complaints thrown at Miharu is that she's a blatant copy of Rei Ayanami, in both appearance and character. In the first half of the show, this seems to hold a lot of water (she even has a People Jar scene or two), but to the show's credit the arc of her development and story eventually go in a much different direction than Rei did.
Eyes Always Shut: Nishida, though its due to the fact that he took his own eyes out with his katana.
Follow the Leader: The entire show's been accused of ripping roughly a good three-quarters of its concepts and plot directly from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Exactly how much this is true has been hotly debated over the years; while there are some very obvious similarities (the clear comparisons between SEELE and SYMBOL, the dysfunctional-family-exploiting-a-son-as-a-pilot dynamic, Miharu's apparent similarities to Rei Ayanami, and the "divine" origins of the key systems of the mecha) the show does take a fairly different direction in the end, with somewhat different messages about the meaning of family and honor and a take on love that wholly contradicts some of Eva's Freudian assertions.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Nishida has a horizontal scar that goes across the bridge of his nose and over both his eyelids, from where he cut his own eyes out.
Heroic BSOD: Miharu has one 2/3rds into the series; Yushiro eventually snaps her out of it at the end. TA pilots Takayama and Kitazawa also have one inside their TA's during a riot.
Heroic Bystander: When first introduced, Wan appears to be one of these then its revealed that actually one of Symbols former field agents)
I Just Want to Be Normal (variation; a third person example from Kaburagi, who feels that Yushiro shouldn't be in the TA platoon as a) he's a civilian not a soldier, and b) its unfair that he hasn't been given a choice in the matter.
Improbable Age: Yushiro is 16; justified in that he is still a civilian, and that the TA squadron he's assigned to wasn't meant to serve in combat at all. This is also lampshaded during episode 6, when Yushiro disappears:
Ataka: Just how many teenage boys in SSDF uniforms do you think are here anyways?
Intrepid Reporter: Deconstructed, said reporter is a no name balding overweight middleaged war correspondent, and his reasons for following the TA platoon in Belgistan (after coming across them on a lucky break) are less than noble, (hoping that his report will get him an Emmy), he and his cameraman then get unceremoniously executed by their own guide, who seemed to do it For Teh Lulz
Jerkass: Kitazawa is one of these briefly, and even remarks on it later on in the series.
Katanas Are Just Better: Subverted; the Kugai tried to use one against one of symbols Fakes... only to get its arm blown off by the mecha's grenade launcher. Nishida is always carrying one, but talks about how it takes lots of work to keep the blade in good condition as a metaphor for the Japanese people. He only actually uses it twice, once to slice his own eyes out, and again to commit seppuku.
Latex Space Suit: See for yourself justified as the the cockpits of TA's are cramped beyond belief, and the suits at least have suitable padding on them to protect the pilots as they get buffeted around
Living Statue: Miharu's kugai, Kokuten, is sealed away inside a statue and guarded by one of Daizaburo's brothers, due to this it never awakens in the present day, unlike Yushiro's Kugai, Shuten.
Mad Scientist: Subverted in Kiyotsugu Gowa's case; he appears to be amoral at first, but does have lines he will not cross over, to the point that he intentionally avoids telling his brother Kazukiyo that Misuzu is a kai because "there's no telling what he might do." He's also horrified when Kiyoharu tells him instead.
Mr Yonetani plays this straighter, injecting pilots with the Eyeglobulum even though he knew of the risks, because Kiyotsugu was unprepared to do the same. He even tries to justify it when one of the pilots lapses into a coma.
Yonetani: If the human race gave up on everything with a 25% failure rate, we'd still be sitting in trees eating bananas.
Only a Flesh Wound: In episode 10, the Kugai gets its arm blown off by a mecha mounted grenade launcher. Its response? Jump onto said mecha, knock it to the ground, tear mecha's limbs off with its remaining arm, and pummel it into scrap metal.
Possession Implies Mastery: Subverted; throughout the series, neither side fully comes to grips with using their mecha. Ataka even says in episode 5 when three ishtars show up "This is crazy! We haven't even faced other TA's on the simulator yet."
Psycho Serum: The Eyeglobulum injected into the test pilots for the Type 17I without their knowledge, to make matters worse said substance is actually a compound molecule that was extracted from the Kugai's muscles.
Miharu wears one of the female-style masks, probably the Ko-omote (young woman). There are seven or so variations of this mask with different names. The difference between most of them is the styling of the hairline.
The Kai-summoned units have faces patterned after the Hannya masks.
Vertical Mecha Fins: The Raiden/Shinden mechs do have rather notable shoulder fins that are especially prominent from the sides (which are, in-universe, the power batteries for the mechs); SYMBOL's Ishtar technically has fins as well, although they're quite small in comparison to the rest of the mech.