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Anime / Gasaraki

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"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. 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. The script was primarily written by Toru Nozaki but also included the contributions of Chiaki J. Konaka and Yuichiro Takeda. There is a bit of notable trivia for more recent anime fans as the first big "series-wide" directorial-related job a certain Goro Taniguchi had - he was "assistant director" for the series and helped to make it (somewhat) comprehensible. His work here would lead to him being allowed to fully 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 an alternative take on a couple of the same 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.
  • Ancient Conspiracy
  • Apocalypse Maiden: Both Yushiro and Miharu. Whenever they are reincarnated to the same time period, they will be destined to activate their Kugais, fought each other, and while at it, summon The Gasaraki. Since both of their souls knew fully well each outcome will cause calamity to the world they live in, whoever awakens their memories of their past incarnations first will do whatever it takes to prevent the other from performing the summoning, even if it'll cost them their lives.
  • Armed Legs: The Type 17 Raiden (and its improved successor the Shinden) have a pair of pneumatic Pilebunker's in the lower legs. One is in the calf that fires downwards; the other in the knee and fires upwards. They're meant to be used to break through walls floors and roofs but Yushiro (and one of the unnamed shinden pilots who goes crazy) often finds them suitable for TA combat.
  • Artificial Human
  • 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, while Eagle Land would take decades to recover. 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.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The TA squad does this once to rescue Yushiro; Yushiro also attempts this a few times — it rarely works.
  • Bond Creatures: The Kugai.
  • Calling Your Attacks: The TA pilots have to give some commands vocally, making this a rare Justified Trope for a mecha anime.
  • Chainsaw Good: Miharu's Fake mounts a claw weapon with a slide out chainsaw in its center.
  • Colonel Badass: Colonel Hiyakawa.
  • Countrystan: The first few episodes are set in the middle of a conflict in Belgistan.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Kugai lays a big one on two of Symbol's Fakes, even after getting its arm blown off. It literally stomps through a leg joint of one of them, severing the leg.
  • Derivative Differentiation: It started out as a clone of Neon Genesis Evangelion, but evolved into more of a spiritual predecessor to Code Geass.
    • 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 '80s 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.
  • Evolving Credits
  • 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. A random JSSDF researcher is also shown with the standard version.
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: The next episode previews.
  • Foreign Language Theme: The opening theme, "Message #9".
  • A God Am I: Kazukiyo.
  • Good Samaritan: Wan.
  • 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)
  • Hitchhiker's Leg: Used in an early episode by two female JSSDF soldiers in a war-torn country when they need to borrow a set of wheels to find their missing comrade, and a couple passing Americans are more than happy to oblige after seeing them posed on the side of the road. Ataka is amused, while Kaburagi is visibly embarrassed afterwards.
  • 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.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: The Kugai, which allowed the ancient Gowa clan to conquer Japan.
  • 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.
  • Japanese Pronouns: Yushiro uses the typical male protagonist "Ore", Hayakawa uses the standard military "Jibun", and Misuzu uses "Watakushi" to demonstrate her status as The Ojou.
  • 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.
  • Man Behind the Man: Phantom.
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: "Tactical armor," abbreviated to "TA" (Gowa) and "Metal Fake" or just "Fake" (Symbol).
  • Mission Control: When the TAs are deployed their command vehicle is never far behind, and the characters in it are important secondary characters to Yushiro.
  • Mini-Mecha: The TAs, Fakes, and Kugai are a bit smaller than a modern tank.
  • Official Couple: Yushiro and Miharu, also doubling as Star-Crossed Lovers for quite a while.
  • 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.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: Symbol.
  • Past-Life Memories: Each incarnation of both Yushiro and Miharu have this ability, but not every incarnation of themselves can fully awaken their memories.
  • Pillar of Light: The summoning ritual in the first episode produces one of these from the sky.
  • 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 TAs 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.
  • Qurac: Belgistan.
  • Real Robot: The story takes place just as mechas are entering the world stage as military equipment, and those who don't have them are desperate to get hold of them.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The Belgistan invasion is blatantly reminiscent of the first Iraq war — "Desert Storm" — and its coverage on CNN.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: A frequent tactic of the Gowa family. Early on they manage to involve Japan in the invasion of Belgistan, despite such an action being completely illegal according to the constitution, as a way to test the TAs (and, more covertly, to investigate the "weapon of mass destruction").
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Yeah, Wan, trying to take on several armed Navy SEALS with a pistol on the open deck of a cargo ship with no cover was probably not one of your brightest moves.
  • Spell My Name With An S: Wan/Won/Huang as well as Meth, whose name is spelled "Mess" when seen on a screen at one point.
  • Summoning Ritual: Both Yushiro and Miharu's past incarnations (but not all,) had the training experience to summon The Gasaraki.
  • Super Prototype: Subverted; the Type 17I Shinden is a mass produced model that is superior to the original Type 17 Raiden both in performance and operating time(36 hours compared to 60 minutes).
  • Super Robot: Cruelly desconstructed to horrifying levels with the Kugai.
  • True Companions: The TA platoon treat Yushiro as one of their own (despite their mistrust of his secretive family), even though he's a civilian, and Yushiro does the same in kind.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The group photo of the TA company in the opening credits has a timestamp of October 2014.
  • Tyke-Bomb: Miharu. Also Yushiro.
  • Useful Notes on Japanese Culture: Identification of the Nou-men (the Noh theatrical masks that play a role in the series)
    • 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.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Nishida, who seizes control of the Japanese economy and bends the entire world to his will.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The test pilots for the Type 17I suffer nasty side effects from the Psycho Serum they're given in the cockpit.
  • 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.
  • You Are the Translated Foreign Word: Yushiro and Miharu are both repeatedly told they are Kai (嵬) which is never given an explicit translation.