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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 -- 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).
- 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: What Miharu seems to be. And what Misuzu turns out to truly be, in the Grand Finale.)
- The Archer: Tsuna Watanabe's weapon of choice, even using it to kneecap Yushiro when he refuses to keep summoning the Gasaraki.
- 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
- The Atoner: Daizaburo.
- 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.
- Bifauxnen: Lieutenant Mirai
- Big Damn Heroes: The TA squad does this once to rescue Yushiro; Yushiro also attempts this a few times -- it rarely works.
- Big Fancy House: Which has The Thing That Goes Doink, naturally.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: The Gowa clan.
- Bond Creatures: The Kugai.
- Bridge Bunnies
- 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.
- Clingy Jealous Girl Misuzu does NOT like Miharu being around Yushiro; plus, the way she dotes on Yushiro is rather creepy given that he's her brother. Even when, well, he's not the real Yushiro.
- And for worse? When she connects with one of the mechas as the kai she is, Kazukiyo uses her jealousy of Miharu so she will keep brainwashing her.
- Colonel Badass: Colonel Hiyakawa.
- Combat Pragmatist: Yushiro, though some of it is psychic power induced.
- Conspicuous CG: Used quite a bit, mainly on computer monitors.
- Cool Big Sis: Rin Ataka
- 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.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Most of the Gowa clan.
- 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.
- Dead Person Impersonation. The protagonist Yushiro was raised under the identity of the real, and long-dead, "Yushiro Gowa".
- Demonic Invaders
- Derivative Differentiation: It started out as a clone of Neon Genesis Evangelion, but evolved into more of a spiritual predecessor to Code Geass.
- Eagle Land. The darker, more sinister variety of Type 2 Eagleland. Though its aimed at its government rather than its entire society.
- Eva Fins: While not quite as prominent as the Trope Namer, 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.
- 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)
- Fauxlosophic Narration (The next episode previews.)
- 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.)
- Foreign Language Theme (The opening theme, "Message #9")
- For Science! (Kiyotsugu's MO)
- Generation Xerox (as the flashback shows, Kazukito's actions mimmic those of the Watanabe clan member Tsuna)
- Genre Savvy (Miharu is very aware that Symbol (and by extension Gowa) views her and Yushiro as a means to an end)
- A God Am I ( Kazukiyo)
- Good Hair, Evil Hair (Kazukiyo has Slicked-Back Hair, easily identifying him as evil)
- 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)
- 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
- Impossibly Graceful Giant
- 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.)
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot
- Kabuki Sounds
- 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)
- Loads and Loads of Characters
- 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
- Normally I Would Be Dead Now: Yushiro miraculously avoids being pulverized by an artillery bombardment.
- And even earlier he gets shot in the head by a sniper and lives, though in all fairness he was still wearing his helmet.
- Not So Crazy Anymore: The United States invades a Middle-Eastern dictatorship in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction that apparently never existed...
- Also the idea of using unmanned flying/gliding drones for reconnaissance.
- And the US being almost crippled by an economic collapse.
- Also the idea of using unmanned flying/gliding drones for reconnaissance.
- Official Couple: Yushiro and Miharu, also doubling as Star-Crossed Lovers for quite a while.
- The Ojou: Misuzu.
- 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)
- Parental Substitute: Councilman Meth becomes one for Miharu, Phantom even comments on it, saying that it is clouding his judgment.
- Pillar of Light
- Playing Against Type: Nobuyuki Hiyama plays the Super Robot pilot... yet he's far from Hot-Blooded.
- 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.)
- Qurac: Belgistan.
- Real Robot
- Really Seven Hundred Years Old: Yushiro, Miharu, and Phantom
- Ripped from the Headlines: The Belgistan invasion is blatantly reminiscent of the first Iraq war -- "Desert Storm" -- and its coverage on CNN.
- Screw Destiny: Yushiro.
- 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.)
- Sergeant Rock (Major Takayama)
- Sexy Mentor
- Show Some Leg: Used to borrow a Humvee early in the series.
- Solemn Closing Theme
- The Squad
- Summoning Ritual
- 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 Nightmare Fuel levels with the Kugai.)
- Team Mom (Lieutenant Kaburagi is a more stern example of one of these, crossing into Sergeant Rock)
- True Companions: The TA platoon treat Yushiro as one of their own, even though he's a civilian, and Yushiro does the same in kind.
- Twenty Minutes Into the Future
- 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)
- 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.)
- Who Wants to Live Forever? ( Phantom.)
- You Gotta Have Teal Hair (Miharu)