Garo: Crimson Moon
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Garo: Crimson Moon ?
At long last, Garo: Crimson Moon has produced one unambiguously good episode. By my calculations, if this keeps up, the show should produce Citizen Kane by episode 23. I will be evaluating each subsequent episode according to this eventual standard. Of course, if I do this, daily streaming reviews will have to start implementing grades below F.
Kidding aside, this episode opens with Ashiya Douman breaking the seal on a powerful Horror. Some time later, Seimei gets pickpocketed by a little boy named Gobeh. The team chases him down to his house, where they meet his terminally ill mother and baby sister. Gobeh steals in order to support them. A generous soul, Seimei decides to support them by employing Gobeh as her personal thief. They share an interest in useless and eccentric garbage, so it's a pretty ideal partnership. Pretty soon, however, a plague begins to spread through town. It's caused by Douman's horror, Itsumaden, who spreads sickness fueled by a human's angry refusal to accept their impending death. However, it needs a vessel in order to turn into a serious problem, so he's been trying to brainwash Gobeh's mother into accepting the monster.
It's a weird episode because Gobeh's mother is the one who triumphs over a Horror rather than any of the leads. Letting go of her desire to be with her children, she decides to die peacefully rather than endanger them by accepting Itsumaden. Raikou can then kill the monster while it's vulnerable outside of a host. Gobeh raises his sister, while his mother gets to look at her happy children one last time before peacefully passing on. Most Garo episodes are about how somebody falls victim to a Horror, so it's strange to get an episode about how someone doesn't, especially without any real help from the main cast. It's an uncomplicated but sweet story about the endurance of the human spirit in the face of temptation.
Yasusuke (now Hakamadare) has gone full Robin Hood, living in the woods and stealing from rich people because he hates them. This comes with a ridiculous makeover, which includes a lizard skull necklace, feathered pauldrons, and an exposed chest. He claims to be a crusader for the poor, but he's not very nice to the impoverished kid with the dying mom, so I kind of doubt his motives. Still, it's nice to get confirmation that long-haired open-chest guy from the ending has already been established, and I don't have to be on the lookout for another main character. I look forward to gazing at your character design in the future, Hakamadare.
So this episode had a theme. A lot of the tension in Garo: Crimson Moon so far has come from regular ole class politics rather than Horrors. Although ignorant of his origins, Raikou is the exiled heir to an important noble family. Meanwhile, Seimei is a noblewoman who rejected her origins. Both Seimei and Raikou angst because they're privileged by their backgrounds but also empathetic to the lower classes. While Horrors are simple enough to combat, systematic problems like poverty are hard, and maybe even beyond the scope of what the Makai Order is equipped to deal with. “You can fight the Horror but not the human foible that created it” was also a refrain in the previous Garo, but this shade of the idea feels informed by the distinct predilections of one of the head writers, Shou Aikawa. At least it's interesting to compare this to Aikawa's other current show (and pet project) Concrete Revolutio.
While that anime is expressly political commentary, Garo: Crimson Moon pours similar sentiments into a more conventional narrative. Livening up archetypal stories with unexpected poignancy and thematic depth is kind of Aikawa's “thing” (he did it beautifully in the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime), so I've been curious about whether any of his stamp would be present here. Concrete Revolutio, which is an examination of terrorists' motivations in a Watchmen-inspired world inhabited by characters representing manga genres in Japanese pop culture, definitely shares a perspective with Garo: Crimson Moon. They're both filled with heroes who realize that they're complicit in toxic systems and turn against them, becoming radically anti-establishment. So Concrete Revolution's Jiro has a lot in common with Garo's Seimei and Hakamadare, beyond just sharing a writer. I'm curious to see whether both shows continue along similar thematic tracks.
Garo: Crimson Moon is currently streaming on Funimation.
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.
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