Garo: Crimson Moon
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Garo: Crimson Moon ?
This week, we open on some more Seimei backstory time and learn that at some point as a child, her grandfather banished her. Based on her age, it looks like this takes place some time after her mom died, but before we'd previously seen her leave home as an adult. While living on her own, she became Douman Sr.'s protégé and learned the dark arts. He's the one who named her Seimei, a reference to her capacity to hold both light and darkness. They parted on bad terms, but now Seimei is forced to seek his aid in dealing with a particularly troublesome Horror.
Raikou and friends were tasked with hunting down a Horror that eats light, but instead of dying after its defeat, it lodged itself into the Garo armor. It's now eating away at Raikou's “light” and turning him evil, which mostly means he's become rude and hungry. Soon enough he'll go berserk. Seimei can't get rid of the corruption through normal means and must instead absorb it into her own body. She does so, even though she knows that it's a part of Douman Sr.'s plot. He claims that the darkness will be in her forever, so I'm sure it'll come back to turn her into a Horror at some point in the future. I do wish that they hadn't given Seimei's relationship with Douman Sr. sexual overtones. She's a great character, especially for a lady, and it sucks to see the implication of sexual submission to a dude attached to her. It was uncomfortable and I hope that it doesn't intensify in the future.
While Seimei's morality has been ambiguous for a while, it's now evident that she has real maternal feelings for Raikou. Seimei's struggle to turn her affinity for dark methods into a force for good could be an interesting conflict if this show had a more interesting concept of evil. But so far it's mostly been “cartoon evil as a dark force that infects and corrupts people into big scary monsters blah blah blah.” They could've taken the angle of addressing Seimei's greed. While the show usually manages to frame this tic of hers as charmingly rogue-ish, some incidents it caused have been impossible to justify. For example, when she harassed Hakamadare's impoverished girlfriend for her lover's only memento. She has real foibles that aren't reflected by just “embracing darkness” to eventually turn into a Horror. This episode did contain some good dialogue illustrating her character – she's attracted to objects that "glitter" because she pictures herself that way, as a person whose beauty comes from the flashes of light in an otherwise complex morality.
Riakou's supposed “darkness” was also too comical. He just turns super belligerent for some reason? This also demonstrates that he doesn't have any real character flaws. Last episode, Garo: Crimson Moon subverted expectations by making him mostly cool with the fact that his birth family tried to execute him as part of a political scheme. His other potential source of darkness was his inferiority complex surrounding Seimei and her control over the Garo Armor, but that didn't factor into this episode at all either. Maybe he has repression issues, like León from GARO: THE ANIMATION? Just go for one and stick with it, show. Between the characters' histories, relationships, and the subtle machinations of the Heian imperial court, there's the potential for drama here. The show just doesn't seem to be using any of it. Oh well.
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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