GARO -Vanishing Line-
Episode 17

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 17 of
Garo -Vanishing Line- ?

The plot for “THE SLANT LINED” is about as simple as it gets: Bishop and Knight have arrived with an army of Horrors, and Team Garo needs to fight their way through them all. Fortunately, -VANISHING LINE- has taken some inspiration from the Mad Max playbook and uses its very basic setup to execute some of the most thrilling and dynamically executed sequences we've seen from GARO. Anyone clamoring to see more of GARO's signature Makai Knight action will be especially pleased, as Sword spends most of the episode decked out in his armor and using both his sword and Zaruba to go to town on Bishop's army. Recent episodes of GARO haven't been bad by any means; I've really enjoyed the flexible pacing and unique settings brought about by Team Garo's road trip. Still, outside of a couple of bravura sequences scattered about in short bursts, the show hasn't been able to really flex its muscles since the city-destroying extravaganza of episode 8. This episode finally allows the crew at MAPPA to let loose, which means that Sword, Gina, Luke, and even Sophie get a crack at slaying a whole mess of Horrors.

From the moment Sword and Zaruba speed off into Bishop's horde to the surprisingly emotional third act face-off between Sword and Knight, “THE SLANTED LINE” puts the pedal to the metal and never really lets up. Outside of some unnecessarily dark image quality (probably due to the Horror's magical eclipse barrier), this is the most visually impressive excursion from GARO yet. Both the CG models and the virtual camera work are in sync this episode to make the fights feel engaging. The team at MAPPA has come a long way in the execution of GARO's extended action scenes; some of the early episodes suffered from choppy editing and sloppy direction, but most of the sequences in this episode are given an appropriate sense of weight and punch. Gina and Sophie's escape sequences are even more exciting than the shenanigans Sword gets up to; the empty desert wasteland makes for an appropriate stage to demonstrate Gina's expert driving skills without making the CG too conspicuous or awkward.

This episode also finally brings Luke back into the fold, giving him hands down the best sequence of gunplay we've seen from this series. Luke is such a badass as he effortlessly flips and fires his way through the winged Horrors that I completely forgot about the awkward and unsatisfying gun-fighting that marred some of his earlier fights. We also get one of the single coolest moments of -VANISHING LINE- so far, where Sophie gets in on the action by using Gina's car-mounted machine gun to mow down some airborne Horrors. I've been waiting for Sophie to get her chance to contribute to the fight, and I hope that this is a sign of her becoming a more active participant in the fight against King and the Horrors of El Dorado.

This trajectory of development makes even more sense considering Zaruba's unexpected sacrifice against Knight at the end of the episode. While the magic ring is a mainstay of the GARO franchise, his inclusion in this series has been limited; I'm not even sure if he's had a meaningful line in the past four or five episodes. Still, the rest of the cast has been developed enough to make his loss meaningful, because it affects them, Sophie especially. It also provides a decent excuse for Sword to get a powerup, and though his fight against Knight is cut predictably short, the enmity between King's cronies and Team Garo has grown tenfold as of this episode, which bodes well for the encroaching final conflict.

The only real complaint I have for this episode is the clunky transition between the buildup and the climax. Sword, Gina, and Luke are all set to face down a particularly nasty horror, but the episode cuts away to focus on Sophie and Zaruba, only for the rest of the team to show up later with little fanfare. It's an instance of sloppy writing and editing in an otherwise stellar episode, so I can easily forgive it. GARO -VANISHING LINE- is not without its rough edges, but “THE SLANTED LINE” is a perfect distillation of just how fun, exciting, and entertaining this series can be.

Rating: A

Garo -Vanishing Line- is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

James is an English teacher who has loved anime his entire life, and he spends way too much time on Twitter and his blog.

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