GARO -Vanishing Line-
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 19 of
Garo -Vanishing Line- ?
With only a handful of episodes to go, GARO -VANISHING LINE- has settled comfortably into the rhythm of its final act. We're essentially finished with Horror-of-the-week episodes, as our heroes barrel full speed toward the story's climax. It's been revealed that Sword's familial tragedy has specific connections to the shady company Martin has been lured into serving, Queen and Bishop have stepped in to serve as full time antagonists fighting Team Garo, and Sophie is quickly learning that her brother's place in El Dorado is more sinister than merely being the victim of a kidnapping.
In many ways, this is a very straightforward entry of -VANISHING LINE-. It opens with some ominous foreshadowing from the bad guys at the top of the episode, then we get some adorable substitute-sibling bonding with Sophie and Sword, and then the team heads off to investigate the slow erosion of El Dorado at the hands of Makai's infestation, which leads them into the extended fight and chase with Queen, Bishop, and Stanley. If the final act of GARO ends up feeling like one extended episode broken up into pieces, then this episode functions as the final setup for the series' king-sized climax. It raises more questions than it answers, but it's hard to be too frustrated, seeing as the resolutions only need a few more weeks to (hopefully) be resolved.
Take Martin, for instance. For most of -VANISHING LINE-'s run he's been little more than a human MacGuffin, a brother-shaped excuse to get Sophie involved in the business of hunting Horrors and tracking down El Dorado. Only now are we getting a glimpse into his own story, and what we've seen so far is leading us to a fairly predictable (but still compelling) conclusion. His journals reveal a clarity of purpose that has been bolstered by someone sending fake supportive correspondence as Sophie. I've been watching anime for long enough to know that whenever anyone writes “Everything for my (loved one)” all over their belongings, it's a bad sign. I'm not saying that Martin is definitely going to turn out to be King, but I do think our girl should prepare for the worst, especially since her encroaching family reunion is swiftly becoming more unhinged.
Of course, the show could juke left when I expect it to swerve right, but episodes like this give me the impression that the strength of Garo's final episodes won't lie in their originality, but in their execution. Tossing a protagonist into an artificial dream world in the final act is How to End an Anime 101, but I care enough about these characters that I'm willing to excuse the familiarity of the show's tropes. The little fist-bump that Sophie and Sword share before heading off to Horror Hell is enough to cement just how warm and well-developed GARO's cast has become this season, and I want to see their adventure through to the end.
It helps that even when GARO's playing it safe, it still manages to be entertaining. Action beats like the Sword & Luke vs. Queen showdown are fun and exciting despite not showcasing the best of GARO's production values, and Stanley's inclusion shows that the series hasn't entirely abandoned its trashy, '90s-OVA flavored roots. I don't know what I expected the series to do with such a banal-seeming villain, but it certainly wasn't revealing him to be a normal-sized head attached to a baby-sized body (that then gets violently exploded via grenade); if -VANISHING LINE- can provide more crazy moments like that in its final run of episodes, I will be perfectly satisfied.
At this point, the only thing missing from GARO's formula is Gina, whose absence has been the only thing in these last few episodes that's really nagged at me. The show has placed such emphasis on building up Sophie's surrogate family, so I struggle to understand the thought process behind abandoning one of its most vital members so close to the end. I can only hope that her inevitable return to the front lines will be as badass and triumphant as her character deserves. Someone's got to make sure these dorks get their happy ending, after all.
Garo -Vanishing Line- is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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