GARO -Vanishing Line-
Episode 21

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 21 of
Garo -Vanishing Line- ?

Can we just take a moment to recognize how awful Sophie has had it through her life? She's a young girl who's been thrust into a world of nightmarish Horrors, and she's borne witness to the terrible, gory deaths of many people (including her beloved Sister from the orphanage). Last week, she learned that her brother wasn't kidnapped by the monsters of El Dorado; he's been playing host to their King, serving as the unwitting architect to the digital abattoir in which they plan to slaughter the whole human race. And now this week's episode picks up where the last left off, with poor Sophie resolving to kill her brother by her own hands before Sword has to do the work himself. GARO -VANISHING LINE- has done something right in giving us such a likable and well-written young lead to serve as the heart and soul of the series; her abrupt swan dive into the deep end of the world of Horrors and adolescence has been as fascinating to watch as it's been heartbreaking.

It's even more impressive that we feel almost as bad for Martin, who only ever wanted to build a world where his sister could be happy. It's a much more typical vein of tragedy for a protagonist's loved one, but it's no less tragic to see this idealistic young man broken by the realization of all the harm his good intentions have caused. It's a shame that so much of his characterization has been crammed into just these two episodes near the end of the season, but GARO is making the most of it. As Martin desperately tries to flee from Sophie's fratricidal sorrow, there's real sympathy to be gleaned from his manically shifting gaze. His eventually transformation into King himself is also handled well; the twisting, surreal flesh that swallows him whole is the kind of freaky imagery I Wish GARO had indulged more in its back half. While the animation for the Sophie/Martin scenes is inconsistent even in its best moments, the scenes are threaded together by an effective sense of dismal dread, which keeps the emotions high even when the aesthetics don't quite measure up.

The visuals fare much better in Luke and Gina's battle with Queen; it isn't top-tier GARO, but it's up there, featuring crisp animation and fluid direction that balances well against Sophie's moodier main plot. I especially loved Gina and Luke's solution to countering Queen's speed and agility; I've always been a sucker for the creative use of firearms in magic-based fights, and having the two sorcerers activate a spell by shooting each other's bullets in mid-air was a bravura moment. Sword didn't get much to do unfortunately, but I imagine he'll make up for his lack of screen-time in the season's final episodes.

In fact, more Sword and Sophie interaction is about all I wanting to see more of as -VANISHING LINE- crosses the finish line. The show has gotten so wrapped up in moving its plot forward over the past few weeks that Sword and Sophie's interactions have been largely pushed to the wayside. While I've appreciated how much ground the plot has covered in these final entries, I'm looking forward to seeing how GARO pays off the many weeks of bonding and growth our heroes have all experienced. With Martin in full-on Horror mode, Sophie's relationship with her surrogate big-brother will need to be as strong as it's ever been to make it through the madness of the encroaching climax.

Rating: B

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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