GARO -Vanishing Line-
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 22 of
Garo -Vanishing Line- ?
We begin “YU LIGHT” as poor Sophie deals with the fallout of her brother's possession at the hands of King. It isn't enough that she has to watch her only living family member be devoured by an avatar of ultimate evil; she also learns that King used her love for her brother to plant the seed of corruption in his soul, which is what lead to Martin being consumed by the uncanny figure that now threatens to swallow the souls of every human on Earth. Even considering its animation limits, the scene where the remains of Martin's soul desperately try to claw out of King's form makes for a truly unsettling start to the episode, and the ordeal casts a somber shadow over the rest of the episode, which mostly consists of Team Garo wondering what the hell they're supposed to do to prevent the apocalypse.
It's a typical setup where the heroes gather around a campfire to gather their courage before heading off into the final fray of their adventure. There are some bright moments, such as Zaruba's return, which is more enjoyable than I would have expected given the way he's warmed up to Sophie over the course of the series. But the main conflict of the episode presents itself when King activates the Eldo Net app across the globe and abducts the souls of a sizable chunk of the human population. To make matters worse, Lizzy contacts the crew from the digital world to inform them that the only other person besides Martin who can get the party access to the system is Sophie, who was granted administrator access by her brother.
While part of me feels like this development could have been worked into the plot more naturally, I appreciate the effect it has on the rest of the gang. They've all become Sophie's surrogate family over -VANISHING LINE-'s run, and they just want to get this girl as far away from the battlefield as possible. Luke continues to play the surly-but-affectionate older brother, while Gina and Sword have settled nicely into their roles as gently bickering parents who will stop at nothing to keep Sophie safe; the would-be couple even share their first on-screen kiss this week, finally affirming the obvious attraction that has been building between them since Gina was introduced way back in episode three.
It's the genuine care shared among the members of Team Garo that makes the episode feel so darned sad in between the scenes that set up the villain's final push for world domination. Despite making itself out to be a shlocky throwback to the sexually charged hyperviolence of '80s and '90s anime OVAs, GARO -VANISHING LINE- has really been about the growth of a dysfunctional family of demon hunters. I also feel like the female perspective of series composer Kiyoko Yoshimura has been invaluable, because -VANISHING LINE- has managed to temper its own penchant for cheesy fanservice by letting some of the most standout members of its cast be well-rounded women. Sword may be the muscle-bound badass on the series' posters, but Sophie is the real star of the show, and placing so much story focus on the emotional journey and growth of a well-written teenage girl has been one of GARO's chief successes.
GARO only has a couple more episodes left in its run, and I'm glad to see it remain so consistent in its final stretch. The art and animation has been wonky in the show's back half, but the heart and drama of the storytelling has held my attention for weeks. All that's left to do is see if the final climax of the show can end the series on a high note.
Garo -Vanishing Line- is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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