GARO -Vanishing Line-
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 24 of
Garo -Vanishing Line- ?
Given how underdeveloped Knight has been an as an antagonist, there was no way that his battle with Sword in this GARO -VANISHING LINE- finale wasn't going to feel a little underwhelming. To be sure, MAPPA does a good job with this entertaining CG-infused battle despite its brevity, but it can't help but come across as a narrative afterthought and a potentially wasted opportunity, since both Luke and Sophie have more personal matters to settle with the Dark Makai Knight than Sword ever has. Seeing those two face down Knight in some capacity would have felt right for their respective characters arcs, but Sword is in no need of such dramatic catharsis. The mission statement he bellows as he delivers the killing blow is essentially the same philosophy that has been driving him since this show started; he wants to use his strength to defend the weak and kill monsters. Sure, he's become a slightly more mature and responsible hero, but Sword is among the most static members of the main cast, so seeing him dispatch Knight is less satisfying, leaving the first half of this finale feeling like leftovers that just didn't have anywhere else to go earlier.
Thankfully, the second half of the finale makes up for its weak opening, even if it does rely on a trope I'm not crazy about, where a main character is forced to forget the journey they've undertaken. My distaste for this conclusion is entirely personal though, and from a practical standpoint I understand why Sword and Luke would want to give Sophie her normal life back. Seeing our heroine reunite with her friends at the orphanage and regain a Horror-free youth was genuinely touching, but I would be lying if I didn't let out a celebratory cheer once it became clear that she'd regain her memories and reunite with Gina at the diner.
This is where we get the real satisfying ending of the series, as the episode delivers a sweet montage that shows the fates of all our primary and secondary characters, while still leaving the story open to continue down the line. Meifang has to nurse her crush for Luke a little longer, since he's gone off on his own journey as a Makai Knight. Stanley has joined up with the rest of the crew at the Chinese restaurant (most of whom turn out to be attractive bishonen in a last-minute gag). Best of all, Sophie is determined to tutor under Gina and become an Alchemist, so she can meet Sword again and help him protect the world from evil. And just to make sure we end the series on a not-too-serious note, Sword makes a premature reappearance that flabbergasts Sophie, reminding the audience that even though Sword was never the show's most interesting or complex hero, he's a likable dork in his own right.
-VANISHING LINE- wasn't always the most consistently animated or well-written series, but its highs outweighed its lows at every turn. What began as a seemingly low-brow homage to old-school titillation and ultra-violence eventually transformed into a cross-country road trip, which delivered equal parts coming-of-age story, cavalcade of action, and supernatural mystery. This iteration of GARO's care for its characters and story is enough to make the show worthy of a recommendation for fans. I already find myself missing Team Garo, and I hope to see more of their adventures together someday soon.
Garo -Vanishing Line- is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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