GARO -Vanishing Line- Episode 6
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Garo -Vanishing Line- ?
It seems like Garo -Vanishing Line- was listening to me last week when I complained about Sword being the weak link in his own show, because we finally got to spend some personal time with everyone's favorite steak-chomping, bosom-worshipping lunkhead. In fact, this episode doubles down on pretty much everything that makes Garo entertaining, continuing the positive trend started last week. Pretty much the only thing missing is Gina, because Gina is the best.
Instead of our star femme fatale, this week Luke makes his reappearance, and when Sophie pops by the diner, he makes it very clear how little patience he has for Sword's newfound position of “World's Buffest Babysitter”. His arc in this episode is fairly predictable, as he slowly but surely comes to terms with Sophie's place on the team, as well as the fact that he might have to put away his pride and let Sword lend him a hand from time to time. If I'm being honest, Luke is probably the true weak link of the cast, if only because playing the antisocial badass straight-man to the rest of Team Sword's antics is a role that's less fun and interesting by its very nature. The stylized glimpses we get into Luke's past late in the episode do just enough to humanize him though, and I can see him revealing more compelling shades as the season progresses.
Besides, this episode really belongs to Sophie and Sword, who's finally breaking down and taking on the surrogate big-brother role he was destined to fill for Sophie from the moment they met. Garo might be taking a little too much time to hammer home Sword and Sophie's growing bond, but when the results are this fun to watch, I can't complain too much. Sword is never going to be a paragon of complex interiority, but it's the little things that make him feel exponentially more relatable as a hero. We get to see his job at the Chinese restaurant that presumably fronts his Makai Knight adventures, we meet his incredibly charming boss Meifang, and there's even a brief beat where Sword gets to knock back a drink with some of his friends, who all seem to be refreshingly average citizens. Revealing the smaller details of Sword's everyday life goes a long way in having him feel more human, instead of just being an over-muscled, Capital-B “Bro” with a serious boob complex. This also causes his scenes with Sophie to come across as more genuine; a few episodes ago, taking on Sophie felt like an obligation more than anything else, but now we can really understand why this doofus would want to keep track of the impish little girl who keeps sticking her nose into the world of Horrors. By the time Sophie is bussing tables alongside Sword, their dynamic feels both natural and inevitable, which is key to Garo -Vanishing Line-'s emotional appeal.
The Horror plot is a step up from the last couple episodes, even if the final action beat end up being about as average as everything past episode one. The concept of an entire cinema being possessed by a Horror is just unique and weird enough to work, and the visuals that accompany the brainy-flesh mass that devours the theater's unsuspecting patrons make for yet another creative and ghoulish monster in the show's repertoire. The animation continues to be just good enough to pass muster, though some sloppy direction and cheap-looking shortcuts during Luke's escape threatened to derail the scene a couple of times. If anything, the last few episodes have proven that these Horror encounters may be what Garo is the worst at on a technical level. In those first couple episodes, the CGI and slick hand-drawn animation made for some visually engaging showdowns, but ever since then, the fights have consistently been the weakest part of any given episode. The brevity of action is somewhat inherent to Garo's traditional formula, but it also saps any sense of stakes from the proceedings. The only character who's ever truly seemed to be in danger was Sophie, and she's a non-magical teenager, so that only makes sense. On the other hand, Gina, Sword, and Luke are maybe a little too good at their jobs. Obviously, Garo isn't likely to kill of any of its heroes so early in the season, but I wouldn't mind if the show at least pretended that the Horrors were a threat to be reckoned with, instead of the mild nuisance they seem to be most of the time.
That being said, Garo is doing pretty much everything else right this week, so I'm going to call this episode a solid win, regardless of its lackluster action. Sophie and Sword are finally joining Gina to fill out the Triumvirate of Badasses, and Luke is just fine too. More than being scary, thrilling, or bone-chilling, Garo -Vanishing Line- is first and foremost out to have some fun. It's been succeeding on that front, and it shows few signs of slowing down any time soon.
Garo -Vanishing Line- is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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