GARO -Vanishing Line-
Episode 7

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 7 of
Garo -Vanishing Line- ?

Alas poor Sister, we knew you—not all that well to be honest, seeing as you were never even given a proper name. Still, it's a testament to how well this week's episode of GARO -Vanishing Line- works that Sister's death is impactful, and it isn't just because her end is so gruesome (that much is a given with any death in this series). Much like the motorcycle Sword careens around on all day, this episode is a well-oiled machine of storytelling that uses every tool in the show's kit to weave a tale of mystery, suspense, and honest-to-goodness horror.

Interestingly, none of the suspense relies on surprising the audience; poor Sister had her death flag hoisted high in the air after the show's intro made sure to specifically remind the audience about her presence, and the titular Scout's monstrous nature was revealed in the cold open of the episode. Instead, this episode puts the pieces into play clearly from the start and forces the audience to watch as they slowly collide, feeling as helpless as Sophie to change any of what's about to occur. Of course Sophie's orphanage would be on the Horror's hit list, and of course Sister would make a valiant last stand to defend her children – as unfortunate as it is that she had to die, her devotion to Sophie and the other kids at the orphanage has been her clearest defining trait.

The show is also kind enough to at least give Sister an opportunity to put her martial arts skills to effective use, in an action sequence that's brief but excellently animated and directed. In fact, the entire episode is solid in the visuals department. Not only is the animation crisp and smooth, but the moody colors and skillful direction enhance the overall mood of the episode. When Scout breaks apart and undulates his freakish body toward Sister, there's a great old-school physicality to the scene that some of the more CG-heavy Horrors have lacked. Even the omnipresent butt-rock soundtrack is put to good use this week, somehow managing to straddle the line between cheesy and grimdark without taking us out of the story.

The episode also puts work into fleshing out the El Dorado storyline, and thank goodness for that, because any more cryptic teasing about Garo's overarching plot would have verged into the realm of being comically frustrating. I say it “fleshes out” the El Dorado material instead of strictly “advancing” it, because at the end of the day, we don't actually know more about El Dorado than we did six weeks ago. The most we can say about it is that it might be as much an organization as a place, but its inner workings remain as elusive as ever. Still, the presence of both the Scout and the Dark Knight give El Dorado a much-needed physical presence in the show, one that goes beyond being a mysterious keyword and wreaks tangible havoc on the lives of our heroes. Poor Sophie gets the brunt of the despair; not only does she have to watch her caretaker and friend get impaled twice, the Dark Knight also makes sure to drench Sophie in Sister's blood for good measure. This climax could have easily devolved into edginess for the sake of edginess, but Sophie's visceral reaction to the chaos, as well as Knight's stoic menace, do just enough to ground the happenings emotionally.

In short, this was Garo -Vanishing Line-'s best episode to date, boding well for the show's second half. Now that all of the characters have been introduced and everyone has been folded into the El Dorado plotline, the bodies are literally beginning to hit the floor. The procedural elements of the story were suitably compelling, the Horrors were genuinely horrifying, and the show's aesthetics were able to drive home the suspense and tragedy with gusto. I'm hoping the show is willing to spend more time developing its supporting cast in the future, should it bloody up any more of Sword and Sophie's friends, but I can't really fault the series for finally kickstarting its central plot. Whatever El Dorado is, it means dreadful things for our heroes, and seeing as there's still a handful of episodes left in the season, things are bound to get even grislier from here.

Rating: A

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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