Now that it's done setting up its story, GARO -Vanishing Line- has taken off on a wild road trip across the USA. This week in anime, Nick and Steve expound on how this change has made the show stronger.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
You can read our weekly coverage of GARO -Vanishing Line- here!
Well Steve, I don't think we're allowed to just cover Devilman Crybaby over and over again.
Thankfully, we do have another action-horror show about a ceaseless battle with demons who seek to overpower the heart of modern humanity!
Is it also a psychosexual freak show? Just kidding, it's Garo, of course it is.
It is a funny coincidence that a new Devilman property dropped at the same time Vanishing Line was airing, considering how much of its overall tone and design hearkens back to a genre of anime that basically exists thanks to Devilman.
Yeah, Crybaby is at the head of a neat little violent anime ouroboros that includes Garo and its many iterations. Thankfully, Vanishing Line is shaping up to be a very good iteration!
Damn right it is. Last time we talked about the series, GARO was still establishing its cast and premise, and while it had tons of style, I think it was fair to say there wasn't much to chew on at the start.
Beyond uh, certain aspects
I have zero complaints on that front.
But now we're a full cour into Vanishing Line, and along with a shiny new OP, it's got a lot of interesting new threads to untangle.
It's also turned into a road trip movie across America, and that's a pretty rad development.
A roadtrip featuring a 100% accurate portrayal of visiting Texas at that!
Now that's a hootenanny if I've ever seen one! It's a good development, because it's paired Sword and Sophie together and finally dug into the family themes that were hinted at from the beginning of the show. Both Sword and Sophie are acting as surrogate siblings for each other, and it's been pretty heartwarming to watch them bond.
For instance, they share a love of Big Anime Food.
Just like a real family!
But for real, Vanishing Line's last half-dozen episodes have done wonders for building its own identity outside of the GARO franchise. After some episodic table-setting it's finally started digging into the mysterious El Dorado organization that's been raising hell everywhere, developed the cast into people beyond their basic archetypes, and even started hinting at some more ambitious thematic underpinnings. Like, the basic conflict is pretty straightforward—El Dorado seek power for personal gain versus the Makai Knights and Alchemists seeking power to protect those who can't defend themselves. As far as tokusatsu stories, it's a tale as old as dirt.
It doesn't get much more basic "good vs. evil" than a golden knight plunging his sword through creatures who are literally called Horrors.
But the way that idea has been articulated really surprised me. Like, I never expected an entire episode about the strength and courage of the common man, complete with blatant references to 9/11 first responders.
Yeah! The initial monster-of-the-week episodes, while good in their own way, belie the ambition of the latter episodes. It's still a fun action show, but there's real care put into its construction and direction. It has a distinctive voice that prevents it from becoming just another grim, testosterone-driven, totally-not-kid-stuff™ action anime.
Small touches, like the shots it spends establishing the American pastoral mood, go a long way.
Yeah, the series doesn't necessarily play for realism with its depiction of North America, but its cinematic portrayal absolutely nails the mood of Americana and how we like to envision it in media, which makes for some striking imagery compared to other anime.
Also it has characters like a nun who specializes in martial arts, and that shit fucking rules.
Oh yeah, the cast's easily the best thing about the show. And I'm not JUST saying that because it basically features Teenage Me's Original Character Do Not Steal as one of the protagonists. Like I don't know who decided one of the main characters should be a long-coat-wearing half-native edgelord who needs people to smack some sense into him but I am feeling Very Seen by Luke here.
I love him and he deserved that punch.
1000% deserved it. But for real, Luke's character episode genuinely took me by surprise. I'm so used to big character moments coming down to giant fights or pivotal plot turns. And after Luke got obliterated by his own dad in a city-destroying fight, I figured we'd be in for a long arc about him seeking vengeance, Sasuke-style.
And he sure wanted to!
Instead, he witnesses the totally human bravery of those trying to help in the aftermath, and that's enough to remind him of his (totally badass) mother's final message.
I also love Luke's mom. For uh, reasons.
It's a damn shame she got fridged. The world needs more dual-wielding ladies murdering the fuck outta the evil id of humanity.
Basically every adult woman character in the main cast was written with Spike Spiegel's "I love the kind of woman that can kick my ass" line in mind. And I really can't disagree with that creative choice.
Speaking of which, we just got a Gina episode!
See this is why I didn't bother asking who your favorite character was.
Well honestly, I'm waiting to learn more about the character named Queen
voiced by none other than Romi Park, but Gina is also excellent.
Gina's episode was neat. For one, it shed a little light on her character, who's been a fun foil for the cast, but hadn't really had much interiority so far. It also gave us more lore on this iteration of the Makai organization—this time themed around indigenous Americans!
Behold, one of maybe three depictions of Native Americans in all anime.
I don't know if a Japanese cartoon studio is best equipped to respectfully depict Native American culture, but I'm also not equipped to comment on that to any degree! In any case, American cartoons have done a whole lot worse, and we live here!
Look, I'm just glad to not see anybody decked out in headdresses and war paint.
Amen to that. At least everyone can speak the international language of Big Food.
Back on the topic of Gina, it was interesting to see her character played so straight in her episode. Maybe there's more coming later, but this adventure doesn't give us any sad backstory or dead parent flashbacks. It's just a chance to show Gina's battle prowess while proving that she can walk the walk of a Makai Alchemist even if she moonlights as a cat burglar. That's honestly kind of a nice subversion. Gina's just cool as hell, no extra explanation needed.
She's a cool customer, especially compared to the rest of the main cast, i.e. the large muscle boy, the pouty brooding boy, and the literal child.
Gina is just trying to live her best life, god bless her.
Listen, a family can be a sentient beefsteak, an orphan, a professional Vash the Stampede cosplayer, and Fujiko Mine.
It stuck out to me that Gina really
seems to hate Horrors, so there might yet be some backstory to learn.
But if not, she's still fabulous.
So I guess the question moving forward is:
what's next for Vanishing Line?
Look, YOU normally make those posts and I just wanted to try it myself.
ANYWAY, we're obviously gonna fight some Horrors, maybe level another skyscraper or two, and confront whatever dark secrets are inside El Dorado. And whatever the hell's going on with Sophie's brother.
We also still don't know much about Sword, and since he's the only remaining main character without a backstory, that's probably coming soon. Hint: it's probably sad.
Personally, I'd really like to see Sophie grow into her own as a combatant. She's got the self-defense training, she's got some magic trinkets from Gina, why not go ahead and give her a gun or two. Hint hint, Luke.
She can handle it.
Sophie is still my favorite part of the show and a big part of why its story works so well for me. I can't wait to see her grow, both as a combatant and as her own person.
Same. Other than that, I think there's only one other thing that I want from Vanishing Line.
GIVE (CLAP) SWORD (CLAP) NIPPLES (CLAP)
DO IT, COWARDS