Garo, Part One – Review

Today I dipped back into one of the few shows I slept on in 2014, a show whose CG suits and slightly hair metal aesthetic initially put me off. As it turns out, Garo’s first episode wasn’t really indicative of the production overall; Garo is a confident and polished adventure serial, full of solid drama and compelling fight scenes. It’s a little too purely archetypal for me to say I was all that emotionally invested, but it’s certainly a well-told story, perfect for anyone starved for fantasy that falls outside of the usual light novel wheelhouse. A fine time all around!

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my episode notes below.


Episode 1

This show’s character designs are incredibly distinctive – angular in a unique way, but still quite expressive

The setting as well

Haha, I forgot how incredibly metal this opening sequence was. SAVE THE WITCH’S BABY FROM THE PYRE, SURF OFF ON YOUR BLACK METAL HORSE

And so the kingdom instituted a witch hunt, killing many witches and warlocks over seventeen years

This English VA is actually quite good

It’s a witch’s job to seal away demons

The color work is also very nice

Inventive setup and direction for this fight, even if it’s heavily CG-reliant

The monster design is also solid

As is the music. Some vocal tracks, nice piano, a diverse mix of genres

Episode 2

Nice foreground objects framing this tense opening scene

Gorgeous backgrounds, more great character designs, confident political machinations. Lots of good stuff

Some nice twangy guitar

The relationship between father and son is pretty unique and believable as well

Ooh, nice match cut

The queen is condemned for treason

Nice gags with the dad

Emma catches a punch with her teeth. About as strong an intro as you could get

“Those of Makai blood are not permitted to harm humans”

Another excellent transition, tricking the audience into assuming they’re rescuing her. The direction here seems more evocative of a solid live-action drama than an anime

Both the side character and monster designs continue to be very diverse

Man, some of these layouts are great

“I need this like I need the plague.” oof. Awkward line

“Hide in self-imposed exile.” Alright, a fair number of lines that are a real mouthful

Episode 3

They head off to claim the son’s “Madou Ring”

“It looks like everyone is having problems with the growth of their successors.” Garo has a much wider net of life experience represented in its characters

Some gorgeous shots here. The alchemist captured in the ice

“The power is here if you wish it.” The temptation of power already seems key. Luis working to master the flames within himself

It’s nice that the leads are smart enough to not be fooled by this guy

More excellent enemy designs, more engaging fight choreography. The traditional animation has an excellent back-and-forth, and the CG scenes use the ways CG can spin the camera in very compelling ways

Episode 4

“Bloodville.” These sure are some episode titles

Looks like this’ll be an episodic Kill the Horror one

And it’s actually going for a horror vibe, which the show’s wacky character designs work well for. Good sound design, too

“Revenge will only destroy you”

Ooh, really nice guitar track here. Good strumming and good lead melody

“Did you tell them about the ceremony?”

Yeah, this episode’s a good horror story all around. Weird villagers, dark ceremonies, creepy dolls

And the boy in this village wants revenge for his father’s death. It all comes around

And of course, a dash of “humans are the real monsters”

“Leave it alone. It’s not our job to pass judgment on humans.”

Episode 5

It turns out Alphonso is Leon’s cousin

This show is just filled with great layouts

Episode 6

Hah, Leon’s such a kid

“You need to stop getting angry over everything.” Ema speaks the truth

“Unnecessary anger will blind you from important things.” Again, Leon’s fundamentals

Again, classic tricks. The Horrors prey on human fears and failings

“It’s happiness even to be able to fight with each other.”

This is a pretty sad story

Another very cool monster design

“The people left behind should be thinking about what they should do now, instead of bitterly reflecting on the past”

Episode 7

Wow, this sure isn’t an attractive episode. Twitter dudes weren’t lying

Wow, so many held stills. Jeeez

The bad guy has Makai armor too

A werewolf!

Leon… becomes a werewolf? Okay

Pepe has returned!

This episode isn’t compelling in either a visual or narrative sense

This plot is ridiculous

Another “consumed by revenge” plot

Episode 8

Leon’s gotta level up to fight the black knight

Looks like this episode is about his dad’s naked adventure. Good times

German is such a great character. A lot of fun compared to Leon

And German is naked. That didn’t take long

“Stare all you want, and think of what could have been.” Ahaha this scene

“Great! And now soldiers, why not”

Bernardo Dion is the black knight

“I pray my son will discover what he lacks in time”

So Bernardo used to be a Makai knight, one who trained with German

He once lead soldiers away to protect German and Anna

“No time. Naked it is, then.” This voice actor’s performance is terrific

And he gets the girl in the end. Oh German

Episode 9

Oh man, this fight’s setup is gorgeous

Bloodcough noooo

Finding a Horror to train the prince

The fact that the Makai order is dying from this land is tangible and compelling

“I need more power.” Leon doesn’t get it

Both potential knights head off to fight a Chimera

Alfonso is a good kid

Leon and Alfonso meet briefly

Alfonso’s very naive, of course

“Ask your blade, who is it I must protect?”

Alfonso’s teacher lost his son and heir

The Chimera looks far different from what they expected. It’s a skeletal caravan

Another great fight. This show has such good fights


“Become the knight who serves as a shield for all”

Episode 10

Leon and Alfonso are friends! Let’s see how long that lasts

“This rake is your father.” Dang dub scripter, nice word choice

Mendoza was exiled from the order

“It is in the birth of new life that mankind achieves eternity.”

And so he was branded, his bloodline forever to be marked

Man, some wonderful transitions in this sequence

Octavia swears allegiance to him

Man, this flashback was fantastic

Ema’s accent is really inconsistent

“Cry for me if I die” is a great parting line

Episode 11

“Human beings are weak, too easily deceived and lead astray”

“The cost is too high!”

“These are the ones we’ve sworn to protect? They deserve nothing. We’re the fools.”

Not really sure why German goes so crazy at this backstory. What else was he expecting?

Some wacky CG nonsense going on in this fight

Aw, the end of Bernardo was really nice

Episode 12

Leon gives in to his anger, destroying the town

Some of these CG battles are pretty ridiculous

Alfonso just handles everything himself

And Leon throws himself off a cliff


2 thoughts on “Garo, Part One – Review

  1. By the end of the first half, I wound up feeling that Leon was a victim of his circumstances. It’s pretty clear that German basically did a terrible job of bringing him up with any grounding in normal life; his entire childhood seems to have been about training to be a Makai Knight and motivating stories of what happened to his mother. With a background like that it’s no wonder that he’s so groundless and so lacking in ‘reasons to fight’ apart from a combination of revenge, obligation, and ‘this is just what my life is, I fight Horrors’.

    I’m not sure the show agrees with me, though, and I don’t know if anyone else who saw the show does either.

  2. Not related to this review at all (except that the first episode of it also put you off), but you might want to consider giving Re: Zero another shot. The first episode is not representative of how the show has turned out so far.


    Characters have surprisingly good chemistry. The dialogue is fast, punchy, and feels genuine. The protagonist is consistently overly familiar and presumptuous, but the other characters don’t take him very seriously, and it’s a fun and endearing dynamic to watch.
    There is nuanced character writing to go along with the good chemistry mentioned in the above point. Yes the protagonist is a stand-in for the viewer, but the rest of the cast is layered and interesting. Characters don’t spill all of their motivations when they’re introduced. With every single character the show brings in, you find new things out each time the protagonist run into them.
    The backgrounds are gorgeous.
    The show’s core points of engagement and plot are much closer to the mystery/thriller genre than the escapist fantasy genre. So far it has been interesting and well executed.
    The “insufferable light novel protagonist” dies many gruesome, graphic, and painful deaths, and no one in the show takes him seriously, which should give you a nice does of schadenfreude given how you feel about such protagonists. Also, they dial the otaku schtick back a lot after the first episode.

    Even if you don’t believe me about the show (and I can see why you wouldn’t) if you’re still getting people telling you to watch it at the end of the season, you should consider listening to them.

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