5 Point Discussions – GARO: Vanishing Line Episode 1: “Sword”

by Sage Ashford

The famous adult Tokusatsu series gets its third anime series, brought to you once again by brilliant animation studio MAPPA!  Get ready for massive amounts of gore, violence, and CGI as we meet the latest owner of the powers of Garo, an older guy named Sword, while he brings down Horrors in a city that’s more than what it seems. This is one of the last series I’ll be picking up for the fall anime season, so hopefully I can make a convert out of you all in 5 Point Discussions. As usual, if you like this please share it on Facebook and Twitter, and hit me up @SageShinigami if you have any questions or comments.

1. My eyes. Who do I blame for the absurd inclusion of shakycam in an animated series? This first episode loads up on fight scenes–having no less than three featuring two different villains–and yet a lot of the coolest bits of those fight scenes are impossible to enjoy because the camera is spinning around and shaking all over the place, turning what could’ve been some unique looking scenes into barely comprehensible visual wastes.

2. Surprisingly, this first episode doesn’t delve much into GARO’s lore. It’s possible that after two animated seasons, six live-action series and several DTVs they just assume anyone viewing the series would just know the drill? Dangerous assumption, so let’s sum it up a bit. The young girl that appears to be our leading lady, Sophie, spends this episode searching for a location known as El Dorado. While looking, she manages to score an interview with someone called the Moon Wizard, a divination specialist who she hopes will tell her where to go. But before she can get any information, this mysterious “Moon Wizard” goes full-on creeper, asking if he can “eat” her before starting to transform into a horrific monster.

Our main hero, Sword, saves her from this monster and later gives a small explanation of things. In the GARO universe, there’s the human world and the demon world. Demons are able to bleed over into our world and take over a human’s body whenever humans allow themselves to become consumed by their own negative emotions. Once that happens, they start to eat other humans. Usually, they have a fixation on a specific kind of human and will only make those their victims, though if anyone gets in their way while they hunt they can of course be consumed as well.

Meanwhile, Sword is a Makai Knight. The Makai Knights are one half of the Makai Order, a group that exists purely to take down Horrors. They undergo harsh physical training that results in them attaining a peak-human+ form, allowing them to fight Horrors without killing themselves. They’re backed up by Makai Priests, humans that resort to more support-type skills in order to aid Knights in their fight against Horrors. They can cast spells, create armors, and come up with tactics that the Makai Knights can use. The Knights also often employ the use of special armors–the greatest of which being the golden armor GARO, the one Sword’s currently using. GARO usually winds up at the center of the largest, most violent conflicts with Horrors, so I’m sure Vanishing Line has a lot of insanity coming for us!

3. There’s a heavy amount of fanservice in this series that I would almost find surprising…if I wasn’t used to GARO by now. Beginning its life as a mature, live-action Tokusatsu series (the source of Power Rangers), GARO has always tried to push the line in order to seem more “adult”. Lots of mentions of sex and gratuitous violence is pretty much the norm. That doesn’t make this episode any better though, what with our hero Sword apparently spending as much time hunting down women to bed for the night as he does Horrors to kill. Which I guess is fine–some of the people who’ve had the title of GARO have been stoic, and some have been notorious playboys. But that doesn’t excuse the bouncing breasts, which I was kinda hoping animation studio MAPPA would be above. It was kept to a minimum, but the time you did see it…yikes.

4. Ultimately we see Sword and Sophie separate by the end of the episode, but I’m fairly certain that won’t be for very long. The initial series description mentioned how they were each looking for a lost sibling, and that’s the kind of coincidence that has to come back up. In the meantime, I’m surprised they stuck to a fairly simple, straight-forward monster of the week plot here. GARO’s typically not that episodic and gets to the point quickly, but not much was set up here aside from a very minor mention of “El Dorado”, which both our leads are looking for for…some reason. Guess we’ll know soon enough.

5. Next Episode: We get to meet more of the Makai Order in this metropolitan city. Sword doesn’t seem to know how to eliminate Horrors quietly so I’m betting there’s something of a contentious relationship between our GARO and the rest of the Order. Meanwhile, Sophie continues to search for clues for the mysterious “El Dorado”! She’s still willing to risk it all to find her brother.

Garo: Vanishing Line is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.