5 Point Discussions – GARO: Vanishing Line Episode 4: Brothers

by Sage Ashford

After going missing last episode, Sophie returns, still trying to discover what happened to her older brother. But when she winds up in the clutches of a Horror, will Sword be able to save her in time? Find out in this 5 Point Discussion.

1. For the past couple episodes I’ve been wondering why we hadn’t checked back in on Sophie, a character that was seemingly important to Vanishing Line’s main plot. Well, as it turns out…she just couldn’t find her way back to the action! This episode starts with her having returned to the diner where Sword took her after saving her life in the first episode, correctly assuming it was one of his usual haunts. Unfortunately, Sword was off somewhere picking up hookers or something, and since the diner is directly connected to the organization of Makai Knights and Alchemists, Sophie is forced to leave when she’s told only paying customers are allowed to stay there…and the prices are far too high for an orphaned child.

Speaking of the orphanage, we finally get a look at Sophie’s life at the orphanage and surprisingly, it’s nothing like the Oliver Twist-ian image I had in my head. She stays with a sweet, understanding nun and has a nice enough roommate, but none of that is the life she gave up once she lost her brother, and so most of this episode she spends trying to discover a Horror in the hopes that it would put her in the path of Sword, and that leads to her tracking down the sister of a priest who went missing not long after visiting their orphanage.

2. On that note: they’re kinda towing the line on whether or not they want Sword to look like a creep. Sophie tracks down the missing priest’s sister, Marie, in order to discover what happened to him, believing that whatever would’ve caused his disappearance could be related to Horrors. It’s a bit of a far-fetched assumption (even if she does turn out to be correct), but while she’s getting to know Marie, Sword arrives with a bouquet of flowers to apologize to Marie for her loss, talking about how she must be SO lonely with her brother gone. Now, the whole episode is weird and assumes a level of friendliness with strangers that would be otherwise unheard of in the real world–there’s no way Marie would’ve let Sophie into her home under normal circumstances, nevermind Sword–but even if she were just the nicest woman ever, it’s insane that a random vagabond like Sword would just pop up at a woman’s house to make blatant passes at her.

With the priest having failed to make an appearance in the episode at that point, it’s safe to assume that the woman was likely the Horror and Sword had a pretty good guess about that, but he still comes off hella creepy, right down to the camera focusing on Marie’s breasts to remind us that Sword has something of an obsession with women that are…well-endowed. I get that I’m supposed to think it’s funny, and when it’s him hitting on the diner waitress who clearly has no problem smacking him back into place it actually is, but the whole grieving widow thing just feels uncomfortable.

3. We get more of a look at Sophie’s past this episode, helping us understand why she’s so driven to find her brother. They don’t go into much detail about her parents, but from the looks of things all she and her brother seemed to have was each other, with him serving as both her older brother and a father figure. He taught her how to use computers, kept her from being afraid of the dark when she was a child, and helped make her into the person she is today. So the fact that she essentially nearly dies–TWICE–trying to find him makes sense in the most anime kind of way; he provided so much for her, and he’s her lifeline to a much better time in her life.

Having said that, the promotional materials made me think the big “twist” would be that she was looking for Sword, as Sword “lost” his sister while Sophie is searching for her missing older brother, but having gotten a look at Sophie’s older brother that’s seeming more unlikely by the episode. And since this is Garo, where nearly everything that can go wrong does, the most likely ending for all this is that both their siblings are dead and they’ll wind up finding a kinship with one another. And speaking of everything going wrong…

4. From the moment they explained that the priest had invited his sister Marie to stay with him and she inexplicably just stopped leaving the home, I knew things were bound to go badly. By the end of the episode, it’s shown that the priest was an evil bastard, coveting his sister’s beauty. They don’t go into heavy detail, only showing him striking a much younger Marie out of pure rage and tossing her into a basement, before she snaps and starts chasing after Sophie. Sophie tries to run away, but only winds up falling into the same basement Marie had been dragged to. From there, well…as Sophie looks around the basement, she notices a wide variety of torture devices–from hammers and sickles to literal torture racks, and a bloody chair with a lot of long hair the same color as Marie’s.

And it’s at that point you start to put the pieces together. Like how Marie doesn’t really look that much older even though it’s supposedly been YEARS since she started staying with her brother. I love that they left it vague, but the implication is that the priest’s jealousy at other men finding her remotely attractive caused him to torture her until she was a bloodied, broken mess. Enraged, filled with hatred, and wanting her beauty back…a Horror promised to restore her beauty, and she took the opportunity. Immediately she escaped, and killed the priest, consuming most of his body as her first victim.

This is a lot like the episode with the former runner–sometimes there IS no happy ending. And I hate that, because sometimes GARO’s message seems to be, “accept your lot in life”, even when that lot is as awful as what happened here.

5. The only really “bad” part of this episode comes when you realize that Sophie is dangerously treading the line into being the annoying kid sidekick. She nearly dies this episode because she doesn’t listen to Sword’s advice, and even later on as she tries to help him out during his battle with Horror!Marie, her efforts fail to do much besides risk her own life.  She’s shoving bells off the top of rickety buildings and not realizing how unstable they are, gets hit in the back with the only thing holding the bell in place which knocks her off the building. It’s only thanks to Motorbike!Zaruba that she doesn’t fall to her death. I don’t mind characters that don’t have powers in stories like this, but when they can’t follow the advice of those that do and constantly put their own lives at risk needlessly they just become excuses for the plot to get stupid.

Still, the moment at the end where she pleads with Sword for help finding her brother–or the secret to El Dorado–was pretty endearing, and a strong enough emotional moment that I’m willing to forgive her sins in this episode and hope she improves.  She was learning martial arts from one of the nuns, after all.

Garo: Vanishing Line is available on Funimation and Crunchyroll.