Category Archives: Garo -Honō no Kokuin

Garo -Honō no Kokuin Episode 15

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Happy 1 year anniversary to my blog!  My first post was yesterday!  I cannot believe its already been this long!

I like the filler-esque plot–  a bunch of craftsmen get together along with the return of Julio [episode 6] to make a shining armor knight similar to Alfonso’s Garo.  While this was a good step in the right direction–  the idea to bring common people banding together to protect themselves and the others around the village this episode had a few scenes that weren’t very powerful.

I will say that one thing Garo does well at achieving is how it doesn’t neglect these normal people one bit!  This episode and the thirteenth one focuses heavily on normal people and how they’ve been affected by Horrors and the Makai Knights that protect them.  The aftermath of Mendoza’s schemes are dissolving and we’ve reached a point where humans are standing up for themselves.  The witch hunts at the very beginning of this series resonate so strongly with this episode–  Mendoza brought fear across the lands and now we’ve got craftsmen shouldering dutiful responsibilities.

The shift from this is Leon’s still with Lara and her family–  a powerful Makai Knight to a farmer.  I like this switch in perspectives and how everyone is trying to being courageous in their own ways or in Leon’s case finding some meaning in his life now that he’s not with his father or being able to eliminate Horrors.  Julio redeeming himself here with his pride as a blacksmith was really strong as well.

However what went wrong here?  Well the music for one thing was too light-hearted and what was with the imitation Garo fighting a normal bear?  Weird.  Everything was built up so well to bring Alfonso and German into the picture by the end of this that the fight is too dramatic and lacked substance.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 6/10

Garo -Honō no Kokuin Episode 14

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Remember all those episodic adventures between Leon and German and how good they were?  Well it’s back here with a completely different key character–  Alfonso.  As much as the last episode focused on Leon’s gradual evolution without his father guiding him this one introduces the stories of Count Juste and Lord Roland.  The build up was nice to have Gaspard Montes a thief that attracts the attention of the Valiante kingdom by attacking carriages set up the valiant Count Juste and the mystery surrounding his wife Isabelle and his rival Lord Roland.

German is never going to change is he?  Picking flowers out as a thanks for Ximena being the only reason he wants to go to the castle and pretending he knows that Horrors lurk there from Alfonso.  I can see this team being a lot more comical than when Leon was with him.  Alfonso is a prince and has his honor to uphold so I can see his relationship with German playing off each other quite hilarious.

Gaspard’s daughter Fana taking in Alfonso’s uncle German was a nice touch to circle this back around the main cast.  Now we’ve got a similar style of what the beginning of this series had in having a collection of separate narrative content.  It was not much of a surprise to me that Fana was going to be used here as the damsel-in-distress.  Count Juste’s admiration towards a mistaken Isabelle.  Garo returns here in full with the fantasy side of things that this series has excelled in previously!

I really like how both Count Juste and Lord Roland turned into Horrors a long time ago and its up to Garo Knight Alfonso and German to vanquish the demons.  What’s even cooler is how Lord Roland takes possession of Gaspard.  It’s this very fight that depicts rivals and an old man hell-bent on not giving his daughter to anyone on so many levels!

Leon is shown in this episode but not with a lot of screen time.  His conversation with Ema evokes the setup this second half needs to propel itself with a bigger main story without Mendoza quite well!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10

Garo -Honō no Kokuin Episode 13

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I knew we’d see that laundry woman again!  I hope something comes from this for German–  she’s a nice contrast to his wild behavior.

Such a great series we have here.  A tokusatsu series nonetheless, but you can definitely tell Amemiya is amazing at conceiving stories filled with adventure.  Like I said previously before, this series very well could have ended last time but we are given much more past the epilogue here with new characters.  This has got to be the slowest moving episode of Garo yet as this plays as a sort of aftermath of Alfonso’s battle against Mendoza’s horror, Leon’s uncontrollable flames and what happens to the city.  Esmeralda’s death ignites even more strength to Alfonso’s character as Prince than he ever had when he first became a Makai Knight!

He’s alive!  Yes!  Leon barely survives and its Lisa that saves his life here.  The transition was done wonderfully–  a man close to death from being unable to protect the city switches perspectives to the heroic Leon and his calling as a Makai Knight or rather the Golden Knight Garo into a frail young man yearning for death.

Leon starts learning how to live outside the bounds of knighthood and begins learning how to work as a farmer.  Incredible!  I think what made me enjoy this episode more than any of the others was how well it switches between Leon’s peaceful life almost as if he might be dead already to Alfonso and German’s Makai lives that haven’t really changed.  They don’t help Leon or even know if he’s alive: their conversation over him really reflects how much Leon might change in the course of living out on that farm.  This episode really took its time especially with the music to get things rolling for Leon.  We’ve shifted away from an overly eager young man destroyed by the Garo title he upheld to a weary hard-working farmer trying to find himself.  The water canal and everything he’s done to get there here including Lisa’s newfound friendship with him gives him just the strength he needs to return to Valiante.

However, I do hope Leon spends more time in the village rather than just up and leaving next episode.  Can’t wait to see what happens next!


 

OP: “B.B” by JAM Project

The band returns to do the second-cour opening theme.  This was a lot more upbeat than the previous one.  Flash animator to Ping Pong‘s first episode Abel Gongora and Eunyoung Choi of Ping Pong‘s ending handles the animation on this and it looks great!  It’s really subdued with all the black and whites across the screen and the closeup of the Garo shimmering with a tint of gold is very eye-catching.

ED: “FOCUS” by Showtaro Morikubo

This ending is tons better than the first one.  A rock heavy tune as opposed to the previous one that was extremely fast paced in the vocals which is why it was so distracting.  I really like the animation to this one.  Very distinct drawings against a grainy overlay on the video.  Nicely directed!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Garo -Honō no Kokuin Episode 12

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Daisuke Namikawa [Leon’s seiyu]  was a tad bit over-acted here but nonetheless this was awesome.  One of the best ending arcs to the Fall 2014 season we’ve had and I am ecstatic that there is more of this already!

Leon Luis, the real hero of the series is trying to find his own purpose beyond the duty of vanquishing Horrors.  Alfonso may have his kingdom but this was some reversal here!  Mendoza manipulating Leon into seeing his mother crying out to be saved through the flames around his Garo was indeed a powerful blow that will forever shake his soul.  I like how difficult a state German was in. This was no easy take defeating Bernardo and it not only affected him emotional but physically as well.  Is this foreshadow that he might meet his demise sometime in the future?

The words that German has been warning of Leon to be wary of his duty as a knight speaks volumes to how naive Leon has been all this time.  Engulfed by the flames, unable to hear his father or any sensible reason as to how to be a dutiful Knight he becomes lost.  It’s here where Alfonso’s fight switches things a bit:  use a Makai knight to carry out Mendoza’s plans.  The town in flames depicts the burning rage Leon’s carried all these years and instead of a Horror corrupting him its his own doing thus the fight against prince and sorrowful Makai Knight caught up with the past about his mother begins.

German apologizing to Anna was insurmountable proof that Leon has become unfit as a Makai Knight and I like how Alfonso is disgusted by his cousin’s failure to uphold peace.  So what does he do here?  Takes the Garo for himself and kills the Horror that Mendoza made!  This was the best animated episode we’ve had yet of this show so far and I look forward to see what comes next!  I think the most surprising part of this had to be Mendoza being eaten by the Horror– the very creatures he used as pawns throughout this first half for his own selfish gains kills him!

Epilogues.  This was a good time to put this in here.  Creator Amemiya could have ended this after the battle but used Alfonso’s death as fuel to give more destiny into Alfonso’s claim to Valiante.  Leon however caught up with no reason to live wanders towards a cliff to kill himself.  What a way to develop a main character and completely dismantle him!  Incredible!  The crows flying away look to illustrate that his mother’s death was finally leaving him and he’s been set free.

I knew we would see that village woman again from episode 8!  I’m sure we will see more of her in the upcoming episodes!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Garo -Honō no Kokuin Episode 11

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I want to start off by saying there might have been some confusion on my part on how Leon’s father’s name is translated.  According to the english version its German whereas in the Japanese its Herman.  Moving forward I will be using German.

The slight recap here works pretty well.  Less than a minute and we jump right into the confrontation between Bernardo and German.  I enjoyed this fight quite a bit because we get used to what a like of shonen series do–  talk during fights.  The sepia-toned flashbacks that pick up after Anna and German run away from the king’s knights we see a young Bernardo fall to defeat.  I’d imagined this would be how he had fallen under Mendoza’s plans.  He sees the truth through the dying village woman and with so much death around him its no wonder he loses himself.  However, I did not expect Mendoza to suddenly show up [too convenient] and purge him of his humanity creating the Horror inside of him.

“We’re fools” is ultimately the line that changes Bernardo but I like what happens here where a grieving German speaks of him as an idiot for succumbing to such evils.  A Makai Knight turned Horror.  Honor is replaced by naivety, hatred and fear.  Bernardo’s Makai form and the battle that ensues had wonderfully drawn angles!  The CG was much better than the previous episodes and I can see why.  This first half has been dedicated to a father training his son with a duty to eliminate evil throughout a kingdom and reaching the climax here with two old friends battling it out to the death.  Awesome.  This series just keeps getting more solid each week and its a shame I haven’t caught up with these episodes until now.

Finally it’s about time Leon and Alfonso confront Mendoza but what’s this?  A giant Horror being summoned with magic.  Whoa.  The sacrifices of humans plays a large role with the pent up hatred Mendoza has had all these years and we finally get to see it unravel!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10

Garo -Honō no Kokuin Episode 10

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The animation was the best I’ve seen of this series and the creators managed very well at keeping enough of their budget to push this throughout on such a crucial episode here!  Tons of closeup scenes of Leon, Alfonso, Ema, German and Mendoza that captured the emotions of these characters strongly and I hope that we can see more of this in the future!  This is not a series for kids as we’ve seen German sleep with women, people getting murdered, frightening Horrors manipulating adults and even children that hits an idea that a lot of heroic series don’t dare tackle–  humans can be savages.  If there is one thing I have noticed about this series that affects it completely would be that the situations created by the Horrors have had resolutions but when it comes to humans versus humans there hasn’t been an easy answer for them.  As we’ve seen in previous episodes with townspeople killing each other off to hide secrets, the blacksmith’s death lingering over the young apprentice to even Anna being burned at the very beginning of this series!  Keeping all of this in mind truly allows for the story of Mendoza to become quite spectacular considering that the whole motif of Garo is people wanting to pass on a lineage.

Kenji Mutou started out as an artist assistant for the manga Eyeshield 21 and got his career noticed in the anime world from his directorial debut of OAV Mushiba Tetsudō!  This led to some big time episode director positions within a couple of huge series this year for this guy: Zankyou no TerrorShingeki no Bahamut:Genesis and now Garo.  Zankyou‘s episode 9 was one of the best entries into Shinichiro Watanabe’s post 9/11 series that aired earlier this summer.  It was by far the best I had ever seen in how well it accelerated the tension of the terrorists Nine and Twelve pitted against Five and the FBI.  As well as Shibazaki’s discussion with Aoki and the amount of realism poured into structuring the missing children and a created savant syndrome.  Attention to detail is what makes Mutou’s directing stand out.  The first episode of Bahamut was highly entertaining and developed a strong note in creating the atmosphere of 17th century Spain, the fourth that he had directed wasn’t as solid as I would have liked it to be as it was running in a few different directions with its plot twists!

However Mutou’s work on this episode of Garo was dark, it was very engaging as well because Mendoza’s past is finally revealed in the whole scheme of things and its really very good.  The thing with Mendoza at first is he is the epitome of an arch-villian–  breaking his oath with the Makai Order in search of power, and quite possibly having a desire for world domination.  However, this entire episode enhanced what we already knew about his Alchemist ways and reversed in a rather twisted manner.  Perhaps Kamui of Psycho-Pass this season should learn a thing or two about being a villain as Mendoza has been.  He’s not around that often but when he does show up in this you know he’s put plans into motion that can realistically be achieved.  He’s more of a strategist than a fighter as from what I can tell, and its paid off quite well–  poisoning the King, arresting the Queen on suspicion of murder, exiling Alfonso and stealing the Zirkel’s Circle in order to overrun Valiante with Horrors.  The exiled Alchemist ends up killing his wife and child because of the curse that was put onto him for creating the Madou ring using human’s blood such a grim concept here.

This reminded me so much of Amemiya’s other animated work Mahou Shoujotai—  witches being at war with wizards and the betrayals between them.  Is this the same Madou ring that Leon bears and if so does this correspond to the markings he has with the markings that Mendoza hides all over his body–  are they perhaps related by blood?  MONACA wrote some solid pieces of music to accompany his scenes here, and it really gives off the fantasy Spanish setting quite well for a Tokusatsu series like this one.

After loosing so much he’s spent years planning out a vendetta towards the Makai Knights and Alchemists that stripped him of his teachings not to mention dignity and pride that all of this works with incredible results.  So what does he do?  Eliminates everyone that reminds him of the tragic day so that he can forget it all and that was just the beginning of what he’s accomplished here–  learning this was pivotal to Mendoza and his connections with Horrors in that these are creatures derived from the negative emotions that humans carry which we’ve seen quite a lot from the minor characters through Leon and German’s travels.

Returning back to the town that Leon left his father, alongside his new-found Makai Knight and Prince Alfonso, Ema shows herself again and is gradually building up to the invasion of the castle of Valiante to stop Mendoza from spreading his Horrors even further.  I was fascinated by how well developed the comedy was here in contrast to how the overall tone of this episode was so serious–  German sulks over the possibility that Anna betrayed him and that Alfonso could be her secret child from another man.  Great how Ema was laughing the entire time in the background throughout this part as she knows full and well that Leon and Alfonso are cousins and German is Alfonso’s uncle and when its revealed to German the look on his face is one that is released from suffering.  This pointed out a lot how much he misses Anna and still deeply cares for her even if he’s been sleeping around with other women.

The transition between Mendoza’s past to this and the build up towards German’s fight against Bernardo within the castle was genius writing and a huge cliffhanger!  Too bad we couldn’t get dual episodes this week like last week’s Kiseijū!

OVERALL IMPRESSION 10/10

Garo -Honō no Kokuin Episode 9

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I was wondering when we would get another story that focused on Alfonso and Fernando–  this more than made up for their departure since episode 5 and now things have gotten very intriguing.  Fernando looks to Garm for a Horror to train Alfonso as he definitely knows his time is up soon–  I really like how the creators have put Garm into an independent watchdog position within the Makai Academy in that she never outright answers a question that is asked of her by German, Leon and now Fernando.

I also like how the story switched perspectives here between Alfonso and Leon leading to their inevitable encounter against the Horror chimera of Orvien.  Perhaps Garm intended for this to happen–  nonetheless, this was fantastic and pulled the weight away from Leon struggling to do everything himself without his father’s direction to become a man and knight of Makai.  Befriending the prince of Valiante only enhanced this a heck of a lot more here.

About the only qualm I had about this was the overbearing drama that Fernando displayed.  We know he’s ill and coughing up blood was an indication of that quite a bit here but they shouldn’t have overdone it because his death would have left a larger impact for the viewer.

Aside from that, Alfonso finally receives his resolve and rightful claim as a Makai Knight by receiving his power and honor from the very man that trained him which worked out amazingly well.  This was able to explain in great detail how important it is for these Knights to pass on their Makai armor to another which German hinted at around episode two.  Loved the part where the ghostly Gaia wanders around the near-dead Fernando only to wind up in the last 5 minutes to save the day and die within the final few minutes of this episode.  Shows off the pride Alfonso has in protecting his kingdom and his honor towards his teacher Fernando to become a Makai Knight. Can’t wait to see what happens next and what Mendoza has planned!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Garo -Honō no Kokuin Episode 8

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Fantastic!  I can really feel that Amemiya was trying something new with this rendition of Garo in the franchise with the previous episode and this one here used as setup by implementing the same timeline from different perspectives which created entirely unique stories here!

Leon gets trapped in a collection of dreams while Herman runs through town escaping bandits and pursuing his sexual escapades with women would probably sum up this episode and the last one.  Funny part of this is how he gets swindled by Irene and winds up running for his life completely naked–  the two women chatting about the mysterious man gives off quite the view of Herman that just proves how humorous he can be filled in a world with so much death from the Horrors.  I do wonder if we will run into the laundry woman again, because we saw her twice and really poured out a serious side out of Herman.

What a great transition to use here to shift its plot back to the heart of what was really going on with his son Leon.  Ema is up there as one of my favorite characters due to how well she manages herself as an Alchemist in front of Makai Knights–  they don’t have much of an alliance she just kind of shows up here and there but it’s the aspect of mystery that I love about her character.  Also that I get the feeling that she might have more of a personal motive than she lets on.  She was also a great way to bridge the timeframe of what was going from this episode and the previous one by introducing Bernardo and the truth that Garm had the feeling he was going to encounter him sooner or later.

The result from Herman’s discussion with Garm was known other than a flashback and an incredibly well-written one at that!  I take flashbacks with a grain of salt because it can be very easy to dismantle the main cast of a show if these aren’t paced or even written with solid effort–  thinking of the big shonen series of Bleach and Naruto here.  This though was paced so smoothly within the span of four minutes that it just lingered in the background for me because Herman has already been built up so well in this series that having these extra tidbits of information pushes him even further as an amazing character!  It’s the younger days of Herman as we finally get a view of Leon’s mother Anna and the revelations as to why Bernardo claimed his authority towards Mendoza.

This entire episode had done something spectacular by placing these scenes here–  we have a better understanding of why Herman acts for his son and the numerous women he’s spent nights with still grieving over the loss of Anna.  Curious how the other members of the family, Esmeralda and Alfonso will react when or if they will meet Leon and Herman.

Getting betrayed once was enough for Herman to understand he wasn’t going to get fooled a second time, but what worked out conveniently well was that Donatoa thief in her group turns out to be a Horror.  Had to watch this a few times to grasp that Herman’s not there to protect his son but find his own direction and path towards finding his own strength as well.  It’s this point that reflects the previous episode in that Leon lost to Bernardo but gradually found a key to success in defeating the crazy town’s Pepe and that’s his duty as a Makai Knight.

Sadayuki Murai wrote the story to the previous episode and it’s no wonder due to how deeply bizarre it was and it does make sense for this script writers’ style.  As he’s behind the creation of Boogiepop Phantom one of my favorite anime series of the 90’s.  What is even more impressive is how well it flowed into this story with Shigeru Murakoshi’s script here–  an adapted screenplay writer of Sidonia no Kishi!

I also what to make note here that another season of this just got announced as well as a feature film!  With how solid the direction has been with this series I am curious as to what Amemiya has left up his sleeve for this show that will be running another cour!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Garo -Honō no Kokuin Episode 7

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This series is very underrated and it is good to see this actually getting a simulcast release considering how there is only one fansub group working on this.  If this show were to air around five years ago it would have been very difficult to see a release of this outside of Japan. This is definitely one of my favorites of the season alongside Mushishi Zoku Shou, Kiseijū and Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso in that it is slowly exposing its characters motivations around a fantastical narrative through the use of a basic style of animation.

I love it when episodes do this–  create a combined story told from different perspectives.  This episode WAS in fact very obscure–  mistaken for Prince Alfonso, Leon is chased down by the knights of Valiante and ends up in a fight with the mysterious Makai Knight we were shown alongside Mendoza in the previous episode only to lose the battle and end up in a wildly ambitious collection of supposed dreams!

This episode had some of the best direction I have seen all season:  the melancholy music matched with superb atmospheric sound effects very well and the dull and faded look the animation had here allowed for a rather eerie episode.

THIS WAS ONE AMAZING EPISODE and what amplified this even further was the next one [I will talk about in my next Garo post] which further enhanced the world that these people are built around so well!  Something I may have mentioned before about Garo is that THIS is an anime that knows very well how to polish its minor cast of characters.  It was this aspect that continued this trend all the while maintaining a large focus on Leon!  Here we had the mistaken Pepe for Leon from the villagers, the frightening tales of the Werewolf that starts off with Leon turning into one to end by showing that the real Pepe is in fact a Horror!

It was almost as if the writers were trying to cram two episodes into one here, but the way that the script was written it paid off extremely well!  Sadayuki Murai wrote one amazing story here and I can clearly see his style from Moryou no Hako poured into this Tokusatsu original series.  Here’s an interesting fact is that Murai even worked on one of the strangest episodes of Cowboy Bebop— the episode about the assassin Mad Pierrot. This guy should have penned the script for Samurai Flamenco as I could definitely see some major improvements in that show through his style.

Agatha portrayed the innocence as this grim plot was moving forward and her unceasing belief that Leon was her brother Pepe gave off a slightly haunting power behind what these Makai Knights can actually achieve.  Leon crippled by his past never letting go of the trauma he faced earlier on had caused the flames of his Garo to form developed a complete turn around in a previous episode where in order to control his power he must give his life every new moon to the Madou Ring.  Here it illustrated this point in a very subtle way by introducing the Makai Knight towards the beginning that Leon faced off with to challenge his own inner demons which results in all the obscure situations that happened in the second half including this overarching idea:  some of the side cast of characters are not what they seem even if they aren’t a Horror.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen people hide horrendous events from their own people–  the sacrifices including Alois father from episode 4, the blacksmith from the previous episode, the church Lograja’s hidden secret of selling children down to Mendoza’s overall power over the Horrors he controls throughout the land.  Its this idea that continues maturing Garo into an exceptional piece of work that can switch between episodic content at first glance but underneath it all adds up the layers for intriguing characters and an engrossing plot.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Garo -Honō no Kokuin Episode 6

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I’m not sure I’ve talked about the opening but its very different than what we have compared to other opening animations this season.  I really like style to this–  reminds me a lot of what Yuasa’s Kemenozume had been in drawing style and music production.  I love that animator’s works and with Garo the opening director has never worked on an animation production before.  Masatsugu Nagasoe, normally a music video director helmed this alongside key animator Tomoyuki Niho of Ping Pong The Animation earlier this year.  It’s definitely up there for one of my favorite openings of 2014.

As for the Garo episode director we’ve got someone fairly new here–  Shigeru Murakoshi wrote a few screenplays for the anime adaptation of Sidonia no Kishi.  Really if it wasn’t for the jerky CG animation  by Polygon Pictures I would have really enjoyed that series a lot more than I did.  In retrospect, MAPPA has turned Garo into a style similar to Mahou Shoujotai right down to the character designs.  It’s simple and well-structured, easy on the eyes which makes the heavy story that much more interesting.

Also want to point out that this show is quite spectacular in how it unfolds its story around the characters–  the use of political gain by Mendoza to control the land behind the scenes with Horrors adds a ton more depth to the innocent humans of this show as well.   We were briefly introduced in earlier episodes to this formulaic theme, but as we see Leon and Herman encounter these demonic creatures it really paints us a bigger picture here.  That the acquisition of these Horrors sn’t just Mendoza’s influence that has swayed so many humans but the evil beings themselves!

We saw a lot of this in Leon’s fight with the priest, the kid who held onto the doll where his very own father was cast aside by the townspeople, the Alchemist-in-training Marcelo and from what looks like with the conclusion in this episode, a Makai Knight.  There is a pattern that we are seeing with this, and we once again we are gradually getting this larger view of it with the sword that is left behind by a dead Sergi, the blacksmith’s son.

I like how they’ve made Leon and his father travel around but this was too coincidental that Herman and Leon found themselves in Santa Bard with another Horror case so quickly.  It’s episodes like these that have a double-edge sword:  the overall premise is intriguing but when it comes to the convenience of every piece coming together it isn’t as powerful.  Too easy for for the situation here.

One part of Garo I absolutely love is the comedy–  it’s not so flashy and it unwinds in such a way that is old-fashioned:  more so with Leon than his father in this episode.  The women fawning over him and want to steal from him, Ema’s comment about him possibly being a virgin might illustrate that he will end up with her later on.  Like father like son, and I wonder how he will react when he meets his cousin Alfonso.  Garo doesn’t take situations lightly with its kids, they go through pretty harsh stuff, and the kid Julio witnesses his boss undergo a monstrous change and be killed off.  Julio’s desire to be respected just like his boss plays on what Garo excels at:  humans manipulated by demons never forgetting who they really are.

This series is going to be 2-cour and with how elaborate Amemiya is at crafting his stories it is only fitting that this series should receive this length of treatment.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 6/10