Last week, I watched GARO: The Animation thinking that it would be the finest episode there would ever be of this series. I mean, it did some excellent work on León’s character development and had some of the best animation the show’s budget (read: a grilled cheese sandwich per animator) will ever allow.
And of course, the show went and topped itself this week, obviously.
First, let me rag on this show a little bit: I don’t like Garm. I have no idea what’s Garm purpose beyong being all mysterious and shit. I didn’t even like Garm in the tokus. Nor did I like the Watch Dogs for that matter. I guess they kept Garm here because… tradition? I don’t know.
Also: Garm is a he? Fucking FUNimation.
But anyway, the episode proper starts with León and Alfonso questioning why the fuck will Germán work with Mendoza. Garm is too busy being mysterious and shit and playing Go with… herself? An invisible third party? A second personality? Point is, Garm is too busy being mysterious to deal with two angry teenagers and so to deter them she says that Ema Guzmán, best girl, will die soon.
And then this episode goes to the meat of the episode: Ema Guzmán.
As much as I liked Ema Guzmán’s personality and voice (Romi Park’s voice is amazing), I must admit that until now she pretty much was only this “oohhh so mysterious” figure that usually I hate. The difference between she and Garm is that Ema is a really likeable character with some amazing chemistry with others. Garm, on the other hand, just sits there.
And now, finally, we get to know more of Ema Guzmán. And holy shit, the eighteen episode wait to finally know more about her was worth every. Single. Second. I’m not going to make a secret of how much I enjoyed this episode because I suck at subduing my enjoyment of things.
Ema’s mysterious quest of mystery finally bears fruit when she finds the mysterious target that has mysteriously been the mysterious target of Ema’s mysterious quest of mystery. Said target is not an object of might like the One Ring or the other half of the Scissor Blades, but a dude.
Said dude looks like if Favaro Leone and Spike Spiegel had a CLAMP-style yaoi ass egg baby and if said baby discovered Fall Out Boy in his teens and gave up on living. You can tell that the person talking to him is a prostitute because there’s a crazy amount of prostitutes in this show and also because no other demographic would ever approach a 30-something emo.
He’s Luciano, he’s a Horror and Ema hates him. What proceeds is a fucking epic battle that channels JoJo and Spider-Man, and which evidently drained the budget for the rest of the episode.
Unfortunately for Ema, despite a lot of planning forward, things do not go well for her and she loses her cool, which was rather nice from a characterization perspective. There’s more to her than being a femme fatale and teasing León. A rather amusing femme fatale, but still.
Speaking of León, he arrives just in the nick of time, to help Ema kick ass in his all-new white longcoat, and he cuts through Luciano so hard his pieces disintegrated. Just kidding, he got his ass kicked and got shocked by Ema’s gigantic spider-web. Oh yeah, it was electrified. Ema’s tactician skills are reaching Joseph-levels. Is Kobayashi also paging Araki?
After getting their asses handed to them by Emo Favaro, they decide to trade information. Unfortunately, Zaruba the Ring Voiced By JAM Project spoils the deal by revealing it anyways but not before a particularly good offer from Ema.
After some bickering, we get to the real meat of the episode: Ema’s backstory and holy fucking shit it’s amazeballs.
Luciano Guzmán was the husband of Ema Guzmán in a shocking display of lack of research because in Spain wives didn’t take their husband’s last names, and they used to be the shit together. They loved each other with great passion and hunted Horrors relentlessly and yadda yadda yadda.
But after being humiliated and belittled by the Makai Order, and also losing his faith in humanity (a common theme here), he turns into an Horror, but not before a night of bangin’. And not only that, he blows up the shit out of the tower they lived in.
I like Luciano’s story because it already tied in with the themes of cynicism vs. optimism in this show
which I admit may be entirely within my head because I’m reading too much into this. Yes, humanity is kind of gross and deceitful and assholish but humanity’s good qualities more than make up for it and you can’t have the good without the bad. Don’t accept this, and you’ll end up like Luciano.
I also like Kobayashi’s much darker interpretation of the Makai Order. In the tokus, the Makai order wasn’t exactly the greatest shit ever, thanks to the Watch Dogs who I didn’t like by the way and yes I’m banging on that drum until more people watch the tokus. Here, they do some straight up Apartheid shit regarding alchemists just because they don’t have armors.
But ultimately, the good thing about this backstory is that it feels like something that would drive a person to a years-long search. It also gives Ema some much needed (for varying definition of needed, as I liked her already) depth into her character and transforms her into an even more amazing character.
I interrupt this recap-review to announce that animation was shit, because it is shit.
What follows next is an amazing fight scene that’s amazing even by GARO standards and in which Ema out-manlinesses Spider-Man, Fox McCloud and RyukoMatoi in one go.
First, there’s this week’s Horror design. Seriously, just look at dat shit. It looks like a stealth bomber meets AKIRA biker suit meets Sephiroth meets Butterfree. I have zero idea as to whom makes the monster designs for this series but I want something of the stuff they’re on. That’s some high-quality shit they have on their stash.
Second, there’s the high amounts of tension in this episode. Kobayashi is no stranger to killing off characters, as seen in Ryuki. I was terrified that Ema was going to die this episode, and she came dangerously close to doing so. Multiple times, even.
Third, there’s the massive emotional gravitas behind this fight. Combined with the fact that Kobayashi would completely dare to kill Ema, I was invested not only in the pretty lights and explosions but also in how would this characters feel given different outcomes.
And after a particularly poignant moment when Ema just defeated Luciano and he’s about to off himself and Ema, León decides to interfere.
After finally concluding (I think?) her character arc, she does what people usually do at the end of character arcs and gets shitfaced while León sutures her wounds. Surprisingly, the shift from a nail-biting fight scene to comedy wasn’t all that jarring. It’s all laughs and stuff until…
COUGARS ARE ON THE PROWL
P.S. Animation was shit (except for the fights and the sex of course the sex had to be well animated)