Garo: The Carved Seal of Flames Ep. 7: Self-doubt

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Why don’t Leon and his father just storm the castle? What are they waiting for exactly? Well, as we can clearly see from the start of this week’s episode, Leon’s not strong enough. Not only is he not physically where he needs to be, but after losing a duel to the Dark Knight, Leon is also not in the right mental space. Things get so bad that even German will no longer lend his strength to his own son. So what exactly happened? At first glance, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this week’s episode. The whole subplot with Agatha, Pepe, and Agatha’s caretaker felt irrelevant. I ultimately decided, however, that it is irrelevant. Agatha’s fate is largely inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. I’ll be very surprised if we ever see her again. But as I’ve been saying all along, a lot of these episodes are representative of Leon’s inner feelings and turmoil. This week’s episode is no different. As a result, Agatha’s story is irrelevant because, like with the previous episodes, it’s purely thematic.

Y’see, Leon’s pride is wounded right now. Up until his defeat at the hands of the Dark Knight, our hero felt as that he, unlike his father, had been taking their mission very seriously. He wants to avenge his mother. He doesn’t want to dilly-dally. Most of all, he wants to kill Mendoza as soon as possible: “Hey, just when are we going to storm the castle exactly?” In other words, Leon thinks he’s ready. He agrees with some of you guys; he thinks he is strong enough to defeat Mendoza. So right on cue, our hero gets a large dose of reality. Right off the bat, you can already tell that Leon is not ready. After all, Ema continues to watch over him as if she’s his babysitter from afar. I sometimes wonder if she has anything to do, but perhaps she doesn’t. Perhaps the most important thing right now is to make sure our hero doesn’t go crazy or get himself killed. Well, you can’t argue against that. Leon is the Golden Knight, so like it or not, they need his strength. Unfortunately, Leon almost got himself killed this week.

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The Dark Knight shows up and overwhelms Leon without even breaking a sweat. At the same time, he’s taunts our hero where it hurts most: “Weak. A weakling such as this is the Golden Knight?” After all, this doesn’t just mean he’s weak. This also means that Leon doesn’t have the right to carry his mother’s legacy. If he can’t actualize the Golden Knight’s true potential, then he’s a failure to his own bloodline. So what happens next? Leon gets knocked out then proceeds to live through “a dream.” And in this dream, he was no longer Leon. He is Pepe, just an unassuming son of a barber, i.e. not his mother’s son. Not only that, Leon could marry Agatha and live the rest of his life out in idyllic bliss away from all the fighting. Well, not exactly. There’s nothing really idyllic about this world. And Agatha is constantly in danger of being sold into slavery by a nefarious priestess. Furthermore, this dream is all a lie. The Makai Priest, i.e. Agatha’s caretaker, had slipped our hero a potion of dreams.

The old man wants Leon to replace Agatha’s long lost Pepe. Not only would this make Agatha happy, but Leon could run away from it all: “Things will become easier if you quit fighting.” Even though Leon tosses the old man aside for saying such a thing, I feel as though he nevertheless hesitated as if he seriously considered the idea of running away. If he did, our hero wouldn’t have to face the fact that he didn’t even stand a chance against the Dark Knight. It comes down to this, basically: if Leon can’t even defeat the Dark Knight, what chance does he have against Mendoza and the rest of Mendoza’s unholy army? In truth, Leon doesn’t really want to give up on his quest. He still wants to avenge his mother. But there’s a kernel of doubt somewhere in his heart. Ever since he lost that duel, a small part of him does want to run away. Long story short, the events in this week’s episode are largely irrelevant, so they are thematic. They give us a glimpse into Leon’s heart.

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But then what’s the big deal? If Leon still wants to continue on his mission, why does German say that he won’t lend his strength to his son? The harsh truth is, a kernel of self-doubt is all it takes. This isn’t a game. Again, they have to defeat a man who commands an army of Horrors. Not only that, who knows how many Dark Knights Mendoza might actually have under his employ. Leon thus can’t afford to hesitate; he can’t afford to harbor any self-doubt within his heart. Physical weakness is one thing. He can just train harder and longer to overcome his combat limitations. It’s his heart that ultimately matters. It’s his heart that needs fixing, and apparently, that’s all up to him. German doesn’t think he can help his son in that department. I’m not sure I really agree with the old man, but that’s how the current situation is shaking out. Leon is on his own for the time being. With next week’s episode looking like it’ll focus on German and German alone, it looks like Leon will have plenty of time to find himself.

Anyway, let’s talk about the small stuff.

Stray notes & observations:

— I wish this show had a bigger budget. At times, the animation was pretty shoddy in this week’s episode.

— I’m still waiting for Ema to assume a bigger role in the story. Again, it feels like she’s just Leon’s babysitter.

— And to be consistent, I’m pretty tired of Leon smacking his dad around every time he’s pissed off. Not liking and respecting your father is one thing. You don’t have to respect your old man if he keeps being a shameless womanizer. But I will never find physical violence funny. Is this sort of thing also in the tokusatsu drama? I wouldn’t think so, but I wouldn’t really know since I haven’t seen them. I just don’t think physical slapstick translates very well to live action unless you’re literally watching something as absurd as The Three Stooges.

— Last but not least, we haven’t seen Alfonso and Rafaelo for quite some time now. I wonder what they’ve been up to. Training hard, I hope. Still, it wouldn’t hurt if the story talked about them every once in a while.

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7 thoughts on “Garo: The Carved Seal of Flames Ep. 7: Self-doubt”

  1. I normally dislike the humor in this show. But I lol at how the coins got stuck in German face. I think Emma baby sits because she is not capable of fighting the black knight. who is a whole league above horrors it seems.

  2. To address some of your observations:
    -I agree this show would benefit greatly from a bigger budget. The animation quality dropped significantly in this episode
    – The physical violence is actually something exclusive only to the anime. Comedy in the live-action tends to rely mostly on verbal quips and situational humor, never slapstick. I saw the slapstick as something more uniquely “anime”. Leon is the youngest Garo so far of all adaptations (who are played by actors who are 25+ years or so), so maybe they felt a need to give him some kind of youthful quirk…I find the gag of him rather like the gag of a disgruntled wife punishing her husband but I see what you mean.
    – I hope Ema gets a bigger role as well. But Makai Alchemists in the live action versions are more support types for Knights and don’t often take down Horrors by themselves.
    – One of Garo’s weaknesses (especially in the live action) is they’ll have some really awesome secondary characters (i.e. a secondary Makai knight with a special skill, etc) that get a moment in the spotlight for one or two episodes before being shoved aside until the final story arc where they return to help take down the big bad. No guarantees they’ll follow this pattern but just thought I’d let you know.

    1. By taking on a bigger role, I don’t mean that she should fight and take down horrors. Just, well, have a bigger role in one way or another.

      1. In that case, she just might. Makai Alchemists usually offer something along the means of spiritual support or healing. Leon looks like he needs some help in that department and perhaps that’s the reason why German can’t help him. Ema’s been a bit of a mother figure for Leon as well.

  3. Too bad this anime doesn’t have a bigger budget, I always complain how they can fight in a middle of a overpopulated town/kingdom and nobody seems to care about all the ruckus.

    “I’m pretty tired of Leon smacking his dad around every time he’s pissed off. Not liking and respecting your father is one thing. You don’t have to respect your old man if he keeps being a shameless womanizer”

    I find it annoying as well, but I think they made Leon act like that because like you stated before he brings femininity to the story, and in animu the girls are constantly bickering and thrashing the male characters for being perverts.

    Anyway I enjoyed this episode but I would like to see how the other characters are faring like Alfonso and his mentor even minor ones like the king and his wife, also Mendosa’s assistant, she seems to have a weird relationship with the decaying king, It would be a shame if they rushed this story.

    1. I find it annoying as well, but I think they made Leon act like that because like you stated before he brings femininity to the story, and in animu the girls are constantly bickering and thrashing the male characters for being perverts.

      Yeah, but if I complain about it in Your Lie in April, I have to complain about it here.

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