Well, last week’s episode was mostly about Leon, so I guess this week’s episode can be mostly about Alfonso. He’s apparently doing a heckuva job. Thanks to his efforts, Santa Bard has returned to normal, and when Ema runs into Leon, she can’t help but sing the young prince’s praises. But speaking of Ema, I find it very peculiar that just happens to meet Leon in the middle of a dirt road. She seems surprised to see him, but anyone can put on an acting job. I think the world is too big for Ema to just randomly stumble upon the kid. When the series first began, she probably kept her eyes on him to make sure our hero wouldn’t lose control of him himself, but I suspect that Ema is simply concerned about Leon’s well-being nowadays. Seeing that Leon is in good hands, however, the Makai Priest continues on her way. But I digress. This is supposed to be Alfonso’s week after all. And like I’ve said, he’s done well for both his land and his people, but of course, nothing ever comes without a cost.
There seems to be a lot of foreshadowing in this week’s episode. We often see Alfonso yawning every few minutes. He’s no doubt exhausted, because he’s running himself ragged. He’s fulfilling both his responsibilities as the prince as well as the people’s savior. The two don’t exactly coincide. His chamberlain — what’s up with the guy’s Hitler moustache? — performing tasks and fulfilling obligations that hardly seem important: having lunch with some count, the “investiture of the aristocratic children, and posing for the official royal portrait. Meanwhile, what Alfonso really wants to do is to see how his people are faring, and, of course, go hunt some Horrors down. Horrors are bad, so there’s nothing wrong with eliminating them from this world. Still, Alfonso’s a young person, and I’m sure like any other young person, the prince needs his excitement as well. And what can be more exciting than donning your golden suit of armor and slaying Horrors as though you’re in some video game?
Still, the problem is that Alfonso is trying to do too much. Maybe this is where Leon has really let Alfonso down. In the ideal world, the two cousins would be like brothers. More importantly, they’d divvy up their responsibilities. The task of being the people’s savior — and this is what Garo is supposed to stand for — would fall largely on Leon’s shoulders, allowing Alfonso to focus more on fulfilling his royal duties. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out that way, and like any young person, Alfonso thinks he can handle it all. I mean, it would’ve been nice if Leon hadn’t succumb to his tragic flaws, but what are you going to do? Who else will take responsibilities if not Alfonso? Unfortunately, as Alfonso tires himself out, he’ll also run the risk of falling victim to all sorts of ills. And as we all know, Octavia is just lurking in the shadows. Who knows what dastardly machinations she has in mind for our prince? If Alfonso is running himself ragged in his attempt to shoulder the burden of two heroes, he will hardly see an attack coming.
Plus, when Alfonso was fighting the the Horror of the week near the end of the episode — and I’ll get to that story in a bit — I couldn’t help but wonder why Alfonso waited so long to transform into the Golden Knight. But perhaps he’s trying to conserve his energy. Perhaps it takes a lot from him to fight at his fullest strength, and he mistakenly believed he could defeat the Horror without having to rely upon Garo. In the end, however, whether or not Alfonso really thought he could conserve his energy, his reluctance to transform into the Golden Knight nearly cost a girl her life. Luckily, her lover was there to save her. But you can see where the story might be headed. What other assumptions will Alfonso feel compelled to make because he’s simply bitten off more than he can chew? Ema sings Alfonso’s praises, but perhaps it would be wiser to take a closer look and see that the kid is actually in great need of help. Perhaps that help could come from German, but it seems our skirt-chasing uncle has set his sight on wooing Ximena….
It always seems like a no-brainer to me that any sort of prince could just cut out his princely duties if he so wishes. And on a related note, I always find it funny when a member of royalty feels the need to sneak out of a castle. It’s one thing if you’re a Disney princess with little autonomy, but Alfonso is pretty much the acting ruler of his kingdom. Can’t he just do what he wants? And if he doesn’t want to do all the stupid nonsense that the chamberlain wants him to do, can’t he, as the de-facto king, just not do them? But I suppose Alfonso respects the throne and what it means too much to do such a thing. Imagine what the aristocrats would think if he spurned them? Imagine what the church would think if the prince didn’t meet with them on the regular? Well, whatever the real reason is, Alfonso finds himself having to hide out in a random carriage in order to sneak himself out of the palace and even Santa Bard. That’s when he runs into the tragic tale of Count Juste and his wife Isabelle.
In some ways, the storytelling in this week’s episode is kind of clumsy. We first hear about Count Juste from some citizen requesting help against bandits. Then we hear a different version of the story from Mauro. Finally, the true story is finally revealed to us when German and Alfonso simply read Isabelle’s diary. In each instance, the story takes on a new twist, and I suppose in this sense, we see firsthand the limits of the oral tradition. They’re great for stories, but not particularly good when it comes to record-keeping. Count Juste and Lord Roland were not, as Alfonso had grown up to believe, heroes of their time. On the flip side, Isabelle was not some Elizabeth Bathory-inspired witch who drank the blood of young girls. Rather, her husband and his friends indulged in that nonsense. Instead, she was actually a Makai Priest, and she sacrificed her own life to seal those two men away when they both became Horrors. Still, I think the storytelling is a bit clumsy, because much of it happens through a character providing narrating. It’s one thing when it happens once an episode. It’s another thing, however, when it happens three times. But anyway, so why the white lilies?
The white lilies are known for the fact that they never wilt. When we finally encounter Isabelle’s skeleton, we see that her last act was to seemingly stab her husband with a white lily in order to keep him at bay… until Fana and Mauro unluckily stumbled upon Isabelle’s secret chamber and accidentally unsealed the Horror, of course. Well, if you’ve been watching that lesbo bear anime, then you should know all about how white lilies represent virtue, chastity, purity, so on and so forth. People may thought that Isabelle was some blood-guzzling witch, but the truth is that she fulfilled her duties as a Makai Priest to the very end. Unfortunately, it simply cost the woman her life. What does this mean for Alfonso, though? How does Isabelle’s story relate to the young prince? Some viewers have speculated that Alfonso may very well become the story’s next villain. Maybe, maybe not. But like I’ve been saying, I would be very, very disappointed if this turned out to be the case. After all, it makes more sense for the prince’s story to unfold in another way.
In the end, Alfonso should continue to play his role as Leon’s foil. And for now, what is Leon really known for? He’s known for the fact that he could’ve been the people’s savior, but his own tragic weaknesses almost made him destroy Santa Bard with his own hands. If the young prince is to play Leon’s foil, his character has to be the opposite of that. Alfonso should be a paragon of justice and virtue.This doesn’t mean, of course, that Alfonso should become this perfect being that never fails. I’m simply saying that if Alfonso ever stumbles, it shouldn’t be because he’s suddenly had a change in his morals and character. Rather, it is much more fitting if he fails because he’s simply overwhelmed or perhaps even too trusting. In a lot of ways, Isabelle was overwhelmed. She had two men she had to subdue or else they’d continue to prey upon the surrounding lands and the people in them. Isabelle may have remained pure in virtue to the very end, but she gave up her life to do so. If no one steps up to help Alfonso, he may very well have to do the same. Of course, there is one glimmer of hope:
In the end, the white lilies serve their purpose and finally wilt. It doesn’t mean that they’ve been corrupted or anything like that. It’s just that even the most virtuous individual out there can and will eventually succumb to the natural order of life, i.e. death. In that sense, Octavia may not get to Alfonso by corrupting him — and I sincerely hope that he doesn’t go out this way — but she may very well get to him because he’s just too tired. People can get sick simply because their bodies are exhausted, which lowers the body’s defenses. This may very well hint at Alfonso’s downfall. If he’s too busy trying to juggle all of his duties at the same time, he’ll also be too tired to remain vigilant. It’ll be all too easy for someone to betray him. But there’s also another factor at play. Being so pure and virtue-minded can also be a hindrance. You don’t normally think of a cynical person as a virtuous character, do you? But it’s just prudent to be wary of others from time to time. You can’t always trust people all the time. The problem is, it seems to be in Alfonso’s nature to see the best in others.
At one point in the episode, Alfonso is surprised to run into German hanging out with Gaspard, since Gaspard hardly seems like an upstanding individual. German tells the kid that he’s simply hear to look for those flowers. Alfonso, however, thinks that this is just German’s cover story, and that his uncle is really here to look for Horrors to kill. Ironically, this is the one time the prince should’ve trusted someone at his words. But his optimism — his belief that the other person is being the best that they can be — is something that might actually bite Alfonso in the ass. He didn’t quite see what Leon was capable of, but we can give him a pass on that one. After all, at that point in the story, he had just met Leon. He thinks German is hard at work, hunting for Horrors, when in reality, German is just trying to woo a pretty face. Perhaps the problem is that he expects the best from Octavia too when he should be cynical and thus wary of the fact that she was once Mendoza’s very own servant.
Anyway, I’ve written enough words about the prince. Unfortunately, there are still things that I unfortunately won’t have the time to address. Like how Roland’s Horror dares to claim that he and German are not so different in that they need war. Maybe it’s just a throwaway line. Or maybe it hints at German’s feelings of restlessness during this “peacetime” that we are in. In any case, I’ll just leave it at that for now, and perhaps we can revisit the idea at some later point in the future — preferably when an episode devotes itself to developing German some more. Anyway, to wrap this up, this week’s Garo wasn’t exactly the most engaging episode, but it gives us a few interesting things to think about as we ponder Alfonso’s eventual fate.