Garo: The Carved Seal of Flames Ep. 15 & 16: Enough happiness

Garo - The Animation - 1510

It looks like we’re getting the side stories out of the way before the final arc can play itself out. I’m just waiting for Leon to hop back into the battlefield, though. Yeah, it’s great that he now knows the meaning of hard work. It’s great that he’s found a family that he can be comfortable with. And of course, it looks like there’s a bit of romance forming between him and Lara. Nevertheless, the girl’s grandfather is right. Our hero isn’t destined to be a farmer, and of course, none of us are watching this series to watch him till the land. After watching goody-two-shoes Alfonso prance around as Garo, I’m ready for the true Knight of Light to return.

That’s not to say that I dislike Alfonso or anything. But honestly, he’s kind of boring. He’s a great guy, but he can be a great guy because he’s had it pretty easy. Okay, sure, he lost his mother recently, and that sucks; I’m not going to pretend as though he hasn’t had any hardship. But relatively speaking, Leon’s been through much worse. And I’ve hammered on this point before, but he’s still just a kid. Despite this, he has enough scars for multiple lifetimes. This is why Leon’s fall is fascinating. It’s easy to say that being a hero isn’t a burden at all when  you’ve never had to really suffer. But put yourself in someone else’s shoes — someone less fortunate — and then tell me what you really think. I’m reminded of a recent quote from an NFL player, actually:

A few years ago, E:60 profiled [Marshawn Lynch]. Presented with a list of his transgressions and asked what he thought of the people who claimed he was a thug, he laughed and then went silent for a few seconds.

“I would like to see them grow up in project housing,” he said with his voice wobbling. “Being racially profiled growing up, sometimes not even having nothing to eat, sometimes having to wear the same damn clothes to school for a whole week. Then all of a sudden a big-ass change in their life, like their dream come true, to the point they’re starting their career, at 20 years old, when they still don’t know shit. I would like to see some of the mistakes they would make.”

I don’t think I need to spell it out to you guys why I find this quote highly relevant to Garo. Long story short, I’ve seen Leon’s fall. And although Alfonso’s done a great job keeping the suit warm, I’m ready to see Leon rise back up and become the Knight of Light again.

Anyway, most of Garo‘s fifteenth episode deals with a motley crew of inventors, engineers and whatnot. I actually don’t know if they’re officially engineers or not, but if you can design a walking suit of armor, that’s good enough in my book. What are these guys up to? Well, they’ve been inspired by the Knight of Light, so they want to lend a helping hand by creating a Knight of Light of their own. But of course, no human contraption is going to measure up to the real thing… not a for a long time, anyway. So this is more like a Knight of Light-lite.

Garo - The Animation - 1508

I won’t pretend, however, that I found this side story very compelling. It wasn’t. I was kind of bored as I watched the episode. Sure, I get the gist of it. The human spirit is stronger than we often believe, and that’s why we’ve got to protect and nurture it. Actually, when that one guy suggested that they use pig’s intestines to make the suit of armor work, I almost thought that we were in for a tragic ending. Like, y’know, maybe the old man riding the suit would be corrupted by a Horror or something, and Alfonso would have to put the imposter Garo down.

Or perhaps Knight of Lite would bite off more than it can chew, and as a result, Alfonso would have to save them. As I watched the episode, I was also reminded of Batman. More specifically, that very early scene at the start of The Dark Knight:

Batman: Don’t let me find you out here again.
Brian: We’re trying to help you!
Batman: I don’t need help.
Dr. Jonathan Crane: Not my diagnosis!
Brian: What gives you the right? What’s the difference between you and me?
[Batman lowers himself into the Batmobile]
Batman: I’m not wearing hockey pads!

But Garo didn’t go there. The old man successfully defeats the marauding great bear, and although this victory came at the cost of the Knight of Lite, it’s not as though they can’t just create another one. But more importantly, Garo suggests that the people will eventually become strong enough to protect themselves. On the other hand, Batman has to break some serious moral codes in order to get the job done, i.e. pretty much tapping every single cellphone in the entire city. We laughed at it at the time, but nowadays, the NSA is pretty much doing the same thing. Just, y’know, without a terrorist clown threatening to blow us all up. But I digress.

What’s my point again? I’ve been rambling for a bit, but I’m thinking back to the poor lady who even requested the Knight of Lite’s help in the first place. She said that a demon had been terrorizing them. She finally decided to seek help when that same demon killed her husband. We eventually find out, however, that the demon was nothing more than a bear. A bad bear, sure, but just a bear. And this tells you that Garo takes place in a simpler time. Simpler but scarier. These people are mostly peasants just trying to survive. They’re largely ignorant of the world around them, and as such, everything bad is attributed to demons, witches, and whatnot.

Garo - The Animation - 1502

The inventors represent the hope of human progress, though. Eventually, humanity will learn to protect itself. Eventually, humanity and its curiosity will step out of the light and into the dark unknown. Eventually, humanity will explain the unexplainable. And when that happens, maybe the demons will go away. And without the demons, maybe the heroes will disappear along with them as well. It’s hard to imagine, I guess, because Makai Knights and demons literally do exist in the world of Garo. But in a sense, our world is the same way on a figurative level. We grow up believing in heroes. And every once in a while in our adulthood, we get this silly idea that some individual can actually effect change in the world.

But the truth is, we’ve only got ourselves to depend on, and depending on the issue, that’s a scary thought. Like seriously, can you assholes vaccinate yourselves, please? Anyway, for Garo, humanity is still in its infancy, so it needs its demons. We don’t like the unknown. It’s uncomfortable. So even though blaming all the ills of the world on the malignant acts of demons is still ridiculous, it’s at least an explanation. And as long as those demons still exist, then heroes like Garo will still exist. But like I’ve said, the Makai Knights are protecting humanity until the day that they are no longer needed.

So that’s the gist of the fifteenth episode. I was still bored by it, though.

Then we move onto the sixteenth episode, and Leon’s still nowhere to be found. Instead, the story shifts its focus on German and whether or not he can ever really settle down. Not just with Ximena, but settle down into a normal life. These last few weeks have probably been pretty easy on the guy. Ximena is pretty doting for someone who isn’t officially in a relationship with German. Plus, there hasn’t been any bad guy on the level of “Mendooza” to worry about, so he hasn’t had to do much besides patrol the city at night. Sure, Horrors will crop up every now and then, but they’re minor threats. It’s unfortunate that a few unlucky souls will have to lose their lives, but think about it: deaths and murders happen all the time in the real world.

In the Garo universe, however, we almost never hear about those stories. Again, anytime anything bad ever happens, it’s due to a horror. And so the story of the raven-masked Fabian is just that. He’s just another minor serial killer for the good guys to capture; German and Alfonso are like detectives in CSI: Santa Bard. They even plot out the locations of Fabian’s victims like those crime shows. Luckily, there’s no enhancing to do here. Point is, German’s life has become less heroic these days. Instead, it has become routine. And there’s nothing really wrong with that. He essentially gets to become one of Santa Bard’s detective: investigating crimes all throughout the day, then returning home to his loving wife. The only question, of course, is whether or not his past will allow that to happen.

Garo - The Animation - 1606

There are three carryovers from the past that threatens to upset the current harmony in German’s life. Perhaps four if you count Leon returning and stirring some shit up, but let’s just assume that Leon has developed for the better. Still, German can’t exactly wipe his slate clean and start over with Ximena. On the most benign level, the guy has built up quite a reputation with the kigndom’s prostitutes. Sure, we can sit here, try to be all sex-positive, and claim that there’s really nothing wrong with two consenting adults exchanging a little money for sex. But if German really wants a serious relationship with Ximena, that’s probably not an argument that he wants to make. So that’s one thing from the past.

The second one is that this is still a rather hierachical world, and as such, people seem to believe that it’s okay to throw away our relationships if it means overstepping our station in life. Ximena tries to push German away just because she thought he was an aristocrat. And because he’s an aristocrat, he’s probably forcing himself to stay at her inn. After all, why would someone so high up on society’s ladder bother with a lowly girl like her? It’s still so alien to me, though. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what Ximena’s problem was. I was like, “So she saw him with Alfonso, and now she’s mad at him?” Sure, social classes still exist in my world, but y’know, most of us don’t really give a fuck about them. So when it happens in fiction, I don’t always recognize it at first.

Anyway, the second problem is an easy problem for German. He’s not an aristocrat, so he just has to clear that up with Ximena. After that, everything will be A-OK, right? Well, not exactly. Garm actually summons the Makai Knight out of nowhere, then ominously tells Zoro, a.k.a. German, that he’ll have to work with “Mendooza” from now on. Mendooza’s back? But more importantly, German is a Makai Knight, and he’ll probably always be a Makai Knight until the day he dies. But even after he dies, he’ll likely want to pass Zoro onto a protege (Leon? Alfonso? a new kid between him and Ximena?). So even then, German’s legacy will carry on, and he’ll be remembered first and foremost as a Makai Knight.

Just when things are going well, Mendooza is back. So again, the question is whether or not German can really settle down. It’s easy enough to deal with minor villains like Fabian. It’s especially easy when the villain feels compelled to heal your wounds in the midst of battle — hey, man, he took the Hippocratic oath! — so that you can get back up and behead your doctor. But just when German thought he was out, Garm pulls him back in. And he better hope that the bad guys don’t do more than kill his dog and steal his car. I mean, it’s rare when this happens, but I actually like these characters enough that I don’t want to see them die.

Garo - The Animation - 1616

But if German’s relationship with Ximena is going to develop, then she can and will become a target for his foes. The same is true for Leon and Lara, and in a way, we already saw the same thing happen with Alfonso and his mom. One of the burdens of being a hero is that you’re also lonely. You’re afraid to form serious relationships with others, because you don’t want to endanger them. It’s a familiar trope, but it’s a trope that makes a lot of sense. So what will German do? We see in the latest episode that he gets really down and depressed if Ximena rejects him. But with Mendooza rearing his ugly head, can German really continue to pursue the girl? Or will his conscience tell him that it’s his turn to push her away?

Stray notes and observatio-… nah, just some silly bullshit:

Garo - The Animation - 1501Garo - The Animation - 1605Garo - The Animation - 1608


3 Replies to “Garo: The Carved Seal of Flames Ep. 15 & 16: Enough happiness”

  1. Leon is a great protagonist out of all tokusatsu that I have seen, it’s quite sad that the anime leaves him out for the time being.
    I want to see him lift his sword once again but I am also worried at how the writer going to do it. Please don’t kill Lara or any of her family members. They deserve the little happiness in their small world. T_T
    Please don’t kill Ximena too..
    It’s quite worrying when it comes to this anime.

  2. It’s ironic how a horror saved Ximena from a deadly disease (regardless of its true intentions), but I doubt this could shake German’s convictions, but maybe working with Mendoza will, excellent analysis as always.

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