Garo: The Carved Seal of Flames Ep. 17: Snowfall

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You should always be wary when any story bombards you with all these tranquil scenes. Unless it’s a meandering slice-of-life anime, things will never stay constant like this, especially if the constancy that we’re talking about involves the happiness of the story’s characters. Either the story ends, or something is going to upset the balance hard.

— Lara calls it a fairy mound, but Leon recognizes the structure for what it is, or rather, what it used to be: an entrance to a Watchdog Center. As a result, even in its current state, it can protect people from Horrors. Ah, if only people would use it.

— Still, Leon can’t help but see a bit himself in the structure. In his current state, he is just strong enough to protect the people that he loves, but only if they take advantage of that strength. As we will plainly see, the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.

— Good ol’ Alfonso is in the neighborhood, and things are a bit awkward at first. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

— No lord should ever say that his land has absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, Horrors have falls under urgent priority, so the prince can’t exactly go around and rid his kingdom of its useless leaders.

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— In the ensuing reunion between cousins, Leon proves to be contrite. He knows what he did was wrong, and living with Lara’s family has humbled him. Shockingly enough, this is what we call character development. People who were riding Leon’s ass hard at the start of the series seem to lose sight of the fact that the hero can emerge from his trials and tribulations a better man. More importantly, the fact that he’s no longer Garo isn’t his top concern anymore. I mean, he’s still a little sad about that. A little. But more than anything, Leon feels that his biggest weakness right now might be the fact that he can’t protect Lara and her family. That might seem like a small thing by itself, but within the context of the narrative, I think it’s huge. He started out with a personal mission, and that was to avenge his mother. He has since reflected on what his mother’s death means to him, and how he can finally move on from it. That’s why this episode repeatedly harps on the fact that Leon has found something to protect. The dead are dead. They’re not coming back. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t grieve, but eventually, everyone has to let go of the past and look towards the future. As coy as the budding relationship between Leon and Lara has been, at least he has a future worth holding onto.

— Is Lara not allowed in the mansion, or did she stay outside to be with the dog? Maybe a little bit of both, but honestly, I doubt the dog would’ve gone anywhere anyway.

— Not unlike Ximena, Lara feels keenly that perhaps her love interest comes from a different world than hers, and as a result, they are perhaps never meant to be. Of course, if Leon is destined to travel the world and see new places, that doesn’t mean Lara can’t come with. The only problem is that she can’t leave her family. Now, if her family were to tragically disappear, however, she’d have no reason not to accompany Leon on his travels. But would Garo really kill off a poor girl’s family just to do this?!

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— What’s even better is that these characters seem mature. In the heat of the moment, Alfonso did what he had to do to stop Leon’s rampage. But it’s not like he hasn’t had sleepless nights, asking himself why Leon lost control. The prince also lost his mother, so he can empathize with his cousin. And it’s great to see him acknowledge that he understand how Leon feels.

— Still, for the time being, it looks like Garo will be sticking with Alfonso for now.

— What about the armor that he got from Rafael, though? Is it just collecting dust?

— Anyway, the real reason Alfonso is here is that there’s a Horror lurking about. Welp, it seems that Garo will go there.

— Oh look, Zaruba has finally decided to show up in the story again! Once in a blue moon, right? For some reason, I just thought the ring would play a larger role. After all, you have to sacrifice your life to Zaruba. That seems pretty meaningful to me.

— Yo, why do you still get your own bed and everyone else has to sleep together in one tiny corner of the cottage? At least share the bed with someone!

— Okay, I didn’t mean share it like that.

— But in all seriousness, this is the Horror of the week:

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If Garo lets me down anywhere, it’s that the villains aren’t that compelling. I know, I know… the real antagonist of the story is human weakness, and how it can hurt and destroy us. But still, it would be nice to see a compelling villain emerge in the second cour. And I don’t mean Mendoozy’s sudden reappearanc. Plus, he hasn’t technically reappeared yet.

— Leon can sense that something is wrong, so he steps outside with the dog to check things out. The Horror seems to take this opportune time to strike.

That dog does not look like it’s in good shape. Does Garo really want to hurt an innocent animal just to prove a point?

— Armed with just a small axe, Leon still has enough strength to toss the behemoth of a serpent aside. You forget just how strong the guy is without his armor, but he still packs a punch. Unfortunately, he still can’t kill the Horror without being a Makai Knight…

— So Leon tells Lara and her family to get to the fairy mound and hide there, and in the meantime, he’ll run to Alfonso for help. But the old people are too set in their ways. They just recently stored some seeds for the winter, so that they’ll have something to grow come the spring. It’s their livelihood, after all, so I can understand why the old man wanted to retrieve those seeds as badly as he did. But c’mon, if you die here, those seeds are useless anyway. So I can’t help but feel as though this conflict is a bit contrived in order to, y’know, kill Lara’s family off.

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— Oh hey, the dog is walking about! It’s okay?!

— Goddamn, the animals in this universe are beast. Alfonso’s horse just runs up the damn cliff.

— YO IS THE DOG OKAY OR NOT? DON’T JERK MY FEELINGS AROUND LIKE THIS, GARO!

— The dog has just enough left to point Leon towards Lara and her family. Unfortunately, they had foolishly returned to their now burning cottage to retrieve those fucking seeds. Seeds, man. Leon knows the prince. Y’know, maybe after this whole ordeal was over, you could’ve had Leon ask the prince for some monetary assistance!

— Unfortunately, Leon returns to see what’s left of Lara’s family. Alright, alright… in all seriousness, that doesn’t make any sense to me. That has to be some mega-serious cottage fire to leave nothing left but a bunch of goddamn shadows. Serious enough to vaporize a body. But at the same time, that bag of seeds is just sitting there! C’mon, man!

But on a visual level, this is Garo‘s Hiroshima moment. Don’t the shadows remind you of an atomic bomb victim leaving behind nothing but a carbon imprint? It’s no wonder that Leon has a breakdown before our very eyes. How sad is this? It’s as sad as those atomic bombs, says the anime.

— Somehow, Lara is still pretty intact despite having a burning house fall on her. I guess the super hot fire was just localized to one portion of the cottage.

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She has her bruises, but she’s still a cute enough shoujo to be Leon’s love interest.

— Elsewhere, Alfonso is going all DBZ on the Horror. This is the best screenshot I could get of that moment. Well, not really. I just don’t really want to bother. In the grand scheme of things, this is not a very important moment in the episode. It simply gives you a dose of action to cut through the sadness of everything else around it.

— Y’know how it goes. Leon tries to reassure Lara that she’s okay. In her most vulnerable moment — and she did just lose everything: her family, her home, and her pet dog — Lara feels that she’s going to lose Leon, too. He tries to reassure her that he’s never leaving her side, but the audience has to painstakingly sit there and watch the light slowly fade from eyes. Yo, I’m not going to let you play me like that, Garo. The girl is all over the ED. In fact, why would you even draw this scene if it’s not even going to come close to occurring in the actual anime?

— Alfonso arrives at Lara’s burnt down home just in time to let the gravity of the situation sink in. I like that he can feel his cousin’s pain acutely enough that he pounds on a nearby wall and cries himself. I’m tired of warriors standing stoically to one side, wearing hardly an emotion on their faces.

— Then as a final gut punch, the episode cuts to the dog. It’s probably dead by now. We get it, Garo. You killed the damn dog just so Leon can take up the sword. We get it. Jerk. I’m not even a dog person.

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— The snow doesn’t seem like much, but it’s an important visual contrast from what had dominated Leon’s emotional state earlier in the series. The pain of losing his mother was rage-filled, and as a result, it was accompanied by burning, searing flames. He was just a newborn when she died, so his pain almost seems… incomplete. Like he can’t really know what it’s like to lose a mother, because he’s never had a mother. And as such, the only thing he can feel is pure rage.

When Leon first arrived to the farm, the land was dry and parched. The setting seems to reflect our hero’s state of mind. The land seemed dead just like how Leon felt dead on the inside. He had essentially given up, and had to be nursed back to good physical and mental health. As we all know, he starts to recoever when he lends a hand and helps the family build an irrigation system. And it just goes to show you that Leon has to help himself in order to get out of his depression. Others can lend a hand, but he’s not going to just snap out of it over time. Working with his hands, on the other hand, means that Leon is no longer alienated from his own recovery.

In this very episode, Leon has just lost some people very dear to him. But unlike with his mother, he doesn’t feel the burning need for revenge. I’m sure he feels some anger. It wouldn’t make sense if he didn’t. But his emotions are now more well-rounded. So it makes sense that if Lara somehow survives this ordeal — and this seems to be the case — Leon will turn the loss that he’s suffered here into something more fruitful than the unbridled rage that he carried with him for the majority of the first half of the story. There’s no fire here. Just snow. Snow can represent a lot of things: despair, loss, etc. But more important, a fresh start. Some snow falls on Lara, but it instantly melts into a tear. If there weren’t already enough clues that the girl is still alive, that’s one perfect visual clue to seal the deal.

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— Anyway, the previews for next week’s episode flat out says that Leon will pick up the sword again. But without Garo, what suit of armor will he wear? His father’s?

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8 thoughts on “Garo: The Carved Seal of Flames Ep. 17: Snowfall

  1. T.E.P.

    I’m thinking he’ll take up the armor of the Knight of Defense, Gaia. It would make sense since the source of his redemption is that he’s “found something to protect.”

    Reply
  2. Pia

    I don’t think Lara is really dead, yet her dead scene was pretty convincing, it almost made me cry, not because she was dying, but because poor Leon was losing everything again.
    Anyway, a very strong episode, a little awkward at times but still impressive.

    Reply
  3. IonCaron (@IonCaron)

    Gotta admit, I got a bit teary-eyed. Simple but moving, and executed very well. Though the ash shadows kinda took me out of it for a second.

    I like this show more and more. While this story isn’t bringing anything new to the table in terms of narrative, it is rekindling the most important aspects of storytelling which most anime seem to have forgotten these days. Also the pacing is great.

    Yeah, it was a very well done episode…b-but I…I just d-don’t understand why the dog had to die too…

    Reply
  4. Akeem

    “But his emotions are now more well-rounded”
    This is what was going through my mind too in the same words. I realized that in this episode we saw both of Leon’s eyes pretty often more so than another time in the series. I took as a visual cue as to him finally “becoming complete” in a sense. This was especially so when we see him smiling and looking through the window as he was talking to Alfonso. I’m so glad he’s back in the story again, I mean he has been such a great character.

    That pic in the ending made me think that they’d just have Lara follow Leon, I mean killing her entire family would just be tacky…..but they did it anyway lol. After finishing this episode I was surprised that they actually killed lara especially after seeing that pic in the ed all this time. You’re good at predicting things though especially so I’m she’s probably alive, at least I hope so. Still sucks that they killed the girls family though, dog included.

    Reply
  5. ironherc

    I loved this episode a lot, sure going back for the seeds was stupid, but It’s understandable for people in that time. I really hope Lala isn’t dead, taking her away from Leon forever would leave him without anyone to care for besides his dad and cousin. Also alfonso going all ORA ORA a la JOJO was awesome.

    Reply
  6. Arkadios Kofidis

    I’m really pissed about that dog, they could have made him a sidekick.

    And I assumed the greasy shadows weren’t from the fire, but from the Horror doing that “turn your ass into dark matter and snort you” thing that they do, I’m sure there is some overspill here and there.

    Reply

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