So Lara’s dead. That’s unfortunate. And there are a lot of reasons why I think it’s unfortunate. First of all, I liked her character. Not that it was well-developed or anything. Not that she was rich, complex, or full of depth or anything. In a story like Garo where it really seems as though everyone will eventually succumb to pain and despair, Lara represented a glint of hope — a hope for happier future away from all the fighting, the bloodshed, the hate, so on and so forth. But unfortunately, this did not come to be. Instead, she seems to be dead for good. Instead, her fate serves as a catalyst for Leon’s reforged purpose in life. And I guess that brings me to the second reason why I’m disappointed that she died.
Luckily, the girl hasn’t been stuffed in a fridge or anything, but once again, Lara follows a long line of women who must suffer some sort of unfortunate demise in order for the hero to get back to what he does best: being a superhero. You never really see a hero juggle both family life and their duties. They almost always must pick one or the other. And often times, the story can only progress if the dear maiden bites the bullet and removes herself from the narrative so that the hero is unencumbered. It’s almost easier this way. It’s hard in that someone close to you have to die, but the decision making becomes easier, and maybe that’s the true appeal here. You can accept your responsibilities without any guilt.
You don’t have to make that hard decision. You don’t have to balance your life between two worlds. Let’s say she hadn’t died. How would the narrative resolve itself? Would Leon have settled down into an idyllic, bucolic life since Lara’s really just a simple farmer’s daughter? Or would he continue to become the people’s hero, returning home only rarely to see his wife and (presumably) children? Or better yet, he could take her with him! Y’know… even though she can’t fight. Even though she can’t do anything. She’d really be a liability, actually. On second thought, while the fans would’ve delighted to see Lara somehow accompany Leon on his adventures, it just wouldn’t have made much sense. She’s just a farmer’s daughter.
So we take the easy way out. Why juggle both a family life and being a hero? Let’s just kill the girl, let her tragedy be the fire that forges your ironclad will, and now you’ll be stronger than ever, smarter than ever, more mature than ever… blah blah blah. You’ll even nail that hot, older chick who probably knows her way around sack. No, I’m not criticizing Garo for taking this route. Almost every superhero story takes this route. It seems to be a foregone conclusion in most people’s minds that you simply cannot be a hero and have a family at the same time. They’ll be endangered or something. Being a hero is a solitary life, they say. It’s only something they say, of course. After all, superhero aren’t actually real.
And at the end of the day, there’s something almost poetic about it all. Like I’ve said, Leon emerges from this tragedy with an ironforged will. He goes to his cousin and reclaims his golden armor. He is Garo again, but this time, he really, really wants to protect people. Out of an innocent girl’s death comes ideological purity… in a sense. It’s a common twist of narrative, but a bit morbid when you deconstruct it. There are pretty girls that die only to spur the hero along. Maybe that’s why The Incredibles is a cool movie. ‘Cause in a world of pure make-believe — again, heroes aren’t really real — your father can still come home every night and spend quality time with you. But maybe Garo comes from a culture that doesn’t really reflect that. Someone has to make the sacrifices.
I don’t want to get too much into Ema’s backstory. It really just reinforces the idea that love is transient for these warriors. Makai Priest or not, she’s a pretty strong warrior and so was her husband… until despair destroyed him. So there you go. Even when both people in the relationship are essentially co-workers in the same industry, if you will, it still ends in disaster. Hell, we’ve already seen this with German and Leon’s mother. You will experience true love, but it won’t last long. This is a dangerous life. Ema and Luciano are just another tragic example. So really now, how much better would Lara have fared as, again, a simple farmer’s daughter? Not very, I imagine… If Leon hadn’t gotten heavily injured in battle or something, she might have become a Horror or something!
But Leon’s the hero! He wouldn’t die! Lara’s completely innocent! She wouldn’t turn into a Horror. Well, it’s nice to be idealistic about the characters that we care about, but after nineteen weeks, it seems quite apparent that the universe of Garo is just a wretched, miserable, brutal place. Witch hunts, villages seized by superstition, an entire region falling into disarray because the count or whatever went mad, Horrors constantly skulking in the dark, wandering doctors who really just want to kill you, so on and so forth. Even though everything seemed so happy with Lara’s family, they were actually in pretty deep debt. Not only that, their lives are completely ruined if they lose their seeds over the winter. That’s how bad it was. Life in this universe fucking sucks.
So you take your happiness wherever you can get it. It’s funny; I got a peculiar question about the ending of the very latest episode. Apparently, people are raging because of what Leon did to Ema…? Wait, what? What did he even do to her? She kissed him first, then he followed up by pinning her down to the bed. Oh, is it because it looks kind of rapey? No, it doesn’t. Holy shit, have you people never had sex? I’m sorry, but you don’t expect Leon to ask politely, “May I gently guide you down to the bed, guiding your wrists along the way?” Chill. It’s your love life. Again, Ema made the first move. She’s a grown ass woman. She’s injured and shit, but you can bet your ass she wouldn’t hesitate to kick the boy’s balls if he did anything she didn’t want.
Maybe we’re just unhappy to see them make love because Lara’s still fresh in our memories. On some emotional level, it almost feels like infidelity. And of course, Ema had just killed her husband, and as much as she hated what he had become, you gotta believe she’s still hung up on him a little bit… hung up on what he used to be. So you have two individuals who have just lost two people very close to them… actually, that’s not even quite fair. Leon and Ema basically lost the loves of their lives. And in their pain and despair, they take comfort in each other. It doesn’t mean anything, really. It doesn’t mean that they’ll become a couple. It doesn’t mean that they even care for each other.
Leon and Ema are mutually using each other, and it’s because life in Garo fucking sucks. It’s like how alcohol is really shitty. It’s bitter, burns your throat, fucks your brain up, and a pure waste of money. But goddamn, after twelve hours at work, you just want to smash some brain cells in with some hard liquor. And that’s really all this is. Life sucks for both these characters, and they really shouldn’t do whatever they’re doing, but for this brief moment, fuck it. Long story short, you really shouldn’t expect perfect characters in such an imperfect world. I don’t think Leon and Ema are good for each other, but I’m not going to condemn them for turning to each other at their lowest.