Garo: The Carved Seal of Flames Ep. 20 & 21

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Y’know, I did watch last week’s episode last week. I just didn’t write a post on it, because I didn’t feel as though I’d have much to say. After having a week to think about it, I still don’t. Octavia’s story just isn’t very interesting. In fact, the whole thing with her sister was pretty ham-fisted. Run away! Quick! Or the wolves are gonna getcha! No, sis, I won’t! I’ve been praying to God all this time! Surely, he will intervene now! Uhhhhhhhh, yeah, that was lame. The thought is there; Octavia is a sad, broken woman who worships Mendooza because God is dead in her eyes. The execution is just so lazy, though. Anyway, she sacrifices the new girl who was barely onscreen at all, and that was that. The rest of the episode just didn’t enthrall me. It was just Leon and gang sleuthing around to not much effectiveness.

This week’s episode… is a little more action-packed, but I can’t say I love it either. There are just some bothersome aspects about, again, the execution. So father and son are settling their differences, and that’s fine. We see from the flashbacks that German had long taught Leon to always protect others, so it seems wildly out of character for the old man to suddenly go along with Garm’s “sacrifice the few for the many” scheme. But then again, you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. And that has been a recurrent theme throughout the story. Even the strongest Makai Knight or Priest has succumb to despair and sorrow in this endless struggle against Horrors. And when you consider the fact that Horrors are simply born from negative human emotions, you can’t help but be cynical.

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But is that really German? Obviously not. I mean, the development is just not there. I really wish it was, too. Like maybe Leon’s fall from earlier in the season had actually done a number on German’s spirit. And then times just got tougher afterwards. Like maybe he failed to protect someone important or something. It wouldn’t have to be Ximena, but just something to shake the guy’s convictions. So as you’re watching the second cour, you might think, “German’s changing. He’s losing faith.” Finally, when this harebrained scheme does come about, you might actually think German had betrayed his principles. But there’s really no build-up to this. Following Leon’s fall, the kid’s story became bittersweet. That’s certainly the case, what with losing Lara and all. On the other hand, however, German has been having a gay ol’ time. There’s nothing to even suggest that he should lose hope in this struggle. As such, the whole thing feels rushed.

You don’t feel any potential ambiguity, because you don’t stop believing in German. It’s not hard not to keep believing in German. The story hasn’t given us any real reason to doubt his character. So when father and son go to settle their differences, it’s really not that profound. As I’m watching Leon and his father fight each other, the whole thing just feels kind of mechanical. Like I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop already and for us to see that German is still a good guy. Like there’s not even the slightest doubt that he has certainly become the villain. And when that happens, the fight between him and Leon loses a bit of its meaning. It feels like filler. When Leon comes to the realization that there’s no way his dad would sacrifice a single life, this should have been a big, character re-defining moment. Like of course, German’s a good guy, but we can reaffirm this truth after heavy reflection. Instead, it comes out as a “Well, duh!” moment.

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And when I say that there should’ve been ambiguity, it’s not that there should’ve been a twist, i.e. we’re surprised to see that German is really still the good guy. I just think this could’ve been a golden moment to add some complexity to his character. Even the happy-go-lucky German can lose faith or something, but blah blah blah x and y is the difference. His buddy Bernardo may have fallen, but not German because he’s not alone. And this would perhaps build upon the themes of the show. Yes, life in this bleak world sucks, but it’s all worth it as long as we have each other… or something like that. Sure, it’s a bit trite, but Garo as a series has never been about originality. MAPPA itself hasn’t been very original either. Rather, for them, it’s about execution. That’s why the last two episodes have felt like a letdown.

The execution is not really there. There’s not much to chew on. It feels like I’m just waiting for the conclusion to get going already, but we still have a few midseason weeks to burn through. Take Mendooza’s reappearance, for example. It has been quite half-hearted. Oh, by the way, he’s still alive. Oh, by the way, he’s still evil and he’s about to revive yet another big, fuck-off Horror to wreak havoc in Valiante. No extra characterization or anything. We’re just going try again to fuck over the world, but this time, it’ll be better! Look, I’ve enjoyed Garo for the past few months now. And barring a complete trainwreck, I’ll still think it’s my favorite show of the past two seasons. But ever since Lara died, the story has felt pretty weak. Maybe this isn’t really a two-cour series. It’s not really a one-cour series, though. Either way, it feels like the writers ran out of steam somewhere.

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2 thoughts on “Garo: The Carved Seal of Flames Ep. 20 & 21

  1. IonCaron (@IonCaron)

    Bit of a grammatical mix-up: “It’s not hard not to keep believing in German. The story has given us any real reason to doubt his character.”

    But yeah, I felt the same way. Figure most people did, really. It wouldn’t have been hard to implement a parallel plot showing what you suggested. It could have ran alongside Leon’s “Little House on the Prairie” bit, a juxtoposition between Leon’s rise German’s “fall” (or rather, “self-doubt that we eventually find he never fully gave into”).
    __Considering how well done everything else has been (except for the last episode, which yeah, that irritated me for a number of reasons), I actually agree with you on the rushed bit here and think this might just be them trying to wrap up all the ideas they had outlined when planning the second cour. You know, before budgetary constraints fully kick in.

    I hope this isn’t yet another series that will decline into mediocrity or worse. I really like Garo and I’d prefer not to like Garo “despite its faults”, know what I mean?

    Hopefully these last two episodes just show the writers in a bit of a rut they’ll get out of and aren’t instead a precursor to more like them.

    Reply
  2. Pia

    Yeah, there’s no way German could turn into a bad guy or something, it’s difficult to not believe in him after all this episodes seeing him acting all selfless when it matters, he surely has a plan, hell he even resorted to an deus ex machina device by contacting his Saruba-like ring after all this time.
    I hope this show doesn’t get a trashy-rushed ending, but it seems imminent.

    Reply

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