“There’s never an end to Horrors here,” Sword says shortly after taking one out in the middle of a bustling metropolis. He had to transform in order to defeat the latest threat, leaving behind a smouldering bridge in his wake. In the early morning, the city has finally responded. After all, someone had to put out the fire. Someone will have to rebuild that bridge. But this isn’t the first Horror to attack the city, is it? Not only that, we saw this huge monster tearing through the streets, eating at least one victim in plain sight. In this day and age, that shit would be all over the news. No, not just the news. It would be all over social media. Youtube. Twitter. Instagram. I hope that’s what we see in next week’s episode. I hope society at large — using whatever platform possible — is going, “What the fuck was that?” Otherwise, this setting just won’t make sense to me.
I can give the first episode a pass, because it is the establishing episode. You establish the main characters, and you establish the premise. Sword is the badass, boobs-ogling, bike-riding Makai Knight of the 21st century. Sophie is, at this point in time, the innocent maiden, but I hope she can kick some ass later. And we’ve got monsters to kill. Horrors haven’t fundamentally changed much. They’re still the manifestation of humanity’s sins. But I wish the writers had done a better job establishing the setting. Utilizing a contemporary is more than merely changing the battlefield location. It’s more than just replacing our hero’s trusty steed with a gnarly bike. You have to capture the essence of what it means to be in the 21st century. I just can’t get my mind around the idea that there isn’t any sort of public freakout.
In the first Garo anime, the world was pretty destitute. Outside of the major cities, people lived miserable, wretched lives. They were also isolated from each other. So a few peasants go missing… is the regional lord really going to raise an army over that? On the other hand, if the city doesn’t mount any sort of credible police or military force against rampaging, man-eating monsters of the night in Vanishing Line, I’m going to be sorely disappointed. Don’t just give me a list of missing girls. Again, we’ll see what happens. Time will tell how the rest of the series handles the contemporary setting. Maybe Sword will find himself in the classic modern-day hero dilemma where he is stuck between two sides: the nightmarish Horrors and a faceless police force that doesn’t trust a vigilante hero who comes and goes as he pleases. Don’t let me down, MAPPA.
Some other loose thoughts and observations:
— The action is very herky-jerky thus far. We’ve come a long way since the first Garo series, but I would still like to get a better look at all the combat.
— We’re obsessed with boobs, aren’t we? The nameless victim at the start of the episode (did she ever get saved?) has her breasts prominently featured. Even the monster has boobs? Sword ogles the girl he picks up later. He ogles the waitress at the diner. God, don’t tell me this will be a thing for the rest of the series.
— Where is this city, anyway? Is it somewhere in America?
— When Sophie goes into the online world, I got vaporwave vibes. I wonder if this choice actually means anything.
— Then when she goes to see the Moon Wizard, the cityscape changes again. Where is she now? Is this some Disney-ish replica of a European side street in the middle of a modern metropolis?
— The Moon Wizard’s dwelling is also anachronistic. I feel like the candle wax would just drip from the ceiling and make a terrible mess.
— Funny thing… El Dorado used to refer to just a man. Then it become a mythical city of riches. I wonder what it’s going to be in this series.
— I guess this is supposed to be a creepy moment, but dolls don’t really do it for me. Does the Horror turn his victims into dolls or what? There’s very little storytelling in this first episode. I’m actually reminded of the scene in It when one of the kids stumble into a room filled with clown dolls.
— Goofy again.
— Such a badass.
— What is that? Fries with… mashed potatoes?
— Meanwhile, Sword is feasting on a hunk of meat that couldn’t have come from any cow. Along with that mountain of french fries and tomato-flavored sugar sauce, I’m sure he’ll have a find time shitting it all out later.
— I think Sword does manage to keep his promise. Too bad some innocent dude still ended up being eaten. I couldn’t help but think of the Joker’s first conversation with Batman in The Dark Knight: “I wanted to see what you’d do… and you didn’t disappoint. You let 5 people die.”
— The climax was a bit perfunctory, and not really that interesting to me. I’m just eager for the rest of the story to get started.