If you’re expecting an explosive duel to wrap this anime, think again. Sword’s epic clash with Knight barely lasts six or seven whole minutes. As for the rest of the episode? Nothing but one long and drawn-out denouement.
— Knight confesses to Sword that his contract with the dark ring is over, so he’s here on his own volition. In fact, he claims that his soul exists solely for this moment. What a sad existence. Knight sucks as a character. That’s just the blunt truth. He has no other motivations other than wanting to be strong and fight strong people.
— And you start to realize that this show is full of bad characters. The only person who even has any sort of character arc is, well, Sophie. Imagine that. 24 goddamn episodes, and the anime only manages to develop one character to any reasonable extent. Luke could’ve had a character arc, but it kinda just trailed off into nothingness.
— Sword is the hero of the story, and he doesn’t change at all throughout the course of the story. What you saw in the first episode is literally what you get in the final episode. Gina is no different either. And when you finally consider the paper-thin characters like King, Queen, Bishop, so on and so forth, you start to realize how utterly barren this iteration of Garo turned out to be.
— Anyways, when Sophie wakes up, she finds herself back in the real world next to Gina and Luke. She immediately bugs them about Sword, but they won’t answer her. That’s rude.
— Back in… I dunno, is it still ELDO NET? Whatever. As I was saying, back in ELDO NET, Sword and Knight duke it out with everything, including their bikes. Like last week, you can tell where most of the show’s budget went. Luckily, they’re fighting in the middle of nowhere, so MAPPA didn’t have to draw any backgrounds. Just scatter a few random rocks across the screen and call it a day.
— Of course, Sword attributes his strength to his willingness to protect others. He also argues that he could’ve destroyed the source of all Horrors (doubtful) with Knight’s help. Knight counters, however, that… uh, Sword could’ve used his strength to be the strongest of… all time. Really? Really? It’s like arguing with a child. Why even bother?
— The two combatants charge at each other one last time, and in the end, Sword delivers the finishing blow. All of a sudden, we see this shadowy thing emerge from Knight. It’s as if his evil had finally been excised. Great. So I guess he wasn’t purely evil after all.
— I take everything back about the good animation.
— Even though he’s victorious, Sword simply stands there as the world crumbles around him. He even gives that resigned sort of smile. The anime seemingly wants us to believe that he won’t make it out of this alive.
— We’re back to Sophie, and she continues to pester Gina and Luke about Sword. Unfortunately, they won’t say anything even though the girl is literally in tears. Like I said, the anime really wants you to think that Sword won’t survive. What a cheap trick.
— Luke then pulls out one of his memory-erasing bullets, and Sophie realizes that she’s about to lose all her memories of Sword. The guy even says that Sword had requested this. She cries out to Gina, but it’s to no avail. I got two problems with this.
— First, Luke has only ever used his memory erasing powers immediately after a major incident. That makes sense. He’s erasing people’s short-term memories. Sophie has been with these guys for ages and ages, though. So now Luke can suddenly control how far back he can erase someone’s memories?
— Plus, I’ve never liked this whole memory-erasing deal. Memories are an important component to our identity. Memories help us determine our inner strength. Like I’ve said, Sophie is the only character in this entire damn series to undergo any major development. And now, Luke is just going to wipe that entire slate clean. She’s learned so much on this goddamn journey, and it’s all going to go away. What gives these Makai assholes the goddamn right to fuck with people’s identities like this?
— What’s done is done… we immediately skip ahead one whole year. In fact, it is now Christmas time, and the orphanage is full of life. Sophie has changed a lot physically. It seems as though she’s grown like a foot in just a year.
— But wait, how did Sophie even get back from El Dorado? Okay, they erased her memories. Fine. But it took forever just to get from Russell City to El Dorado. Logically, it should take forever to get back. How does the girl explain to herself how she ended up in the middle of goddamn nowhere? How does she even get back? What? Did Luke and Gina give her a ride back? The fact of the matter is that there is no explanation. She also saw Sister get murdered before her very eyes. Luke was able to dig that far back and erase those memories too? I mean, you can always hand-wave everything off with magic, but this is why this episode is so unsatisfying.
— It turns out that the memory-erasing thing isn’t perfect with Sophie. She often finds herself spacing out and feeling unfulfilled. One day, she cuts her finger on some broken pieces of clay. For some reason, the sight of her blood makes her go digging through her closet until she finds her old hoodie. In a pocket, she pulls out that stone she had gotten from the Land of Guidance. Memories of Sword starts to flood into her mind, so she storms out of the orphanage towards the direction of the diner.
— When Sophie finally reaches the diner, she finds Gina literally just sitting there. Gina is not the least bit surprised to see Sophie. It’s as if she knew exactly when the girl would show up or something.
— First things first, Gina reassures Sophie that Sword is fine. So there you go… the old lunk is perfectly okay, and the episode was just trying to fuck with us for no particular reason.
— Next, Gina says that Sophie’s… feelings within the stone must have stirred up her memories? What? So it isn’t really a memory-erasing spell that Luke casts. It’s more of a memory-sealing spell. Either way, my earlier point still stands. You shouldn’t really mess with people’s memories.
— Last but not least, Sophie now wants to become a Makai Alchemist, because she wants to mamoru the hell out of people. Why not a Makai Knight? Eh, girls can’t be knights for some odd reason.
— God, Chiaki looks even more ridiculous than ever. It’s like MAPPA sat in a conference room one day to discuss the show’s art direction, and someone was like, “It’s set in a country that resembles America! American women have bigger titties than Japanese women, so we need to give these characters big titties too!”
— We begin to see a montage that wraps up all the loose ends. Remember how Meifang interacted with Luke in like one whole episode? Well, it turns out she likes him now. She has deep feelings for him now. Why? Beats me!
— Speaking of Luke, the guy is busy brooding it up in Paris of all places. Not only that, he’s finally decided to become a Makai Knight as well. Must be nice to have a penis. As a result, you get to have a choice between becoming a Knight or an Alchemist.
— All of the line cooks in the Chinese restaurant reveal themselves to be hot ass bishies for some goddamn reason.
— Meanwhile, Bishop is still around. He’s actually just sitting in the ruins of El Dorado, but it’s been a year. I guess he just came back to celebrate some sort of anniversary. He seems to imply that he’s finally free, but then he disappears into the wind the same way Knight disappeared when he died, so who even knows anymore?
— Last but not least, as Sophie prepares to leave the diner, this meathead stumbles out of the kitchen. And that’s the end of the show.
Garo – Vanishing Line‘s biggest problem is that it never amounts to anything. It isn’t really about anything beyond the age-old clash between good vs evil. And that’s fine as a starter. But you have to build on that. Garo – Vanishing Line simply never bothered to. It had 24 episodes to tell its story, and it achieved nothing. Outside of Sophie (and maybe Luke), none of the characters have any depth to speak of. And because they don’t have any interesting personalities or motives the resulting conflict is equally simplistic and one-dimensional. This is just a dumb show with dumb action. It never tries to be anything more than that, so you can argue that it’s successful in achieving its aims. But scope matters, and the scope here is terribly limited. I need a little more than a bunch of roided out meatheads going at it while being surrounded by big-boobied women. If MAPPA’s going to be this unambitious, they should’ve just spared us the trouble and cut the show’s length in half.
Final grade: C-