GARO -VANISHING LINE- – Anime Review
Synopsis: Highly advanced town – Russel City. While people enjoy its prosperity in the town, there is a huge conspiracy secretly going on which will shake the world. Sword, a man who notices its movement determines to throw himself into battles and reveal the conspiracy, but only to find a clue – “Eldorado”. At that time, Sword happens to meet a girl Sophie who has been looking for the meaning of “Eldorado”, a message left by her missing brother. These two, attracted by the word “Eldorado”, somehow feel invisible ties each other and start to act together. Their journey with mixed feelings now begins. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Garo Vanishing Line starts out strong, using its modern western setting to create a story filled with even more over the top than usual characters; specifically Sword with his ridiculously buff body, a very sexual and capable female Makai alchemist, a darker skinned male Makai alchemist, and supporting characters hailing from a variety of cultures and skin tones. These do a great job of reflecting the modern cosmopolitan setting as well as making the franchise’s latest outing feel more modern and reflective of current real life metropolitan cities as well.
Tom: Another boon to the series is the action. Vanishing Line boasts some incredible fight scenes peppered over this twenty-four episode run. These act as highlights, the greatest of visual highs in what is, unfortunately, an otherwise lackluster and visually ho-hum anime. For the most part, outside of style, Garo often lacks detail, fluid animation, and just generally wallows in an overall mediocre presentation more often than not. It never gets as ugly as Crimson Moon did, but still manages to feel several steps below the first animated Garo outing.
Linny: The pacing is one of the earliest and most visible flaws of Vanishing Line besides its visual dips in quality. While the show starts with Sophie’s quest for her missing brother, advertised as the main plot of the series, it takes FOREVER for any real progress to occur. Most of the early episodes are spent on one off showdowns against all sorts of horror and while that is a quintessential feature of Garo, it feels like there’s an unnecessary number of them this time around. A lot of these episodes end up feeling like filler material to help fit the 24 episode count rather than contributing to the story or character journeys in a meaningful manner. They feature forgettable plots and characters and with so many of them, it eventually becomes easy to stop caring and hard to remember any of them in particular.
Tom: Each Garo has been heavy on one off-episodic tales, but Vanishing Line struggles to keep many of these short stories interesting. In fact early on, it’s the overarching narrative, the few times it truly crops up, where this Garo shines so brightly. But as the series continues and the mysteries, as thin as they are, are revealed, that overarching story starts to buckle. Trouble stems from how thin the main narrative really is, lacking enough depth with its twists, turns and reveals to feel like much of anything is happening. It’s at that point that the one off nature actually eclipses the overarching story, which becomes a surprise hindrance on Vanishing Line.
Linny: Vanishing Line DOES manage to pull off a few interesting developments with my personal favourite being Sophie’s growth from a bratty teenager entirely reliant on the protection of others to a strong female character that takes it upon herself to commit a task that her original self would probably not have been able to pull off. And even though the entire incident has a bit of a comedic tinge to it, it helps to sell the character growth that Sophie has gone through and earn her some bonus points in the eyes of viewers who saw her as more of a plot device and hindrance than a likeable lead.
Tom: While Sophie has something resembling a character arc, Vanishing Line struggles to offer the same to any of its other characters. Sword himself is completely lacking in any kind of character development, which would be fine if all those around him underwent their own transformative journies. But outside of Sophie everyone else is largely stagnant. Gina, the bad ass female Makai Alchemist gets only a handful of focal episodes and none of them amount to any kind of true character exploration, growth or development. The same can be said for Luke, the gun-totting warrior on the path of vengeance, who by all accounts should have some weighty character journey seeing as it’s just him and Sophie with any true ties to our major villains. Yet Luke is absent for large sections of the story, and when he does get focus it’s so poorly handled that his character arc is barely there. In fact, Luke doesn’t even get a proper final battle to solidify that he’s evolved as a hero and fighter from early on. It’s weird because he has the greatest beef with one of the major baddies, yet he’s sidelined so Sword can get the ultimate fight, making Luke’s character arc feel like one largely of abject failure and pointlessness. Villains are even worse in this regard, kept so much in the shadows that they’re largely absent from much of the series, and when they do finally appear in all their glory– they’re as thin as the day we met them. Their grander plans are extremely thin, to the point where you have to wonder what the point was of hiding all this in the shadows seeing as the audience is likely to have guessed the major twists well before they occurred.
Linny: Vanishing Line definitely has some of the weakest ‘ultimate’ villain plot lines in the Garo anime cannon. It keeps trying to be mysterious as it refers to King, the so called boss of all our baddies but it is pretty obvious early on who King really is. Yet the show seems to want its audience to be shocked when they finally reveal his true identity. Also, the transformation of some of the characters into Horrors, the demonic creatures of the series, can be downright comedic rather than scary or intimidating thanks to either the animation or the voice acting or in some cases, a combination of both. This takes away any bite these scenes could have had, turning what should be tragic or intimidating into a giggle fest.
Tom: Perhaps most frustrating is how much they try to instill our final major villain as this weighty, insurmountable opponent, only for this ancient and unstoppable evil to go down like a total chump. Part of the problem is the show’s inability to instill an increasing intensity to events, to really make us feel like things are coming to a head and growing more and more extreme as the Golden Knight clashes with the Horrors seeking to ‘destroy the world.’ Because our characters are kept distant, under explored, lacking drama and greater arcs, everything feels far away and uninvolved. The series’ one attempt to inject intensity by killing off a major character is undone on several levels, from poor execution turning what should be dramatic into comedic and frustrating, to then undoing that moment makes the entire thing feel pointless and even silly. Vanishing Line eventually feels more like a cheap Saturday morning cartoon than a fantasy action/anime with adult themes like the first Garo anime.
Linny: Vanishing Line seals its fate as a mess with a final episode that is an utter and complete disaster. They give Sophie this big speech about regretting her past, insinuating that she’s a horrible person and speaking as if she committed some large and atrocious crime, which is completely nonsensical given the series events. You’re left scratching your head wondering exactly what she’s talking about. It makes you wonder if she’s talking about some other show and not what you just sat through 24 episodes for. But that’s not even the worst of it.
Tom: Vanishing Line’s conclusion ends on a joke, a gag, which in some ways I think is fitting because sometimes the series feels like one, big, ugly joke. Nothing here is serious, everything is superficial and shallow, with very little meat beneath any of the style and periodic bad ass action sequences. Vanishing Line ends not only on a gag befitting a series that never managed to actually take itself all that seriously, but by also teasing the idea of a follow up movie. I can’t say I have any interest, as nothing in Vanishing Line makes me think it’d be any more worthwhile than what was presented here. Garo The Animation, the first Garo anime, remains undoubtedly the best the franchise had to offer in anime form, with Vanishing Line only just maybe edging out Crimson Moon, but even that is debatable as both series leave me feeling like I wasted my time, and Vanishing Line maybe even goes one step further, making me question any further interest I have in the franchise’s animated outings.
Linny: Vanishing Line had promise when it first began with a metropolitan cast and a rather unusual musclehead as its main Garo Knight. Unfortunately, it soon proved itself to be all looks and zero merit as it fails to give most of its cast any proper character development or exploration and features the most predictable twists and reveals. Throw in filler like episodes that feel pointless and monotonous, with a joke of an ending, and Vanishing Line dooms itself to be one of the weakest entries in the animated Garo line up.