Anime: Garo The Animation (Season 1 - Part 1)
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Retail Price: $64.98
The new release Garo The Animation is a FUNimation title that takes on a few dark emotional turns from the premise of the series, making it one that is more than meets the eye. In the fictional world of the series, an event occurs where the King and his selection of close advisors decide to go on a massive witch hunt that spreads like wildfire against anyone who is deemed a possible threat to themselves and others. Unfortunately, most of those who were killed in the savage attacks were actually Makai Knights and Makai Priests (they are an order that is in actuality used to protect people form “Horrors.”) The Makai people were armed with magically enhanced items to aid them, in addition to their heritage that makes them all-important. The murders aren’t recognized as important then, but it resulted in the loss of allies against dark forces.
One woman who was a Makai Priestess found herself near death being burned at the stake, but not before giving birth to a child that additionally carried the bloodlines of the “Golden Knight.” Enter León Luís, the child grown up who was saved by his father - but he wasn’t able to move past the events he is aware of that took his mother from him and his father. Like many anime series fueled by revenge, León takes on major forms of training from his father (who was also serving as a knight) which soon pits him against the demonic entities that are called “Horrors” as mentioned above. Exposing León to this world of conflict, anger, and emotional turmoil only makes him more aware of what is in store for him - and what it takes to survive a complex realm filled with risk.
Opposite León is Prince Alfonso, a young man who was banished from his land while the King was unwell and bedridden (the King’s adviser Mendoza is behind banishing the Price and his mother.) The Prince isn’t so easy to lie down and forfeit his position, deciding it is in his best interest to not only his people - but the entirety of the kingdom he cherishes. This sends Prince Alfonso on a difficult journey with the hopes of locating the practically mythical Knight, beginning the tale of two intertwined characters. With both of them having good intentions at heart - but with a dramatic history between the different families, the plot becomes a rather delicate subject for the acts leading up to this tipping point. The unity of two people from such opposite lifestyles is something that has been done before, but when done intricately enough, it can be very effective.
For the first batch of episodes in the first season, you could draw a conclusion that the series doesn’t have intention of developing a solid narrative but if you stick through it - you’ll begin to learn more about the characters. For example, Leon may be portrayed as your standard arrogant teenager who spends a majority of his time being semi-obnoxious, but it serves a function. The character doesn’t simply stay as a one dimensional stereotypical role, he actually finds a semblance of maturity slowly but surely. More than anything, Garo the Animation reminds me of a series that primarily wants to depict that transition to adulthood during an age that can be complex to say lightly. It may take on more drastic and eccentric avenues to steer us that way, but it still creates a depiction of our developing years.
Very similarly to Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, the anime includes anime stylings that do manage to differ from each other greatly. The standard anime designs have decent designs however they shift to a more computer generated depiction with battle sequences or anything larger scale. This is rarely an anime quality that I enjoy, and ones that rely too heavily on the alternative method can leave a less positive effect from a viewer’s perspective like my own. I will give the series kudos for initially avoiding repetitious anime tropes like fan service - managing to mostly surpass the predictable stereotypes that are associated with anime series in general. It does have questionable moments in the process from time to time but it could be considered to have bigger ideas it hopes to convey in the grand scheme. The plot is a stronger attribute to Garo the Animation than the appearance so you can go into it with a greater idea of what the anime has hit and miss moments in the first half of the season.
Overall Score: 6.7/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
The premise to the series is an interesting start.
The series tended to waiver in terms of entertainment.
It could have focused more on one aspect for a stronger chance at success.