What They Say:
A large-scale witch hunt was carried out in a particular kingdom. In the middle of the burning of one such witch, a child was born. Suddenly, a silver wolf appeared and saved the baby from the flames. Since then, much time has passed…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Horrors, creatures of the night who take on the disguise of humans for the sole purpose of tricking and consuming their flesh. In days past these demons were dealt with by the legendary Makai Knights, whose magic is the only thing that can exorcise them. Unfortunately in this day and age Mendoza, aide to the ailing King has decreed that the Makai Knights and the priestesses that assist them are heretics and must be executed at all costs. One of the victims of the following witch hunt was able to give birth on her execution pyre, and the child was rescued by a man in silver armor with a helmet in the shape of a wolf.
Seventeen years later we meet German Lewis, a rather salty man with story to tell and a weakness for brothels. He is in the middle of attempting to exchange a tragic tale about the witch hunts and a babe born among flames to a prostitute for ‘services’ when he’s interrupted by Leon, his son. When he’s sent home, German reveals his true purpose for being in the brothel that day. He had heard tale of men entering and never being seen again. In the meantime, Mendoza has learned of the location of the silver wolf and the child he had saved and dispatched his best troops to apprehend them. When the prostitute reveals herself as a Horror, German becomes the Makai Knight Silver Knight Zoro. When Leon is attacked at home by Mendoza’s troops (lead by a rather cleverly designed Horror), he reveals he is a Makai Knight as well. The Golden Knight Garo. Both men are able to overcome their Horror attackers and they decide to return to the kingdom where Leon’s mother is buried. Back in the kingdom, we are introduced to Alfonso, the son of the King and next in line for the throne. When he’s given a special pendant by his mother, Mendoza panics and realizes he has to move his diabolical plans forward ahead of schedule.
Despite being based on a live action series of the same name, Garo requires thankfully little knowledge of the source material before jumping in. While the tokusatsu series takes place in modern day Tokyo, the creators have opted for a more contemporary Medieval setting. MAPPA’s animation is smooth and consistent throughout, even with the CG Makai Knight armor and Horrors. The character designs are rather stylized, reminiscent of shows like Casshern Sins and Saint Seiya Omega. Considering the almost feature film-like qualities of MAPPA’s other project this season, Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, Garo’s art style and grey-blue color pallete are a welcome change of pace.
Story-wise, Garo adequately introduces our two protagonists while at the same time revealing just enough about Mendoza to reveal his plans aren’t entirely on the up-and-up, and the King is simply to ill to realize his most trusted advisor isn’t looking out for his best interests.
A word of caution that I must stress. The beginning of the episode shows methods of Medieval torture, which includes a scene of rape aftermath. It’s very brief and played much more tasteful than a certain other show this season that won’t be mentioned, but it’s there and might be enough to offend some.
All in all, if you have fond memories of watching Mystic Knights of Tir na Nog growing up as I do, this show is like tomato soup and grilled cheese. It just warms you up from within. Also, the Jam Project OP is just flat-out great.
I have no qualms whatsoever recommending Garo the Animation. The animation is solid, story has some promise, and it was unexpectedly nostalgic. It all comes together to become a gem in this overall lukewarm anime season. The only question now is how well it can hold on to the promise the first episode is issuing. It’s the perfect thing if you’ve ever wished Power Rangers could be even a little bit dark and gory.
Streamed By: FUNimation
Review Equipment: HP Pavillion 17” laptop running Windows 8, Google Chrome