There are horrors here, but they aren’t what you were expecting.
What They Say:
Episode #2: “Tied Sword”
Raikou and Seimei take an apprentice assigned by the Watchdog Center under their wing. While rumors of a possible Horror that is killing warriors for their swords are circulating within the capital, Seimei decides to look into this new apprentice.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Seimei is summoned, by force, to the office that oversees the local Makai knights and alchemists. She would rather do things her own way and not take orders from above, but her superiors insist. Thus, Raikou and Seimei are forced to take on an apprentice whose father was a Makai knight. It just so happens that the latest horror has been running around stealing swords from people before devouring them. That’s not a strange coincidence in timing, now is it?
Yes, the new guy is the horror. They tried to misdirect the audience by giving us what seemed like a solid backstory, but there was no other new character to take the blame. Nobody watching was going to be surprised to see the guy turn on Raikou and make off with his sword. However Raikou practically lays it down for him when the guy proclaims Raikou killed his father. We are thrown into a flashback that shows Seimei finding a young Raikou on a snowy day, enveloped in his armor and unconscious, pursued by lesser horrors.
The backstory of Raikou should have carried more weight, it’s not a bad idea to have him constantly struggling against his unknown past. The execution falls totally flat, and this early in the series we have no real reason to be shocked or surprised by his backstory. If it was designed to make us care about Raikou it fails.
By the end of this episode we learn that Raikou’s real full name is Minamotono Yorimitsu, which would make him another take off on a historical figure. That would mean that Kintoki is also that same Kintoki from folklore, although that doesn’t really explain why he appears to not age. We see him in a flashback when Raikou was a child and Kintoki was the same size he is in the present! At least now I can assume that most named figures are actually a folklore figure reimagined into a Garo role.
While the tale of revenge didn’t grab me this week the animation was what ultimately left a bad taste in my mouth. It’s approaching TOEI levels of cheap in this episode, and there were even moments where lines were being read with no mouth movements animated to them. It’s not Sailor Moon Crystal levels of bad, yet, but this is not TOEI, it’s MAPPA, and they can and have done so much better! Proof of that lies in the ending animation, which is a shining example of what this show should look like. This is probably their worst looking series, it all feels outsourced to who-knows-where. It’s giving off this vibe of a low budget mid-90s US Saturday morning cartoon rather than anime, except without the humor to back it up. Compared to last year’s Garo it’s the ultimate let down.
Another week, another ho-hum horror to destroy. We learn more about the leads of this tale of Garo, who they are and what they’re up to. Unfortunately, it’s all by the books stuff and none of it is particularly interesting or impressive. I can’t really get invested with this paint by the numbers story. The humor is flat as well, Seimei’s attitude just isn’t that funny. Far more aggravating, the animation continues to look off and feel cheap, and with the reveal this series is going to be twenty-five episodes that doesn’t bode well for the budget or my interest in where this story is going. If the team doesn’t get their acts together and shape up, the audience is going to ship out permanently.
Episode Grade: C –
Streamed by: Funimation
Review Equipment: 27” iMac running OS 10.10.3, via Safari 8.0.6, FIOS 15/5 Mbps connection. Your mileage may vary.