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Garo: Vanishing Line Collection 2 Blu-ray Anime Review

7 min read
The Horrors continue...

© 2017 Vanishing Line / Keita Amemiya / Tohokushinsha
The Horrors continue…

What They Say:
Horrors teem in the shadows of Russel City, where something sinister has awakened. Seeking to vanquish this darkness is Sword, the legendary knight in golden armor, with simple desires and a reputation for getting the job done. When a headstrong teen named Sophie comes along in search of her missing brother, she and Sword get caught in a twisted fate. Banding together, they chase their only clue—El Dorado.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track along with the English language dub, which gets the 5.1 boost. Both tracks are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec, giving us a solidly clean mix. The show has a strong balance between action and dialogue so that as it moves about there’s a lot to like with it. The action sequences have a good bit of variety thanks to the form the players take and the sound of the metal resonates well. The music enhances it a lot as well with some big and brash scenes that gives it a lot more impact, as does the 5.1 mix with its bass boost. The dialogue works similarly in that the bigger moments carry across the forward soundstage well and we get a lot of good quieter moments and movement around that. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2017 and 2018, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by MAPPA, the show once again gives us a very strong look with great detail to the backgrounds and character designs and some very fluid action sequences throughout. I love the physicality that we get from a lot of it, particularly Sword, and the visual design when in their Makai Knight mode definitely stands out well. Colors are rich and vibrant throughout and the details hold up very well with a lot to be seen here. There are a lot of dark sequences in this show as well and that’s an area that holds up wonderfully solid. It’s a good visual experience throughout that definitely comes through wonderfully with this encoding.

The packaging for this release comes in a slightly oversized standard Blu-ray case that holds the four discs across the two formats. The set comes with an o-card that replicates the case artwork which has the main key visual for the second half of the core characters together set against the mountainous skyline that looks really great here – though the o-card is a bit more colorful and vibrant here. The back cover goes for an all-black background that has a large font summary of the premise and a couple of good shots from the show along the right. The extras are clearly listed and the dual-format breakdown of all the technical aspects covers everything accurately and cleanly. No show related inserts are included with this release but we do get artwork on the reverse side with each of the panels featuring a different Makai Knight.

The menu design for this release keeps things simple as it works with the main key visual piece expanded with a gorgeous city visual at night that’s full of great colors and details. It really sets a great mood and captures the kind of show well. The foreground to the left has the character designs from the initial main key visual that have looked good from the start while the right just has the logo over the city. The navigation is kept small along the bottom with a black box to hold it instead of a full stripe which lets the motorcycle piece from the key visual come through. Submenus load quickly and easily and with little here beyond the show it’s easy to get around and setup for languages is quick and easy.

The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While I enjoyed aspects of the first half of the series, particularly with it bringing it into the modern times and applying some interesting ideas with that, I struggled with it overall in terms of making a connection. The characters just weren’t cutting it for me, which was unfortunate as I liked the concept of Sword as leading male characters of his physical nature are few and far between these days and there’s appeal in that. But the nature of the show made it a struggle to get into the flow of it and what stories they wanted to tell. It became easier to just roll with the story du jour with its action and elements there, giving us some well-executed fight scenes that definitely clicked better than the last full outing under Crimson Moon.

As is the nature of a two-cour show without a break, a good chunk of the first half of this part of the season is made up of standalone stories or shorter pieces in general. The quest to get more information El Dorado is built into things and there’s a lot going on in the background there along the way, especially with so many young people being shipped there as “chosen ones” that aren’t going to be that. I like that the set starts with our core group of Gina, Sword, and Sophie as they arrive at the Land of guidance to get more information themselves so they can move forward properly, which entails a few trials to deal with as well as some side quest material to get some additional pieces they need in order to face what’s coming. It’s fairly standard but it works well enough and eases you back into the big picture of what’s coming.

There’s enough fun little moments here and some humanizing things as it goes on – the whole Sophie being angry with Sword about what he eats is comical but it’s designed to humanize all of them and make it easier to get into the story of the moment, which is largely forgettable. A few of these fill out the middle of this set and it does what it needs to while seeding a few more ideas in there about El Dorado and what’s to come as that gets closer and closer. But the problem that I found with it as it went on was that it became harder and harder to connect with it as more characters populate it simply by title, such as King, Queen, Bishop… I mean, I get the point and I even kind of like Sword at first even though I knew it was goofy as hell. But the naming convention here didn’t smack of laziness but it served to make me less and less interested in who they were.

The show works about as you’d expect where events get bigger and bigger in pretty decent ways with what they’re facing and there’s the usualy array of pseudo-psychological stuff to try and make it seem like it’s even more grand and important than it is. There’s only so many quoted philosphical style lines I can take at times before it just becomes comical. What makes it enjoyable are all the Makai Knight pieces to it since the CG animation for it continues to be delightful after all these years and different production companies. It’s an area I still don’t think blends well but that’s also part of the point so that it feels otherworldly. Sword and the rest definitely provide for some strong fights here and it has all the grandeur that it needs and is associated with the property. But I still don’t think anything has come close to what the first anime series did in capturing the nobility of it all in the same way, which is frustrating.

In Summary:
Having watched several different incarnations of Garo so far, including some live-action specials, it’s a property that I know I’m not fully in sync with. There are pieces that I like from most of them but only the first series really clicked with me in full. I like that they “reinvent” the locations and time periods with each new incarnation as that gives it a long and varied life, which the live-action side has tackled as well. This season worked better for me than the Crimson Moon season but that’s almost like damning it with faint praise. In general, there’s more to like than not with this season but it has certain things that just rub me the wrong way and it’s still a franchise that I’m overall not really into and haven’t bonded with. Funimation’s release is certainly solid enough with a good looking show, a tight little package, and a dub that will please fans. Those that want to own will be happy, though I wish there were a few more dub-original extras included for added value.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: February 26th, 2019
MSRP: $64.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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