Garo: Honoo no Kokuin Episode 11 & 12
Ok, so, we pick up right where we left off in the thick of the action, With Bernardo going all out to have his rematch with Herman/Roberto. This episode is even more of what I was hoping for from the show, with darkly complex villains, and lots of commentary and examination on the Makai knights and their order. Bernardo is so fascinating because his fall is incredibly tragic and sad, and he is both intimidating and fearsome as an enemy to our heroes.
Of course, he’s just one part of this tale, the other is Herman, who has chosen to be his opponent. He once again shows he can be both serious and comical at the exact same time in his handling and reaction to his friend’s corruption.
To be fair, he seems to be a lot more giggly than he initially appeared to be. But its clearly not true laughter, but more him tragically laughing as he’s lost his mind and him being trapped in this hellish existence.
Herman however, decides that he’s going to get answers on how his best friend became this force for evil, and he won’t fight him till he does. Its another showing of just how wily and clever Herman can be. If Bernardo’s true goal is to fight Herman seriously, then he’ll have to capitulate in order to get his fight. So, this is how we get to see this sad, sad story.
It shows Bernardo right after he helped Anna and Herman escape. As a Makai knight, he isn’t allowed to hurt the oncoming soldiers attacking him, and this makes it entirely hopeless. However, while we know he already has the desire to rebel against the Makai’s vows, he still tries to reason with them, to explain. However, they refuse to listen. The knights will ignore everything he says, out of fear, superstition, and perhaps even greed.
Eventually, he loses it and tries to fight back, taking the lead captain by the throat. He doesn’t understand what is worthwhile for humans to be protected. They are so often violent, foolish, self destructive and self serving, in his eyes. He is questioning still his resolve to protect, but then we learn just why he’s been holding on so badly to the ideals of the Makai.
For Anna, his friend (who he possibly loved), who believed with all her heart humans were worth protecting, he holds off from killing the captain…leaving the captain open to cut off the arm choking him. It gets worse as it seems Anna and Herman have been captured, and likely will be killed. While holding on to his duty was his goal, now the lives of those he valued so much are in jeopardy.
He breaks his vow, and massacres the group to get to them, only to find it was the wrong people, just two innocent civilians swept up in this witch hunt. And even the act of saving them is spoiled, as one soldier with his dying breath kills her, out of an idiotic idea of promotion. Bernardo sacrificed everything, and betrayed his vows as a knight to save his friends, and ultimately it was for nothing. Its at this point he finally breaks down utterly, and laughs as the farcical nature of the Makai’s goals.
Its then that Mendoza shows up…and sets him on fire.
Well, not really, its more transforming him into a Horror, or helping his rebirth into the monster he would become. Mendoza spouts his own philosophy, that humanity is not fit to be protected but ruled, being incapable of better action on their own. The Makai should rule over humanity, impose order, and deal with any others in their path. Bernardo accepts this, and this is how he ends up this way.
Herman has only one thing to say at the end of this story.
Now that its been revealed, the battle is on and it is glorious. Once again, the animation, action, everything is awesome, and now it carried that epic weight of two former comrades battling each other to the bitter end. (Revenge of the Sith can go suck it)
At the end, both men are worn out completely, but neither is willing to give up yet. Bernardo tries using the whole “hidden blade behind the fake hand” trick, but Herman beats that with the “spinning blade rotating back to stab” trick.
It seems that, now that the battle is over, the real Bernardo is free, and seemingly unaware that Anna has died. Its truly just tragic as Herman is holding his friend, who is dying and GAH ITS SO SAAAAD!!!
I never thought this show would actually bring a tear to my eye, but the characters, the emotions, the set up, it makes this action packed and really sad as Bernardo dies, none of his wishes fulfilled, as Herman has lost another loved one to the fight. This episode has mostly been these two reuniting and having their final brawl and it is fantastically done.
The only other thing to mention is that while this has been going on, Leon and Alfonso have made their way to Mendoza who seems to be unleashing some super ultra Horror that the entire Makai organization is worried about when it appears. Looks like the endgame is coming soon, and a really big nasty monster is there for our boys to fight.
I loved this episode, it gave everything I hoped Garo would provide when I first read the description. I’m pumped up to see what will happen in the upcoming battle with Mendoza.
Episode 12 & Final Impressions
Ok….this show has done it. Its surpassed everything that I could have imagined or dreamed for it, and becomes something utterly unique, utterly its own, and utterly brilliant. This episode was jaw dropping, with so many epic moments, sad moments, terrifying moments, and things to consider that I can barely know where to begin but with, well, the beginning.
Both our gallant knights are here, facing down the horrible Red Moon Horror that Mendoza has summoned, and Mendoza himself. However, apparently Leon never learned the importance of teamwork, as instead of fighting the Horror alongside Alfonso, he goes after Mendoza. Again and again and again. Despite Alfonso’s pleas about needing help against the Horror, Leon’s consumed by his desire for Mendoza’s blood.
However, Mendoza seems able to easily fight off Leon while he’s consumed by rage, and even gets the drop on him, freezing him in place with his powers. I want to emphasize something right now, because it will be important later. Leon from the get go has shown no interest or care about the Horror, or the danger it could bring upon the people. He’s been focusing everything on Mendoza, in his rage. He’s not listened, attacked without thinking, and now let himself get caught without anyone to help him. Its crucial to remember this for what happens afterwards.
Mendoza, seeing how easily Leon is spurred on by his mother’s death, decides to twist the knife even further. With horrific, monstrous visions of how his mother died.
It is dark and horrifying, and brutal to watch. While I can’t recall if this gels with episode 1….its a horrible thing to think about, especially with all we learned. Anna, who believed so much in humanity, who would fight to protect humans, dies a horrible, agonizing and miserable death to the great cheers of those very same humans she would wish to protect. It once again takes the idea of the Makai as protectors and of humans being worth protecting, and challenges it in as horrible way as possible. Even worse….while Anna is not real, this WAS our world once. We once lived in an age where this was possible, where it was even common. And that’s even more chilling. Needless to say…Leon iS NOT taking this well.
But even with this mental scarring and horrible nightmarish visions, I can’t help we forgot somethi-
OH WAIT!!!! Man, Alfonso has it rough. He needs to fight this Horror, and Leon’s…not looking too good trying to handle things. However, this is where Leon is confronted by his desire for revenge and becomes strong enough to overcome it, right?
Leon deals with more and more of the visions and anguish until he completely cracks the scale and things get baaaaaaaaad. How bad?
…..I’m gonna go with really badly. Leon loses his shit and becomes this horrible berserker Garo monster, which, after taking a few bites out of the Horror, goes off and spreads incredibly wildfires across the town. These isn’t any typical collateral damage though, we SEE people being set on fire by the torrent he unleashes. No matter what Alfonso says, Leon has utterly succumbed to his hate and rage. It was then I realized two things while watching; the same fire these townsfolk lit 17 years ago was now the fire that was now seeking its revenge and burning them in turn, and that by doing this, Leon has become the very monster those townsfolk suspected his parents of being.
Alfonso has had enough of this shit, and decides that, he’d do anything to defeat Leon and stop this..even if it means killing him.
Even Herman, Leon’s father, knows he’s totally out of control, and so helps tell the weak spot Alfonso has to hit to disengage the armor. While Alfonso armors up and prepares to take the beast down, how’s Leon doing you may ask?
…..Does NOT look like he’ll be snapping himself out of it anytime soon. Well, if I had to reach out for my mother only for her to turn to ashes, I’d be kinda messed up too. Anyways, EPIC SUPER AWESOME ULTRA FIIIGHT!!!!
As you can see with the last pic, Alfonso jack-hammer kicks Leon into the FUCKING ATMOSPHERE to finally snap him out of it. It seems likely that, even if the blow didn’t kill him, the fall will. Herman is, noticeably, upset by this, and we are treated to scenes of Leon as a child.
However, a combination of both Emma, who is still amazing, and Herman manages to save Leon’s life. However, now the crisis has finally been….
It will take the power of Garo to take on this monstrosity, and sadly, he just got jack-hammered to the moon and back. However, Alfonso points out that he has inherited the blood of Garo, and takes up the blade himself to fight the Horrors.
And he proceeds to stomp the everloving crap out of it. Now, you can go there and say “this is an anti-climax, they were fighting it and barely harming it before”, but I think the show here is making a point. Leon has struggled as Garo for the entire series, barely holding on. Constant statements are made on his immaturity, his lack of focus, how ill-fitting he is to be Garo. But it wasn’t his inexperience, it was for his goal. Leon’s been focused on revenge, and it has been holding him back; Makai are made to protect. Despite the fact Alfonso has been a Makai for much shorter a time, he fully embraces this outlook. While he may not be perfectly trained, he has the necessary desire to protect that makes him able to be Garo in a way Leon could not, and why it comes so much more naturally to him. It fits thematically that Alfonso as Garo could defeat this beast.
Now, Mendoza dying suddenly and unceremoniously?
Even the characters point out how abruptly he got axed. Mendoza was built up as such a dangerous and complex villain, it seems a shame to jus toss him aside like this. However, I am holding out hopes with season 2 that they will bring him back somehow, because otherwise, his quick death is the one misstep in this amazing, amazing finale.
Leon finally wakes up, and he’s clearly..less than thrilled. His archenemy is already dead, and not by his hand, and now Alfonso has the Garo armor.
Its really sad to see how desperate and utterly destroyed he is. However, Alfonso refuses to give it up. By the terror and death he has unleashed, Leon has lost the right to have Garo, and even Herman doesn’t challenge it. Alfonso has shown, by his actions, that he is more worthy, Garo accepted him as its new master. Sadly, while we feel bad for Leon, its hard not to see that they have a point. For Leon however, it hits much harder than that.
And here we see more of the truth. Garo was an heirloom from his mother, the last thing she ever gave to him. Its what he saw it as, and thus didn’t take seriously what Garo is. The responsibility for it was utterly lost on him, he used it for revenge and it nearly destroyed everything. And even now, after seeing all he’s done, he still can’ break free from he singleminded goal of getting back what he has lost.
As Leon wanders, lost in his grief and utter mental fuckupedness, Herman can only be sad for his son, in how he went wrong, and how now he’d have to take his own path.
Its sad, but there is a strong truth to it. Herman was with Leon he entire time of his growing up and it couldn’t stop this, and with their strained relationship, any advice Herman gave could easily jus drive Leon away. He’d need to find his own way, work from the bottom up. Herman accepts this, and goes his own path.
Well, at least Alfonso has a happy endi-
NOOOOPE. NOONE CATCHES A BREAK HERE. While the guards and townsfolk are happy to have him back, it comes with a cost. Alfonso came to defeat Mendoza, not to save his mother, because it was the greater need. However, while they succeeded and it saved the country, that choice came with a price. When the queen heard Alfonso was there, she killed herself so she could not be used as a hostage by Mendoza. Even Alfonso realized that, if she hadn’t, he’d have ended up the same way as Leon. He is torn apart, grieving from the loss, but his duty still remains, as a knight and as prince. He bears this loss, and keeps going. The episode ends..with Leon by the cliff. The same cliff his father took him the day he was born, to say how his mother died for him to live…and he lets himself fall.
This episode..was fantastic. It took what I thought would be a paint-by numbers, simple, boring climax to the first part of the show and moved it into an entirely different direction. I have no idea how things will move on from here, and I’m excited to see what could possible continue for Garo as it moves forward.