Garo: Honoo no Kokuin Episode 18 & 19
So, here we are again to Garo, and honestly, I just love the crap out of this series. Its fun, dark, cool, romantic, funny, heartbreaking, its got the works. Of course, its the last one that’s seen primarily in this episode’s beginning. We pick up right where we left off in…utter tragic sadness.
This has been the impetus for Leon’s character in the second half of the series, to learn what it is to care about others, and protect them. Now, he’s lost what he cared for most, because he didn’t have the power to do so. He’s once again been faced with tragedy, and now he understands what it is to protect. However, this has a flip side, we’ve seen what this has done to Leon before. Losing his mother made him blind with rage, and lose himself down the path of revenge. This episode is about him facing those figurative and literal demons after losing so much.
This is really put to the test as Leon slowly, sadly walks in the snow, and begins digging a grave for Lara with what simple tools he has. There are few things in anime I have found so sad as to watch someone have to dig a grave to bury the one they love. Its mildly slow, allowing us to feel as he feels, as he comes to grip with the fact she is gone, and all of there plans and dreams will never happen; the life they could have had will never be.
However the somberness of this act is being affected by something else. It begins as a voice in Leon’s ear, and then it finally takes a shape. Its the personification of the cursed flames that live inside him, his boundless desire for destruction and revenge. I at first thought it was a Horror, but no, this is all Leon’s nine darkness, trying to put him on the path of vengeance.
I mud say, I love the design of shadow, Leon. The one eye, the way the curselines are red, the entire shape is just awesome. It tempts Leon to seek the power of Garo not to protect others, but for revenge. It taunts him with Lara’s death, reminding him of how similar it was to his mother’s, and that its all the Horror’s fault.
He confronts his dark side, fighting against the hunger for revenge inside him. This is far different from the Leon we saw before. He didn’t try to resist his hate and anger, he embraced it, let it identify him. However, after losing so much, and growing so much, this time he’s not letting the darkness control him without a fight. He fends it off several times, but we don’t see the final confrontation until later, after Leon and Alfonso meet up again, and what we knew would happen is finally said.
We aren’t shown who won, and with his dark demeanor, one might expect Leon’s on the path to vengeance. However, this is very much not the case. He’s devoted his life to protecting others, so noone will have to suffer again. Alfonso accepts his desire, but of course, it can’t be so simple to regain Garo. So, they have to have an epic sword fight and it. is. glorious. Not only is the fight amazingly well done and creative, it has more impact because we know the feelings and desires of the characters and how it shows in their fight. It is intense, but not to the death, and we see how much Leon has changed. He’s less reckless, more conserved, and he fights with a new desire, making him stronger than we’ve ever seen him.
Again, we don’t see the end of the fight, but we as an audience probably can guess how it went. The next time we see Alfonso and Leon, its when a new Horror has begun to attack two kids. Once again (and I know I repeat myself on this point a lot), the monster looks freaky as crap and I just love it.
Leon shows up with some new duds, and quickly dawns the Garo armor. Alfonso has reassumed Gaia, and both fight this badass beast. Despite having not used the armor for months, Leon’s still got some good skills. I also like the new cape his armor has, its really badass. Once the monster is slain, he sees the kids and the girl reminds him of Lara. He is happy he was able to protect others, but still cut to the core about his loss.
You know, despite my not liking how they killed off Lara, I still feel this was well done for Leon’s redemption and rise. Yes, I wish she had lived, and that Leon didn’t lose everything again, but the show is handling Leon’s character so well here I can’t help but applaud it all. We’ve seen him from a revenge obsessed loner to becoming a true hero, and its a character arc I’ve just loved watching. But, we’ve talked a great deal about Leon, how has Herman been?
Oh my…..its about time. Naturally, its reached the point Herman has to leave Ximena, going off to head to whatever’s going to be the climax for this series. And, while dealing with they feelings for each other, they go..pretty wild. And it wasn’t that he was seducing her, she was very much an active part in this. While I’d say their relationship as a whole has been underdeveloped, I still really liked it when they finally went for it. It was sad seeing Herman have to leave on his work, but leaving a flower, which I hope is a sign of him saying “I’m coming back”. And it was very tender and nice, a departure from Herman’s usual antics. He leaves, and we still don’t know what he’s up to. And he just shows up to Alfonso and Leon to confuse them as much as the audience.
He also says for Alfonso and Leon to not follow him, so of course they’re going to. This episode had many good emotional moments and resolution to quite a few character arcs, but we still haven’t gotten to the main climax. I’m guessing that the rest of the series will focus on Mendoza being alive, and whatever else is going on. I’m pumped to see it now that the band is back together. And it looks like there’ll even be more Emma!!
So, scratch that. We don’t get more on Mendoza or the overall plot, but we do finally get something we’ve wanted for a while; Emma’s backstory and motivation. She’s been on the search for someone called Luciano, and we finally get to know why, and its actually kind of funny how our heroes get caught up in it. Garm, the weird albino girl thing that isn’t a girl, apparently, refuses to answer on Herman, and instead mentions that the mission Emma’s on will kill her, thus distracting them and the audience from what’s going on.
This is Luciano, the Horror Emma’s been after, trying to get a midnight snack at the red light district. Emma breaks up his meal, and they begin to battle in he most brutal way possible. Emma, who normally is so calm and coy, utterly loss her shit fighting this guy, and pulls out all the stops. Its really cool seeing how cravenly she uses her razor wire to try and catch him. It really does make it feel like she’s been after him for ages.
However, she is a bit too focused on it. You can just tell by how she fights and the injuries she’s taking, she does not care if she dies, she’s taking this guy down. She’s completely obsessed, to the point where, when Leon intercedes and saves her life, all she can think of is how Luciano got away again. It takes Zaruba saying it put a tracker on him for her to calm down. She will do whatever it takes to get this guy.
Leon offers his help in finding him while also saying he’ll stay out of the fight, but in exchange requests the reason why Emma is so focused on killing him. She begins a tale that’s vey sad, dark and magic, perfect for this series.
Daaaammmnnnn….that explains a lot. Yeah, Mr. Eyeliner was once a makai priest, who fought alongside Emma in defeating horrors. However, first off, the makai knights they worked alongside held them both in contempt, and their line of thinking. They just fight horrors, and don’t deal with the more higher level considerations a makai priest has to go through. Luciano also had another issue, that the Horrors he and the others slay were once people, who fell into darkness, and left loved ones who don’t understand why those close to them had to die.
Its something he struggles with terribly. He wants to save people, even those who’ve become Horrors. He wants to find a way to stop the transformation, or reverse it, even though it is impossible. Worse, even when h saves people, some who succumb to their grief become Horrors in turn, repeating a cycle of death and tragedy.
So, naturally, he becomes a crow monster. He basically falls into despair due to not being able to save others, and only kill Horrors. He eventually becomes a Horror himself, and departs from Emma. Emma vows to kill him to put him out of his misery, but the Makai knights won’t have any of it.
They look down on Luciano for turning, and won’t even let Emma join in killing him. They look down on her for being a Makai priest, and believe she is so weak she would become a Horror because she’s Luciano’s wife. They lock her away and go off on their own, when she’s already in this dark, sad place. Its no wonder then why she doesn’t trust Makai Knights. She has basically taken on this crusade that might kill her entirely on her own, not accepting help from others. Luckily, Leon isn’t a douchebag and respects her wishes. So long as the city is not in danger, she can have her closure and her fight.
Emma actually comes up with a really inventive and cool way to deal with Luciano’s mobility in the air. She makes a bunch of kite things, launches them, and swings with her wire gun from one to another. When she does fight him, its an epic dogfight in the air…which I didn’t expect to see in a dark fantasy. While it comes close to breaking my suspension of disbelief, I still think its plausible in this universe…a lot more than a mecha made with meat that has a rocket punch!!
Finally, they both are close together after the stunning display, and she realizes where they are. This city is the one where they first left after he became a Horror. He’s loved her, even though he’s a monster, and his love has been turned into a twisted hunger.There’s some really tender moments as they both are about to give the final blow to this epic,emotional fight.
She manages to get in the last blow, and after all the anger and rage and frustration, she is simply sad as he finally is put down. She falls, only for Leon to catch her. Throughout the episode, she’s commented on how different Leon is. He’s more mature, responsible, and has grown to such a great degree. He even tends to her injuries, and comforts her; he has lost someone as well. Its nice seeing them get closer and all that good…
They begin kissing, and Leon gets on top of her and just….yeah, apparently they are a thing. And I’m….very very very conflicted on this. From the beginning, I thought it’d be a fun idea for Leon to get with Emma, and there’s certain elements that work for it in this episode. She’s impressed with his growth, both have lost someone and so are emotionally vulnerable and possibly desiring comfort, but…still. Leon buried Lara last episode, and already he’s with Emma. It seems extremely rushed for him to immediately end up with another woman when Lara’s still decomposing! If this happened later on in the series, I’d have accepted it, but here it just bothers me. It makes me feel Lara was even more expendable than before…and that’s not cool for a character I really liked. On the other hand, the couple of Ema and Leon make sense, and it was done so well I like it in spite of myself. Stop confusing my emotions, show! Don’t do something I don’t like in a way that I kind of like it!
Well, now both Leon and Herman have gotten their rocks off, so its possible finally we will get to the real plot next episode. I really liked this episode and how it showed Emma as a character, and how the new Leon acts. I wonder if this thing with Emma will be an actual relationship, or just a one night thing.