Anime / GARO: The Animation

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GARO: The Animation (known in Japanese as GARO: Honoo no Kokuin lit. GARO: The Carved Seal of Flames) is a dark fantasy anime series and the first animated entry in the GARO franchise, animated by MAPPA and written by Yasuko Kobayashi, and part of the Fall 2014 Anime line-up.

In a medieval European kingdom called Variante, a woman accused of witchcraft is burnt at the stake, but not before she can give birth to a child mysteriously shielded from the flames. A man clad in silver armor emerges from the palace and whisks the child to safety before the magic protecting it can wear off. The High Priest and Royal Adviser, Mendoza, who blames the witch and her people for the king's poor health, launches an extermination war against her people: The Makai Knights and Makai Priests. These magic wielders are all systematically hunted down, captured, tortured and killed. The people of the Church claim that this was a righteous extermination of demons. What the people do not know is that the people who were killed were a clan of warriors dedicated to sealing the true demons known as Horrors.

Over a decade later, virtually all of the Makai have been eliminated; the few who remain have secluded themselves from society and live in hiding. Two of them, however, still actively follow their duty of eliminating Horrors: GARO and ZORO. Every Makai Knight wields magical suits of armor and immense power. One of whom is Germán Luís, who holds the title of ZORO, the knight who rescued the baby from the flames. The infant turns out to be his son. The baby, now a young man and the current holder of GARO, is León Luís. León and his father embark on a journey to seek out their surviving allies, eliminate the Horrors, and exact revenge on those who hunted them to near-extinction.

A movie sequel Garo: Divine Flame with the same characters has been released.

A second season (titled GARO Crimson Moon) was greenlit not long after the premiere of the first one. It is unrelated to the first series and set in medieval Japan. It's began airing in the Fall 2015 Anime season.

This work contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Emma kicks ass with the boys at their level, enhanced by her devil-may-care attitude.
  • Alliterative Name: León Luis.
  • And I Must Scream: After Mendoza becomes Immortal, he is trapped forever in flames, cursed to burn eternally and never allowed release.
  • Animated Adaptation
  • Animation Bump: The animation quality is pretty lackluster in most low-key scenes. But like another series made by the same studio in the same season, the animation quality goes through the roof during the battle sequences. In particular, the duel between Alfonso and León, the battle between Ema and Luciano and the final battle between Mendoza and León as GARO and ZORO stand out as the most gorgeously animated scenes in the show.
  • Anime Hair: Count the amount of people with hair that seems remotely physically possible in the real world. It's doubtful you'll need more than one hand. Germán shouldn't even be able to stand up with that.
  • Badass Beard: Germán sports one hell of a goatee.
  • Badass Cape: Germán has one when wearing the ZORO armor.
  • Badass Longcoat: Being a franchise staple, León wears one like all the holder of GARO. Though he doesn't wear the iconic white longcoat until Episode 18.
  • Bait and Switch: Episode 9 talks about a chimaera. And by chimaera they mean a gigantic hearse filled with skeletons, corpses, and the souls of the damned.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Par for the Garo course, making deals with the dark forces will result in a nasty twist. And at the series' end, Mendoza wanted immortality. It just means he'll have no respite from being trapped in eternal fire.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted, even for the female Makai, Emma. The bad guys don't hesitate to rough her up, and she's left with a black eye and quite a few bruises.
  • Birth/Death Juxtaposition: León's mother dies moments after she gave birth to him.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Mendoza, the mastermind behind the genocide of the Makai people is one himself, and used to be one of the highest ranking members of their community.
  • Blood Magic: Mendoza's Horror-controlling Madougu, which is powered by the blood of humans. It was for this reason that the Makai excommunicated him.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Mendoza uses Bernardo, a former Makai Knight that he has under his magical control, as a personal attack dog and enforcer.
  • Broken Pedestal: Alfonso witnessing Leon being consumed as LOST SOUL GARO and putting Santa Bard to the torch shatters his respect for the man (or at least deems him unworthy of the Knight of Light myth associated with GARO), forcing him to take up GARO himself, put down the rampaging Horror and kill Mendoza in the process - things which Leon should have been doing in the first place.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: German is injured, pretty much exhausted and is unable to move when he is surrounded by a horde of Horrors in the climax of Episode 22. The scene is abruptly cut just as a Horror is about to assault him.
  • Burn the Witch!: How León's mother is killed.
  • The Casanova: Much like Takeru/ZEN, Germán sleeps around a lot. He justifies this based on the fact that León inherited GARO from his mother, so Germán needs to have another kid to inherit ZORO.
  • Central Theme: Grief and loss.
  • Conspicuous CG: The Makai Knights and Horrors.
  • Corrupt Church: Their leader, Mendoza, clearly has his own agenda and arranged the murders of countless innocent people.
    • It seems that outside of Mendoza's witch hunt and the officials who take advantage of their positions, the Church is a somewhat benevolent entity. For instance, in episode 4 we find out that villages holding ceremonies that involve human sacrifices is outlawed by them and that people can report such actions to them, and possibly even get asylum.
  • Dark Action Girl: Octavia becomes a deadly opponent to the heroes as the series goes.
  • Darkest Hour: German is dead, Ema and Alfonso are badly wounded, Valiante faces imminent destruction and Anima has been resurrected.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • The Makai Knights' armors are even more menacing than usual, due partly to the CG letting it behave in a disturbingly organic manner.
    • León prefers to dress in red and black, in addition to his generally grim personality. Subverted after he earned back his GARO armour in Episode 18, when he starts to wear a white longcoat like Saejima family.
    • Ema, the gang's resident Alchemist, has the looks and mannerisms of a particularly sinister Femme Fatale.
  • Deconstruction: Leon is one of the traditional edgy GARO Anti-Hero. Being a revenge obsessed Emo Teen is shown to be a very bad thing and is one of the main factors that leads to him self-destructing. In contrast, the noble Knight in Shining Armor Alfonso is shown to be a much better GARO than Leon, and Leon only becomes worthy of being GARO again when he drops revenge and becomes a straight up hero.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Leon losing GARO to Alfonso and failing to commit suicide gives off this vibe, if the story will not develop into a different direction. Later slowly subverted.
  • Driven to Suicide: After losing GARO to Alfonso, León loses all will to live and throws himself off a cliff. He survives and was taken in by a farming family.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Mendoza's quite-abrupt death by being swallowed by a Horror he himself summoned, which was then swiftly dispatched by Alfonso wearing GARO. Even German notes how underwhelming an end it was for him. However, it turns out that Mendoza is Not Quite Dead.
  • Dual Wielding: ZORO wields two short swords in battle.
  • Dying as Yourself: Bernardo, introduced as a traitorous Makai Knight, was under the influence of Mendoza's Maka Artifact. When he's about to die, he forgets everything that happened after coming into contact with it and passes on as he was before turning to the dark side.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Germán and León rarely talk without arguing, usually over the former's lecherous habits.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The chimaera.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Germán loves the ladies, and the ladies love Germán.
  • Evil Chancellor: The royal adviser Mendoza, who later takes the throne and forces the prince and his mother into hiding.
  • Expy: Many characters are arguably based off other characters in the franchise.
    • Germán is a Spanish and older version of Takeru Jakuzure with Rei Suzumura's armor.
    • León is heavily reminiscent of Kouga Saejima with a mix of Ryuga Dougai's status as beginner.
    • Alfonso's personality resembles Raiga Saejima a lot, which makes further sense when he becomes GARO himself.
    • Bernardo is pretty much KIBA/Barago, down to the armor and, to a lesser extent, backstory. His being a Makai Knight unwittingly corrupted, however, borrows more from Sonshi.
  • Fallen Hero:
    • The Black Knight, Bernardo Dión, was a Makai Knight and a personal friend of Germán and Anna. He turned to evil after he lost faith in humanity during The Purge that killed most Makai Alchemists and Knights.
    • Mendoza. See Freudian Excuse below.
    • León himself became this in episode 12. After Mendoza's Mind Rape, he went absolutely berserk and destroyed half of Santa Bard.
  • Fan Disservice: When we find out the prostitute with Germán is a Horror, she's got shadowy tendrils emerging from all of her private parts and face.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Variante is this to Inquisition-era Spain.
  • Freudian Excuse: It's implied that something was done to Mendoza to make him hate the Makai so much. When Germán tries to find out what in episode two, he's shoo'd away by his informant.
    • Episode 10 finally explains: He was a Makai Alchemist who used blood experiments (it's shown that several people were bled dry for those) to create a way to control horrors, which he believed the Knights should have used to seize power. For this, he was excommunicated, and given a Mark of Shame that would be passed down his bloodline, to prevent future knights or alchemists from ever going near his descendants. He befriended the king of Variante and made a new life for himself, but when his wife gave birth to a marked child, he killed them both and swore to wipe out the Makai bloodlines in revenge.
    • All of the main antagonists have one but they are all also deconstructions. Their FreudianExcuses are used to explain why they are evil but it does not justify any of the evil acts they perform and they're treated as complete villains instead of tragic or AntiVillains.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Germán to the bandit-turned-Horror.
  • Gag Penis: In episode 8, just about every lady who catches a glimpse of Germán's family jewels is struck by a mix of embarrassment and awe.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: To go with the setting.
  • A Hero Is Born: The story starts at the moment of his birth... and when his mother is about to be burned in a witch trial.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Rafael sacrifices himself during the battle against the chimaera.
  • He's Back: Leon regains GARO in Episode 18
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Anna, León's mother, was sentenced to burn at the stake while pregnant with him. She was able to give birth to him at the cost of her life.
  • Knight Errant: Germán and León.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Played Straight. Being one of these is shown to be a very good thing. They are shown to be far more psychologically stable that most Makai Knights and very good at resisting the darkness. Alfonso obtains great success because of his gallantry and once Leon becomes one he becomes worthy of being GARO again and his power increases.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Germán takes it upon himself to put down the blacksmith that turned to a Horror. He does not fuck around.
  • Loveable Sex Maniac: Again, just like Takeru/ZEN, Germán spends quite a lot of screentime sleeping around with prostitutes, and is quite cheerful about it. It's Played for Laughs.
  • Likes Older Women: León usually reacts to Ema's teasing as one might expect, but episode 19 ends with the two locked in a passionate kiss on Ema's bed.
  • Meaningful Name: León is "lion" in spanish, a fitting name for the wielder of GARO, the Makai Knight with the reputation for being the strongest.
  • Mind Rape: Mendoza makes León relive his mother's burning at the stake.
  • Missing Mom: Take a guess.
  • Monster of the Week: As typical for this franchise.
  • More Than Mind Control: Bernardo, a traitorous Makai Knight working for Mendoza was under the influence of one of his dark Makai Artifacts, which amplified his doubts about protecting humans.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Germán spends 95% of episode 8 naked. It's also the most lighthearted episode.
    • He reappears in episode 10, naked again, and running from an angry husband. It's used as comedy relief.
  • No Flow in CGI: Averted. The CGI Makai Knight armors generally act as an organic part of their user's body.
  • Not So Different: Upon learning that his mother was Driven to Suicide, Alfonso wonders this about himself and Leon. Note that this is after he had furiously branded Leon a traitor for destroying half the city.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: Much more so than in the live-action series: despite Makai Knight armor being supposedly passed down by bloodline, the Makai Knight may also will it to be passed down to another person if they deem this person worthy, which is what happens when Rafael passes on GAIA to Alfonso before being killed. This is Played for Drama in Ep. 12, where after Leon goes berserk and becomes "unworthy" of holding GARO, Alfonso, sharing the same bloodline with him, unlocks the full power of GARO after being forced to wield it.
  • Passing the Torch: Rafael passes down GAIA to Alfonso after his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • The Purge: The Makai Knights and Priests in Variante where killed (or worse for the Priestesses) under the pretext of a witch hunt. Only a fraction of the once-thriving community survived, and they all live in hiding.
    • With Mendoza (supposedly) killed in the aftermath of the Santa Bard fire in Episode 12 and his crimes exposed to the people of Variante, this seems to have stoped altogether.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Done by Alfonso as a finishing move to the horror of the week in Episode 17.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Germán and León, respectively.
  • Rebel Prince: Prince Alfonso becomes a variant when the High Priest takes control of the kingdom.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: While Alfonso was too young to realize what Mendoza was doing or stop him, when he grows up it becomes clear that he cares more for his people than he does maintaining absolute power.
    • As of Episode 13, this is further expanded with him being a hands-on Prince Regent by day in rehabilitating Santa Bard fire, while walking the streets at night with German as GARO.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: As always, LOST SOUL GARO.
  • Title: The Adaptation: FUNimation's official English title is GARO: The Animation. Especially egregious because no other GARO series has been officially licensed in the US.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: At the series' end, Ximena is pregnant by her night with German.
  • Staking the Loved One: It turns out that Ema's husband Luciano had become a horror years ago. Ema has been hunting him to destroy him and spare him that fate.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: The people of Makai are forbidden to take human lives, as they are their protectors against the Horrors. This is one of the main reasons for why The Purge against them was so effective.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 12, especially for all those who knew the universe well: Alfonso took over the GARO armour after León unwitfully decimated half of Santa Bard. This is the first time even for the franchise as a whole.
    • Episode 17 as well. While we could anticipate Lara's family dying, her death was far more unexpected. And again, because the death of a main female lead (or that supposed to-be) was completely unheard in the franchise.
    • Episode 18. Mendoza is still alive, and German has been ordered by the Watchdogs to help him. "Plus, as a protector, it's something that's worth doing."
  • "With Our Swords" Scene: In the finale, León grabs his recently deceased father's sword and uses it to summon both GARO and ZORO.

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