12 Days of Anime #3: “Project G” December 24, 2015Posted by navycherub in 12 days of anime, Anime, Essay, Garo.
Tags: 12 Days of Anime, Anime, Essay, Garo
Rocket Garo Figma available soon.
The first half of Garo is pretty intense from beginning to end. Whether the protagonists are fighting against a Horror of the Week or against Mendoza’s grand schemes, there is always something for Leon and company to deal with. There is a constant refrain underlining their actions, though, and it isn’t very different from other hero shows: they need to fight against evil to protect the citizens who can’t protect themselves. That’s all well and good, but since things are just constantly happening, we rarely get to actually see those more normal people that are supposed to be the motivator in the first place.
The second half of Garo addresses this very directly, winding down from the stressful midseason finale to show us Leon finding a happy new life among the peasants, Alfonso taking up his more traditional leadership role, and so on. In all of this relative peace, we are introduced to a ragtag group of normal people who, inspired by the grand displays of heroism they’ve seen in recent days, decide to take means into their own hands and build their own glorious wolf suit. They try a whole bunch of things, and come up with some pretty amusing solutions to problems (such as pig intestines for piping). It is easy to tell in the short amount of time we are with them that they have truly been inspired by our protagonists and wish to do their part to defend themselves.
Eventually, after much trial and error, the time actually comes to use the suit against a proper Horror. It goes as one might predict an admirable cosplay of a Garo suit against an actual monster would – terribly. Luckily, Alfonso and Germán knew about this recurring Horror ahead of time and show up to save the day. They acknowledge the courage of the people who built and utilized the suit, and all is well.
It is a very simple story, but an effective and fun one, mostly because it functions almost entirely as a love letter to fans of Garo and super hero stories like it. The villagers watching Leon fight are not so different than the rather “normal” viewers, who might feel empowered through the heroics on display. The attempt to directly recreate Garo is plainly misguided from the beginning despite what an entertaining idea it is.
And, by showing that as well as letting Alfonso and Germán see and praise the attempt while doing the actual work themselves, it properly relays the message that the kind of strength shown in a sentai-type show is only a dramatic stand-in for the actual day-to-day strength it inspires in ourselves. This is what makes the formation of the suit so impressive and not its execution – it was made by bringing together a bunch of people with all kinds of expertise and knowledge, none of which involved fighting crazy demon bears. Alfonso’s new day job seems to disconnect him from the people he wishes to protect, so putting his moment of renewed vigor in the context of a meta-commentary is satisfying for both his character and us as viewers.
Garo: Honoo no Kokuin is a smart show, and while this episode’s events are largely simple and irrelevant to the overarching plot, its ideas are as important as any other.