Garo: Guren no Tsuki – Review – A Shell of A Legend?


After watching this show and looking at reviews by others, I began to question my existence on the Internet. Am I a mere reviewer, or am I a critic? For those of you who are asking: “What’s the damn difference?”, here is my answer.

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A reviewer is defined generally as anyone who writes reviews and there are a lot of people out there, writing or giving reviews for almost everything available in the market today. Anyone can be a reviewer, but not all reviewers are critics. A critic is someone who expresses reasoned thoughts to critique something. A critic is someone who analyses the object in mind and reasons with him or herself before releasing his thoughts about the subject at hand.

So? What am I?

You know what, for those of you reading this, I pray, you tell me your thoughts on what you think I am: a mere reviewer or a critic?

Or… you could read the review below.

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Summary

Garo: Guren no Tsuki is set in a fictionalized Heian period (794-1185 A.D) Japan. Much of the show’s focus is on the then capital, now Kyoto, where injustice has led to the capital being exposed to the evil spirits that are HorrorsHorrors are otherworldly evil spirits that feed on the dark desires of man and corrupt susceptible souls, turning them into supernatural monsters.

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To fight these monsters, Makai Knights and Makai Alchemists, who derive their powers from their armour and sorcery respectively, do battle against these evil creatures. One such Makai Knight is Raikou, a youngster who dons the famous armour and bears the title “Garou: Golden Knight“. Alongside him are the cheeky Seimei, a Makai Alchemist who is both powerful and pretty, and KintokiRaikou’s trusty child retainer.

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Characters & Settings

This show is interesting not because of its already overused “Good-versus-bad” plotline (More on that later), but because of the characters. A lot of people who were dissing this show to bits with their reviews and comments on various sites, like MAL, said the characters were lousy and one-dimensional. No other explanation was offered, so I would go out on a limb to assume that they couldn’t relate to these characters. And to a certain extent, I would agree.

Most of the supporting characters weren’t given much development and little clue was offered to what their personal motivations were. They had little to no backstories and seem to be underused in every way. Take Michinaga, for example. He is the egoistical, power hungry minister ruling the capital, with no regards for the people living there at all. However, it wasn’t quite stated why he was behaving in such a way, nor was his action justified in anyway at all. In short, no development.

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However, what most people do not know is that this character already has a backstory. The character is a fictionalized version of Fujiwara no Michinaga, the head of the Fujiwara family, who reigned over real life Imperial capital as the minister of the state. Many main characters were also based on real life historical figures. Seimei is the fictionalized version of Abe no Seimei, the widely known onmyou professor, and Kintoki is the mythical child warrior who lived in the wild. Each of them has had their fair share of backstories, and the show expects you to have a little knowledge about the Heian period of Japan.

The first eight episodes or so focuses more on reinventing the historical figures and establishing them in the anime, and for me, that was the most interesting part about the series.

Without the minimal knowledge required about feudal Japan, however, most of the references and wordplay were lost in translation. Personally, I didn’t know about most of the fictional characters’ real life counterparts until I was writing this review. The show was watchable even with most of the references flying over my head, but that was it. The show was merely bearable, due to its lackluster story.

In the end though, the characters were shoved aside to make away for the plot, which is what I mentioned earlier: lackluster.

Plot

When the plot started to kick in after about the tenth episode, I was primed up for something great. Garo: Honoo no Kokuin waited all the way until the eighth episode for the pacing to kick up a notch, so I had no qualms about waiting for a few episodes for the series to show us what it truly had in store. However, after around the twentieth episode, I slowly realized it wasn’t going to be epic or exciting as its predecessor. It was lacking in many places in the storytelling department, and it was too little too late for the most parts.

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For one, it was lacking when it comes to interesting backstories and characters. The story was told from only one perspective, mainly Raikou‘s as the show progresses. His growth as a character was also minimal, and appeared only to progress the plot. The other Makai Knights and Makai Alchemists or rather the lack thereof, makes the story less interesting, as there were fewer perspectives that we could use to view the story from.

The story also degenerates, by the twelfth episode mark into a generic and predictable story, which loses its whole “historical event” vibe because of its obsession to follow the story. It also reuses many of the plot points from its predecessor, which means people who’ve watched Honoo no Kokuin, would be watching almost the exact same story all over again.

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The lack of obstacles or strong enemies also makes this show dull and uninteresting. Since this is an action anime series, not having obstacles for the main protagonist to face could have devastating consequences on its ability to enthrall audiences. Which is a shame because this show is gorgeous when it comes to animating the action sequences.

Oh, yes, before I forget, there are also a lot of plot points. I don’t even want to begin to talk about them, as there are too many. Anyway, moving on!

Animation & Soundtrack

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Did I mention this show is stunning? Studio MAPPA, the show responsible for animating Garo: Guren no Tsuki and its predecessor, was more than capable when it comes to producing graphically stunning shows. However, budget constraints, among many other possible reasons, may have weighed down the show.

The show was plagued by inconsistencies in the hand-drawn department which is apparent in still frames of people. It was bearable in the beginning of the series, but eventually, the drops in quality became too frequent to ignore.

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However, the CG animation used to animate the armor of Makai Knights, suits the intimidating look of the menacing armor design very well and is consistent throughout the series. Now, if only the fight scenes weren’t over in two minutes, the CG animation would have paid off, dammit.

The soundtrack was amazing too, giving off this feudal Japanese vibe by incorporating traditional instruments into modern music. However, the key soundtracks are reused way too much, for my liking and the show could use with more distinct sounding pieces. On the other hand, I loved the two openings and the first ending of the series, which in my opinion, are underrated

Conclusion

Garo: Guren no Tsuki is an ambitious series, starting off strong before fizzling away after way too many misses in the plot department. The historical setting, while most of which may have flew over our heads, still counts for a interesting take on existing Japanese myths and historical events. One part Japanese periodical drama, one part breathtaking CG animation, the other parts an uninspiring mess, Garo: Guren no Tsuki does not live up to expectations of people who loved the first Garo anime.

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After meticulously calculating the points awarded for plot, settings, character development and, animation and soundtracks, while uneventfully cutting down a Horror with my shiny golden armor, I have decided to award Garo: Guren no Tsuki with a rating of:

6.8 (Uninspiring)


Okay, there you have it. Erm… I know it’s only been a day since my last review, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, and it’s surprising to see me cook up a review so quickly. I know, I’m surprised too, but I’m very productive too, if I wanted to. So, yeah, I guess that’s it, for today. I will be back for more, but don’t hold your breath, yeah?

For more reviews like this, click here for the full list of reviews.

So, till the next time, cheerio!

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