What’s it about? In prosperous Russell City, a conspiracy threatens to shake its world has been set in motion. A man named Sword is the first to hear the earliest stirrings of the plot, and throws himself into a shadow war in order to expose it. His only clue is the keyword “El Dorado.” He meets Sophie, a woman searching for her older brother who left her with only a message with the same word: “El Dorado.” With Sword having also lost his younger sister in the past, both are drawn together by the word, and work together to find out its meaning.
Source: Anime News Network
Now readers, a confession: this is my first foray into the Garo franchise. Some preliminary googling tells me the original series aired in 2005, but I was trusting this new installment to introduce me to the world of what looks like muscle men so beefy they would crush any prospective sexual partner to death with their thighs.
The opening shot is of a naked woman submerged in blood and begging for her life. It’s followed by a panning shot of a rooftop full of naked, disposable women.
It is the work of a corpulent flesh monster who is wearing their boobs on its back. It’s an okay design reminiscent of the unsettling fleshiness Urotsukidoji did well—which was the only thing Urotsukidoji did well.
“Oh,” I said at 1:10 as the beefy sword-wielder appeared to dispatch the monster (at which point we never learn the fate of the naked woman), “I don’t like this.”
Then, to celebrate his victory, Our Hero meets up with a woman. We are introduced to her short shorts and enormous shiny boobs via a pan-up. Then there is a literal crash-zoom on her bazongas, in case you missed them. Our Hero nearly cries tears of joy.
“Oh,” I said. “I really don’t like this.”
At that point, watching them race down the street on a motorcycle, observing that Sword (Our Hero)’s arm is literally the size of his bike because what is perspective? was so much gravy—gravy that was screaming, sobbing, and begging for release from its agonizing sentience.
But you kind readers are paying for content and I have a deep-seated need for validation, so I continued on.
The focus shifts to a young girl named Sophie. She wears a hoodie and knows self-defense, which immediately ceases to matter after it’s introduced. There’s some nice visual design of her avatar wandering around in a text/chat log, which I also enjoyed very much when Summer Wars and Digimon did the same thing. She goes to this fortune teller, see, because she’s looking for “Eldorado” (punctuated thusly) and he’s supposed to be very accurate at predictions.
Which means she then has to sit there, powerless, while he fondles her hair and talks about how red hair indicates passion and incites people (read: men) to uncontrollable actions. Then he tackles her to the ground.
I guess we’re meant to be comforted by the fact that he’s a monster and only wants to cannibalize her corpse rather than rape her. Considering this comes after watching an honestly real moment of someone having to sit through “friendly” touch because the man you’re talking to has something you want, I am not comforted at all (this is always timely, but feels exceptionally so given the recent news about Harvey Weinstein).
“Oh,” I said. “Fuck you, show.”
Because I had ascended to the state of “fuck you,” it became very hard to engage with the parts of the episode that came after, when Sword shows up to rescue Sophie and then buys her dinner, the better to have a nice long exposition together. During which Sword ogles the waitress’s (very jiggly) boobs and she threatens to charge him with sexual harassment, a hilarious comedy line because what kind of rotten bitch would actually do such a thing?
Here’s the thing. I very much enjoy the “large meathead protects small child” genre. It’s a throwback I’m totally on board with. And when he’s not being a shit to grown women (you know, the kind Sophie will become in about five to eight years?), Sword and Sophie have a cute dynamic that would be satisfying to watch grow into a bond (if it didn’t turn into her wanting to get old enough to sleep with him; guess how many times I’ve been burned).
The show is pretty good at introducing its concepts to new viewers, and the final fight between Sword and the “horror” is pretty damn good as spectacle goes—MAPPA is once again doing the Yuri On Ice thing where they trade off QUALITY shots for a few concentrated moments that look really impressive—but by the time that happened I’d been so soured by the rampant misogyny that I didn’t want to engage any more.
Oh, and just as I was beginning to warm up to the premiere, the ending credits feature a woman to whom it seems Sophie will have an important connection… and they make sure this woman is wearing lingerie. Of course.
Throwback series are supposed to maintain the best parts of an old series while updating the parts that have aged poorly, not transplant the genre as-is. If you’re looking for a beefcake throwback with lots of blood and a protagonist what says “fuck,” Netflix’s Castlevania series is a lot more fun and a lot less gross towards women.