Winter is coming! But while Game of Thrones won’t be back for a few years, anime fans still have things to binge. Why go outside in the cold, anyway, when you can sip tea and watch your favorite new shows?

There’s plenty of fall/winter anime to watch, but one, in particular, has definitely snagged my attention. GARO VANISHING LINE is already almost through the season, but plenty of anime fans have yet to hear about this incredible series. Combining elements of killer monsters and characters, incredible visuals, and a mystery, VANISHING LINE hits every spot. Most anime tend to be lacking in at least one area, but I have yet to see any disappointing aspects in this show.

The anime follows a basic story-line somewhat typical to what a lot of shonen, manga or anime directed toward the young male demographic, tend to use. There are a series of monsters that the main character defeats using some degree of enchanted powers. This main character is part of an organization that eliminates said monsters and keeps the peace from the shadows. But, surprisingly, VANISHING LINE combines some particularly interesting elements with this. Not only does it bring fresh action to every episode, it also incorporates fun-to-watch monsters and characters, as well as, a broader mystery. The first few episodes say little about that mystery, so viewers get to collect more and more clues themselves while the anime gradually develops its characters. I’ll be going over the incredible world of VANISHING LINE and the badass who travels around it slaying its monsters.

Minor plot details for GARO VANISHING LINE up to and including “Luke” follow. 

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Monsters from Within

The primary enemies encountered in every episode of VANISHING LINE are corrupted humans known as Horrors. This style of monster is something that may be familiar to many, as it’s a trope seen in a lot of anime. Any individual with an abnormally strong desire or wish can lose their humanity and turn into a Horror. That monster usually has abilities related to the nature of the wish of the individual. Yet, unlike a lot of anime that have rather uniform monsters, VANISHING LINE does a lot more to incorporate a layer of background into each one. Even for monsters that only last for a single episode.

The first Horror we see from start to finish is a former professional athlete. His legs were ruined in a brutal accident in which he pushed his girlfriend away from a falling billboard, taking the blow himself. As a result, he lost his running career and became confined to a wheelchair with limited mobility. His transformation into a Horror is almost like a Faustian Bargain; he gets his prized athleticism back but loses his humanity in the process. As a monster, he is incredibly fast, and even Sword, the main character, struggles to take him down.

From a wheelchair-bound man to a speedy inhuman Horror | Image: Crunchyroll

This sort of detail in a single episode’s plot was incredible. There was so much background to this runner turned monster that I felt legitimate empathy toward him. On top of that, the power he gained as a result of his transformation set the stage for a badass, even if tragic, battle. And speaking of badass…

The Epitome of Badass

The series protagonist, Sword, is a tall, muscular man with an extremely loud mouth and a penchant for huge steak. He’s almost like the complete embodiment of the masculine American man. On top of loving muscles and meat, he’s fairly perverted and always stops to acknowledge attractive women. Sword goes as far as to clasp his hands in prayer to pay homage to any large pair of breasts that he sees, usually earning him some choice words in response. Along with this set of likes comes a fitting personality. He’s pretty headstrong and bright, making him a pretty friendly character who goes about his monster slaying with a cheerful grin on his face.

Makai Knight Sword, riding his motorcycle with a date in tow | Image: Crunchyroll

Sword, despite his name, seems to prefer beating someone’s ass with his bare hands. His huge build translates into incredible physical strength, meaning he can punch someone so hard they skip through the air. But, despite that massive power, he’s pretty fast and can take the action long-distance, hopping across buildings to chase down a Horror.

On top of that, he rides a (talking!) motorcycle and uses it as part of an interesting transformation. He draws a sizable blade, does donuts on his bike, and carves a giant circle in the pavement. This allows him to don a brilliant set of golden armor, increasing his already destructive power. Like a true protagonist, this special form is more of a finishing move, letting him follow up hand-to-hand combat with massive damage from a golden sword. If Sword wasn’t awesome enough, GARO VANISHING LINE has, even more, badasses with magical sniper rifles, swords, and alchemical powers.


Incredible Motions

VANISHING LINE works around an enormous setting. An entire city is the battleground in just the first episode. The fights move, and what I mean by this is that there isn’t just a single location slug-fest for each episode. Combatants smack each other into new areas, fights are broken up by chases, and knights like Sword have to track down Horrors before a fight even begins. Despite making use of computer-generated graphics for a lot of travel scenes (such as Sword riding his motorcycle), quality is quite smooth. VANISHING LINE has near seamless transitions between the drawn, highly detailed fights and CG chases.

Sword using his motorcycle to strike from the air during a chase | Image: Crunchyroll

While there may be a lot of elements in one scene, the animation might seem messy at times, all of it works in VANISHING LINE’s favor. This anime is not clean cut, but it isn’t meant to be. This is an anime with steak eating, musclebound,  whoopass-filled brawls. As such, the quick cuts, compact scenes, and bursts of action fit the feel of the series perfectly. The giant, diner-style meals following every major fight make it even better, and really drives home that American macho-man aesthetic rather nicely.

Mysterious, Overarching Story

While the more macho elements of the show are often front and center, VANISHING LINE still incorporates a long-term plot-line that brings the characters together. Something that I appreciate a lot is that, from early on, a lot isn’t explained outright. We know Sword is a ‘Makai Knight’, but viewers aren’t made entirely aware of what that means. There aren’t hours wasted explaining the individual mechanics of powers, and most exposition is shown rather than told. The main hint we get in the first two episodes about the broader scope of the series is that the mysterious words “El Dorado” is familiar to both Sword and a young girl named Sophie.

While we don’t find out what El Dorado is, Sword does seem to have some desire to find it. Sophie is similarly seeking it out, and that works as the main link between these characters; a young girl totally new to this world of monsters and the muscular knight that thrives in it. Sophie is in the same boat as the audience, understanding little and learning from Sword as the series progresses. She’s searching for her missing brother, giving the whole series a sort of rescue feel, as well.

This works really well to keep me invested in the series. There’s at least some implicit flow to every part of it. Horrors, Makai Knights, El Dorado, and Sophie’s missing brother are all connected in some way. VANISHING LINE’s exposition involves slowly weaving together the various parts of the series into a coherent narrative.

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GARO VANISHING LINE is the type of anime that I haven’t watched in quite some time. Usually, there’s a distinct trade-off between interesting plot and solid action. This series brings the two together in a way that’s super compelling and looks awesome, to boot. There’s a layer of mystery over the entire series, and we learn more about this strange world through amazing battles. This style of exposition works quite well and keeps me engaged every minute of every episode.

Most importantly, the show is just plain fun to watch. It’s rare that the first episode of an anime has me at the edge of my seat. VANISHING LINE made me abandon my homework and my phone so I could stare at the screen for 25 minutes. And yes, I was grinning like a goof the entire time, too. If the standard from the first few episode continues to hold, this is certain to be an action-packed story for the ages. What better way to close off the year than with one of the most badass anime ever?

Featured image from Crunchyroll.

One Comment

  1. Bobby Falck

    December 4, 2017 at 3:52 am

    I highly enjoy Garo (ep 8 now). It’s been a while (cowboy beebop?) since I last had this much fun (DBS aside…).


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