With anime seasons there’s always the stragglers that doesn’t get to start in the first weekend and we’re going to take a look at one of those that I was looking forward to that couldn’t be covered in my previous post: “GARO: Crimson Moon” or as Funimations dubs it “GARO: The Animation 2” takes place during the Heian period which is a rarely used period and is essentially the equivalent to late antiquity throughout the Dark Ages or Middle Ages of Europe adding another layer of interest.
“Within the capital, there are rumors of evil spirits causing mischief in the night. Among those spirits hide creatures from Makai called Horrors that feed on humans. It is up to Makai Knights and Alchemists to destroy them and protect the people”
We open up the story with a group of carpenters repairing a damaged gate as the sun sets revealing evil spirits rising from the ground, attacking and killing them all. These spirits are called Horrors. And as they set their sights on entering the city behind the gate they are interrupted by a woman playing a biwa. Wasting no time she waves her arm summoning petals out of thin air and sets the Horrors on fire, She’s quickly joined by another man, clad in armor. The Golden Knight, ending the cold opening and we head into the actual theme song, “Guren no Tsuki ~Kakusareshi Yami Monogatari~” (Crimson Moon ~A Hidden Tale of Darkness~) by JAM Project. The version playing in this episode is only one out of Six, as there’ll be five versions where the members of JAM Project sings individually and then the last is where all five members sing together.
After the fine opening theme we hear a little about the world as the guard speaking to who is essentially the current emperor and leader of the capital where we learn that various incidents has been happening in the city that can only be explained as something done by the evil spirits, Horrors. The man cares little as these incidents have taken placed outside the Light Palace where he recides and is protected by the Onmyoryo, essentially sorcerers or ritualists. From here we jump to the house of an aristocrat where a group of men are enjoying the woman from before, Seimei, playing the biwa with the house owners wife getting annoyed at her presence and wants her gone. Later the aristocrat offers Seimei a gift, the tooth of a whale, but his wife shows up and proclaims it a family heirloom so Seimei parts, taking some sweets from a foreign country with her. We move briefly to a young man, Raikou, and a young boy cleaning fans and biwa tools then we get another brief look at a man carving a wooden statue inside a cave.
We move to morning and Seimei is heading home and passes by a temple where a Nio statue is said to move every night. The monks at the temple decided to try and quell the statues anger by inserting a bodhisvatta, cut by the most skilled Buddha sculptor in the capital, Junkei. And as the statue is inserted it turns out to not work as it melts away inside the statue instantly. Seimei calls the statue lifeless and that’s why it didn’t work. Junkei asks if maybe he should have used a more beautiful woman as base to where Seimei replies back that it’s only with your own life you can imbue a bodhisvatta.
We now return to Raikou and the boy, Kintoki, still working on fans. Raikou sends Kintoki off to make some tea and tries to sneak out with his sword only to be surprised by Kintoki having figured out that he wants to investigate the walking Nio statue. The two head off to the temple only to find the statue is missing. We cut back to Junkei leaving his cave after having tried making another bodhisvatta using a beautiful nude woman, as he exits the cave he is met with the Nio statue itself where he quickly starts to apologize to the statue for not being able to calm it down with his bodhisvattas. The Nio statue then asks what Junkei’s wish is to which he replies “Life” so that he can carve a Buddha with coursing blood, the most beautiful bodhisvatta in the world. Something he’s willing to sacrifice anything for. Words the Nio statue was waiting as a Horror opens up a portal through the statue sending its dark energy into Junkei.
We now move to when a convoy transporting a beautiful girl is attacked by a giant monster who easily slaughters the guards and kidnaps the girl to which we find out said monster was Junkei who casually carries her back to his cave. Raikou and Kintoki’s searching have also brought them near the cave and they spot Junkei leaving it and goes to investigate finding half carved statues made out of women. The following morning Raikou and Kintoki meet up with Seimei and finds out who Junkei is, they also tell Seimei what they found out in the cave wondering he if he’s possesed by a Horror. And then we change pace entirely as Seimei pulls out the sweets she got earlier and offer some forRaikou and Kintoki. And then she agrees to help them as Junkei only attacks beautiful women and she’s the only one there. So she dons a disguise as Junkei had already seen her before.
Walking along at night in her disguise she’s quickly found by Junkei who sneaks along as she makes her way to a temple where Junkei finally makes his move, for the trap to spring with Seimei dropping the disguise and summoning an impressive looking barrier formed by large plates forming a wall, trapping Junkei inside and at that moment Raikou jumps into the enclosement giving a brief speech about what Horrors are and draws his sword, sending out an immense pressure wave knocking Junkei to his knees. Junkei quickly tries to jump out only for the top also to act as a barrier with Seimei and Kintoki chiming in that he can’t escape. Seeing he’s trapped Junkei turns into his Horror form, the giant monster who previously attacked the convoy.
Raikou doing what a Makai Knight does, eliminating Horrors, engages Junkei in combat with his sword putting up good effort until he gets trapped by Junkei’s bindings with Kintoki commenting that despite being a Makai Knight he cannot win without his armor, Raikou’s annoyed because he says something so unncecessary. As it can’t be helped Seimei makes her move swinging her brush toward Raikou covering him in golden light, his ring turns from stone into metal shocking Junkei. Raikou declares the name of his ring, the Madou Ring, Zaruba, who makes a snarky comment about how it’s been a while since he last woke up and with that Raikou summons his armor. The armor of the Golden Knight, Garo. As Garo, Raikou easily brushes off Junkei’s attack and reflects it back at him easily destroying the horror. With the Horror eliminated and the armor off Raikou falls to his knees from exhaustion with Kintoki running to his side and Seimei casually removing her barrier, revealing the Nio statue standing outside it, walking towards the three. With a swift swing of his sword Raikou cuts it to pieces and a dark energy comes from the remains forming itself into a scarred person who proclaims himself as darkness “I am darkness. A darkness without light.” as a being born from darkness who had now become darkness, and with that the first episode of GARO: Crimson Moon ends.
Now I’m a little biased here because I really like GARO, I’ve watched all the shows both in anime form and live-action form from where it originally started ten years ago so take that in mind.
Crimson Moon starts out rather generic since we just get a rather standard monster of the week episode focused on a single monster, Junkei and a handful of scenes with the main characters Raikou, Seimei and Kintoki. We get a little world mention at the Light Palace but otherwise all we know about the story and its world is that it takes place during the Heian period and Horrors effectively controls the night as there’s no effort to do anything about them outside the Light Palace.
The show is backed by a beautiful score from MONACA, a good opening theme by JAM Project and a good ending theme sung by Sayaka Sasaki. The animation quality is average this time around with some low quality moments already around and a lower quality of CG compared to the previous anime. However the art design used for the show makes it very pretty despite its animation shortcomings.
All in all Garo’s a mixed case if you aren’t already a fan. But if period stories and/or monster hunting interest you in any form Garo is a show worth taking a look at.