Garfiel Tinsel, otherwise known as Garf, was one of the first characters we were introduced to in Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- Season 2. Abrasive, brash, and quick to anger, Garf quickly becomes a giant hurdle in Subaru’s attempts to leave the Sanctuary. However, by the end of the season, Garf manages to come to terms with his past and join Subaru as one of his underlings. Let’s take a look at just how he got there.
Who is Garf?
Let’s first take a look at who Garf is in the grand scheme of things. Garf is the guardian of the Sanctuary—the focal setting of this season. Only allowing half-breeds to enter and denying escape until a trial is completed, Subaru and the gang are left disheartened by the quest for answers, as the Sanctuary poses only more questions. Nevertheless, Emilia resolves herself to take the trial, and this is the central premise of this more bottled season. Our first introduction to Garf is his unprovoked attack on Subaru and Emilia. Right from the get-go, we learn that Garf is a very violent and angry individual. Even from the way he addresses himself in such high regard (“Ore-sama”), implies that he is not one to listen to others' reasons.
As time goes on, we learn more about Garf’s history with his older sister and maid of the Roswall manor, Frederica, as well as his supposed abandonment by his family (later discovered to be a misunderstanding). We come to learn that he himself attempted the trial on occasion, but was no match for the trauma still resting in his heart. All of these events led Garf to become a recluse within the Sanctuary; believing it to be the safest place for both himself and the villagers. You can imagine his initial despondency when met with the boy scout himself Natsuki Subaru.
Garf Vs. Subaru
Subaru desires nothing more than to free everyone from the Sanctuary and return to Roswaal manor to stop the imminent assassination attempt. Garf desires nothing more than to remain a hikikomori within the safe protective walls of the Sanctuary. Needless to say, two incredibly opposing motives would surely lead to a clash at some time or another. Garf had always been an angry person but this comes to a head after the Witch’s miasma surrounding Subaru becomes too strong. Garf locks Subaru up and, when he tries to escape, goes absolutely berserk transforming into his tiger form and mercilessly mowing down anyone stood in his way, innocent or otherwise. Both Patrasche and Otto were notable casualties in this timeline, implying that once Garf sees red, there is nothing that can stop his rampage.
However, as time goes on, Subaru realizes that, perhaps, there is more to Garf than meets the eye. His relationship with Ryuzu is certainly one of mutual respect, and his infatuation with Ram is made clear when he nearly loses his cool upon Roswaal’s murdering of her. Maybe, just maybe, Subaru can finally talk to him about how...oh...you’re just going to butt heads again? There’s just no helping some people! Yes, Garf’s influence of Subaru’s plan culminates in a final showdown where the two go mano a mano. After Subaru emerges victorious, Garf concedes (admitting that he is only fourteen years of age and is willing to follow his elder) and joins Subaru for the confrontation at the manor. As we learn of this age discrepancy, his behavior becomes all the more clear. He’s just an angsty teenager!! An angsty teenager with the power to obliterate an entire civilization if his mother turns off his Minecraft game, but a teenager nonetheless. His mood swings and anger are something we can all understand as we reminisce about our youth.
Garf’s Redemption at Roswaal Manor
After advancing to the ripe old age of fourteen and attaining the maturity and wisdom that comes with such time on this planet, Garf makes his way with our heroes to the manor. There, he is reunited with his sister, and the two share a heartwarming exchange (as heartwarming a greeting as Garf can manage that is). There, he does battle with Elsa, ultimately defeating her after transforming into his beast form. Something we’ve yet to see from Garf is his composure after transforming. Until now, every time Garf transforms, it’s due to some sort of emotional catalyst (Subaru’s escape, Ram’s death, etc). Now, he is transforming in order to save the people he cares about and, in doing so, learns to control his anger.
After the chaos dies down and the Great Rabbit has been defeated, the group reconvene to scold Roswaal for nearly destroying the planet like the naughty boy he was. After Roswaal apologizes, Subaru and the others seem to forgive him while both children, Petra and Garf, refuse to accept his apology. While this may seem like a step backward for an enlightened Garf, the opposite is also applicable. Re:Zero has always prided itself on creating realistically flawed individuals. Garf is not perfect by any means and is still a child at this point. One step in the right direction does not at all mean he has reached the same level of maturity as Subaru and Emilia, who are significantly older than him. However, as he dismisses Roswaal’s apology, he does so in a much more calm and collected manner; refuting the tauntings of this clown that once so irked him. Truly, he has undergone a great deal of development under Subaru’s guidance.
Garf was slated to be the hot-headed quasi-antagonist of the series after his initial revel but has since become a thoroughly endearing inclusion to the main cast. Learning to control his temper, we only pray that he can remember his anger management exercises when Ram and Roswaal announce their engagement. What did you think of Garf? Who was your favorite character from this season? Let us know down below!