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Series / GARO

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Where there is light, shadows lurk and fear reigns. Yet by the blade of Knights, mankind was given hope.

Created by Keita Amemiya, known for his work as character/monster designer on the Kamen Rider franchise, Garo is a Japanese tokusatsu TV series notable for being targeted at an adult audience, as opposed to being a Merchandise-Driven kids' show. It is also noteworthy for being more Horror oriented, it uses high-quality CGI on a weekly basis and it has several untransformed fights featuring the actual actors doing the fighting instead of stunt doubles.

In the GAROverse, the Makai Knights are a secret order of warriors who hunt down the Horrors: monsters born from the darkness of human souls. Kouga Saejima is a Makai Knight who has inherited the title of GARO from his father. By thrusting his sword upwards and drawing a halo, Kouga can summon an invincible suit of golden armour that he can wear for no more than 99.9 seconds. With the aid of his familiar Zaruba, a magical ring, he spends his nights hunting down and slaying the Horrors that have possessed humans.

One day he meets Kaoru Mitsuki, a struggling artist with a string of bad luck and an uncanny ability to cycle through different occupations incredibly quickly. When she is accidentally splashed with the blood of a Horror, it leaves her tainted and with one hundred days to live. The law of the Makai Knights dictate that she should be struck down, but Kouga decides to leave her alive as bait to draw out other Horrors. Thus, Kaoru is pulled deeper into the taboo underworld of Makai Knights and Horrors, and into the life of Kouga Saejima.

Later, another Makai Knight by the name of Rei Suzumura arrives with a murderous vendetta against Kouga. With the self-awarded title "ZERO" and the ability to summon a suit of silver armour, Rei has discarded his responsibilities as a Makai Knight to seek revenge for the death of his lover.

Has nothing to do with the enemy from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask that Bob is a member of.

Tropes in the Series:

  • Achievements in Ignorance: Gonza carries a Soul Metal sword with no trouble—that is until he's reminded that it's Soul Metal, at which point the weight overwhelms him.
  • All Therapists Are Muggles: Subverted. Kaoru's therapist is actually the Big Bad in disguise, and he has been using this job in order to monitor her so that she can eventually be used as a sacrifice to summon Meshia.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Messiah.
    • A few Horrors and the giant robot dragon.
  • Badass Biker: Rei, who is the first Knight ever shown to ride a bike.
  • Badass Boast: Kouga, in Episode 25, during the fight with Messiah uses a simple but effective one. "My name is Garo! The Golden Knight!"
  • Badass Family: The Saejimas. Dad was a knight who was very feared among the Horrors, Mom was a powerful priest who can match her husband in term of fighting skill. Son? A One-Man Army who has kick the ass of even the most powerful of Horrors and lived to tell the tale.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Kodama, who's always dressed in a butler suit.
  • Badass Longcoat: Part of a Makai Knight's standard uniform.
  • Badass Longrobe: Tsubasa wears this instead of a longcoat.
  • Badass Normal: Even without their Makai Armour, the Makai Knights kick serious amounts of ass.
  • Bash Brothers: Kouga and Rei after solving their differences, before that it was pretty much Rivals Team Up.
  • Battle Butler: Kodama. Gonza not so much.
  • Berserk Button: For the love of GOD do not make Kaoru bleed.
    • Neither try to fool her or do anything to her. Hell, only touching one of her paintings can make Kouga angry, as young Makai Priestess-in-training Rin found out.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The ending to the first TV series. Barago/Kiva has been defeated and Kaoru is cured. But the original Zaruba who has been with Kouga since he was a boy is destroyed. Kaoru also decides to go Italy to study art and Rei must go back to his original post as the Makai Knight of the West, leaving Kouga all alone with Gonza again.
    • However, watching Beast of the White Night makes this less bitter: Because Kaoru's come home and is waiting for Kouga.
  • Bottle Episode: "GARO Gaiden", which takes place entirely in an auditorium, lacks special effects of any kind, and appears to have been shot on VHS.
  • Boy Meets Girl: The underlying premise of the first series: Boy (Kouga) meets/rescues girl (Kaoru) from a man eating demon. Boy vows to protect girl from demonic beings while claiming to only use her as bait. Girl finds out and dumps boy, then proceeds to nearly die. Boy manages to save girl at the last minute, and they live happily ever after until boy loses girl again when girl ends up being host of the villain. Boy goes through a veritable Trauma Conga Line to get girl back. Girl goes to Italy to study art and then returns.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Under Kaoru's influence, Kouga gradually loses his Jerkass characteristics and becomes more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Brought Down to Badass: Happens to Kouga when Karma's mirror snatches the GARO Armor during mid-transformation in Red Requiem. Doesn't stop Kouga from kicking ass, anyway.
  • The Brute: Kodama
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Becoming a Makai Knight requires vast amounts of physical and spiritual training.
    • Chekhov's Armoury: In Red Requiem. It's stated early on that dozens of Makai warriors' souls have fallen in the mirror realm of the Big Bad Karma, including Rekka's father, and he taught her to play a tune dedicated to fallen warriors on her flute. Guess what happens at the climax when Rekka is brought into Karma's mirror, and her flute is brought to her there...
  • Creepy Child: The Eastern Watchdogs.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: A Makai Knight can devour Horrors to absorb their power, but it corrupts him and turns him evil.
  • Dark Action Girl: Eery single female Horror, GULM, Erda from KIBA Gaiden, and Messiah!Kaoru from the first series and KIBA Gaiden.
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: In KIBA Gaiden this can be seen from this dialogue.
    BADO: Remember Barago, the reason why you became a Makai Knight. Remember why!
    Barago: I forgot.
  • Darker and Edgier: Well, the show IS targeted for adults.
  • Death by Origin Story: Every main character's family and loved ones. Just to count off, Both of Kouga's Parents, both of Kaoru's parents, and Rei's adopted father and girlfriend.
    • Even the Big Bad Barago/KIBA was not exempt: he witnessed his mother possessed by a Horror, forcing his father to kill her.
  • Declaration of Protection: Kouga's vow to save Kaoru before a hundred days pass, and then afterward when it turns out that she is a gate for the Horror Messiah. Really, just his attitude toward her in general.
  • Defrosting the Ice Queen: Kouga would be a male example.
  • Demoted to Extra: Kaoru in the Beast of the White Night special. But played for a wonderful reason.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: GARO Project, a band formed by Kouga, Rei, Taiga, Barago and Kaoru's actors do the first season EDs.
  • Doppelgänger Spin: From KIBA Gaiden, Knight of Wind and Cloud BADO uses this during his first onscreen battle with KIBA. Probably linked to his Flash Step ability.
  • The Dragon: Garuma, the combined form of Keru, Beru, and Rosu: the 3 Eastern Watchdogs.
  • Enfant Terrible: Red Requiem kicks off with one.
  • Everyone Can See It: Everyone can tell Kouga is falling for Kaoru from his butler, to his talking ring, the snarky rival that keeps trying to kill him, his three superiors who never hesitate to call him out on or mock his feelings, even his father's old friend who has never even met Kaoru, let alone seen her and Kouga together can see it. Apparently the only person who doesn't seem to notice is Kaoru herself.
  • Evil Is Bigger: Compared to all other Makai Knights in the series, KIBA is bulkier, more organic and far more menacing in design, likely to reference the fact that he is pretty much a Horror in Makai Knight form.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Messiah.
  • Expanded Universe: There are two possibly canonical novels written by the main writer of season 1, Yuji Kobayashi, in collaboration with series creator Keita Amemiya. The first one Ankoku Makai Kishi Hen, is an anthology on 10 stories which fleshed out the character and settings of the first series. The second one, Yoseki no Wana, is a story set between Beast of the White Night and Red Requiem and features a new knight, Shakunetsu Kishi YAIBA (Scorch Knight YAIBA) whose real name is Godo Akira and is supposedly Barago's student. There's also a short story set in the future, featuring Kouga and Kaoru's son, Raiga.
    • There's also the Pachinko games which show new characters and background info. Such as BADO being the senior disciple of ZERO and the intrduction of a new knight, Jushin Kishi GIGA (Beast Knight GIGA) in the newest game.
  • Fallen Hero: Barago in the KIBA Gaiden.
  • False Friend: Kaoru's therapist and mentor turns out to be Barago and that he had marked her as a child to be the gateway for the the ultimate Horror, Messiah.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Kouga, Kaoru and Rei didn't get off at the best start. It doesn't help that their enemies seems bent on making their life suffer and turning them against each other, but in the end, they became close friends and in the case of Kouga and Kaoru, a couple.
  • Flash Step: KIBA uses this during his first fight against GARO and ZERO. In KIBA Gaiden, BADO's main ability is this.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: A couple of the Horrors and Messiah herself take the form of naked women at some point.
  • Gender Bender: Akira Godo, who also has a female form called Misaki.
  • Generation Xerox: Kouga's father once saved Kaoru's father from a Horror, inspiring the latter to draw a picture book about the Golden Knight. In the present day, Kouga saved Kaoru from a Horror which set off a whole new chain of events. And in the second season, Kaoru reveals that she is going to work on a picture book about GARO. Kouga is also fated to fight the same person who his father died protecting him from.
  • Holding Hands: Played with between Kouga and Kaoru. In the beginning of their relationship, whenever Kouga wanted Kaoru to go somewhere with him, he would just grab her hand and drag her along whether she wanted to go or not. He takes to holding her hand properly in Beast of the White Night and the second episode of Makai Senki.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Kaoru asks Kouga to Mercy Kill kill her after they find out that she is the gate for the Horror Messiah. Kouga, in his typical stoic, Jerkass with a Heart of Gold fashion tells her to stop being an idiot and that he won't do it because he needs her.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: A small example when Kouga is fighting Kaoru after she has been possessed by Messiah and she has just slashed him with a sword. And it works.
    Kouga: Kaoru! Your hands... do not exist for gripping a sword!
    • There's another one between Kouga and Rei after Kouga surpass the 99.9 time limit and invoke the LOST SOUL version of his armor so he can defeat KIBA. Rei manage to snap him out in time before Kouga's completely taken over.
  • Jerkass: Rei Suzumura. So is Kouga Saejima. They both get better though, particularly by Makai Senki.
    • Tsubasa Yamagatana from the specials, but just like Rei and Kouga, he get better.
  • Leg Focus: Jabi, with an outfit designed to show them off. Rekka from the Red Requiem movie, as well. Her actress used to be a dancer after all.
  • Lethal Chef: When Kaoru cooked for her roommate, she had to be HOSPITALIZED. A single spoonful was enough to make Gonza throw up.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Three Watchdogs may look cute & innocent in their normal forms, but they are The Dragon of the Big Bad manipulating events behind the heroes backs, not to mention turning Rei against Kouga.
  • Love Makes You Evil: In one of the episodes of the first series, a grieving woman becomes serial killer who collects the fingers of her victims after witnessing her pianist boyfriend commit suicide before her eyes. And that was before she became a Horror.
    • And then a few episodes later, her father falls victim to same trope which leads him to seek revenge against Kouga.
    • Barago's Start of Darkness began when his mother died and became possessed by a Horror forcing his father to kill her which led to Barago's hatred of Horrors and Makai Knights.
    • Magi in Tougen no Fue she killed your friend Agi to get the Eternal Life from Higari.
    • Kouga narrowly avoids this after Kaoru is captured by Barago and he ends up invoking LOST SOUL GARO to save her and defeat Barago. He manages to kill Kodama but Rei intervenes before he is completely turned.
  • Ludd Was Right: The gun-wielding villain in a late episode claims that the Horrors first appeared when humans began to use tools.
  • Made of Iron: Kouga's body can take crazy amounts of damage including: getting shot at point blank, falling off buildings, getting thrown through walls, getting slashed by a sword, getting impaled through the shoulder twice in a row in Red Requiem, and landing on a steel beam in a way that would have broken a normal human being's spine. His default response to pain is shrug it off and get on with the ass kicking. Rei also count to a lesser extent, he can take on almost as much damage as Kouga.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Kodama. He forms his magical attacks by singing baritone notes.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Kouga battles the insides of a demon-possessed clock tower in one episode.
  • Manly Tears/Tender Tears: Kouga in the ending of the 1st season, after reading Kaoru's book.
  • Medium Awareness: Pay attention to what Kodama's actually saying in GARO Gaiden.
  • Meet Cute: If by cute, you mean when the hero and heroine meet for the first time, he thinks she's a demon and grabs her in a chokehold, brandishing a magical lighter over her eyes, then proceeds to kill a demon right before her eyes and getting her cursed in the process. Which is probably as cute as Meet Cute gets in the GARO universe. Over the course of the series, they end up falling in love with each other and by the next series, she's his girlfriend.
  • Monster Clown: Episode 10.
  • Monster of the Week: It's usually Kouga or Rei fighting the Horror of The Week, interspersed with Story Arc episodes, sort of like in other shows like The X-Files or Supernatural, etc.
  • Mooks: In the first season, a certain type of Horror with a skull-like face and long droopy horn-ears will sometimes appear in large numbers to fill this role. Red Requiem even starts off with one as a Bait-and-Switch Boss.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Silva — hilariously — attempts to off Kaoru in "GARO Gaiden".
  • My Hero, Zero: Rei, whose name means "zero" and who uses ZERO as his Knight title.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Kouga and Rei vs Messiah after she has taken control of Kaoru's body. She manages to kick the asses of two highly trained Makai Knights up and down the street and it only ends after Kouga pulls out the "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight card which breaks her hold on Kaoru.
    • Or their first fight against KIBA.
  • Noodle Incident: Episode 13, the Recap Episode, was apparently narrated by Zaruba in the middle of Kouga fighting three Horrors in a burning train car falling from the sky. We get no explanation how that started.
  • Official Couple: Kouga and Kaoru.
  • One-Man Army: Kouga, HOLY SHIT, Kouga. Tsubasa and Rei also qualified to a lesser extent.
  • Opposites Attract: Kaoru is a warm, spirited artist from humble origins who looks upon life with wonder and optimism. Kouga was a Lonely Rich Kid who grew up to be a badass Action Hero with a Dark and Troubled Past who is cold, snarky, cynical, and has nearly No Social Skills. Somehow the two of them managed to fall in love, get married and have a child.
  • Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Death: In the flashback where Kouga's father dies saving him from a Horror, rain pours as Kouga weeps.
  • Playing with Fire: The Madou Lighter.
  • Punny Name: Rei Suzumura's name uses the kanji for "zero" and his name as a Makai Knight is ZERO (although the kanji mean something else). As an added bonus, his actor's name is Rei (although he spells it "Ray").
    • It literally means "CUTTING WOLF" in kanji/katakana. As for GARO, it means "FANGED WOLF".
  • Replacement Goldfish: Literally happens with Zaruba in the series finale.
  • Rivals Team Up: Despite the fact that for much of the first series, Rei and Kouga were often violently trying to kill each other, they would usually be able to put it aside long enough in order to defeat the Horror of the Week. Just barely though.
  • R-Rated Opening: The first episode has a picture of a naked woman less than five minutes in.
  • She-Fu: The combined form of the watchdogs fights with a hula hoop.
  • Shoot the Dog: There's no saving a human once they have been possessed by a Horror: once the Horror dies, they die along with it.
    • In episode 21 it's revealed that the human possessed suffers an indescribable pain and killing them is, in fact, a Mercy Kill.
    • ...Unless the Horror decides to leave the body, as shown in episode 3.
  • Shout-Out: Kodama in "GARO Gaiden" channels Jim Carrey in his entire speech.
  • Start of Darkness: The KIBA Gaiden show us how Barago become what he is.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Kouga. Stroppy, rude, aloof, and ruthlessly devoted to his duties as a Makai Knight to the exclusion of most social interaction- and yet, despite all that, he is mature, responsible, noble, far more emotionally stable and empathetic compared to Rei and Tsubasa during their first appearances, and is plainly affectionate towards Kaoru.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: LOST SOUL GARO, which happens when Kouga exceeds the 99.9 second time limit of his armour.
    • Probably goes for any other Makai Knight as well, since we see a variation of this happen to Barago in his backstory.
  • Sweet Tooth: Rei, who can put away a whole table full of cake and still come back for more.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Both Kouga and Rei.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Almost every episode in the first series. Once Kouga summons his armor in the last part of the episode, the original opening theme starts to play, and it's pretty much guaranteed a major ass kicking is about to happen.
    • Special mention goes to episode 9, which uses the second opening theme for this sequence, before it starts being used as an opening theme.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Justified: Soul Metal's movement can be controlled through willpower, as Taiga showed by levitating a chunk of it for Kouga.
  • Training from Hell: Literally. Kouga battles whirling death blades regularly as part of this.
  • Training Montage: Kouga training from a young boy to a young man so he can wield his father's Soul Metal sword.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Kaoru
  • Villainous Crush: Barago's relationship with Kaoru appears to have undertones of this, especially in KIBA Gaiden. He has watched her since she was a child, he is by turns tender and possessive towards her, gets angry whenever she mentions her actual love interest's name, and even calls her "his bride" at one point. Even Erda harbors a bitter dislike of Kaoru because Barago chose her.
  • The Voiceless: Kodama, though he can summon energy bolts by singing baritone. Though he does talk in GARO Gaiden, in English, which Kaoru somehow misheard as Kansai dialect.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Let's just say the Horror's blood wasn't the start of Kaoru's problems.
  • Wire Fu: Boy howdy.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Messiah pulls an epic double cross on Barago after he has sacrificed everything to bring her into the world.
  • You Killed My Father: Kouga to Barago.
    • Garuma has a "You killed my son" when Kouga kill Kodama