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Series / GARO: The One Who Shines in the Darkness

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A 2013 tokusatsu series and installment in the GARO franchise, set in the far future after the first two seasons, featuring an entirely new cast of characters.

Vol City is an independent city-state which is often touted as a modern-day utopia with sleek modern utilities, virtually no crime and a super-low cost of living. However, behind the façade lies a terrible secret: the city is infested with monsters known as Horrors, which possess the weak-minded and feed upon human souls.

Protecting the city from the shadows are a ragtag group of rookie Makai Knights: Aguri Kusugami, a cold and analytical archer who bears the armour of GAI; Takeru Jakuzure, a free-wheeling playboy who controls the ZEN armour; and Ryuga Dougai, a brash and rebellious Anti-Hero who is the current successor to the title of GARO.

The Makai Knights discover that someone or something is transforming the most influential members of Vol City into Madou Horrors: a powerful new breed of Horror immune to their current methods of detection. Furthermore, the golden armour of GARO has been tainted black for reasons unknown, regaining its glow whenever Ryuga defeats a Madou Horror. With the aid of their mentor, the Makai Priest Burai, and his apprentice Rian, the three warriors must unravel the dark conspiracy at the heart of Vol City while learning what it truly means to be a Makai Knight.

A movie was released in 2015 starring Ryuga and Rian to serve as a sequel to this series, as well as another series to serve as a follow up to that. Both are titled GARO: Gold Storm Sho.

This series includes examples of:

  • An Arm and a Leg: Takeru cuts off his own hand to prevent himself from becoming a Madou Horror in Episode 18.
  • Annoying Arrows: …for the most part, his arrows fail to penetrate deep enough to cause lasting damage to stronger foes, which causes him no end of distress and almost made him leave the group.
  • Archer Archetype: Aguri, who is stoic, cool headed and uses a bow as his weapon. However…
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: The fight at the end of episode 6 is accompanied by Bright Hope. And it's awesome.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Blind Ryuga just gets some makeup around his eyes, and not white eyes or anything, still his own eyes. Justified as the actor winds up performing A LOT OF STUNTS in this state.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The GARO armor regains its golden color, Zedom is defeated, peace is returned to Vol City and Tousei got his just dessert. Everything is not without cost though: Enhou, Burai and Hakana are dead and everyone in Vol City has their memories of the Horrors wiped out by Rian. This includes Rui, who can no longer remember Takeru, leaving him heartbroken. There's also the fact that the Zedom they defeated is only his head, which means that Zedom is not completely gone.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Human beings can be turned into Madou Horrors forcibly, regardless of their morality. Enhou was really a good person.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Hakana restores Ryuga's sight, at the cost of her own.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Yes, even with the Darker and Edgier thing going on, they can still pull this off. Sonshi shows up and everything goes downhill.
  • Changing of the Guard: The third season features an all-new cast, including a new GARO whose real name is Ryuga Dougai.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The song heard from the Goddess Statues all around the city, heard as early as Episode 1. Episode 20 reveals that the song is part of a chant used to harness Zedom's power and strengthen Madou Horrors. And that the person singing it was Hakana, Ryuga's mother.
  • City of Adventure: Vol City.
  • Cool Old Guy: Priest Burai, who has no problem fighting Horrors using a Makai Beast called Lago.
  • Darker and Edgier: Series 3 compared to series 1 and 2. Granted that the previous two weren't exactly sunshine themselves, but here it seems the Horrors have had the Knights and Priests out played from the very first move and the writers aren't afraid of heaping bad times on the heroes at a moment's notice. One can only hope Earn Your Happy Ending is in effect for this incarnation of GARO.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: In a radical departure from previous holders of the title of GARO wearing white longcoats, Ryuga is wearing a black longcoat.
  • Deadly Graduation: Ryuga had to kill Lago (a different one that is bluish and silver) by the end of his training.
  • Death Faked for You: In Episode 12, Ryuga is shot on live TV by Rivera, and is now believed to be dead by the citizens of Vol City. At least, temporarily.
    • Inverted in Episode 21. Enhou has recently been killed by Ryuga and Rian. The latter, wanting to fulfill her friend's desire for justice, appeared to the SG-1 as Enhou and cleared the Makai Knights' names. She continuously shot Rivera, revealing she's not human. Using a Smoke Out, she placed Enhou's real body and framed up Rivera again and this time, with sufficient evidence.
  • Death of a Child: Children are not safe from Vol City's Horrors; a boy in Episode 7 is killed with his family, and at least five children are killed in Episode 17, as part of The Purge of the Kaneshiro family. In episode 13, among the spirits they released is a pregnant woman.
  • Dirty Coward: Tousei Kaneshiro is this in spades. He's the most cowardly Big Bad of any GARO villains, and he still is after being possessed by an Inga Horror!
  • Downer Ending: #7, just when the main characters thought that the family is safe now, Sonshi appears and caused them to go back to the city where they are eaten by Horrors. The girl, Rui, is the only survivor.
    • #17 is even worse. Tousei had Kensui and the rest of the Kaneshiro family murdered. Ryuga is back on the wanted list and the rest of the team is now on it, too.
    • #18 as described in several other tropes below.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: By the end, Zedom rebels agains Tousei and seizes control of his Madou Horrors, and ends up becoming a lowly Horror himself. Seriously, by this point GARO antagonists should probably learn that controlling any Eldritch Abomination of yore is not a very good long-term plan.
  • Eye Scream: What happens to Ryuga at the end of Episode 18.
  • From Bad to Worse/Out of the Frying Pan: Episode 18. See Wham Episode below.
  • The Glasses Come Off: Aguri takes off his glasses before transforming into GAI in episode 3.
  • Going Commando: One Horror baits its victims by pretending to be a pretty woman wearing only a light coat. She actually nearly snags Takeru this way.
    • Episode 21 strongly suggests Rian practices this.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: SG-1 captains apparently dispense with the helmets and face masks their subordinates use, and just go into battle wearing ballcaps.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In Episode 22, Priest Burai walks into Zedom's grave, and prepares to sacrifice himself to seal away Zedom.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Ryuga, in contrast to the zero publicity Kouga had. By #17 this spreads to the whole team. But by #21, this is all cleared up.
  • Holding Back the Phlebotinum: The Garo armor is not only blackened, it's unstable.
  • Lady Killer In Love: Takeru really falls for Rui.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The sheer amount of sin on Tousei's head is enough to make the Horrors turn him. After that he even tries to pull a Karma Houdini, but fails.
  • Loophole Abuse: One of the absolute rules of the Makai is that a Knight or Priest are not allowed to kill a normal human no matter what they do. Tousei knows about this rule and being that he is a normal human, he's not afraid of Ryuga's group coming for him as he knows they are not allowed to kill him. This doesn't stop Takeru from slugging him unconscious, though.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Takeru Jakuzure/Flame Blade Knight ZEN, who has no problem sleeping with different women.
  • Mercy Kill: Prolonged exposure to Zedom and birthing Madou Horrors has caused Hakana to slowly begin changing into a Horror. Ryuga is forced to kill her while she's still (mostly) human.
  • Mythology Gag: The Horror in episode seven talked about how he allowed his victims to die happy, only for Ryuga to call him out on it by asking how that was happiness - the very same verbal sparring Kouga had in Episode 4 of GARO.
    • And in episode 23, right before the final battle against Zedom, Ryuga used the same Pre-Asskicking One-Liner that Kouga always used during the Final Battles of both the TV shows and the movies.
    Ryuga: Zedom, this is no world for you to live in!
    • For that matter, Zedom is a Magitek demon much like the original Messiah was, complete with beam weapons.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Ryuga explains Horrors to a former journalist, and refuses to let his memory be wiped. The journalist goes to his old workplace, showing a photo of Ryuga killing a Horror, in an attempt to get the word out. Unfortunately, the coworker he shows the photo to is a Madou Horror. The end result is that it's spun as Ryuga killing someone, which results in him jumping to the top of Volcity's most wanted list.
  • Noble Demon: The Madou Horror from Episode 2, a subversion of the Horrors' Always Chaotic Evil status. He may have attacked people, but it was when he felt that a greedy man was taking advantage of him and when a Makai Priest provoked him. He has a good working relationship with his subordinates, who obviously respect and admire him. He was also reluctant in fighting Ryuga and before that, he was wondering why he was being targeted.
  • The Noun Who Verbed: The title of the series.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Kaneshiro Kensui, who's always seen in a wheelchair being pushed by Sonshi. In reality, he can walk, but having him in the wheelchair constantly accompanied by Sonshi is a ploy to associate Kensui with Sonshi, and divert attention from the true Big Bad, Kaneshiro Tousei.
  • Once More, with Clarity: The first episode opens with our main character seemingly cutting down an innocent bride on her wedding reception, before jumping through a window with her. A few moments later, we cut back to 12 hours earlier, and we are shown how Ryuga arrived in Volcity and how that bride was actually a horror.
    • Used again in Episode 17. The first half is a clip show, showing scenes from earlier episodes, from the perspective of Kaneshiro Tousei, the Big Bad.
  • Origins Episode: Episode 25 talks about the history of Burai.
  • Private Military Contractor: SG-1 (Security Guardian One), which acts as enforcers of of law and public order, is referred to as the Kaneshiro Group's private army.
  • The Purge: Kaneshiro Tousei has his Madou Horrors eliminate every single member of the Kaneshiro family in Episode 17. Yes, even the children.
  • Putting on the Reich: The Horrors are running industrial sized feeding machines and burning the bodies of humans in Vol City.
  • Recap Episode: Episode 15 and, in a way, Episode 17.
  • Sand In My Eyes: Aguri in Episode 20, when he's moved to tears by Ryuga's reunion with his mother.
  • Serial Escalation: Deliberately averted. The conflict is on a (comparatively) smaller scale than the past two seasons, and while the characters this time around are still tough cookies, they're clearly not at Kouga's level, (who has since been relegated to almost mythological status at this point.)
  • Shout-Out: The Inga Horrors in this season have Majini mouths.
  • So Last Season: There's a new breed of Horror this time around, meaning that a lot of the old tricks don't work anymore. Thankfully, cutting them down with a sword still works and they later develop some new tricks to track them down.
  • Stoic Spectacles: Aguri Kusugami/Sky Bow Knight GAI, the first Makai Knight to wear glasses. He's pretty much like Kouga in terms of temperament.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: Ryuga's Wanted poster description, with gems such as "GENDER: MAN" and "SKIN COLOR: YELLOW", which is pretty much every single Japanese male in Volcity.
  • Taking the Bullet: #18. First, Takeru stops the Madou Plant from getting Ryuga with his bare hand, and he has to cut it off. Then Ryuga covers a still-injured Burai when Sonshi takes a sword into his eyes.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: This series is set in the future after the first two seasons.
  • Unequal Pairing: Enhou is carrying on an affair with Yoshitomo, one of her subordinates. And then it becomes even more unequal when she becomes a Madou Horror.
  • Utopia: Vol City. It has low-cost living and low taxes, and schools and hospitals are free. Turns out to be a False Utopia as crimes and violence are denied by news reports and Horrors are in such mass here that one can eat enough to be stuck in a building. Furthermore Horrors are in control of the city's infrastructure, able to create more of their own that are nearly undetectable by the means of Makai Knights or Priests, and are powerful enough to negate most protection that said Priests and Knights can give as seen in ep 7 and are basically creating a massive feeding ground for their kind. Basically Vol City is a Utopia of sorts, but only if you're a Horror.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Tousei goes through this in episode 22, after the Makai Knights begin turning the tide and Ryuga kills Enhou and Rivera.
  • Visual Pun: Rivera's Madou Horror form grows an extra face on the back of her head. She is literally a two-faced liar.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 5, Enhou turns into a Madou Horror and is tasked by the mysterious man to handle Ryuga. Meaning they are pretty much enemies now.
    • Episode 9, important people such as Rivera the news reporter and Sonshi, assistant to the leader of the Kaneshiro group are Madou Horrors which all but confirms who exactly Vol City is paradise for.
    • Epiosde 12, Burai finally manages to create a way to detect Madou Horrors, which reveals that there is a lot of them all over the city.
    • Episode 16, it's revealed that Kaneshiro Kensui is actually NOT the one creating the Madou Horrors. Instead, it's his son, the same guy who Ryuga met in the first few episodes.
    • Episode 17, Tousei is plotting to turn Ryuga into a Madou Horror, massacres the Kaneshiro family, and has the entire team on Vol City's Most Wanted list.
    • Episode 18, Takeru cuts off his right hand to prevent himself from turning into a Madou Horror, Rian is kidnapped, and Sonshi stabs his sword directly into Ryuga's eyes, effectively blinding him. The continuous wham has been hitting so hard that even the opening sequence crashed midway and burned.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Rian's disguises usually consist of these.