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Yoshikazu Taru (b. 1964) is a Japanese Professional Wrestler, better known by his ring name TARU. Initially a Karate practitioner, he decided to enter professional wrestling and joined Koji Kitao's Buko Dojo, which had a soft spot for karatekas. He had his debut as part of Kitao's entourage in Genichiro Tenryu's WAR promotion, but he ended up in Ultimo Dragon's Toryumon circuit, where Japanese wrestling and Mexican lucha libre meet. Shortly after his arrival, he turned heel and joined the villainous gang Crazy MAX (composed by CIMA, TARU and Don Fujii), which constituted a change of personality for him: he adopted his name to TARU in all caps as bad boys do, replaced his martial arts ways with eccentric Yakuza manners, and became the faction's manager, mouthpiece and occasional baseball bat-wielding fourth wrestler. Through many years TARU was part of Crazy MAX's adventures in Toryumon Japan, completing them with some comedy work with Stalker Ichikawa, and eventually outlasted the promotion when it was replaced by Dragon Gate. However, backstage struggle behind this change led him and SUWA to leave Dragon Gate. TARU moved then to All Japan Pro Wrestling, where he initiated a campaign of terror in midst of the Puroresu Love era by founding the incredibly extense and long-lived Voodoo Murders faction, where he was their leader for years. A scandal in which TARU personally beat his stablemate Nobukazu Hirai, which contributed to Hirai ending up in a coma, forced TARU out of professional wrestling (a detailed writeup of the incident can be read here). TARU finally resurfaced in a new incarnation of the group in Pro Wrestling ZERO1, where he wrestles now.

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As usual, you can find the basics at The Other Wiki.

"Tarupes":

  • Anime Hair: He normally dyes part of his ponytail red or other colors.
  • Anti-Hero: TARU spent a chunk of his career as a babyface after Crazy MAX did a Heel–Face Turn, but he didn't really change his character or stop being a fiend. Same for his brief Evil vs. Evil moments in Voodoo Murders or when doing charity work for eathquake victims.
  • The Apprentice: To Koji Kitao.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Half of the Japanese pro wrestlers of today are or have been at some point enemies of TARU and his factions, but as individual examples we could count Masaaki Mochizuki (in Toryumon Japan), TAKA Michinoku (in his beginnings in AJPW), Keiji Mutoh and Minoru Suzuki (for the rest of his AJPW tenure) and Shinjiro Otani (in ZERO1).
    • The whole concept was parodied in Toryumon with Stalker Ichikawa, who always tried to best TARU in comedic matches and was constantly kicked around in equally comedic ways.
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  • Battle Strip: He used to wrestle in both shirt and pants when he was part of the Buko Dojo, but often ended up taking off the former mid match.
  • Batter Up!: During his Crazy MAX days, he used to carry around a black baseball bat, nicely painted with the gang's "Flower of Evil" logo, which he would use to club people during brawls. After leaving Dragon Gate, he replaced it with a crude lead pipe, perhaps symbolizing his bygone era.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Became a Crazy MAX member after they spared him from a wild attack on the participants of a match featuring Kitao Dojo trainees. He had already teamed up once with the gang in Mexico, so it was probably then when they clicked.
  • Big Bad: While he delegated most of the action to who happened to be The Heavy of Voodoo Murders at that moment (usually Shuji Kondo or Suwama), TARU was the leader of the stable and the mastermind behind their misdeeds, so he can be considered the central villain of the AJPW Puroresu Love age.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: He's a skilled shoot-style wrestler, but instead prefers to wrestle in a very slow, even lazy brawling style if he can get away with it. Since founding Voodoo Murders, he uses few wrestling moves aside from cheapshots and illegal attacks, and only reacts energetically as an emergency mode whenever his opponent is outclassing him.
  • Can't Catch Up: Either intentionally or unintentionally, the way TARU was booked as a Crazy MAX member gave the impression he was the weakest of the four main members. CIMA and SUWA were portrayed as wrestling geniuses, while Fujii's role was that of an undersized brute that nonetheless was surprisingly effective, but TARU often played the part of an arrogant part timer that wasn't as good as he believed when he stepped into the ring. For extra irony, he was the only of them who had shoot-style training, which in lucharesu promotions is usually a good way to be booked as a dangerous dude; it's only that, in his case, he was Overshadowed by Awesome.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Many villains in puroresu become so out of ambition and/or personal enmities. Not TARU: he is a heel because he is evil and loves it.
  • The Casanova: According to interviews with other wrestlers from his time in México, he was often more interested in picking up girls than training.
  • Cast Speciation: Deconstructed. The original Voodoo Murders included two superb speakers in TARU and brother YASSHI, but the latter's Motor Mouth tendences often annoyed the more aristocratic TARU, who had to tell him to cut his crap in order to end their promos.
  • Characterization Marches On: TARU's first three cronies in AJPW were all gaijins, which implied he would emulate TAKA Michinoku and create a foreign army led by a Japanese. This changed when Shuji Kondo and YASSHI joined.
  • The Chessmaster: His specialty. One of his greatest examples happened with TAKA Michinoku during a match between their respective factions, Voodoo Murders and RO&D, in which the loser would be officially disbanded. TAKA had accepted the stipulations believing he had the advantage against TARU, but in the climax of the bout TARU revealed he had bought the loyalty of TAKA's Praetorian Guard, D'Lo Brown and Bull Buchanan, long before the match. As a result, RO&D lost the bout and was disbanded, and the traitors were integrated into Voodoo Murders.
  • Cool Mask: Used to wear a samurai menpo mask during his entrance. After founding the Voodoo Murders, he replaced it with more elaborate hoods.
  • The Corrupter: He's skilled at taking babyface wrestlers and turning them into criminals. Kohei Suwama was the greatest example, although by no means the first nor the last.
  • Costume Porn: In his entrances.
  • Cult: Not overtly, but Voodoo Murders gradually took cultish overtones late in its history. Some of his members sported occult symbols in their clothing and facepaint, and at least some of the babyfaces TARU turned into villains were implied to have been influenced in some dark way.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: He said in an interview that the first time he went to Mexico, he spent more time partying with local females than training, which made Último Dragón scold him.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: In the special appearances he has donned a karate gi. Inverted in his time in the Buko Dojo, as while most members chose to wear just footguards, he preferred shoes.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Has no qualms about the people he recruits for Voodoo Murders, including gaijins and former enemies of his. His first two native henchmen, Shuji Kondo and YASSHI, were his sworn enemies in the Toryumon Japan gang wars.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Although he plays a heel, his real life charity work for the victims of the 2011 Earthquake are a solid part of his character. It helps that the reason why TARU became a pro wrestler in the first place was surviving to another earthquake and realizing he had a dream to fulfill.
  • Evil Is Petty: He took a liking to attack random ring crew after founding Voodoo Murders.
  • Evil vs. Evil:
    • TARU and his Crazy MAX pals were the most evil punks in Toryumon Japan until Masaaki Mochizuki formed the savage M 2 K unit and directly out-punked them into babyface status. It helped that Crazy MAX had been really popular despite (or because) their villainy.
    • When TARU arrived to AJPW, TAKA Michinoku and his RO&D stable were the main antagonists, so it was natural for them to clash once Voodoo Murders caught momentum. As usual with this kind of angles, it made RO&D turn slightly babyface, though unlike the previous example, they didn't become necessarily heroic. Only TAKA himself turned face when RO&D was disbanded.
    • The opposite happened when Voodoo Murders feuded with F4, a very impopular Big Bad Wannabe stable founded by Hiroshi Yamato and former VM guy Satoshi Kojima. While Voodoo Murders remained villainous, the crowd actually cheered when they defeated F4 and forced them to disband.
    • TARU expelled Kengo Nishimura from the new Voodoo Murders because the latter was wrestling at the same time for another heel(ish) stable in Michinoku Pro Wrestling, Hayato Fujita's BAD BOY. (Out of kayfabe, this was done to explain Kengo's departure from Pro Wrestling ZERO1 after he signed up full time with MPW.)
  • The Face: During his time in Crazy MAX, he served as their manager and mouthpiece. It helps that he is a very good speaker.
  • Fallen Hero: A Fallen Anti-Hero in this case. While TARU was never a good guy, he was still True Companions with the rest of Crazy MAX and sticked with them every time the gang turned face, and he could also be a funny, charismatic guy by himself if he wanted. When he arrived to AJPW, however, he became a full-fledged warlord without redeeming qualities other than circumstancial Evil vs. Evil situations.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: In Crazy MAX, phlegmatic.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: First, he turned from a random karateka into the manager of the worst punks in Toryumon Japan. Then, he tuned from the manager of the worst punks in Toryumon Japan into the leader of the nastiest stable in the history of AJPW.
  • Groin Attack: One of Crazy MAX's trademark moves was for two of the other members to stand an opponent on his head and pull his legs apart into a Y, and then TARU would axe kick him in the groin. It was later adopted by Voodoo Murders.
  • Handwraps of Awesome: Which also serve him as a makeshift garrote when untied.
  • Heel: A hell of a example, to the extent he sometimes wears a shirt with the word printed on it.
  • I Know Karate: Taru was a Karate fighter and trainer before getting into pro wrestling, and was often announced as a former member of his master's Buko Dojo. He also had clearly some grappling knowledge, probably learned there.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: How he introduced SUWA, his former pal in Crazy MAX, as an one-night Voodoo Murders member.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • He often attacks ring crew and splashes fans with a water bottle For the Evulz.
    • Got fired from All Japan Pro Wrestling for real when he reportedly lost his temper on another wrestler named Nobukazu Hirai and beat him backstage. Hirai subsequently suffered a severe stroke. He has recovered, however, and TARU has made amends with him.
  • Knight of Cerebus: AJPW was already in a heated feud with TAKA Michinoku's stable RO&D since 2003, but it was when TARU came in 2005 and replaced him as the promotion's main villain that the conflict became downright scary: aside from being an unexpectedly dangerous Diabolus ex Nihilo, he and Voodoo Murders brought more brutal tactics than any faction had used up to the point, and they also rocked a horror-themed gimmick to boot in contrast to the thuggish yet relatively mundane RO&D. Bonus points because VM's first member, Johnny Stamboli, had just left the faction Love Machines, an appropriately named team of funny antiheroes with colorful masks.
  • Lightning Bruiser: His moveset contains moonsaults and diving leg drops along with power moves and karate kicks. He was noted to lack some maneuverability, though, probably from being a stocky guy who liked better to kick and brawl from stationary positions.
  • Limited Move Arsenal: He had a much wider moveset back in Crazy MAX, but those days you can literally count on one hand the wrestling spots he does: T-Crush, spinning heel kick, snapmare followed by a soccer kick to the back, body kick followed by an axe kick to the head, and TARU Driller.
  • Making a Splash: He often carries a water bottle during his entrance and splashes the audience in the front row with it.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: When not wrestling he generally wears tailored suits.
  • Minored in Ass-Kicking: TARU is an atypical manager because, aside from his mouthpiece and logistic tasks, he actually wrestles along with his protegees. However, at least since founding Voodoo Murders, he does very little by himself when in the ring: he only tags in to punish and mock downed opponents, and when it's an one on one, he routinely has his cronies sneaking in to cheapshot his opponent. His job in the ring could be described as a Mission Control for heel tactics than a regular wrestler.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: One of his early signature moves was an ippon seoi nage, a basic Judo throw, only performed to an opponent in the second or top rope.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: His character in Toryumon was simultaneously a yakuza, a martial artist, a powerhouse, a garbage wrestler and a manager.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Subverted. TARU was the Big Bad of the AJPW 2000s gang wars, but while he did wrestle with regularity, he wasn't interested in winning titles for himself or carrying on himself his attacks. He usually acted more as a mastermind who happened to be a wrestler than a wrestler who happened to be a mastermind.
  • Noodle Incident: The exact reasons why he left Dragon Gate remain unknown, although the promotion going Lighter and Softer and the end of Crazy MAX probably had something to do.
  • Pet the Dog: TARU might have always been a douchebag, but he genuinely cared for his friends in Crazy MAX, and it has been implied several times in-universe that he still regards those days as the best times of his career. It could be even said that it was precisely after losing his beloved gang and his place in Toryumon that TARU fell into the insane villainy of Voodoo Murders.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: He uses moves usually associated to superheavyweight wrestlers, like the chokebomb and the over the shoulder piledriver, and by Japanese standards he is certainly a rather big man, but he is still just a regular heavyweight. Of course, he started using these moves in his Toryumon days, and Toryumon's roster consisted primarily of cruiserweights and often wrestlers too small to be given a chance elsewhere.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Despite his villainous character, he is famously a fan of girly J-pop bands and female idols like Morning Musume, Q.T.Honey (not, not that one), Ai Kago and Misato Watanabe. He's also part of the art performance company Makai.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He was actually not a Bad Boss in Voodoo Murders, and he also played a very decent GM in El Dorado.
  • Red Baron: "Satsuriku Yojimbo" ("Slaughter Bodyguard" - sort of a Non-Indicative Name, as he never played exactly an enforcer type).
  • Shallow Parody: In-universe. His Tarultimo Dragón character was an intentionally lame parody of Ultimo Dragon, as he lacked the agility and technical brilliance of the original and instead resorted to TARU's usual dirty tricks.
  • Spinning Piledriver: His finisher, the TARU Driller. He inherited it from Kitao, who used it as the Kitao Driller.
  • Start My Own: He founded the short-lived Ring Soul promotion, which was actually more of an El Dorado spin-off.
  • Stout Strength: While not exactly fat, he is wide of waist. He also lifts people up with ease whenever he wants.
  • Tattooed Crook: Unusually for a Japanese man, he has some elaborated tats in his upper body.
  • Technicolor Eyes: He often wears weirdly-colored contact lens.
  • The Unfavorite: To the bookers of Toryumon, apparently. Of the four core Crazy MAX guys, CIMA and SUWA were the ones who contended at the main event scene, and Fuji formed a trios team with them, but TARU mostly teamed with whatever newcomer C-MAx was trying to add to the stable (most notably JUN) and subbed into the trios team when one of the other three was injured or wrestling elsewhere.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: While it might look a bit farfetched to call "saccharine show" a Japanese wrestling promotion, AJPW was starting the Puroresu Love era under Keiji Mutoh's direction when TARU arrived. That means the promotion's most brutal and dangerous villain came precisely during the promotion's most colorful and theatrical age.
  • Villainous Friendship: He was True Companions with CIMA, SUWA and Don Fujii, even if he only keeps SUWA inside arm length nowadays. He also developed one with YASSHI while in Voodoo Murders.
  • Yakuza: His character evokes clearly the stereotype: he wears fancy suits when not wrestling, sports tattoos, carries some of their classical mannerisms and poise, used to be referred as "aniki" (a yakuza term for a Big Brother Mentor) in Crazy MAX and "ojayi" (yakuza for The Don) in Voodoo Murders, and prefers to lead other wrestlers in a mafia style as opposed to doing the dirty work himself. Also, although it isn't clear which style of karate he trained, some sources have it as Shidokan Karate, a school very popular among yakuzas in real life. There are, in fact, persistent rumors that he actually was a yakuza at one point and isn't entirely retired from it.
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