where there is light.
shadows lurk, and fear reigns.
but by the blade of knights….
mankind, was given hope.
– “Garo” opening, Seasons 1 and 2
Those of you who know me, know that one of my dirty pleasure geeky things that I unabashedly enjoy is Japanese tokusatsu. Tokusatsu, for those who don’t know, is a live action special effects drama. Most popular among Japanese toku series, is Kaiju monsters (Godzilla), Ultra Series (Ultraman or Gridman) Super Sentai and Kamen Rider. All three of those franchises have had some type of adaptation in the US, with multiple Godzilla movies (both original and dubbed Japanese ones), two attempts to adapt Kamen Rider (the 90s Masked Rider, and 2009’s Kamen Rider Dragon Knight), a pair of English Ultraman series, and the early 90s adaptation of Gridman, in Super Human Samurai Syber Squad.
Most well known of these American adaptations is Super Sentai-which for the last TWENTY YEARS has been adapted as Saban’s “Power Rangers” franchise-which has raked in BILLIONS UPON BILLIONS of dollars, and is the most successful kids action adventure show of all time-with nearly 800 episodes under its belt, and 2 theatrical movies.
So that’s a quick briefing on what tokusatsu is.
What I’m here to talk about tonight is what’s called a “Midnight Tokusatsu”. Or a show that is not nessecarially aimed at children. In December of 2011, I posted a review on my old site on the first season of GARO-which aired in 2005-and can be read here: (CREATIVE COMMONS: TOKU REVIEW: GARO (2005))
Today, I present to you Season Three (yes, I’ll get to Season 2 eventually), entitled Garo: Yami o Terasu Mono (or, as it will be referred to from here on out: The One Who Shines In Darkness.)
There is one big difference between a show like Garo, and Super Sentai or Kamen Rider. It is intended for adults. Profanity, nudity and gore will be had. The show is a violent action thrillride-that utilizes unmorphed fights for the majority of its fight sequences, only allowing the heroes to summon their armor for the killing blow.
The other big difference, is that people actually die. Usually fairly horrificially. In Sentai or Rider, usually when the monster of the week possesses someone-when the monster is killed, the person is free.
yeah not so much here.
People die. Lots of them. Its great.
Let’s take a trip to Volcity, and see the newest bearer of the mantle of Garo fight the Madou Horrors that lie within. Can he get back his gold?
Garo is a midnight tokusatsu series by Keita Amemia that started in 2005. It has had three television seasons (“GARO”, “Makai Senki” and “The One Who Shines in Darkness”) as well as a hand full of theatrical and direct to dvd movies. Seasons 1 and 2 of Garo follow the same cast and characters-which include Kouga Saejima-the current one with the title of Garo. Garo is part of a group called the Makai Knights, who use their power to hunt Horrors (Demons) who possess humans using the darkness in their heart.
Season 3, The One Who Shines in Darkness is the 2013 entry into the GARO franchise-and the first one to follow the format of other popular toku shows, like Super Sentai and Kamen Rider-and drop the previous season (Makai Senki) cast, and start with a fresh continuity.
The only returning character from any previous GARO series is the madou ring, Zaruba-who forms a contract with the Makai Knight known as Garo, There is no mention of Kouga, Koauru, Rei, Jabbi, Rekka, or any of the other characters in the first two seasons. It does apparently take place in continuity with the first two, although an unknown time jump has occured.
In the series, the GARO armor has lost its golden luster, and laid dormant for years. Priest Burai trains young Ryuuga Dougai to be a Makai Knight, and he vows one day to assume the title of Garo, and recognized as the Golden Knight. He arrives at Volcity, a walled off private city run by the Kaneshiro Corporation-where he meets Priest Burai again. This time, he is flanked by Makai Priestess Rian, and Makai Knights Aguri Kusaugami and Takeru Jakuzure.
We find out the Horrors in Volcity are not normal Horrors, but rather Madou (Magic) Horrors. Ones that possess humans against their will. As the series unfolds, we discover the Kaneshiro Family use Madou Horrors to control the city-with the eventual purpose to release the Horror Zedom upon the world, and burn it down.
Zedom plays an intragal part in Makai lore, as the Knights armor is actually made from Zedom’s body.
We’re introduced tot he Kaneshiros, and their enforcers that have been placed throughout the city. Newshost Rivera, Police Captain Enhour, and other key people in the operation of Volcity are Madou Horrors-and its up to Burai’s motley crew of Makai Knights to cut them down and bring Volcity out of the darkness.
Thoughts on the New Cast & Characters
The new cast is actually quite refreshing. My complaint about Makai Senki was that the sheer number of Makai Knights went out of hand. I’m a fan of the secondary Rider plot in Kamen Rider, and the Sixth Ranger plot in Sentai-so having powered characters that arent the MAIN guy is okay with me.
Season 1 of Garo pretty much just featured GARO, Zero, and Kiba…Makai Senki featured Garo, Zero, and a half dozen other Makai Knights.
TOWSID has 3. Which is a good number. Though Aguri and Takeru dont get as much focus on them as Ryuuga does.
Ryuugas parents are dead, and Burai put him on an island to train and take the mantle of Garo by himself. Ryuuga is focused, but naive, strong but sympathetic. He’s a heroes hero.
Aguri, the Blue Knight is an archer. The Kusugami family has a history of being archers, and he utlizes that in his finding. He’s the tactician of the group. The serious one.
Takeru is the Red Knight, and he’s amazing. He’s a beer swilling womanizing pirate, who is played by Junya Ikeda-better know as Gai Ikari from “Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger”. The Gokaiger references he makes are great, and he might be one of my favorite characters on the show. He’s more brash and fun loving than the rest of the crew-and very headstrong. One of the lines from Gokaiger was “Let’s make a show of it”, and one of Takeru’s first lines when he debuts on screen is along the lines of “Let’s make this showy!”
Rian is hot. She also kicks an insane level of ass. She’s also very hot. Rian is the daughter of another Makai Priest who died while sealing Zedom, and was left in Burai’s care. She uses a Madou Revolver, in addition to her Madou Brush and other Priestess tools.
Burai is the father figure to the group. He recruited Takeru and Aguri, and raised Rian and trained Ryuuga. He’s a stoic lead-who gets his own back story episode in Episode 25, and its a heart breaking episode.
Hakana is revealed halfway through the series. She is Ryuuga’s mother who is believed dead. In reality, she has been living in Zedom feeding the plot of the story (not going to spoil it for you.)
The auxillary characters and villains play a major part of the story. The Kaneshiro Family is the people in charge of Volcity-and while all signs point to one member of the family, a shocking plot twist halfway through throws the blame in an entirely different position that even I didn’t see coming.
Thoughts On the Series:
Overall, I love the story in this season. I love the characters. Sure, Ryuuga is no Kouga, and I would of liked them to connect it to the first two seasons more. Perhaps making Ryuuga’s mother, Hakana be Kaouru instead. That would of explained the ties between her and the Garo Ken. The idea that maybe Kaouru would become a Makai Priest after the events of Makai Senki isn’t out of the realm of reason, and that could make Ryuuga the son of her and Kouga.
The series does make me really interested in the notion of “What happened?” between Makai Senki and The One Who Shines in Darkness. There is a pair of Garo movies out there, “Tougen no Fue” and “The Cry of the Blue Dragon”. Apprently the latter serves as an epilogue to Makai Senki, and “Tougen no Fue” is a side story featuring Makai Priestess’ Jabbi and Rekka. While Blue Dragon has not been subbed yet, I would of imagined one of our contacts in Japan would of let that out of the bag if it dealt with the death of Kouga or anything like that-that would explain the event of “The One Who Shines In Darkness” more.
The entire story centered on Ryuuga, and his quest to be accepted as the Golden Knight Garo. His armor has a blackened tint to it, and the mystery as to why it’s lost its luster is what fuels the series. The mystery behind Volcity and the Madou Horrors makes for an amazing horror driven story arc. The series flows very nicely-and doesn’t stop dead in certain backstory points-like the first two seasons did.
Here’s the thing with Garo. Subject matter wise, in a world where shows like “American Horror Story” and “The Walking Dead” -Garo would be VERY easy to adapt. It’s about a dude who kills demons. Simple enough right? I know the production budget to reshoot ALL the fight scenes in the show would be enourmous-but I hope and pray that some network, be it AMC, be it SyFy, FX, or any other network takes a shot at bringing GARO to the US. I think it would work very well, and be successful.
Everyone needs to check this show out. It’s one of the better tokusatsu shows out in 2013-as “Kamen Rider Wizard” was mixed, and well..I just don’t like Kyoryuger at all.
I’m including the second opening theme, “Trigger of Crisis” by JAM Project. It’s an awesome song.
Go check out GARO, all three seasons at TV-Nihon