Ever since I started this gig at Japanator, I was hoping to get the chance to cover Garo on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, my journey through the world of Garo started in 2012, so I wasn’t able to complete the whole series before Garo: Makai Senki ended its broadcast. That said, this year will be different, because I have completed the task of catching up with Garo.
Since Kouga isn't the main protagonist this time around, Garo: The One who Shines in the Darkness seems like it could be accessible to newcomers that wish to see what sets Garo apart from other tokusatsu shows. In case you haven’t heard of Garo, the whole series revolves around the never ending battle against the demons known as Horrors. The series features warriors that can summon a magical wolf armor that allows them to vanquish evil, along with priests and priestesses that fight with magic brushes. As for their titles, these brave heroes go by the name of Makai Knights and Makai Priests/Priestesses.
Compared to other toku shows where the story revolves around having a main villain to overcome, the Garo series mostly focuses on the development of the show’s main cast. With Season 3 being filled with new characters, Garo: The One who Shines in the Darkness has what it takes to create an interesting new chapter in the realm of Garo. Now it’s time to grab your swords, because we are going to draw our circles of light once again.
For the sake of keeping things short, I am going to refer to this series as Garo Season 3. But anyways, Garo: The One who Shines in the Darkness takes us into the setting known as Vol City, which seems like a peaceful place on the outside. However, the city is in despair and it's up to Ryuga to find a way to wipe the tears off of it’s face. As he gets ready to face the Horrors that terrorize the city, Ryuga has inherited the armor that was once worn by the man who wielded the title of Garo (a status that reserved for the best Makai Knights out there).
Unfortunately, Garo Season 3 failed in some aspects that the two previous seasons shared in their premiere episodes. One of them is the first battle where our hero summons the Makai Knight armor, which would normally result in a grand spectacle of gorgeous visuals as the main character delivers the finishing blow on the horror before time runs out. Unlike first battles from the prior seasons, Ryuga’s fight as the Golden Knight was cut short to a quick sequence where he finishes off the Horror of the week while falling in mid air. As an introduction to our new hero, I think that the series could have done a better job in Ryuga’s first fight. However, I’m not going to deny that the scene itself was still well done.
On the positive side, the whole first episode gave us an idea Ryuga personality, which is overall different from Kouga’s character. While he does a good job in following the basic rules of being a Makai Knight, Ryuga tends to take some extreme actions when he performs his missions, and he shares some traits with Dante of Devil May Cry. At the same time, he’s also a bit reckless, since he refuses to take orders from others. That said, the fact that his armor isn’t fully golden is a sign that Ryuga still has ways to go before he can awaken as the true successor to Garo. Then there’s the fact that Zaruba (The magic talking skull ring) refuses to talk to him for some odd reason; in the previous installments, he was willing to help Kouga in his frequent Horror hunts.
Another aspect that makes Garo Season 3 intriguing is that the first episode's Horror succeeds in deceiving the citizens into thinking that Ryuga has murdered an innocent person, thus making him a vigilante that’s being pursued by the authorities. Depending on how the staff goes with this direction, we could see more episodes where the Horrors could turn Vol City’s inhabitants against the Makai Knights that want to protect them. Overall, it’s going to be interesting to see the true colors of the city in later episodes. Something tells me that the statue that was shown in the first episode will play a major role later on.
If there was one thing that surprised me about the Garo Season 3’s first episode is that we didn’t get the chance to see any boobies, which was a recurring thing in the first episodes of the last two seasons. Then again, this isn’t much of an issue, since their appearance is still inevitable. Considering that Junya Ikeda’s (Gai/Gokai Silver from Gokaiger, Ataru from Majestic Prince) character is a perverted womanizer, he’ll most likely play an important role in reeling them in.
As a person that’s fond of the Wild West, I’m also excited to see that Garo Season 3 is going to have a bit of a western motif. At the moment, the theme was shown through the branding of the show’s title during the commercial break, and the show’s soundtrack has a few Wild West-like songs. Hopefully, they will do more things with the theme, because I think it’s something that could add some new light to the series.
Garo: The One who Shines in the Darkness may have fallen flat in some aspects, but the whole platter has enough appetizers to build up towards another great installment in Garo franchise. With a total of three knights and a Makai Priest that can summon a Horror eating dog familiar, the series is already doing a great job in setting us up for some interesting confrontations later on. If the blade of knights continues to remain sharp, then next week’s episode should give us the hope that we were looking for.
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