Women of Tokusatsu Part 3: GARO
In the world of GARO, well-rounded and strong female characters shine brightly throughout the live-action series. For our third installment of this series, we focus on the notable women of the franchise.
Created by Keita Amemiya, who previously directed Kamen Rider ZO and Zeiram, GARO focuses on a world filled with Horrors thriving on the darkness in people and heroes who save them, the Makai Knights and Priests. The first GARO season premiered in 2005 and has since become a franchise with several movies, spin-off shows, and anime seasons. Each spin-off featured women in diverse roles, which impacted the stories they shared.
In the original season of GARO, we are introduced to Kaoru Mitsuki (played by Mika Hijii), a talented artist looking for her big break. She is someone who is not afraid to speak her mind and unapologetic about her determination to be a professional artist.
During the first episode, she is infected with Horror blood and told she will die in 100 days. Though weighed with the gravity of this situation and the strange companionship of the series protagonist Saejima Kouga, she remained positive throughout the show. Even in dangerous situations as Kouga’s “Horror bait”, she would often try to find her way out of it and aptly call out him on his cold personality towards her after the fact. With her presence in Kouga’s life, it changed his demeanor and he becomes a different, loving character after the season ends.
Each time we see Kaoru in a spin-off, she is still the Kaoru we know from the original season with additional growth gained from her experiences. Whether she is known as the wife of Kouga or the mother of Raiga, she holds true to her personality.
Jabi, portrayed by Yasue Sato, is a Makai Priestess who is introduced early on in the first season. She is an extremely skillful Makai Priestess that was a childhood friend of Kouga. She is seen fighting Kouga after being accused of killing her master and is a formidable foe against the Golden Knight. The ability to wield her fans and flags in battle with precision make her shine as a talented warrior.
Her strength is carried through as she is featured in several spin-off movies including Demon Beast of the Midnight Sun where her personality also shines. She is unabashed and very straightforward, which is a refreshing personality trait to see in female tokusatsu characters. Transferring her knowledge to many disciples, she is seen to be very wise and a master at what she does. She is the first of many extraordinary Makai Priestesses we meet in the franchise.
Played by Mary Matsuyama, Rekka is a Makai Priestess who appears in several seasons and movies in the franchise. As a young girl, she idolized Makai Knights and aspired to become one even though it was not permitted for women. Though she resentfully trained to become a Makai Priestess, her fighting style incorporated elements of martial arts similar to the Makai Knights. Wielding her Madou Brush and Makai Blade, she honed her magic and martial arts to become a talented offensive fighter.
In the beginning, she disregarded her feminity and did not see herself as a woman due to the shame of her not being able to become a Makai Knight. However, as time went on, she began to cope with herself as a Makai Priestess and used her abilities to aid several Makai Knights throughout the franchise, becoming a fan favorite.
Rian is a young Makai Priestess introduced in The One Who Shines in the Darkness that serves a powerful ally to the season’s protagonist, Ryuga Dougai. Trained at a young age as a way to cope with the loss of her Makai Priest father, she became an adept Makai Priestess. Her specialties include changing her appearance at will and the usage of her self-made Makai Gun. Created by her engineering skills, her gun becomes a tool to reduce the strain of magic usage. With an intelligent fighting style, she is a fierce Priestess not to be toyed with.
Unlike Rekka, she embraces her femininity and is not afraid to show off her feminine charms if the situation calls for it. Though many would see those traits as vain, it comes in handy several times throughout their adventures. Being able to embrace her femininity while being a magical engineering genius makes Rian a very unique character in this franchise.
Introduced to the audience in The Makai Flower, Biku (played by Sayaka Akimoto) is a Makai Priestess who serves as a Darkness Hunter and feared adversary. Her role as a Darkness Hunter, a secret group of priests/priestesses who track down corrupted individuals in the Makai realm, makes her a social outcast at the beginning of this season. Accepting those who view her as such, she righteously pursues her responsibilities and duties. Her fighting style is extremely ruthless with a strong sense of honor.
Nonetheless, she is compassionate with each individual she is tasked with tracking down. She is willing to offer second chances to individuals who have shown they can change. Having the ability to balance her duties and her empathy, she is a refreshingly well-rounded character.
Lastly, the spin-off season Zero: Black Blood focuses on the story of the Makai Priestess Yuna, portrayed by Riria (Mio in Ressha Sentai ToQger). Fueled by vengeance from her family’s death, Yuna implants the surviving bone of her Makai Knight father into her arm to wield his blade. As women are not permitted to become Makai Knights or wield Makai Swords, it becomes extremely controversial to do so while also several straining her body.
Throughout the season, she struggles heavily with the death of her family and the strain from wielding her father’s blade. Though season protagonist Rei is assigned to aiding her, she still struggles to overcome these challenges. While she is not properly trained to wield the Makai Sword, she learns over time how to adopt a Makai Priestess fighting style with it as we see her as a successful fighter in an episode of Makai Tales. She becomes an extraordinary character with a unique fighting style that could rival any Makai Knight.
GARO features many amazing female characters in each spin-off, but these characters established themselves with their personalities and stories. Some shows and movies in the franchise are available through HIDIVE as well as purchasable on DVD.
In the next series, we will talk about the women of Kamen Rider.
Sources: TV Tokyo, GARO PROJECT