diumenge, 17 d’agost de 2008

GARO - Kouga Saejima: a lonely hero unintentionaly searching his humanity.

ATTENTION: Remember, if you have not seen the series yet, reading this text could frustrate you.


If anything is heavy in Kouga’s life, this is his father. Or, rather, his death. It is difficult to believe that Taiga had allowed, if alive, that his son had developed without a minimum social environment which –leaving aside to allow him to save his smile– would have given him some elementary models of social behavior. So, Kouga is a bit wild, unawares a lot about the human relationships; even he is not interested at all. Moreover, he talks little, is closed, elusive and devoted to work. He is unsociable and, thanks to his basic kindness and his idealism, both combined, he is not antisocial.

But Taiga died and his son, a boy which did not have his mother either, poured his whole being into what his father had ordered him via post-mortem communication: to claim the inheritance of Garo and all what it involved about protection towards mankind. An inherited idealism, and an idealized father.

Chap. 7. Rei provokes Kouga, but only he can do him to annoy when he insults his father’s memory. It is not a soft reaction.


Chap. 12. Kouga bears, writen on his face, his stolen childhood and the heavy inheritance which was put on his young shoulders.

Perhaps at first sight it can seem that his heroic mission was accepted just as a dogmatic truth, but it had to be some degree of conviction. If not why, in episode 2nd, he asked the horror which took Kaoru’s money to return it because she needed it to accoplish her dreams, if Kouga knew that there were less than one hundred days left to Kaoru to live, and that he himself had to be the hangman?

This thing about dreams is very curious. He, who has renounced to his own, defends those of the other ones. He looks as being a sacrificial victim: after the first half of the series, we can see that he has renounced to his human life for the others to enjoy theirs. I believe that because of this, he is upset when Makai priest Amon tells –chapter 16– that Makai Knights’ fight will be eternal because always it will have wickedness inside human heart: if there is not hope, why he had to defend anybody or, as said more personally, why have him sacrificed his humanity? Right then, Kaoru’s presence was already very strong, he had just noticed that in the life everything was not about to hunt horrors.

Perhaps this is because in the following episode he asks if a human murderer deserves to be protected by him; he would have rejected such a question some few weeks before. But, when that guy chose Kaoru as his next victim, Kouga wanted to kill him. Her magnanimity spared him from being run through by Kouga’s sword, but this one did not understand why such a being must to be left alive. Kaoru had to remind him that no human is perfect. Each criminal became a mockery toward what he makes for mankind.

His existential conflict does not mix well to his increasing consciousness of feelings, just as we have seen in the case of the murderer. Their mutual effects add up or multiply; then, they are more difficult to control. His indifferent stoicism, or, his coolness, is relegated to his quiet moments. Feelings are always what shoot his emotional reactions; if they are not touched, he is capable of keeping calm because, despite everything, he believes in his cause.


Chap. 21. Shot, insulted, disarmed, injured, induced to mistrust what he believes, threatened with imminent death by a man who looks for revenge. Kouga has swallowed, but keeping his doubts for himself, without losing his selfcontrol, allows him to go out.

Such a faith is questioned in chapter 22: he notices that his work has been useful for catering Barago.

Worse: he betrays his beliefs strongly in episode 23. Excited by the events, and his personal feelings being the trigger once again –Kaoru’s kidnapping, a previous defeat against Barago, and the remembrance of Jabi’s murder – he pays the price of his lack of emotional skills, and leaves wrath to take control. His armor reaches is limit time, but he does not send it away. It becomes deformed and all what the man is, starts to be destroyed. In extremis Rei achieves to rescue him from the paws of his dark self, only because Kouga’s faith, even deeply buried, remains there. When he meets Barago again, perhaps because this experience is too recent, he does not dare to call his armor: now he respects it a lot more, actually he knows that it is a double-edged weapon. He really starts to understand what being Garo means. Especially, Kouga has not ever seen his path so clearly: darkness is not his way. His soul is safe and his faith is stronger.


Chap. 23. His personal feelings, fired and perverted by wrath, take the power at the worst time. Body, soul and ideals become twisted until they come off unrecognizable: the only way to beat wickedness is wickedness.

Yes, faith is his strong point. And allied to love, once overcome the hard test in chapter 23, it will be the strength that will expel Meshia from Kaoru’s body; the energy that will allow Kaoru to exercise her own magic and, consequently, Meshia manages to be defeated. Certainly, he owes the wings in his armor to Kaoru, but he could keep them virtually time enough to achieve his goal, even when his armor is gone.

Still more. Fighting to Kiva he could not sumon his armor. Environment is extremely difficult: a giant ring soaring and falling down on the city. There is something more than instinct of survival in front of the one that is a living legend. He is capable of facing the macabre scene that has pursued him all his life: a terrible paw turning up in front of his face after piercing his father’s body and armor. He manages to perforate Kiva’s hand, Barago’s alter ego and master. This, which entails the demystification of Kiva, has a side effect: the only stone that mediated between Kouga and his ancestors, his father’s death, disappeared. So, when at last he could to summon his armor, already in mainland, he could be conscious for the first time of all the force that descended through his bloodline from the precedents Garo to him. Koga went beyond his individuality to become a group soul. Or, explaining it in a simpler way, faith scrolls mountains.

As a good hero, Kouga never gives his idealism up, we have seen it. It was specified and demythologized, but this is which makes to show his best self. If it first was the only reason of his life, when Kaoru became another, it avoids him to be launched towards feelings and sustains balance; it is so, until there is an attempt against his feelings that, do not forget it, he is not used to take into any consideration. For him, they are like bombs. But Kouga’s idealism is the starting of his unsociability.

Service to humanity, when it does not come from a spiritual maturity, is satisfactory for a solitaire individual: it gives him a high boundary that pleases his soul and avoids any commitment and problems coming from people relationships. Kouga does not need anything else to feel well himself and to the world. Until his feelings do not color his life, he does not mind if those who he defends deserve it or not: human smallness is too under his wider vision and, of course, a forest does not let for him to see a tree.

When he forces himself to speak to somebody, interest is its cause. Chapter 4 is revealing. He starts a conversation and listen a story of a poor woman who looks for her disappeared husband after visiting a doctor-horror and, when he has got all the information he needs, he leaves wihout saying neither thank you nor goodbye. Kaoru’s case is atypical from the beginning. If he carries her at home and watches over her, after he was going to kill her, we have to understand that he accepts the responsibility of protecting her; everything tells it to us afterwards.

Kouga does a giant step on accepting Kaoru at his house in chapter 5. Sometimes he regrets this decission: when the his solitaire self rebels against this invasion, and against the subtlest erosion that her presence causes on him.

At the end of chapter 6 we have the first evidence that she is something else than a bait to him, and looks that Rei Suzumura sees it too. If we see Kouga’s fists when Rei menaces her, we can understand it as a protective instinct, but if we see signals of uneasyness when the other Makai knight insinuates that he wants her, it looks another thing. Equally, on finishing chapter 7, his anxious "where she is?" would have been colder if just it was a question of responsibility for somebody to whom it is necessary to guard from danger.



Chap. 3. To Kouga, Kaoru’s expressive exuberance is a nuisance. These screenshots show them after he saved her from a horror while she was unconscious. She awakened on his arms, and shouts, shakes her legs and arms, saying him to let go, and he lets her fall down on ground, uncerimoniously.

In episode 16 Kouga says to have observed his feelings. Sure, he realized his reactions. He never thought these feeling might manage to affect him. In chapter 5 a curious Zaruba comments about how much complicated were relationships between men and women, and Kouga declares that it does not interest him at all. So, it is not probable that feelings liked him. Since episode 8th to 11th he is the same cold and unsociable guy we know. Even, ending the 9th, when at last he tells the Kaoru the first nice thing - "you have a magnificent look today" – it seems the simple confirmation of a fact, and nothing else: she had changed very favorably her opinion on her father, and this could have provided her with a radiant aspect.

Probably Kaoru did not want to exasperate him in episode 11. She insists him on going with her to a competition of television. Curiously, his anger starts when she insinuates to make the same proposal to Rei. Maybe his look after it implied some repentance, but there is not doubt that Kouga will try hard to rescue her from the paws of the horror that takes advantage of her sorrow. Without concealing his aversion, he will allow to be convinced by the demon to play his game, even though the price of his failure is to lose both souls, Kaoru’s and his. It is not a banal bet; but he has ever not been banal. Watching over his protegée, o something else?

Chap. 11. Subjected to that for him are nonsenses -games and tests- by a horror which is a bad loser too, Kouga’s patience, wit and determination will be tested to attain to retrieve Kaoru’s body and soul... and not losing his own in the process.

The scriptwriter is an accomplice of our curiosity, his humor makes him to invent a ritual of soul refund that implies a kiss. Kouga accomplishes it scientifically: he looks so disturbed afterwards, when being seated on the stairs while Kaoru leaves leaves her head to fall down on his shoulder. Welcome this kiss, in spite to be discreetly hidden by a brilliant dot, since it will be the only one that we will see among the protagonists.

Chap. 11. Kouga recites the ancient spell as a part of the ritual of soul refunding. Curious posture. Sure that his closed eyes and that hand strolling softly on Kaouru’s head are contributions of his which not even he knows being made.

Old priest Amon spurs the ghosts from his insconscient self: his father died because he loved him, and he does not dare to love feiaring to suffer the same loss –Kaoru has few days left. Feeling ressed, Kouga gives a verbal form to his half built thoughts, and he ends up knowing what he wants: he will struggle for Kaoru as long as she had any life, and he will sacrifice her a day before making a hundred, in order to spare her the agony; his only ambition is that "her light shines all time possible". So, Kouga finishes, at last, to fight against his feelings.


Chap. 16. Kouga comes back from visiting Amon. A joyous Kaoru receives him, who has thrilled to see him. His coolness has disappeared, and his eyes do not hide anything any more.

Unfortunately, he is still unable to verbalize anything in front of her, and loses his big chance to tell her situation. So, that same day she was going to know, from the mouth of a dieing horror, that she has been used as a bait.

Kaoru’s grief to know she has been deceived is comparable to Kouga’s commotion. His secret has been put under light, and she makes him to take off the ring and runs away. His best intentions –there was already a Barancas fruit for her- fall down, and she has left exposed to the attack of any horror, just when a hundred days are about to finish.

Chap. 19. Jabi has saved Kouga from being killed by Rei, and she has taken care of him. She makes a pass at him, but Kouga neither rejects her openly nor react to it. He makes the effort of begging her to help him to save Kaoru. In spite of herself, Jabi accepts.

Since now Kouga has to arrange a situation that he himself has created, aggravated by external facts -his rebellion against the Eastern Sanctuary, the consequences of Amon’s murder-, and we will see what he can make for love: he takes Kaoru from the hands of an anxious-for-revenge Rei, so must fight to death with him; he dares, with well few chances of success, to achieve the Barancas fruit when the only two people who would have been able to help him were killed; he has to persuade Kaoru of keep her with to live, so he can get time to bring the Barancas fruit; he starts a titanic fight to save her once he knows that she become a gate for Meshia and, in this process, he will be tempted almost fatally by the dark side, and will face Barago, almost without possibilities to win; he will not be able to use other arms than faith and love to expel Meshia from Kaoru’s body and, once achieved, he will have to penetrate into the horror’s world to avoid Meshia to posses her again. Finally, he will let her to go to Italy for that starts in order to materialize her longtime dream to become a great artist. So, Kouga has become a romantic hero.

Chap. 20. Compelled by Amon’s and Jabi’s deaths, Kouga has dared to pick up the Barancas fruit needed for Kaoru’s survival, alone, in a magical place any Makai Knight has many chances. The unexpected intervention by Rei avoids that Kouga, exhausted by his fight against the electromechanical guardian of the fruit, finishes badly just when he had obtained it.

So many events have touched him so closely, and strongly, that his cold indifference has been left aside and his feelings come out in a torrential way, but through his actions. And through his eyes, I say. Even when he proposes to Kaoru, he does not seem to do it, only in an indirect way, which leaves her confused.

Chap. 21. Kouga begins to take some consideration towards the feelings of the other ones. He attempts to relieve Kaoru’s and Gonza’s worry, when they know that he goes to get consciously into a trap. "I am going to come back", he says.

His relationship with Rei is a lot tense from the beginning. Without any will, Kouga will find himself struggling for his life, pointed at a colleague with a rage he can not understand. However, specially this relationship shows us his nobility better. He does not attack him when he falls down; he does not doubt on forgetting that he has been about to kill him when there are more important things to consider, like the return of the little daggers to horrors’ world, and trusting that Rei will appraise the situation impartially too. Either he does not avoid from helping him to escape staple of a giant horror.

But he does not forget. He repproaches his previous wickedness when Rei accepts his error on attacking him. For the common good, and for Kaoru, however, he can disregard everything. Rei corresponds with a so high level of selfishness as intense as his former vindictive self, and Kouga will have a lot will to thank him.

Gonza, the steward, is undoubtedly a subordinate, and this comes off very clear, but it is a correct and respectful relationship. It is also evident that Gonza loves the boy whom he has almost bred, and he knows him well. But only about the end we see Kouga become interested in his health and having mercy of his feelings.

Chap. 18. Confronted by the possession of the little daggers from the Eastern Sanctuary, Jabi accuses Kouga of letting himself win by her when they played while being childred. "Your kindness is your greater fault"!, she says. She insults and despises him because he does not want to attack even though she puts herself hard to it.

Regarding Zaruba, the madou ring, we attend to a more complex relationship. Curious, Zaruba looks the human member in this special couple. Sometimes it expresses what we should expect from Kouga. Chapter 16: Kouga goes to visit Amon:

Zaruba: "This wind arrives loaded of remembrances".
Kouga: "Yes".

This does not mean that it is a sentimentalist. Chapter 17: Kouga already has accepted his feelings for Kaoru; they can not find a horror, even though they know it is over there.
Zaruba: "There is not alternative. You have to make Kaoru come here".
Kouga: "To be used as a bait"?
Zaruba: "Are you concerned with it now? Did you not spare her life for this"?

Zaruba has been the only friend of Kouga for many years, and its loss was felt strongly. By Rei’s reaction to it, we can know that the Makai Knights have a deep relationship with their madou jewels.


Thank you, Radix, for your graphical collaboration, again.

2 comentaris:

Yee ha dit...

Wow, what an in depth and amazing analysis of Kouga characters. His coolness and detachment that caught my eyes when GARO was shown on our local channel. Even though I was never fond of any horrors series but there is something magical, tragic and romantic about Garo. When he puts her down rather unceremoniously after saving her from the clock horror in the 3rd episode I was pretty hooked on this drama and looking forwards to their interaction with each others. Your description of him eventually become a romantic hero is so true. Overall, simply loved the way you described GARO and the English translation too! Thanks!

Mitra ha dit...

I thank you your comment a lot, Yee!

I remember a friend in a forum commented that Kouga was a romantic hero, and I depissed her. I had to do this analysis to know she was right.

And, I think you are toooooo kind to valuate my English translation: I am not so good at it.

In any case, thank you.