Garo Ashura is a special episode aired right after Makai Tales and continues the 10th anniversary celebration of the Garo franchise. This episode serves as a special collaboration, between the Garo Project and New Japan Pro Wrestling. The special featured NJPW wrestlers and former IWGP Heavyweight Champions, Hiroshi Tanahasi and Togi Makabe, portraying original characters; Gouki and Zarugin respectively. Mika Hijii reprises her role as Kaoru Saezima and a younger version of Raiga Saezima is portrayed by Keito Sugizono.
"A long time ago, Demon Beasts terrorized many people and everyone lived in fear, but amidst all of these, there was one protector, one Makai Knight..." - Kaoru's intro
Set after Lament of the Dark Dragon and before Flower of Makai, the Saejima estate has been rebuilt, Kouga and Kaoru have been married for several years, and the two have a son, Raiga Saejima. A legendary tale is told about the origins of Garo's special ability, The Golden Knight and the Black Flame.
Young Raiga is ready for bed and asked his mother (Kaoru Mitsuki) if he can become a Makai Knight in the future. Kaoru tells him that it is up to him if he wants to become one. Raiga gets excited and says that he wants to become Garo in the future; Kaoru replies that he needs to work hard to achieve that dream. When Raiga asked if Garo is really strong, Kaoru tells him that the Golden Knight has something that no other knights have. She then tells Raiga the story:
Long ago, when Horrors freely roamed the world and were known to normal humans as demons, a Makai Knight named Gouki fought a large scorpion-like Horror in the middle of a forest. Gouki overpowered the Horror, but stops his attack midway as he was about to destroy a small flower. The Horror took advantage and stabbed Gouki's shoulder, but before the Horror can finish him off, Gouki was shielded by an aura from a large statue. The Horror retreats and Gouki passed out. When Gouki awakens, he realized his wounds have been tended to by a young woman named Ren, after she and her little brothers, Shin and Taku, found him. Gouki goes to the forest and recovers his sword and Shin shows dislike for the knight, saying that guys with swords are no different from the Demons.
Ren apologized to Gouki for Shin’s behavior and explained that a group of demons came from the mountains and slaughtered their village one night. The three of them were survived due to the power of Guardian Deity Statue shielding them from the attack. Ren also shows Gouki her necklace, with a stone that came from the statue. At night, the scorpion-like Horror returned and Gouki entered the woods and faced it as Garo, destroying the Horror to the siblings' amazement and earning their respect.
In between recovering his injuries, Gouki helps with the siblings with their chores to show gratitude. With Shin more curious about the knight, Gouki tries to lecture Shin about using his will and beliefs about becoming stronger and that he shouldn’t rely on the statue for protection; Shin dismisses him. Gouki finally recovers and Ren plans to make a small feast as a send-off to Gouki. While gathering food, she noticed the dirt on her body and goes to a small lake to take a bath, but gets abducted in the process. Realizing Ren is missing, Gouki and Shin searched for Ren and found her clothes and necklace near the lake. A surprise attack by a group of Horrors happened upon them; Gouki defeats them and searches for Ren. Knowing the search will be dangerous, Gouki tells Shin to protect Taku and entered the mountain lair of Zarugin. The enemy uses Ren as a hostage to make Gouki surrender, but unlikely help came.
Shin and Taku arrived and destroyed some of the horrors by throwing the energized rocks (that they broke off from the Guardian Deity statue) at them. Gouki breaks free from capture and proceeds to battle Zarugin, who reveals his true Horror form as a giant demon beast. Gouki summons his armor and reveals himself as the Golden Knight Garo, much to the Horror's shock. The two fight and Zarugin eventually knocks Gouki back due to him fighting while minding the trio siblings. Shin remembered what Gouki said and tells his siblings to imbue Ren’s necklace with their beliefs, before throwing it at the Horror. The necklace breaks and its energy imbued Garo with spiritual power, transforming Garo into the Soaring Garo form. With the power of flight, Gouki overpowers Zarugin and destroys him with a super slam. The next day, Gouki leaves the three siblings, apologizing for making them go through the experience, and also thanked them for saving him. He also tells them to keep their beliefs strong so that they could protect each other in the future.
With the story over, Kaoru explained to Raiga that Garo’s power comes from the will of people; Garo can turns their beliefs into reality and protect them. After hearing the story, an awed Raiga then stated that he will surely become Garo when he grows up. Kaoru then puts his son to sleep, wishing him goodnight.
Notes & Trivia
- To promote the special crossover, the New Japan Pro Wrestling company changed its logo from a lion to Garo's helmet. Said logo also changed its motto label of "King of Sports" to the "King of Hero".
- Mika Hijii's character in the Special is now credited as Kaoru Saezima.
- The special episode continues the theme of the Garo Armor's eye color changing for every wearer. In Gouki's case, the Armor's eyes turn a silvery white.
- The Soaring Garo form is drastically different from the Winged Garo form that Kouga Saezima had, since the former's wings sprout from the Armor's ears, instead of its back.
- The maneuver that Gouki uses to defeat Zarugin is a called the "High Fly Flow". This is a variation of the Frog Splash technique in Professional Wrestling and is Hiroshi Tanahashi's signature wrestling move.
- The ending credits of the episode show's all of the transformations of the Garo Armor throughout all of the series and movies, which is an important plot element in Kaoru's story to Raiga.
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