Taiga Saejima (冴島 大河, Saejima Taiga) was Kouga's father and the former Garo in the Original Series. He was killed by Barago before the events of Chapter of the Black Wolf and remains as a guardian spirit to his family.
Personality & Character
Taiga was a highly disciplined warrior and carried a tough love-attitude as a father. Due to his life as a warrior against the darkness, Taiga's mentality can be intense. Losing his wife (Rin Saejima) to illness, he raised Kouga as a single father and did his best to remind him of the times they had as a family while grooming him to become the next Garo. He was also a man with a strong sense of personal responsibility. When his student, Barago, lost his way to darkness, he put his life on the line in hopes to bring his disciple back to the light. However, his life was cut short when he gave his life to save Kouga. Although he died, his spirit, as well as his teachings continued to protect Kouga. As a guardian spirit, he has returned multiple times to help Kouga and Raiga as a guide and aid during their most difficult trials as knights.
Skills & Abilities
- Makai Knight Training: Taiga was a skilled fighter, highly adept in close quarters combat and specializes in martial arts that complimented the Garo armor. It was never said was it Taiga or his predecessor that created this combat style, but he parted his combat style to Kouga, making it the Saejima Style Combat System. Like his predecessors, Taiga's training also includes honing spiritual abilities which enable him to move between afterlife and land of the living so as to watch over and assist his successors and love ones in times of dire need. The full extent of his spiritual powers is shown in the events of Moonbow Traveler during which he can manifest a physical body in place of one he lost during his death at hands of Barago as well as disguising it in form of a child while under the alias of "Baderu".
Tools & Weapons
- Garoken (牙狼剣, Garōken, Fanged Wolf Sword): His jian type sword.
- Gōten: His Madō Horse.
- Madō Lighter: His mystic lighter used to decern if someone has by possessed by a Horror, it emits green flames.
- Zaruba: His Madōgu.
Not much was mentioned about Taiga's life. However, Taiga's house suggests he comes from a long bloodline of Makai warriors and his family was primarily the stewards of the Garo armor. Sometime in the future, he became Garo and earned a reputation as being one of the strongest knights. Things would change when he became a father.
Taiga met his eventual wife, Priestess Rin Saejima, and she later gave birth to their son, Kouga. Although happy to have a Makai family, their happiness would be cut short as Rin died within a few years after falling to an unknown terminal illness.
One night, after returning home from a long tour along with Kouga, Taiga received reports that there was a knight devouring Horrors; Taiga suspected it to be his own disciple, Barago. Sensing Barago near the Saejima estate, Taiga attempted to intercept and reason with Barago back to the path of light. Unfortunately, Taiga didn't understand that Barago had fallen long ago and only used Taiga to help him become stronger.
Fighting as Garo, Taiga attempted to reason with Barago while in the midst of mortal combat. However, Barago wasn't interested in discussions and continued to battle with his master. Garo had the upper-hand until little Kouga arrived in the midst of battle.
Death & Final Message
Blinded by rage and ambition, Barago saw little Kouga hiding behind the trees and attempted to kill him. Taiga realized Barago was aiming for his son and threw his body to take the mortal blow. Mortally wounded, Taiga used Garo's forearm blade and made a cursed cut across Barago's face in the shape of an x, expecting his opponent to die; it was meant to be a double-sided defeat for both. Barago retreated and successfully escaped alive, but Taiga died in combat. Poor little Kouga was distraught as he couldn't revive his father. However, before he died, he had Zaruba help deliver a final message to Kouga, asking him to grow up and become strong.
Although dead, Taiga's spirit couldn't rest in peace without watching over his son. The experiences and teachings that Taiga parted to Kouga still remain strong within his heart and Kouga continues to carry his father's teachings with great consideration. During the events of Lament of the Dark Dragon, Taiga appeared before Kouga when he was near death and helped give him the strength to return to the living as Garo. Afterward, on a cliff, Taiga (with the help of Rei) returned to duel with Kouga.
After Kouga departed for both searching Kaoru who displaced by Eyrith and to mend the cracks in time and space caused by the same legendary Horror, Taiga's spirit watches over Raiga, his grandson. Although Taiga never revealed himself to Raiga, he acted as a guide to help him evolve as a knight. It's unknown will Taiga ever reveal himself to Raiga.
During the events of The Moonbow Traveler, Taiga lost most of his powers and got stuck in his pre-teenage form in process, which doesn't deter him and Kouga from preventing Raiga from reaching Akamoku via. Black Train due to Shiroku's machinations. Assuming the identity of Baderu (バデル), he reluctantly accompanied Raiga while attempting to remove his grandson from the train at the same time. Although the plan which involved Moonbow Butterfly failed, Baderu nevertheless stalled his grandson long enough for his son to do the rest.
Baderu soon join Kouga and Raiga's final battle against the newly resurrected Kiba, unveiling his true identity as Taiga in process. The three generations of Garo bearers soon defeated Kiba with help of Mayuri, Crow, and Kaoru.
Notes & Trivia
- Taiga is portrayed by Hiroyuki Watanabe who also portrayed Gaoh in Kamen Rider Den-O.
- Each knight wearing Garo creates a different colored hue in Garo's eyes; Taiga creates a crimson-red hue when he wears it.
- During Raiga's battle against Zaji, the spirit of Garo appeared to him to reveal Goten. Due to the armor's red eyepiece and the phrase "become stronger" uttered by the spirit, it could possibly be Taiga himself, speaking to his grandson through Garo.
- The name "Baderu" means "father" in the old Makai Language.