Monday 13 April 2015

First Impressions: Garo: Gold Storm -Sho-

Garo: Gold Storm Sho

Hey look, it's a new GARO series! Once upon a time saying such a thing would have felt more like a novelty, but now as the franchise approaches its 10th anniversary there always seems to be at least one entry from the now numerous continuities on the go. Of course a landmark anniversary such as that means there's bit more going on in celebration, and first up is a return to the world of Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness with another chapter in Ryuga Dougai's ongoing story - Garo: Gold Storm -Sho-. This itself follows on from a movie prequel chapter titled simply titled Garo: Gold Storm, which unfortunately won't be viewable to those outside of Japan for a while yet. Shame, because there have been some rather interesting changes to the Golden Knight going on.

This first episode didn't give a whole lot away in terms of story, but it seems that just like The One Who Shines in the Darkness this primarily focus on an ongoing narrative rather than some one-shot episodes loosely tied up by an overarching threat at the end. Ryuga and Rian are back (though no sign of Aguri or Takeru), with Ryuga now having access to a new variant of the golden knight armour - Garo Sho. Meanwhile two Horrors Jinga (played by Kamen Rider Decade himself Masahiro Inoue) and Amily are making plans of their own revolving around some sort of mysterious sword. After using a Makai Priest to free it, the sword splits into two - they keep one half (complete with a mysterious timer), while the other shoots off in the direction of Ryuga and Rian.

Obviously due to the fact this follows on from the Gold Storm movie there are a few details that Western fans are going to be a little hazy on for a while, but on the whole the first episode of Gold Storm -Sho- is fairly easy to follow. Other than the goings on with Jinga and Amily this is strictly an introductory "Ryuga and Rian fight some Horrors" episode, and that makes it a great opportunity to get reacquainted with these characters who have been away for the last year or so. Things may have changed a bit, but character-wise there hasn't been too much of a leap. Ryuga has grown more comfortable into his role as Garo, now fully having the acceptance of the Makai ring Zaruba (who's now gained a spiffy new hat-thing). But even then it's clear they have a very different relationship to the one Zaruba had with either of the Saejimas, which seems fairly fitting for a Garo who didn't inherit the mantle through lineage. The whole partnership angle with Rian is nicely played up too, as this is the first time we've had a Garo who actively has a partner and not one who just teams up with someone who drops in throughout the show/is part of a larger group. Their fight with the twin-based Horror features some nice team-up moves, which is something I hope will continue throughout the series.

The Garo Sho armour itself is a bit and miss though. With all the non-Saejima Garo series having shaken the look up somewhat it's nice to see Gold Storm continuing the trend, but this time some of the additions they've piled on feel like a bit much - particularly the popped shoulder collar that surrounds almost the whole neck area (which is already boxed in by giant shoulder pads). Things like that are all opinion though, and mine could definitely change once we get to see this suit in action a bit more. Either way it's great a physical suit in the show, since The One Who Shines in the Darkness' biggest weakness was its over reliance on CGI. This might have something to do with Keita Amemiya having a more say in Gold Storm -Sho- than he did the previous series, having directed the Gold Storm movie himself. This episode also has some great Horror designs, whether it be the aforementioned "twin" one or the colourful butterfly-esque one that showed up right at the end.

All in all it was a pretty by the books GARO opener, but one that thankfully didn't feel too unfamiliar for those who haven't had the luxury of being able to see the film yet. While I expect more references to the film will pile on as things progress, it'll probably also be accompanied by some clarification on events so it's a bit of a win-win situation in that regard. It's great to see Ryuga and Rian again (the latter definitely my favourite of the various Makai Priests) and hopefully Masahiro Inoue will prove just as fun in this role as he was/is as Tsukasa in Kamen Rider Decade. All that's really left to say is that I'm definitely looking forward to more!

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