Japanese science-fantasy or tokusatsu has a certain charm in its style, a flair cultivated by creators such as Keita Amemiya, who is a celebrated innovator of designing new characters and concepts since 1980. I was familiar with the Kamen Rider TV series which he has done character design for, but I can’t say I knew his Garo series. It’s a bit of a loaded dice to walk into a movie like this one, made explicitly for a niche audience but I wanted to see how enjoyable it could be to someone for the first time.
Garo – Under the Moonbow also known as GARO: Moonbow Traveler is an epic saga of an ongoing franchise written and directed by Keita Amemiya. The Mazai Knights are the best line of defense against the Horrors that plague humanity. Raiga (Masei Nakayama) is the latest in his lineage. After defeating one of such Horrors, his armor becomes tainted. After an unknown masked knight steals his beloved Mayuri (Natsumi Ishibashi), it’s up to Raiga to rescue her.
Long-running franchises have a very rich world-building aspect to them which works depending on how the film eases you in. Time is however limited, so you will have to hit the ground running. This might be a deterrent for neophyte audiences as the film is working with long-established concepts. However, if you have ever been exposed to tokusatsu on other IPs, you will recognize the over-the-top poses, the flamboyant armor and the constant escalation of over-powered transformations that both heroes and villains go through to gain the upper hand.
Recommended only for the niche audience that is a fan of tokusatsu and specially fans of the Garo series. Casual fans might find the learning curve too steep. I found the constant power escalation an issue similar to that faced by other media such as shounen anime where winning fights require a new power, skill or level upgrade to win. Don’t worry, the power of love will always win in the end. Casual audiences might want to go for something with a little less intense for their first exposure.
That will do for now.