|This article is about a/an group of warriors in Garo.|
The Makai Knights (魔戒騎士 Makai Kishi) are an elite group of trained warriors that hunt and destroy Horrors. The Makai Knights and their stories are mainly the focal points in each season or spin-off of the Garo Franchise.
The Makai Knights are a group of specially trained men, adept in martial and magical arts, that combat Horrors. Founded by the secretive Makai Order and regulated by the Watchdogs, the Makai Knights secretly patrol their respective territories to protect civilians from Horrors. Armed with special magical equipment, the Knights carry an eternal war to maintain the light over the darkness in the world, as well as the spiritual realm.
Description & Characteristics
Makai Knights are widely known as the primary fighting force under the Makai Community in their on-going war against the Demonic Beasts known as Horrors. They are shown to be physically stronger, faster, and more athletic than any average human, due to the rigorous physical and spiritual training they had since childhood. Some Makai Knights even display superhuman feats, as well as large amounts of resiliency and toughness, able to shrug off physical injuries that could be fatal for any normal human. Some Makai Knights are even shown to be immune to poisons and can resist mind-control.
All Makai Knights are identified by their signature attire: The Duster Mahoui worn over dark formal clothing. These coats have their own magical properties, protecting the Knights from serious injuries while on a mission, changing their form so that a Knight can blend in better with society (though most Knights ignore this property altogether), and allowing them to store objects, primarily their weapons. There is no uniformed rule regarding the colors and looks of these dusters. As such, these vary greatly in design, with some ornately designed while others look plain.
For equipment, each Makai Knight has their own signature weapon – the Makai Blade. These bladed weapons forged from Soul Metal are designed specifically to cut down Horrors while sealing their Inga in them to be disposed of later. When facing a strong Horror, the Knight can also use this weapon to draw a circle that opens a portal that instantly opens near him to don the wolf-motif Makai Armor for battle. Once equipped, the Makai Armor can massively augment the Knight's existing strength, allowing them to match or even overpower Horrors, while also protecting the wearer. However, due to the dangerous properties of the Armor itself, no Makai Knight can stay in their Armored form for more than 99.9 seconds. If this time limit is surpassed, the Armor starts to burn its wearer.
Makai Knights also possess a Madougu that acts as a guide and a detector for Horror activity within an area. They also carry a Madou Lighter that emits Madou Flames to help identify the Horrors. They can use the same flames to engulf their Armors and Weapons, increasing their overall damage potential, a technique called the Blazing Armament. Seasoned Knights who achieve the feat of destroying 100 Horrors are also granted a special power in the form of a Madouba (Madou Horse). These mechanical horses made entirely from Soul Metal can be summoned by an Armored Knight when dealing with far more serious threats like larger or faster Horrors. Madoubas are often ridden by the Knights as their steed, but in certain cases, can also strengthen a Knight’s offensive capabilities further by stomping on the ground and emitting ripples of energy that transforms the Makai Blade into a much larger version of the weapon.
In very rare circumstances, the Makai Armor can also be enhanced by infusions of spiritual energy, evidenced by the different forms the Garo Armor takes in various situations.
There are multiple accounts on the history of the Makai Knights and their origins, mostly varying depending on the continuity that they follow. The consistent element to these origins is that the Makai Knight Corps was founded by the Makai Order, specifically the Makai Priests. In the past, the Priests stood alone battling against the Horrors. Unfortunately, even though Makai Priests are well adept in martial arts, magic, and anti-Horror knowledge, there existed Horrors that are smarter and/or stronger than what they can handle. Facing such dangerous threats required an elite combatant group and the priests developed and formed the Makai Knights for that purpose.
Initially, the Makai Knights only trained in the mastery of Soul Metal in order to combat Horrors. However, it wasn't until the Soul Metal was forged into the Wolf-themed Suits of Armor that the Makai Knights truly came into being.
Development & Training
The Makai Knights Corps require self-sufficient and independent warriors that are highly adept in martial arts (stronger than their priests and greater combat strength against Horrors), have strong mental and emotional discipline (to handle their emotions, manage against potential dark energies, and see through illusions), and mastery over Soul Metal (due to its dangerous nature). As such, the training and development of a full-fledged Makai Knight often span an entire lifetime, even going as far as late into the men’s Knighthood. Through unexplained reasons, only males can become Makai Knights. As such boys are trained in their youth until their adolescence.
The first considered candidates are young boys from their order, usually the sons of the Makai Knights and Priests. It was done this way to ensure loyalty as well as secrecy from public exposure of their order; though the selection process isn't exclusive to people within their order. While it is preferred to train a son of their order, orphans and/or males who have suffered by the hands of Horrors can be trained as well, all under the instructor's own strict discretion.
For training, the candidates are sent to a Makai Knight Camp, within the secluded forests near the Kantai Region, where they can secretly train without the obstruction of modern society. The camp divided the boys into groups of four. For their own protection against potential discrimination and/or mistreatment (due to the individual's personal history, lineage, and pedigree), each of the candidates is instructed to never reveal their true names and only identify themselves by an assigned color (Blue, Red, Gold, etc.). Each colored group has their own assigned living quarters, a group leader (for leadership training and team-building exercise purposes), and a veteran Makai Knight to monitor their progress.
For an unspecified amount of time, the groups are taught to master the basics that are required of a Makai Knight. From sunrise to twilight, the teams endure a rigorous training regimen to strengthen their bodies and minds. For early levels of combat training, the boys first use wooden swords and training dummies to hone their conventional swordsmanship skills. The groups are also pitted against one another in live bar chess and various combat-type games to help develop their combat skills as well as the use of strategy. The trainees are also trained mentally and spiritually, due to their constant exposure to darkness. This training helps them to master their fears over darkness, and to also ensure that their good nature will trump over their dark nature to prevent corruption. Finally, the trainees are taught how to fully master the Soul Metal. As too much contact with Soul Metal can be fatal even for trained users, the students are handed small blades infused with small amounts of the alloy. The students need to learn how to find a balance in controlling the blades, as the metal’s properties can make it very heavy to lift or too light to the point that the blade might float and fly off, carrying the wielder with it.
Once their training had matured to an exponential level, the groups are disbanded, and the cadets are then assigned direct apprenticeship under an experienced Makai Knight to finalize their training. Most Makai Knights receive their final training from their fathers (or next of male kin) until their Knighthood, while others seek apprenticeship from other veteran Makai Knights. Depending on their mentors, the young Knights would also be fully trained in their disciplines of weaponry (such as spear combat, archery, etc.), while some also pick up partial Priest training such as utilizing spells. The veteran Makai Knight would also often take their students to live missions to allow them to get used to combat and finally see a Horror up-close. From there, the apprentice is forced to figure a means to survive on his own while his master is fighting; training fatalities are possible. After completing their final trials, the new Knight will be handed their title and Makai Armor (usually passed down from father-to-son or from master-to-apprentice) through their Makai Blades to finally begin their solo missions.
While most Makai Knights are trained in the Makai Apprenticeship route, not all train under such traditional means it's possible for students to skip the traditional ways of training and take private training directly (such as Rei Suzumura and Ryuga Dougai) to become a Knight as well.
Once a man becomes a full-fledged Makai Knight, the Order will assign them to a specific territory called a district. Each district is only specific to them and other Knights are not allowed to cross into neighboring zones and interfere in their business without consent. Each district also has a Watchdog; it is they who delegate missions and commands from the Senate with an Orders Document. From there, the Makai Knight is given multiple missions specified to their skills and abilities. The standard duties of the Makai Knight include destroying Yin gates during the day, decreasing the chances of Horror possessions in their area, while slaying Horrors during the night. While not on a mission, the Knight can continue his training personally so that he is always in top-fighting form should a major threat arise.
When a large threat does happen or the missions become too difficult, Makai Knights may request for Makai Priests to come and provide a supportive role for them, assisting them and helping with the maintenance of their equipment over the span of their career. Because there are no rules over how many Makai Priests can assist a Knight, they can have as many Priests to assist them in a mission. In the most difficult missions, the Watchdogs/Senate can order multiple Makai Knights to work together and stop the massive threats as well.
As a discipline, trained Makai Knights must always also continue to control their emotions (their yin and yang) during their missions. If there is an overwhelming amount of Inga (darkness), the darkness can also affect personality and create a self-conflicting dark persona that attempts to take over as the dominant personality. If this darkness affected them while in their Armor and they surpassed the 99.9-second time limit, the Armor's inherent demonic powers start to take over the Knight, giving them tremendous power, but turning them into an uncontrollable monster known as a Lost Soul Beast (心滅獣身 Shinmetsu Jūshin) with their very soul being worn away in the process. The Armor also eats the body away if the process is not stopped in time. If the Makai Knight overcome the process with his darkness, one of two things may happen:
- Should the Makai Knight fully embrace the darkness and fall to it as a result, the Makai Armor itself will take a new dark twisted form and no longer be concerned of their time limit, turning the Makai Knight into a Dark Knight, to which he will become no different from a Horror and must be cut down.
- Should the Makai Knight take full control of his Lost Soul Beast form through his desire to protect others, reject the darkness, and continue pursuing the light, the Armor temporarily evolves into a purified fusion of the Makai Armor and the Soul Beast form called the Luminous Beast Form and allow them to continue their battle with a Horror.
Regardless of the outcomes, a Makai Knight is required to perform routine purification to cleanse themselves from the evils they're exposed to, especially since the aforementioned second process is very rare. Should all measures fail, and the Makai Knight completely falls to darkness, a Watchdog will dispatch either another Makai Knight or a Darkness Hunter to cut down the tainted Knight.
In terms of lifestyle, a Makai Knight’s life is a high-risk occupation. Due to the exclusive culture of the Makai Order, members of their community often maintain an invisible separation between them and the normal people. Because of this, it's a common occurrence for a woman of their Order, usually a Makai Priestess, to marry a Makai Knight. Once they start a family, their children's sex determines their roles within their culture. If it's a girl, they will be raised and trained as a Makai Priest. If it's a boy, they have the choice between becoming a Makai Priest or a Makai Knight, depending on their natural talents and affinity. The average career of a Makai Knight is approximately 30 years, roughly ending around their 50s. By then, the Knight's body has grown old and their strength has mostly declined. Either the Knight continues to fight until he's no longer able to or he'll forfeit his title to his son or apprentice, inheriting their Makai Armor to continue its lineage.
Types of Makai Knights
Throughout the series, it has been noted that there are different types of Makai Knights, indicating that there is a hierarchy among them in terms of prestige and respect, all based on their titles in connection to the Makai Armor they're given. While initially seen as biased and unfair, the lineage that these titles carry span for generations, and thus, there is weight and great expectations seen through the higher levels of this system. The Types of Makai Knights are the following:
The Titled Knights are the elite members of the entire Corps, often donning the distinct Makai Armors that carry prestige and expectations when fighting against Horrors. The Titled Knights are also distinct for being trained on other forms of weapon-based combat other than swordsmanship, with some carrying other variations of the Makai Blade, such as spears, axes, bows and arrows, etc. These Knights are often respected and looked up upon by their fellow practitioners due to their lineage; with the Saezima and Yamagatana bloodlines among the most revered, due to the documented achievements these titles bear. Titled Knights also deal with more difficult missions, often facing more powerful Horrors and other dangerous threats. Due to the hazards of their career, the Titled Knights are well-compensated for, as evidenced by Kouga’s extravagant mansion. Titled Knights are also often privileged to have a Makai Priest act as their aid in their missions. Most of the stories in the series center around the Titled Makai Knights.
The Nameless (or untitled) Knights make up the bulk of the Corps and while their missions are generally the same as the Titled Knights, they also handle other missions like protecting Madou artifacts, escorting figures from the Makai Community as bodyguards, and even assisting Titled Knights in dealing with greater threats. Most of the Nameless Knights utilize the standard style of swordsmanship, as such, carry the signature Makai Blades, which are the thin swords with a black scabbard. The Nameless Knights also do not have distinct Makai Armors of their own, instead opting to wear the mass-produced Hagane (鋼（ハガネ）) Armors that are different in only gold, silver, and bronze colors. While they are considered as the lesser among the two main types of Knights, the roles of these title-less Makai Knights as combat specialist task force members do not change. Also, while very rare, some of the very young Nameless Knights may eventually be trained to inherit the Armors of the Knights without kin, or those whose bloodline is about to end, allowing them to create their own lineage with the title. (Such as Rei Suzumura).
When seasoned Makai Knights become recognized for their extraordinary feats and achievements as protectors, they are eventually promoted as Senatorial Knights that directly report to the Senate without the need for Orders Documents. The Knights of the Senate are mostly comprised of Titled Knights who answer directly from the upper-hierarchy of the Makai Order and are essentially given the freedom to travel into other districts and are even given free rein to work with anyone they want, so long as they can accomplish the missions given to them. Senatorial Knights are given the most difficult missions, such as dealing with and destroying more powerful Horrors. Some Senatorial Knights even handle other Makai Affairs such as training the next generation of Knights, investigating events that are too mysterious even for the standards of the Makai Community, and dealing with rogue Makai Agents and Dark Knights. The Senatorial Knights were introduced in Garo: Makai Senki.
Introduced in Garo: Makai no Hana, the Shadowfolk Makai Knights are inferred to be the black-ops group of the Corps, recognized by their all-black attires and use of other equipment akin to that of the shinobi. The Shadowfolk Knights are also quite adept in Priestly Arts through their use of tags and some spells. They also largely work independent from the rest of the Makai Community, though they still answer to the Senate given certain circumstances. Despite this, the Shadowfolk’s tasks are largely the same as the Makai Knights, working under this strict code: “Destroy Gates when the sun is up, and destroy Horrors in the night, all without being seen and noticed.”
List of Makai Knights
- Kouga Saejima
- Taiga Saejima
- Rei Suzumura
- Tsubasa Yamagatana
- Leo Fudou
- Wataru Shijima
- Ryuga Dougai
- Aguri Kusugami
- Takeru Jakuzure
- Raiga Saejima
- Eiji Busujima
- Daigo Akizuki
- Jinga Mikage