I think we can all agree that the ghostly Garo tribe of assassins is delightfully macabre, but where does the name “Garo” come from? Does it have any meaning or cultural context?
Ash from the blog Experiments in Manga recently tweeted a link to a short essay about academic scholarship on Garo, an alternative manga anthology magazine that ran from 1964 to 2002. According to the author, what’s been written about the magazine and its artists in Japanese is “mainly personal impressions and subjective accounts.” Meanwhile, many of the creators associated with the magazine, such as Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Shigeru Mizuki, and Tadao Tsuge, are starting to receive more attention from the international comics community as their work is being translated.
One of Garo’s founders and primary contributors, Sanpei Shirato, still isn’t well known internationally. According to the Wikipedia entry on Garo, the magazine’s title is derived from a ninja character in Shirato’s manga Kamui, which was published from 1964 to 1971 and collected in 21 volumes. I was able to track down a copy of the one volume translated into English, which was originally published by Viz Media in 1987. I’m interested in learning more about the story and who this “Garo” character is, but he doesn’t seem to appear in this section of the story.
Garo magazine had a reputation of being dark and creepy and deliberately dysfunctional, and the manga I’ve read that were published in it (and its American tribute zine) certainly fit this description.
Although I can’t make any conclusions, it would be cool if the name of the Garo tribe in Majora’s Mask were a tribute to the 1960s pulp comics magazine.
( Header image by Turtle-Arts on deviantART )