‘Garouden’ 2024 Recap (Episodes 1-8) Explained: Is Fujimaki Arrested In The End?


Adapted from the works of esteemed novelist Baku Yumemakura, the Netflix anime series Garouden: The Way of the Lone Wolf is centered around Juzo Fujimaki, a talented and famous martial arts fighter who is on the run from the authorities because of a crime in his past that eventually returns to haunt his present. Overall, Garouden would be greatly enjoyable to fans of martial arts and the extreme action genre, but it is a tedious watch for those not used to such presentations.

Spoiler Alert

What is the Netflix anime series about?

Garouden begins in a snow-covered region in Hokkaido, Japan, where two natives from the nearby village are on a hike through the wilderness and hear a gunshot from nearby. As the region is popular amongst hunters, they realize that one must be nearby and plan to avoid them by taking shelter in a cabin in the area. Much to their horror, they are stopped in their tracks by a gigantic brown bear, with the animal showing extreme ferociousness as it is the same one that had been shot by the hunter. Despite the gunshot wound, the beast has not gone down yet and instead attacks the villagers, who are suddenly helped by a different man who arrives at the scene. It is believed that the man has been living in the cabin for the past few days, but his unnatural courage and superhuman strength are on display only now as he confronts the wild bear with his bare hands. Within minutes, the man defeats the beast by breaking its jaws and neck and then proceeds to go away from the area in order to avoid recognition.

When the villagers describe the strange incident to the authorities, a detective by the name of Tamon investigates the site where the fight with the mighty bear took place and finds the animal’s corpse as well. As it turns out, the man who killed the beast matches the description of a certain martial arts fighter that the detective has been searching for for a long time—Juzo Fujimaki. While the exact reasons for this seven-year-long search are gradually revealed, Fujimaki has already left Hokkaido by this time and moved to a different city after being rescued by a group of gangsters following his difficult fight with the bear. He only learns that a powerful mob boss, known as the Sergeant, got him rescued with the help of a local criminal gang. Very soon, the protagonist is made aware of the fact that his current criminal boss, Kurogami, wants to run the local dojo out of business in order to buy off the property. However, Fujimaki grows interested in the owner of the dojo, a once-famous fighter named Ichiro Shino.

It does not take long for Fujimaki to change sides, as he himself comes from a background of martial arts, as he trained under the revered Takemiya school. He fights off the goons when Ichiro’s daughter is harassed by them, and this experience takes him back to an incident that occurred seven years ago when he had protected someone in a similar situation. However, that incident ultimately made Juzo Fujimaki a convict who was on the run from the law, and this supposed mistake from his past very soon returns to haunt the protagonist.

Why did Fujimaki run from the law?

The matter of Juzo Fujimaki’s crime in the past is an important element of the plot since it shapes the protagonist’s character and determines his motivations as well. Garouden has a lot to do with male ego, pride, and honor, all of which were integral to what happened with Fujimaki seven years earlier, and also to the themes in the show overall. The protagonist was originally a student of martial arts under the leader of the Takemiya school, Soichiro Izumi, who was also his mentor and guide. Fujimaki stayed at Izumi’s house as a servant to his teacher, and during this time, he grew affectionate towards the teacher’s only daughter, Saeko. His skills in martial arts improved greatly over time, as he picked up moves and techniques from other fighting styles as well, and Fujimaki was a great warrior in the making. However, everything turned upside down one afternoon when he returned to his master’s home at a time when Izumi was not present at the place.

Fujimaki immediately understood that some stranger had entered the house, and when he moved in further, he came across a horrid sight. A man had indeed intruded and violated the modesty of the helpless Saeko after finding her all alone. The protagonist was understandably filled with rage and also despair, since he had genuine romantic feelings for her, and he did not wait for justice to be served. Fujimaki used his fighting skills to immediately kill the rapist by mercilessly throwing him over a piece of rock in a calculated finishing move. All of this took place right in front of Saeko, who looked very shocked and traumatized by both incidents. Noticing the intense fear and confusion on her face, he eventually took a decision that changed both their lives. 

Given the circumstances of the incident, Fujimaki could have easily gotten away with the murder by claiming it to be in self-defense. In reality, although he did not technically kill to protect himself, the decision would be very well accepted as his attempt to save Saeko from further danger and humiliation. However, he did not let anyone know about his true intentions and instead just ran from the place, and he ended up going on the run forever. Fujimaki thus became a fugitive who had murdered a thief at his master’s house, and so he was wanted by the police for seven long years. Since he did not tell anyone about what had happened, the assault on Saeko was also never reported, which was one of the reasons for his decision. The Japan shown in the anime series, and questionably some parts of the country even now, would make life extremely difficult and humiliating for Saeko if her situation was known, and so it was never reported.

Another reason for Fujimaki’s decision was his own guilt of having killed a man, right in front of his beloved, and his misinterpretation of Saeko’s reaction. He believed her shocked and wide-eyed reaction to be because of his murder, while in reality, the woman was still reeling from the trauma of the assault. Nonetheless, Fujimaki kept believing that he had hurt and disrespected his lover by committing such a gruesome act in front of her, and so he fled, becoming a wanted criminal in the process. It can also be sensed that his male ego and sense of honor also led him to consider himself a failure, for he could not protect his lover’s modesty, even though he was technically away from the scene when it happened. Along with being his beloved, Saeko was also his master’s daughter, which meant that he had let down his master as well, and all of this drove Fujimaki towards a life in hiding. Leaving the city of Nara behind, Fujimaki instead started living with an elderly fighter named Ranbo, and he continued to master the skills of martial arts.

Why does Fujimaki turn down the Sergeant’s offer?

As the plot in Garouden progresses, Fujimaki is finally included in an underground fighting competition named Kodoku, which is actually run by Sergeant, the very mobster who had earlier helped him. In reality, Sergeant is an elderly woman who runs a number of criminal enterprises, and this yearly fighting competition is also one such business. The rules in Koduku are also extremely dangerous, as it basically brings together a number of fighters and then faces them against one another. The only way to end a fight is if one of the participants surrenders or dies, and the winner even has the option of not accepting the surrender, meaning that they can actually kill their opponent without any consequence. In this manner, fighters are eliminated from the tournament and either killed or let go, with the last one remaining announced as the strongest fighter in the world.

With this iteration of the Koduku tournament being held in Japan, Fujimaki was actually on the Sergeant’s radar ever since he showed his unnatural strength. As her doctors nursed him back to health, the protagonist was also supposedly injected with a batch of eels in his body, which could be controlled remotely by Sergeant whenever she wanted. This is the leverage that she uses to convince him to join the tournament, for Fujimaki would receive pills to cure this ailment only if he participated. Sergeant’s reason is to rake in more business, as the tournament is always livestreamed to rich customers who place bets on the fighters and make the woman rich. Along with the antidote to his condition, Fujimaki is also promised that if he manages to win the tournament, then the gang will help him clear his criminal record.

The plan is that Fujimaki will be sent away to a foreign country of his choice for a couple of years, within which time Sergeant and her gang will ensure that his police record is cleared. By the end of the Koduku tournament, the protagonist does manage to win after some tough competition, but he ultimately turns down the Sergeant’s offer, stating that he wants to return to Nara. The Netflix Garouden anime adaptation is also basically about Juzo Fujimaki’s realization that it is only love that can heal and control him. Throughout the initial phase, he struggles to control his inner animal, which is a lone wolf, and it signifies his difficulty in managing his violent nature and tendencies. Fujimaki does not want to hurt any more humans, but he also has a burning rage in him, which is most definitely rooted in the incident seven years ago.

While the Koduku tournament was going on, Fujimaki learned that his beloved master Izumi had been defeated by a fighter named Bunshichi Tanba, and so he now wants to avenge this loss. Thus, he decides to travel back to Nara and ask Izumi to make him the successor of the Takemiya school of martial arts, only to learn that Tanba is also now training under his master. He asks for permission to fight and defeat the two other new but strong students of the Takemiya style of martial arts—Tanba and another man named Tsutomu Himekawa. However, the main intention behind Fujimaki’s desire to defeat these two men and to be the successor to Izumi is actually to reunite with his beloved Saeko, without whom he is even more lost and violent. It is ultimately because of love that the protagonist wants to challenge fighters and fight for the honor of himself and his master.

Who does Saeko actually want to be with?

Neither the Garouden anime series nor the novel series from which it is adapted actually give too much agency to the few female characters, which is perhaps more in line with the cultures where men fighting for honor and tradition are celebrated. Therefore, Saeko’s decision is never heard or expressed, and she makes her emotions felt only through sighs and smirks, which go unnoticed by those around her, like her father, Izumi. Although Fujimaki had a very different understanding of the aftermath of the incident seven years ago, Saeko was actually delighted that her lover had stood up for her and punished the man who had assaulted her. But instead of getting any comfort or support in getting over the incident, she was instead abandoned by the man, who finally realizes, after seven years, that he wants to be with her.

Within this time, Saeko had grown close to her father’s new student, Himekawa, and the two started a romantic relationship as well. However, her heart was still fixed on her first true love, Fujimaki, and every mention of his name made her yearn to see him. When the protagonist finally returns to Izumi’s house and learns of his lover’s new relationship, Saeko once again wants to be with him. Therefore, at the end of Garouden, when Fujimaki challenges Himekawa to a fight, Saeko is as proud of him as when he had killed her attacker. Unfortunately, she cannot still confess her love for Fujimaki and has to be diplomatic while answering her father’s question about whom she wants to see win. But Saeko’s support and love are most definitely for Fujimaki at this time.

Is Fujimaki arrested in the end?

In Garouden‘s ending, Fujimaki is defeated by Himekawa, despite putting up a stern challenge. This defeat also coincides with the police having gathered in front of the fighting arena, as they had found out about his presence there. Although the police detective, Tamon, initially began his search for Fujikami all alone, he was later joined by other investigative forces from Japan and the USA as well. The American authorities knew about the Sergeant’s underground fighting tournament, Kodoku, and wanted to bring an end to it. Driven by this reason, and also to arrest Sergeant, the authorities kept a close eye on Fujimaki to know more about the woman and her business. In the end, Juzo Fujimaki is indeed arrested by the police and taken away amidst roaring claps for his brilliant fighting effort.

Will There Be A Second season? 

Although the journey of Fujimaki ends with his arrest for now, it is possible that Garouden will have a second season, in which the protagonist will try to reunite with Saeko after his prison sentence is over. Despite defeating him, Himekawa was confident that he would fight Fujikami once again, and this might also play out in the second season. But most importantly, Bunshichi Tanba has still not seriously fought Fujimaki yet, and he remains interested in doing so, as he is seen returning to Nara for this very fight, which will possibly take place after the protagonist is released from prison.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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