Who Does Saeko End Up With in Garouden? Fujimaki or Himekawa?

The Netflix anime ‘Garouden: The Way of the Lone Wolf,’ charts the journey of a broken man who finds his way back to life’s light through martial arts. After committing a murder, martial artist Juzo Fujimaki goes on the run from Detective Tamon and his dogged attempts at catching the man. Nevertheless, his vow to never fight another human breaks when he’s backed into a corner and compelled to participate in an underground martial arts tournament, Kodoku. Thus, as his paths cross with various other skilled fighters— some friends and most foes— Fujimaki faces his demons and defeats them alongside his opponents.

As Fujimaki’s adventures progress, the viewers learn about his emotional connection with Saeko, the daughter of his Master, Izumi. Meanwhile, in Fujimaki’s absence, Saeko builds tentative relations with her father’s newest disciple, Tsutomu Himekawa, another renowned martial artist. For the same reason, once the two men face off against each other in the finale, viewers can’t help but wonder where it would leave each fighter’s relationship with Saeko. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Saeko and Fujimaki’s Tentative Bond

Even though Saeko and Fujimaki share little time together as the story unfolds, the pair share a deep history, with their pasts remaining intricately intertwined. Fujimaki started off as a student under Saeko’s father, Master Izumi, who taught him the Takeyami style of martial arts. While under his tutelage, the young man formed a friendship with his Master’s daughter, Saeko, who remained open about her attraction toward him. Since Saeko was a martial arts master’s daughter, she grew up to appreciate strength in other people. Furthermore, her father often told her she should marry the strongest man alive.

Therefore, Saeko held out a candle for Fujimaki, impressed by his learned skill and natural instincts. In turn, Fujimaki remained guarded about forming any relations with Saeko, likely since she was the daughter of his Master. Even so, he held a deep affection for her. Eventually, tragedy struck when a robber invaded Izumi’s house and attacked Saeko. By the time Fujimaki arrived on the scene, Izumi was already bloodied and bruised from her attacker’s assault.

As such, Fujimaki was enraged at the robber and unleashed his unfettered anger upon the man. In the fight that ensued, the martial artist killed the robber, breaking his head open on a rock in his signature Tiger King move. However, once the robber died and Fujimaki took account of the scene, he was petrified of his own actions. Even more so, the man didn’t know what to make of Saeko’s reaction as she looked at him with an unidentified emotion in her eyes. For the same reason, Fujimaki ran away from the scene, assuming Saeko was scared of his capacity for brutality.

Thus, the bond between the two remained broken for seven years as Fujimaki kept running from his past. Although the man could’ve argued self-defense and fought his murder charge, he was so scared of his animalistic instincts that he decided to cut himself off from society. Still, life eventually caught up to Fujimaki, forcing him back to his roots. Meanwhile, Saeko still resided with her father— changed with the years but still keeping the man in her memory.

Saeko and Himekawa’s Whirlwind Romance

Unlike Saeko and Fujimaki’s stretched-out and ultimately unfulfilled romance, the woman’s relationship with Himekawa progresses much faster. Tsutomu Himekawa is a high-level apprentice under Master Shouzan Matsuo, known for his Hokushinkan Tournaments. The man has been known to have never lost a challenge and is perpetually preparing to better himself so that he can one day defeat Matsuo in a challenge as well. For his part, Matsuo remains supportive of the man’s goals. Therefore, after the student learns about Fujimaki and his admirable fighting style, he decides to become a disciple of Master Izumi to learn the Takeyami martial arts.

Master Izumi remains amenable to taking Himekawa under his wing and begins teaching the young man. Consequently, his paths cross with Saeko, igniting the sparks between the pair. Like the woman, Himekawa also admires strength within any individual. Therefore, knowing about Saeko’s past interaction with the robber and her subsequent recovery, the man remains in awe of her resilience. Similarly, Saeko is attracted to Himekawa’s martial arts adventures, as obvious about her attraction toward him as she was with Fujimaki seven years ago.

Consequently, since Himekawa has no objections to forming a relationship with his Master’s daughter, he and Saeko begin seeing each other. Their relationship sails smoothly without any blunders— until Fujimaki returns to Izumi’s doorstep. After participating in the underground Kodoku tournament and winning against some of the most skilled fighters, Fujimaki realized that he didn’t wish to cage himself for his skills any longer. Where he used to villainize himself for murdering a man, assuming Saeko had been scared of him that day, he now convinces himself that Saeko had rather looked at him with gratitude in her eyes.

Therefore, Fujimaki returns to Izumi in an attempt to return to Saeko’s side. Nonetheless, after Fujimaki’s abrupt abandonment, Saeko recovered all on her own and moved on with Himekawa. For the same reason, the older man decides to participate in the Matsuo Hokushinkan Tournament and go against Himekawa to prove he is the better fighter— and subsequent suitor for Saeko. Thus, despite being a fugitive of the law, Fujimaki participates in the contest against Himekawa. The fight remains robust and volatile.

Fujimaki is renowned for his skills as a Takiyami-style fighter. However, Himekawa has a unique advantage after his training under Master Izumi, wherein he learned the Tiger King move. As such, once Fujimaki uses the same technique on him, Himekawa debuts a counter-Tiger King move that ultimately leads to the former’s defeat. As such, after a valiant effort and a great show, Fujimaki loses against Himekawa. Afterward, the martial artist also gets arrested by the police, sealing his fate for a few years to come.

Ultimately, even though Fujimaki could have knocked Himekawa down in Saeko’s eyes if he beat him, the woman would have been under no obligation to rekindle her old love for the man. Therefore, despite respecting Fujimaki, his loss in the tournament remains symbolic of his loss in earning Saeko’s affection as well. Inversely, Himekawa only further proves his skill, likely increasing Saeko’s perception of her lover. Thus, in the end, Saeko remains with Himekawa.

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