Garouden: The Way of the Lone Wolf Review – A Promising MMA Anime Series With Disappointing Execution

By Daniel Hart
Published: May 23, 2024
Previous ArticleView all
Garouden: The Way of the Lone Wolf Image for Review


The first season of Garouden is unfocused and choppy, but I expect audiences to stay loyal to it if a second season is explored. 

Even if you do not like this anime series, there’s no doubt that Garouden: The Way of the Lone Wolf respects different fighting styles in martial arts. For audiences that crossover from MMA to anime, there will be a deep appreciation for the effort. Regardless, this TV show is a little choppy in execution, but I don’t think it will sway manga fans. 

Propped as a martial arts spectacle, Netflix’s Garouden follows Juzo Fujimaki, a feared fighter who is proud of his fighting style, Takemiya. Juzo is a fugitive, tracked down by the police on suspicion of murder. The character is described as a “lone wolf” because he has that beast within him that he needs to contain. Interestingly, the series opens with Juzo fighting a bear, and he declares he doesn’t want to fight any human, with his reasons why material to his backstory. Garouden eventually pitches the story where Juzo and the best martial artists in the world battle it out. 

The series (written by Sadayuki Murai and produced by NAZ) takes considerable time to focus on its strengths. When the series has each fighter measuring each other, it excels. Watching the characters observe their opponent’s positioning, angles, and special moves is exciting. It’s a game of chess, which is the best way to encapsulate fighting. While the series does not observe regulated fighting, seeing the fighters understand honor and respect for the craft makes this anime series even more enticing. 

But the present day and the context of the past do not marry well, making each episode feel somewhat cluttered and unfocused. Yes, I wanted backstories and context, but it does not flow well enough to enhance the story’s objective. The selling point of the series is Juzo’s mysterious aura and the pains held by the other characters. It’s a world desperate to understand who the best fighter is and what type of style warrants the title of being superior. 

It reminded me slightly of Record of Ragnarok, which delved deep into backstories between fights, but I feel that the series worked better purely because it made the creative choice to dedicate flashbacks rather than slipping them in between scenes. 

But, honestly, that does not mean Garouden is a failure. I walked away from it, inspired by its direction and the allure of a continuation. I imagine that, with more episodes, the fleshed-out story will complement Season 1. But as a standalone, I did have issues with it. I’m passionate about flow, especially in TV, and when I feel frustrated, I know I’m noticing the lack of it. 

This is an OK outing, but from a critical perspective, it’s just under par. The characters are interesting, and there are certainly wild ones of note. Juzo’s confused affection for Saek, the woman he defended, sustains an element of mystery. I frustratingly expected more. 

Garouden: The Way of the Lone Wolf is a sorry story deserving of embellishment but lacking focused execution.

I’d love to gain perspective from other anime fans. Please comment below with your thoughts on Season 1 of Garouden: The Way of the Lone Wolf.


Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, TV Reviews
Previous ArticleView all