|“||Everything is false grandeur; a barren wasteland, where all I have left is the comfort of resentment. Or so I thought...||”|
–Zato-1, Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-
Zato-1 is a recurring character in the Guilty Gear series. By sacrificing his eyesight, he became host to the Forbidden Beast Eddie and gained the ability to fight with his shadow. Zato was the rightful leader of the Assassin's Guild until his fall from grace, brought about by his former lover Millia Rage.
Zato is an attractive man, sporting long, flowing blond hair and strong features overall. To cover his eyes, Zato wears a bright red blindfold fastened by a black belt. He dresses in rather simple way having black sleeveless turtleneck, arm warmers, pants and combat boots.
In Zato's idle stance, Eddie appears as a circle around at Zato's feet, and takes many forms, sometimes even covering all of Zato's body. In the Xrd games, outside of combat, Zato is able to wear Eddie in the form of a dark-grey longcoat.
Zato has a calm disposition, and is someone who gives each aspect of a problem great consideration, often shown contemplating the harsh realities of the life he has chosen to lead. He still feels things strongly, although he keeps such feelings hidden from the world. He is indeed a passionate and prideful man, albeit with a cold professional demeanor, who appears to care for Millia and Venom, as well as his other subordinates. Slayer thought of him as "elegant". The betrayal of Millia, the only woman he ever trusted, and his imprisonment made Zato grow embittered, and the powerful emotions he once felt for her turned sour.
After being resurrected in Xrd, Zato's time in the Underworld seems to have burned out of him all capacity for emotional reaction, and he can no longer remember how it felt to be emotionally moved. With no wordly desires, Zato perceives no value in anything, including himself, and has dull responses to everything—save for one exception, Millia.
Taken in by the Assassin's Guild, Zato-1 was once an underling. Disgusted with his lack of ability to rise through the organization's ranks, he risked death by invoking the forbidden arts. He lost his eyesight, but gained the ability to control his shadow. With his newfound powers, he is said to have become leader within weeks. At some point, Zato became the young Venom's benefactor and met his senior, the "Original Assassin" Slayer, who left Zato to his own devices as the leader. Presumably, it was Zato who had the guild turn to money contracts, thinking of its post-Crusades future.
As seen in Night of Knives, Zato started a complicated relationship with Millia Rage without permission. Venom, ever protective of Zato, knew of their nights together and treated Millia coldly. The guild was hired to assassinate Duke Dorian Scaburi of the Calroni Kingdom. The mission attracted Slayer's attention, who tested Zato for the changes in the guild. His meddling led to Millia's capture by Leon Mining of the Post-War Administration Bureau. In his desperation to save her, Zato agreed to assassinate the 2-year-old king for Mining, not knowing that Slayer had already released Millia.
When Zato and Millia reached the king's room, Millia stabbed Zato, leaving him for dead, and snatched the baby away to protect him. Zato escaped Mining's ambush and met with Slayer under a poplar tree. Zato told Slayer that he and his subordinates were strays dogs awaiting a master, but until then they would continue to strike at "them". They were interrupted by Mining, who attacked the two with his Arm monster. They struggled until Millia and Venom came to their rescue. They spared Mining's life to serve as their link in Calroni. In spite of all, Zato forgave Millia and let her find foster parents for the king instead of inducting him into the guild.
Millia, Zato and Slayer would later cooperate again in the Mount Rosa Operation. At one point, Zato was hired to kill the man who would become Dr. Baldhead, but Zato ended up killing his patient instead, ruining the doctor's life. Ultimately, Zato led another major operation, but Millia betrayed him and took the opportunity to flee. Her escape threw the assassins into chaos, allowing them to be caught red-handed. Zato was arrested and put in a dimensional prison.
Guilty Gear Edit
Languishing in the utter blackness of his cell, a tall, thin figure appeared before him. He asked if he wanted out of there, and if he had a pressing appointment with a woman. Zato wondered how he knew of Millia, but the figure said that if he won the upcoming tournament, he would be free to punish her. While suspicious, Zato agreed to the offer, having nothing to lose.
Manipulated by Testament like the others, the bloodshed from the tournament releases Justice from her slumber, but she is promptly destroyed by Sol Badguy. However, the constant battling takes its toll on Zato. Zato learns that his shadow has thoughts and a will of its own as his body is taken over by it.
Guilty Gear X Edit
With the word of a substantial amount of bounty money, the shadow begins to follow the scent of the Gear with free will, Dizzy. Canonically, the Eddie-possessed Zato is found by Millia. She kills Zato, but unbeknownst to her, Eddie takes control of Zato's dead body thereafter.
Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- Edit
When Eddie is also killed by Millia circa 2181 in Guilty Gear XX Λ Core Plus, Zato's remains are finally laid to rest and buried. However, the Conclave confiscates Zato's body and develop the art of resurrection by using him as their subject. In 2187, Zato is brought back to life along with Eddie, but his mind and soul are rendered a blank slate. He is locked in a dimensional prison and doesn't see the point in leaving despite Eddie's encouragement until he feels Millia close by. Upon emerging, he finds himself before Millia and Venom, later Slayer, at the Opera House. Zato correctly guesses that they revived him as a test. Finally, Faust comes to settle the "mistake" that ruined his life; Zato says that he can kill him if he wishes but before then he needs a little time, and reveals why the Conclave targeted the doctor.
He investigates the Conclave and Ramlethal Valentine, and attempts to locate Ky Kiske to pass his information, but is unable to. He fights Bedman near Uighur, saving Chipp Zanuff, because he hurt Millia. Bedman disappears, recalled by his ally, and Zato talks with his fellow assassins. On Slayer's suggestion, Zato goes to Zepp and meets with President Gabriel. Ky and Sol soon arrive, and Zato is able to disclose that the Conclave will resurrect none other than Justice by binding a soul to her body.
Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR- Edit
King Daryl of Illyria hires the guild as "soldiers" through Zato, and Zato relays this to the others at Slayer's Mansion. All four are working to rebuild the guild, and they take on the task of eliminating Bedman to that end. In order to test his accuracy, Zato locates Bedman. Slayer engages Bedman in a fight to entertain himself, but it is up to Venom and Robo-Ky to take Bedman down. At the same time, Zato, Millia, Slayer and their underlings assist in the defense of Illyria's capital against Ariels' forces.
Venom survived the encounter, but was officially declared dead. In Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2's After Story B, Zato takes it upon himself to eliminate Venom, their "loose end". Zato has 2cave test Venom's determination and give him a deed to a shop, so that he can live as humans do. Venom opens a bakery to buy Robo-Ky a new body, and Zato pays him a visit.
In combat, Zato-1 has complete control over his shadow, thanks to his bond with the Forbidden Beast Eddie, and is able to create a great variety of different shapes from his shadow, ranging from simple swords to monstrous beasts, which makes his fighting style one of the series' most dynamic. Zato himself is blind, but gained in its stead enhanced senses—enough for him to perceive his surroundings better than he ever could with sight alone. His System Voice in Xrd implies that he perceives others in terms of light and darkness.
Zato is able to deflect bullets and magic with his shadows. He can meld with darkness itself to completely alter his body's composition and density, either becoming a liquid-like substance or pure mist. His "Dark Space" ability allows him to teleport wherever he chooses.
After his return from the Underworld, it is stated that he has become even more powerful. Zato and Eddie have their own independent thought and are able to communicate, meaning that going against Zato is now a 2-on-1 fight unlike before. He is also able to track individuals, though the extent of that ability is unknown, and can destroy the shadow of his opponents, presumably killing them.
Musical themes Edit
- Black Soul - Guilty Gear
- Feel a Fear - Guilty Gear X, Guilty Gear XX
- Black Blank Blah-Blah-Blah - Guilty Gear Xrd
- Rivalry themes
- Still in the Dark (vs Millia) - Guilty Gear X
- The Spider's Thread (Do You Know?) (vs. Millia) - Guilty Gear Xrd
- When Life Comes (vs. Slayer/Venom) - Guilty Gear Xrd
- He is named after the fictional blind swordsman Zatoichi, which is how "Zato-1" would be said in Japanese.
- Zato-1's stage in Guilty Gear is inspired by the cover of the Testament album "Souls of Black". Likewise, his theme song from that game is called "Black Soul".
- His ability "Fear of the Dark" references the Iron Maiden song of the same name.
- His special move, Shadow Gallery, sahres its name with an American metal band. They coincidentally have a song called "Venom".
- Zato's original voice actor, Kaneto Shiozawa, died shortly before the arcade release of Guilty Gear X. As a result, Eddie and later Zato himself are voiced by Takehito Koyasu, who was the narrator for the Guilty Gear X Drama CDs.
- Shiozawa has also voiced Vega from Street Fighter. Zato shares similarities with Vega: they both hail from Spain, have long blonde hair, and Zato's birthday is a day after Vega's.
- GGXRD-R2/Zato-1 at Dustloop Wiki