Everything is false grandeur; a barren wasteland, where all I have left is the comfort of resentment. Or so I thought...Zato-ONE, Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign-
Zato-ONE, alternatively spelled as 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, a choker, arm warmers, pants held by a belt at the waist, and combat boots. Only the buckles of his belts and boot laces differ in color, being golden and red, respectively.
His appearance in Xrd remains largely unchanged, simply adding silver accessories below his collarbone and the back of his hands. His Strive design changes his outfit by giving him a more military-like look with padding, more belts, as well as dark brown leather harness straps and waist belt with pouches.
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 black longcoat.
A level-headed and cruel assassin, but also elegant, Zato has a calm disposition, and is someone who gives each aspect of a problem great consideration. He still feels things strongly, but keeps such feelings hidden from the world. His calm demeanor, with the implication of never seeing others on an equal footing, is a self-protection mechanism, for in truth Zato is simply an ordinary—if vain—man.
Despite his arrogance, Zato is a man of good intentions, wanting to turn the guild into a place where those with nowhere else to turn after the war could take shelter, having a certain naivety according to Venom. Gentle and caring towards those in the same circumstances as himself, Zato is respected by his subordinates and by his predecessor. However, the betrayal of Millia, the only woman he ever trusted, and his imprisonment made Zato grow embittered, and the affection he felt for her turned to hate.
After his death and resurrection, being subjected to the breadth of human experience has burned out of Zato all capacity for emotional reaction, even as his memories remain intact. Unable to be emotionally moved, Zato perceives no value or interest in anything, including himself. The one exception to his ennui is Millia; as the only thing to elicit any kind of reaction from him, Zato is determined to protect Millia and keep her safe, desiring to become stronger for her sake. In a way, Zato has gained immense knowledge, but at the same time has reverted to being a child, and is re-learning things that others would do naturally. He is also keenly aware that his sins are not, and never will be, cleansed.
Having lost his parents to the Crusades, Zato was taken in by the Assassin's Guild in 2166. As an underling, Zato presumably witnessed the guild's swift expansion and deviation, and Slayer's resignation as leader two years later, and then the organization's subsequent decay. In 2173, Zato, disgusted with his own powerlessness, risked death by invoking the forbidden arts. He lost his eyesight, but gained the ability to control his shadow. With his newfound powers, he became the guild's leader within weeks.
That same year, Millia Rage and Venom were taken in by the guild. To them, Zato was their savior and teacher; Zato earned Venom's undying loyalty, and eventually fell in love with Millia—the two becoming Zato's right and left hands, respectively. As leader, Zato had the guild turn to money contracts, but attempted to turn it into a place where those with nowhere else to turn after the war could take shelter; however, the Guild had become too massive, making change difficult.
When the guild was hired to assassinate Duke Dorian Scaburi of Castellia, 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. Zato, to save her, agreed to assassinate King Saltelia I, unaware that Slayer had already released Millia of his own accord. Yet, as they were about to assassinate the king, Millia stabbed Zato, leaving him for dead, and snatched the baby away to protect him. Despite his wounds, Zato escaped Mining's ambush and met with Slayer under a poplar tree outside the castle. They are soon surrounded by Mining's forces, but thanks to Millia and Venom's intervention, Mining was defeated. Zato spared his life, Mining then becoming his ally. In spite of her betrayal, Zato forgave Millia and let her find foster parents for the king instead of inducting the baby into the guild.
Sometime later, Zato, Millia and Slayer would later cooperate again in the Mount Rosa Operation. In 2177, Zato was hired to "take care of" Dr. Baldhead, but Zato ended up killing his patient instead, ruining the doctor's life by making him think he had committed malpractice. Then, in 2178, Zato led a high-risk operation, but Millia—secretly working with the IPF for her acquittal—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 barrier prison, where his affection for Millia turned to hate.
Languishing in the utter blackness of his prison, 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 an 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 seal, but she is promptly killed by Sol Badguy. However, the constant battling takes its toll on Zato. Having demanded too much of his curse, Zato's shadow begins to move by itself, and it tells his host that he can no longer control him. The shadow thanks Zato for incubating him, and seizes control of Zato's body.
Guilty Gear X
In 2181, while seeking its brethren, the shadow—who calls himself Eddie—begins to follow the scent of the Gear with free will, Dizzy. His life force eroded due to involuntary overuse of the shadow, the physically-weak Zato perishes, but by then Eddie is almost completely in control, and keeps on using Zato's body as his own.
Guilty Gear XX
Yet a few weeks later, Zato's body begins to deteriorate and Eddie consults with Faust. Without Zato's soul, his body's cell structures are disintegrating in prevent him, a weapon, from becoming independent. Per I-No's manipulations, Eddie thus begins to search desperately for another host. His efforts are in vain, however, and he soon follows Zato into the afterlife.
In one path, Eddie meets with Millia one last time, and tells her that Zato's wish was that she be by his side when he died, while he himself asks that Millia doesn't forget him or Zato. In his other path, Eddie somehow survives, defying destiny, and flies away from Venom.
Guilty Gear Xrd
Presumably buried by Millia, Zato's remains were confiscated by the Conclave, and he was subsequently used as a "guinea pig" to develop the Art of Resurrection, with Baldias conducting the research. By September 3, 2187, Zato and Eddie are revived, and then confined in a dimensional prison. Rendered a shell of his past self, Zato makes no attempt to escape despite Eddie's prodding until he senses that Millia is nearby on October 14. Upon emerging, Zato finds himself before Millia and Venom at the Opera House, and are soon joined by Slayer. Zato asks Venom to protect her while he tries to locates the Conclave. Before leaving, Faust appears 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.
On October 28, Zato's quest takes him before Ramlethal Valentine; with the Cradle's activation, he attempts to locate Ky Kiske to pass the intel he possess, but is unable to. He thus returns to his fellow assassins' side, only to find that they were attacked by Bedman and taken to Uighur. Zato attacks him for harming Millia, thus saving Chipp Zanuff, and Bedman disappears, recalled by his ally. Afterwards, per Slayer's suggestion, Zato goes to Zepp and meets with President Gabriel. On November 1, Ky and Sol arrive, and Zato is able to disclose that the Conclave intends to use the art of resurrection to revive Justice by binding Chronus's soul to her body.
With the Conclave's defeat and the Universal Will's looming threat, in hopes of rebuilding the guild, Zato is sent to make a offer to King Daryl, who by November 7, accedes to the assassins enlisting as "soldiers". At Slayer's mansion, Zato relays this to the others; they all decide on the elimination of Bedman as a symbolic requirement, with Venom taking it upon himself to be the sacrificial lamb for legitimacy and recruiting Robo-Ky to help him. Meanwhile, Zato tests his own accuracy in tracking down Bedman and takes Slayer and Millia to a wasteland; there, Slayer briefly engages Bedman in a revenge match, but they soon leave.
During the battle at the Illyrian capitol, Zato, Millia and Slayer lead the guild in defending the capitol from Ariels's forces, the Phalanx and massive Gears, until the Illyrian main team defeats Ariels and Jack-O' Valentine merges with Justice. Meanwhile, Bedman is defeated by Venom and Robo-Ky, who sacrifices his body to do it; Venom, however, survives, but is declared dead.
In the aftermath, Zato takes it upon himself to "eliminate" Venom, their loose end due to unintentionally surviving his battle with Bedman. Zato has 2cave test Venom's resolve and make him choose between protecting the town or rejoining the "wolves"; having chosen the first, 2cave gives Venom, on Zato's behalf, a deed to a bakery so that he may live a normal life incognito while trying to restore Robo-Ky's body. Zato later visits them.
Guilty Gear -Strive-
To be added...
Having activated the 5th Forbidden Magic Spell, Life-Eating Shadow, Zato bound a Forbidden Beast (apparently created and issued by the Post-War Administration Bureau) to his own shadow, but due to its seal of protection, he had to give up his sight. Zato gained in its stead enhanced senses—enough for him to perceive his surroundings better than he ever could with sight alone—, identifying others in terms of light and darkness.
Thanks to Eddie, Zato-1 has complete control over his own shadow, and is able to shape it into a variety of different forms, ranging from simple swords to monstrous beasts. Able to deflect bullets and magic with his shadows, he can also meld with darkness for a number of uses, including his own brand of teleportation. After his return from the underworld, it seems that he has become even more powerful, having obtained occult knowledge such as tracking down an individual's whereabouts (although the extent of the ability is unknown), and developing a relationship of mutual cooperation with a much calmer Eddie.
Gameplay-wise, Zato is a puppet character for being able to control Eddie, a secondary entity (his "puppet") alongside himself in combat. Generally, Zato attacks with the press of a button, while Eddie attacks with its release and uses up the Eddie Gauge. Able to dominate the neutral game and having an extremely overwhelming offense, Zato's fighting style is one of the series' most dynamic, but also one of the most challenging to learn.
- Black Soul - Guilty Gear
- Feel A Fear - Guilty Gear X
- Black Blank Blah-Blah-Blah - Guilty Gear Xrd
- Let Me Carve Your Way - Guilty Gear -Strive-
- 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 pronounced in Japanese.
- Zato'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", which is a possible reference to the same album.
- His ability Fear of the Dark references the Iron Maiden song of the same name.
- Black in Mind is a reference to the album and song by German metal band Rage.
- His special move, Shadow Gallery, shares its name with an American metal band. They coincidentally have a song called "Venom".
- "Dead Man's Hand" is a poker hand, generally a pair of aces and eights. It is considered a cursed hand and associated with death in popular culture, and is the name of a song by British metal trio Motörhead.
- During his jumping Slash attack in Strive, Eddie takes on the shape of the demon Buer, specifically the depiction shown in the Dictionnaire Infernal.
- Zato's original voice actor, Kaneto Shiozawa, died shortly before the arcade release of Guilty Gear X. As a result, Zato and Eddie 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.
- In Xrd, his outfit features the phrases "Walking shadow" and "One light free me of all the weight and pain of life".
- As per Strive, Zato believes in aliens, having searched for them during his life.
- A costume based on Zato's Strive look, belonging to Shizel, appears in Tales of the Rays.
- Zato has made a guest appearance in the game Code Shifter.
- ザトー＝ONE | キャラクター | GUILTY GEAR Xrd REV 2 AC版公式サイト
- ZATO | CHARACTER | GUILTY GEAR -STRIVE- | ARC SYSTEM WORKS
- GGXRD-R2/ - GGST/Zato-1 at Dustloop Wiki
- Guilty Gear Complete Bible, pg.42-43
- Guilty Gear manual, pg.17-18, 23-24
- Guilty Gear Xrd Visual Book, pg.22-23
- [GGWorld - "Zato-ONE"]
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- script § "Slayer"
- Guilty Gear XX Λ Core Plus script § "Just a little path"
- Guilty Gear X Drafting Artworks, pg.??
- Guilty Gear XX Drama CD Night of Knives Vol.1 script § "???"
- [GGWorld - "Barrier Prison"]
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- script § "Millia"
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- script § "Zato"
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- script § "Zato"
- [GGWorld - Timeline]
- Guilty Gear Codex, pg.10,51,55,56,59-60
- [GGWorld - "Venom"]
- [GGWorld - "Millia Rage"]
- [GGWorld - "Assassins"]
- Guilty Gear XX Drama CD Night of Knives Vol.2 script § "???"
- Guilty Gear XX Drama CD Night of Knives Vol.3 script § "???"
- [GGWorld - "Mining"]
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- script § "Wall A"
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- script § "Faust"
- Guilty Gear XX Λ Core Plus script § "Record ♯8127"
- Guilty Gear script § "Zato"
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- manual, pg.3-4
- Guilty Gear X manual, pg.4,29
- [GGWorld - "Pact of the Shadows The 5th Forbidden Magic Spell, Life-Eating Shadow"]
- [GGWorld - "Eddie"]
- Guilty Gear XX Λ Core Plus script § "Meaningful existence"
- Guilty Gear XX script § "Ideal body"
- Guilty Gear XX script § "Eddie Path 1"
- Guilty Gear XX Λ Core Plus script § "Retreat path"
- Guilty Gear XX Λ Core Plus script § "Sneak attack path"
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- script § "Sign A"
- [GGWorld - "Baldias"]
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- script § "Venom"
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- script § "Threat B"
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- script § "Resolution B"
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- script § "Revelator B"
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- script § "Slayer"
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- script § "Contact A"
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- script § "Contact B"
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- script § "Sense A"
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- script § "Sense B"
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- script § "Fireworks"
- Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 script § "After Story B"
- Guilty Gear XX Λ Core Plus script § "Record ♯1573"