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Film Friday- Ai Yori Aoshi

Film Friday- Ai Yori Aoshi

Ai Yori Aoshi is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Kou Fumizuki. The manga was serialized in Hakusensha’s Young Animal magazine from 1999 to 2005 and the chapters collected into 17 tankōbon volumes. It is a love story between two characters who have not seen each other in years, but were once childhood friends.

An anime television series adaptation was animated by J.C.Staff and directed by Masami Shimoda, with Kenichi Kanemaki handling series composition, Kazunori Iwakura designing the characters and Toshio Masuda composing the music. The anime was broadcast on Fuji TV in 2002. A second season titled Ai Yori Aoshi: Enishi was set two years later and aired in 2003. There are 37 episodes total, counting an alternate-continuity Christmas special. The anime was released in North America by Geneon and the manga was released in English by Tokyopop. Four visual novels were also released for the PlayStation 2 and Windows 98.

Anime

An anime television series adaptation animated by J.C.Staff, written by Kenichi Kanemaki, and directed by Masami Shimoda premiered on Fuji TV from April 10, 2002, to September 25, 2002, spanning twenty-four episodes. Most of the music for the series was composed by Toshio Masuda. Three pieces of theme music were used in the anime series. “Towa no Hana” performed by Yoko Ishida is the opening theme. “Na mo Shirenu Hana” performed by The Indigo is the ending theme used for all the episodes except one; “I’ll Be Home” performed by Satsuki Yukino is the ending theme for eighteenth episode. In Japan, it was released across eight Region 2 DVD compilation volumes. The anime was licensed by Geneon for an English-dubbed release in North America.

A second season titled Ai Yori Aoshi: Enishi aired from October 12, 2003, to December 28, 2003, spanning twelve episodes. The second season of anime adaptation uses three pieces of theme music. “Takaramono”performed by Yoko Ishida is the opening theme. “I Do!” is the first ending theme performed by The Indigo. “Presence” performed by The Indigo is the second ending theme. The series was released across three Region 2 DVD compilations in Japan. Geneon also licensed the second season in North America for an English-dubbed release.
A fifteen-minute OVA known variously as “Episode 00”, “Beautiful Snow”, and “Enishi Christmas Special” was released on September 26, 2003. The special was dubbed and released in English on the first North American Enishi DVD release.
At Anime Expo 2010, Funimation announced that they had licensed both seasons, and re-released them in 2011. Funimation released the complete series under the Anime Classics label in July 2012.

Video games

KID Corp. published a PlayStation 2 video game based on the series in 2003, and was released in English for Windows PCs by Hirameki International. That game was re-released in 2005 by SUCCESS Corporation with bonus footage and mini-games.

Reception

The first anime season had mixed reviews from people. It has also been described however as a “split personality” anime as half of it wants to be a serious, dramatic romance with a dash of comedy and the other half wants to be a One Guy/Lots of Girls slapstick harem show. Despite that the artwork has been labeled as “stunning” with its artwork and the theme music got a good review.

Kaoru Hanabishi

The male protagonist of the series. Kaoru is a fairly average person and he does not fit the mold of the stereotypical male protagonist in most harem anime series; for instance, he does not struggle with his studies, nor is he prone to emotional outbursts. He is generally well liked and is a member of the photography club at Meiritsu University. He resents the Hanabishi clan for their inhumane treatment of himself and his mother, which was due in turn to that clan’s disapproval of his parents’ relationship. Kaoru’s mother and father never married, and he was an illegitimate child. His back is scarred from when he was tortured with bamboo cane for trying to prevent his grandfather from burning mementos of his dead mother. After exiling himself from the Hanabishi clan, Kaoru has led an average, if not lonely, life. When Aoi arrives, he is, at first, perplexed at her visit, not remembering almost anything prior. The idea of marriage takes him aback, but very quickly likes, and even looks forward to it. Eventually, Kaoru marries Aoi.

Aoi Sakuraba

The female protagonist of the series. Aoi is a generally demure girl often seen wearing an indigo kimono, and she addresses Kaoru as “Kaoru-sama”. Due to her sharp culinary and housekeeping skills, she is seen as an ideal Japanese woman. As a Sakuraba, Aoi was forced into an arranged marriage with Kaoru and because he left the Habanashi, she (having fallen deeply in love with him), chased after him. Unlike other female leads in harem anime, she works to control her jealousy and is generally successful. She is very devoted to Kaoru, however, and will do all in her power to prevent being separated from him. In the beginning, Aoi was willing to warm him when he had a fever, becoming nude in the process (she made sure he wasn’t looking). When Aoi, Kaoru, and Miyabi moved to the Sakuraba’s summer estate the public appearance Miyabi wanted was that Aoi would be the landlady, herself the manager, and Kaoru a tenant. When Tina Foster moved in, Aoi and Miyabi became a real landlord and manager. She has a “bad” habit of clutching things in her sleep. Eventually, Kaoru’s half-brother proposes to Aoi; when Kaoru stops the engagement, Aoi decides to abandon her family to be with Kaoru.

 

Wednesday News- February 12, 2020

Wednesday News- February 12, 2020

Drifting Dragons Anime’s Video Previews New ‘Giraud Arc’https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2020-02-11/drifting-dragons-anime-video-previews-new-giraud-arc/.156335

Is Jeweler Richard This Season’s Hidden Gem?- https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/this-week-in-anime/2020-02-11/.156329

Jump Edition-in-Chief Explains What’s Unusual About Demon Slayer’s Success- https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/interest/2020-02-11/jump-editor-in-chief-explains-what-unusual-about-demon-slayer-success/.156186

The List:  Best Monster Girl Anime- https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/the-list/2020-02-09/.156240

Crunchyroll Adds World Trigger Anime’s English Dub- https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2020-02-11/crunchyroll-adds-world-trigger-anime-english-dub/.156352

Anime

  • Beyblade Burst Turbo Season 3 DVD
  • Endride Essentials BD
  • Fruits Basket Season 1 Part 2 BD/DVD
  • Fruits Basket Season 1 Part 2 Limited Edition BD/DVD
  • Grave of the Fireflies Steelbook BD
  • ReLIFE: Final Arc Classics BD
  • Unbreakable Machine-Doll Essentials BD

Manga

  • 1122: For a Happy Marriage GN 5 (Digital Only)
  • All Out!! GN 12 (Digital Only)
  • Androgynous Boyfriend Graphic Novel (GN) 1
  • APOSIMZ GN 3-4 (Digital Only)
  • Bakemonogatari GN 2 (Digital Only)
  • Beyond the Clouds GN 1
  • Citrus+ GN 1C
  • CITY GN 7 (Digital Only)
  • Cooking with Wild Game GN 1 (Digital Only)
  • Disney Manga: Descendants — Dizzy’s New Fortune GN
  • Don’t Count Your Tanukis GN 8
  • The Dorm of Love and Secrets GN 1 (Digital Only)
  • Ex-Enthusiasts: Motokare Mania GN 3 (Digital Only)
  • Farewell, My Dear Cramer GN 7 (Digital Only)
  • Fullmetal Alchemist Fullmetal Edition GN 8 (hardcover)
  • The Golden Sheep GN 2 (Digital Only)
  • Hayate the Combat Butler GN 35
  • Kase-san and… Yamada GN
  • Kino’s Journey – The Beautiful World GN 5
  • Komi Can’t Communicate GN 5
  • Legend of the Rainbow GN 4 (Digital Only)
  • A Man & His Cat GN 1
  • My Brother’s Husband Omnibus GN
  • My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected @ comic GN 12 (Digital Only)P
  • Our Wonderful Days GN 2
  • The Prince’s Romance Gambit GN 6 (Digital Only)
  • Scarlet GN 1
  • Seirei Gensouki – Spirit Chronicles GN 3 (Digital Only)A
  • A Side Character’s Love Story GN 1
  • Teasing Master Takagi-san GN 6-7 (Digital Only)
  • That Blue Summer GN 2 (Digital Only)
  • A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow GN 2
  • Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs GN (hardcover)
  • What’s Michael?: Fatcat Collection GN 1
  • World’s End Harem: Fantasia GN 2
  • Yarichin Bitch Club GN 2

Other

  • Art of Mana Artbook (hardcover)
  • Bloom Into You: Regarding Saeki Sayaka Novel 1
  • The Greatest Demon Lord is Reborn as a Typical Nobody Novel 2
  • JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable Chapter 1 BD
  • Lazy Dungeon Master Novel 9 (Digital Only)
  • Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl — Gold Switch game
  • Sorcerous Stabber Orphen: The Wayward Journey Novel 6 (Digital Only)Pl
  • Street Fighter V: Champion Edition PS4, PC game
  • Teogonia Novel 2 (Digital Only)
  • Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC game
  • Yakuza 5 Remastered (The Yakuza Remastered Collection) PS4 game

 

Manga Monday- Ai Yori Aoshi

Manga Monday- Ai Yori Aoshi

Ai Yori Aoshi is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Kou Fumizuki. The manga was serialized in Hakusensha’s Young Animal magazine from 1999 to 2005 and the chapters collected into 17 tankōbon volumes. It is a love story between two characters who have not seen each other in years, but were once childhood friends.

An anime television series adaptation was animated by J.C.Staff and directed by Masami Shimoda, with Kenichi Kanemaki handling series composition, Kazunori Iwakura designing the characters and Toshio Masuda composing the music. The anime was broadcast on Fuji TV in 2002. A second season titled Ai Yori Aoshi: Enishi was set two years later and aired in 2003. There are 37 episodes total, counting an alternate-continuity Christmas special. The anime was released in North America by Geneon and the manga was released in English by Tokyopop. Four visual novels were also released for the PlayStation 2 and Windows 98.

Manga

Ai Yori Aoshi began as a manga series written and illustrated by Kou Fumizuki. It was serialized in Hakusensha’s Young Animal magazine from 1999 to 2005 and the chapters collected into 17 tankōbon volumes. The first volume was published by Hakusensha in Japan on May 28, 1999, and the last volume was released on December 20, 2005. The manga was released in English by Tokyopop. The first book was released in January 2004 and the last book was released in October 2007.

The series has also been licensed in Europe (Non English Releases), Asia, and Middle America. In Europe, the series was licensed in French by Pika Édition, in German by EMA, and in Spanish by Norma Editorial. For Asia the series was licensed in Chinese by Jonesky, in Korean by Daiwon CI, and in Russian by Sakura Press. In North America the series has been published in Mexico by Grupo Editorial Vid.

Reception

Ai Yori Aoshi did well with its English manga release, with book one ranking number 45 on the top 50 Manga’s sold of that month. With an estimated 3,329 books sold, the series peaked at number 18 of 100 with Volume 6 but soon fell out of the top 100 list for the other releases. The last volume ended at number 66 out of 100 on the sales list.

As for reviews the manga has been described as “fun to read” and a “good solid romance story”. Adam Beck of Advanced media Network anime pointed out however that some volumes lack dialogue but a good dialogue translation was done by tokyopop.

Plot

Kaoru Hanabishi, a university student, is the eldest son of Yūji Hanabishi, the head of the Hanabishi Zaibatsu, and was set to take over the zaibatsu after his father retired. His mother, Kumi Honjō, and his father never married, making life difficult for both him and his mother. Kaoru’s father died when he was five years old. After that, Yūji’s father, Gen’ichiro Hanabishi, took Kaoru under his wing and began educating him for the eventual succession. However, Kaoru never felt at home in the Hanabishi family and exiled himself after his mother’s death. Day by day he felt alone, thinking that he was living life with no reason pushing him on.

There was, however, a person who loved Kaoru so much that she felt had to do whatever was necessary to be with him. Her name is Aoi Sakuraba. Aoi is the only daughter of the owner of the Sakuraba Dry Goods Store (later renamed to Sakuraba Department Store). Kaoru’s family and Aoi’s family had expected for Kaoru to marry Aoi, but after Kaoru left, the marriage was canceled. Both families had a friendly relationship, and unbeknownst to Kaoru, Aoi had been in love with him from the start. The Sakuraba family had already been searching for someone suitable, but Aoi was unwilling to marry someone else and walked out, chasing Kaoru.

Both were freed from their families’ affairs but did not know how to make their living. Miyabi Kagurazaki, Aoi’s caretaker, has Aoi live with her in a grand western-style summer mansion owned by the Sakuraba family, with Kaoru living in a house for servants next to it to prevent a scandal as with the previous. They are soon joined by Tina Foster, an American expatriate; Taeko Minazuki, a clumsy housekeeper; Mayu Miyuki, Kaoru’s childhood friend; and Chika Minazuki, Taeko’s cousin. The house is eventually converted to a dormitory and Aoi becomes its landlady.

Eventually, Miyabi helps Kaoru reconcile with the Hanabishis and patch up the original engagement. However, Kaoru’s half brother attempts to gain control of the Hanabishi Zaibatsu by proposing to Aoi. After Kaoru foils the proposal, Aoi abandons her family name and Kaoru gives the ownership of Hanabishi Zaibatsu to his half-brother. Five years later, Kaoru and Aoi are married.

 

Film Friday- Great Teacher Onizuka

Film Friday- Great Teacher Onizuka

Great Teacher Onizuka, officially abbreviated as GTO, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Tooru Fujisawa. It was originally serialized in Weekly Shōnen Magazine from January 1997 to February 2002. The story focuses on 22-year-old ex-bōsōzoku member Eikichi Onizuka, who becomes a teacher at a private middle school, Holy Forest Academy, in Tokyo, Japan. It is a continuation of Tooru Fujisawa’s earlier manga series Shonan Junai Gumi and Bad Company, both of which focus on the life of Onizuka before becoming a teacher.
Due to the popularity of the manga, several adaptations of GTO were established. These adaptations include a twelve-episode Japanese television drama running from July to September 1998; a live-action film directed by Masayuki Suzuki and released in December 1999; and a 43-episode anime television series aired in Japan by Fuji Television and Animax from June 1999 to September 2000. Both the anime and manga have been licensed in North America by Tokyopop. A second live action series aired in Japan during 2012, and two more in 2014. It won the 1998 Kodansha Manga Award for shōnen category.

Anime

A 43-episode anime adaption was produced by Studio Pierrot and was broadcast from June 30, 1999 to September 24, 2000. It was directed by Noriyuki Abe and Horiyuki Ishido.[30][31] Yoshiyuki Suga provided scripts, having also written scripts for the Live Action adaption.[20]

Tokyopop licensed the series for release in North America and released it across 10 DVDs between March 22, 2002 and September 16, 2003 and for American TV broadcast on Showtime’s SHONext channel in 2004 and Comcast’s Anime Selects on Demand network in 2006.[32][33] The series was re-released in a 7-disc box set by Eastern Star Studios on September 24, 2013.[34] Crunchyroll began streaming the series in January 2015.

Live-action

A 12-episode live-action Japanese television drama adaption directed by Masayuki Suzuki was broadcast from July 7, 1998 to September 22, 1998. The series starred Takashi Sorimachi as Onizuka and had an average audience share of 28.5% with the final episode recording a rate of 35.7%. The final episode was the 8th most watched broadcast in the Kantō region during 1998. Several changes were made for the live action adaption. For example, Fuyutsuki (Nanako Matsushima) is an eager teacher who supports Onizuka in the manga, whereas in the live action adaptation she initially dislikes Onizuka and wants to leave teaching to become an Air Hostess. A television special was broadcast on June 29, 1999. This was followed by a theatrical movie in January 2000. The film was successful at the box office grossing ¥1,320,000,000 becoming the 10th highest-grossing film of the year. The movie was released in North America by Tokyo Shock on July 26, 2005.
During 2012 it was announced that a new live action series would be broadcast in Japan. Produced by KTV and Media Mix Japan, the series ran from July 3, 2012 until September 11, 2012. Originally Jin Akanishi was to play the role of Onizuka, however he was forced to withdraw by his management. Instead Akira of Japanese band Exile was selected to play Onizuka. An Autumn special was broadcast on October 2, 2012, followed by a New years special on January 2, 2013 and a Spring special on April 2, 2013.
On March 22, 2014 a 4-part mini series aired in Taiwan, before being broadcast in Japan at a later date. The mini series places Onizuka in a Taiwanese school as part of a training program and is a joint Japan/Taiwan co production that contains both Japanese and Mandarin Chinese dialogue. The series has been announced for English subtitled release via the Crunchyroll streaming service. A new series set in Japan aired from July to September 2014.

Eikichi Onizuka

A 22-year-old, blonde-haired biker, and former bōsōzoku, Eikichi Onizuka is the protagonist of GTO. He graduated from a bottom-rung university by cheating and, as such, cannot get a decent job. His primary way of spending time is peeping up girls’ skirts at a local mall. He is very athletic and has a second dan black belt in karate.
Onizuka decides to become a teacher. His initial training is in the Musashino Public High School, where he meets Nanako Mizuki. His experience taming the rowdy gangs in his assigned class hardens his convictions that teaching is the way to go, and when he learns of Mizuki’s problems, he also decides to abstain from sexual experience with schoolgirls, opting to solve their personal issues for them, instead.
Unfortunately, he forgets to take the public teachers’ civil service exam; as a result, no public high school will accept him, but he is still eligible for private school teaching. He manages to get a job at the Holy Forest Academy, despite the objections of Vice-Principal Hiroshi Uchiyamada, whom he continues to aggravate well into his tenure. One of the conditions of having the job at Holy Forest is that he must sleep at the school – in the storage room at the top floor, with roof access – and it is here that Onizuka officially starts his career in teaching, when he stops Noboru Yoshikawa from committing suicide.
Onizuka is put in charge of class 3–4, a class so bad it has driven past teachers insane and one to death. Not only does he survive their brutal, bullying tactics, but he also befriends his students, and the backbone to the story of GTO consists of his unique experiences in turning his students around and learning lessons of his own.
Onizuka is capable of great feats of strength, such as arm-wrestling over 100 men of exponential strength, (sometimes 3 at once) in a row and winning. He is also an experienced martial artist, as Onizuka is capable of fending off multiple opponents, even if they are well-armed. However, it was revealed around chapter 190 that because of all the physical damage he sustained since he started teaching, it resulted in a clotted blood vessel in his brain, and that a jolt to his head could either turn him into a vegetable, paralyze him, or kill him.
In spite of his impressive fighting skills, Onizuka is often roughed up by his students, and others, whenever he behaves badly. It could be speculated that deep down, Onizuka knows when he’s acting immature, and allows others to keep him in line. An example of this is when he forces his students to dig for buried treasure during the Okinawa trip. Urumi Kanzaki kicks Onizuka into a hole, and later forces him to wear S&M garb and has him crawl around on all fours, with Urumi riding on his back. Another example is when Vice-Principal Uchiyamada has Onizuka over for dinner and hits him on the head with a wooden bench after finding out that he was acting lecherous with his daughter at a karaoke bar.
His mode of transportation is a Kawasaki Z750RS Z2 motorcycle, and is also the protagonist in the GTO prequel, Shonan Junai Gumi.
It is shown throughout the series that Onizuka is also very lucky, as he always manages to squeeze out of tight situations. An example of this is when he must raise 8 million yen to live up to a promise he made to the 3rd year students. He received what he believed to be a winning lottery ticket, but it turned out to be false. However, he was given a raffle ticket which he kept but didn’t expect for it to help his predicament, but ended up winning a Mercedes-Benz E-Class car worth the 8 million yen. He gave away the Mercedes in an act of kindness, and while it seemed unlikely for him to get the car back, it was returned to him in the last minute.

Thursday News- February 6, 2020

Thursday News- February 6, 2020

Funimation Streams English Dub of Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story Anime- https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2020-02-06/funimation-streams-english-dub-of-magia-record-puella-magi-madoka-magica-side-story-anime/.156152

Crunchyroll Adds Thermae Romae Anime’s English Dub- https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2020-02-05/crunchyroll-adds-thermae-romae-anime-english-dub/.156150

Final Fantasy VII Remake Game Is Timed PS Exclusive Until April 2021- https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/daily-briefs/2020-02-05/final-fantasy-vii-remake-game-is-timed-ps-exclusive-until-april-2021/.156146

Yes Press Licenses Fiancee of the Wizard Manga- https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2020-02-05/yen-press-licenses-fiancee-of-the-wizard-manga/.156131

futekiya Boys-Love Manga Service Adds 21 Titles- https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2020-02-06/futekiya-boys-love-manga-service-adds-21-titles/.156156

Anime

  • AD Police BD
  • FLCL Alternative DVD
  • FLCL Progressive/Alternative BDA
  • Garo the Animation Complete Series BD
  • Isekai Quartet Season 1 BD
  • Laughing Under the Clouds 3-Film Collection BD/DVD
  • The Magnificent KOTOBUKI BD
  • Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid Classics BD
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 1 Part 2 BD/DVD

Manga

  • Ao Haru Ride Graphic Novel (GN) 9
  • Blue Exorcist GN 23
  • Boarding School Juliet GN 10
  • A Devotion That Changes Worlds GN 2 (Digital Only)
  • Drifting Dragons GN 6 (Digital Only)
  • The Faraway Paladin GN 2 (Digital Only)
  • Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma GN 34
  • Granblue Fantasy GN 3
  • The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious GN 1A
  • Im: Great Priest Imhotep GN 1
  • Infinite Dendrogram GN 3 (Digital Only)
  • Inside Mari GN 6
  • JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Part 4 – Diamond is Unbreakable GN 4 (hardcover)
  • Jujutsu Kaisen GN 2
  • Let’s Kiss in Secret Tomorrow GN 1 (Digital Only)
  • Maria x Maria GN 1-5 (Digital Only)
  • Masked Ambition: Death Ballade GN 1 (Digital Only)
  • My Hero Academia GN 23
  • My Hero Academia Smash!! GN 3
  • Our Precious Conversations GN 6 (Digital Only)
  • Parham Itan Tales From Beyond GN 1
  • Pleasure and Corruption GN 1
  • RePlay GN
  • Seraph of the End GN 18
  • Shortcake Cake GN 7
  • Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san GN 3
  • Smile Down the Runway GN 6 (Digital Only)
  • Takane & Hana GN 13
  • The Tale of Genji: Dreams at Dawn GN 10 (Digital Only)
  • Though You May Burn to Ash GN 6
  • To Be Next to you GN 2 (Digital Only)
  • To Write Your Words GN 3 (Digital Only)
  • Twin Star Exorcists GN 17
  • We Never Learn GN 8
  • Yona of the Dawn GN 22

Other

  • An Archdemon’s Dilemma – How to Love Your Elf Bride Novel 9 (Digital Only)
  • Code:Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ Novel 1
  • Full Metal Panic! Collector’s Edition Omnibus Novel 1 (hardcover)
  • How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord Novel 8
  • If It’s for My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord Novel 7
  • Isekai Rebuilding Project Novel 1 (Digital Only)A
  • In Another World With My Smartphone Novel 8
  • Kingdom BD/DVD (Digital Only)
  • The Magic in this Other World is Too Far Behind! Novel 7
  • Outer Ragna Novel 1 (Digital Only)

 

Manga Monday- Great Teacher Onizuka

Manga Monday- Great Teacher Onizuka

Great Teacher Onizuka, officially abbreviated as GTO, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Tooru Fujisawa. It was originally serialized in Weekly Shōnen Magazine from January 1997 to February 2002. The story focuses on 22-year-old ex-bōsōzoku member Eikichi Onizuka, who becomes a teacher at a private middle school, Holy Forest Academy, in Tokyo, Japan. It is a continuation of Tooru Fujisawa’s earlier manga series Shonan Junai Gumi and Bad Company, both of which focus on the life of Onizuka before becoming a teacher.

Due to the popularity of the manga, several adaptations of GTO were established. These adaptations include a twelve-episode Japanese television drama running from July to September 1998; a live-action film directed by Masayuki Suzuki and released in December 1999; and a 43-episode anime television series aired in Japan by Fuji Television and Animax from June 1999 to September 2000. Both the anime and manga have been licensed in North America by Tokyopop. A second live action series aired in Japan during 2012, and two more in 2014. It won the 1998 Kodansha Manga Award for shōnen category.

Reception

Great Teach Onizuka won the 1998 Kodansha Manga Award for the shōnen category.
In Manga: The Complete Guide, Jason Thompson refers to the series as “Shameless, frequently sexist and totally hilarious”. He adds “The rule of the manga is that every time Onizuka does something incredibly cool and heartwarming, he must immediately do something unbelievably retarded”. He praises the series for staying fresh through imagery, detailed art and pop culture dialogue even though the formula repeats itself. Lastly he states that it “approaches true social satire”. He gave the series four stars out of four.
In The Dorama Encyclopedia, Jonathan Clements and Motoko Tamamuro note that the subject and humorous approach to the series was well received by the teenage audience.
In The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917, Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy noted the use of computer cloud and water effects in the anime adaptation. While appreciating the advantages of the anime adaption allowing for more violence, they call the first live action adaption the “quintessential GTO”.

Manga

The series was published in Weekly Shōnen Magazine from January 8, 1997 to February 13, 2002. A total of 25 volumes were published between May 14, 1997 and April 15, 2002. The series was licensed in English by Tokyopop and was one of Tokyopop’s first releases in the “Authentic Manga” lineup of titles using the Japanese right to left reading style. In doing so the artwork remained unchanged from the original compared to previous publishing methods. The 25 English volumes were published between April 23, 2002 and August 9, 2005.
On 9 June 2009, a sequel to the GTO manga began releasing in Kodansha’s Weekly Shōnen Magazine, under the title GTO – Shonan 14 Days. North American publisher Vertical Inc began publishing GTO: Shonan 14 Days globally in English, as GTO: 14 Days in Shonan beginning January 2012 and has published all nine volumes. Vertical also continued and concluded the Shonan Junai Gumi manga series, from volume 11 onwards, as GTO: The Early Years in 2012.
A new manga series entitled GTO: Paradise Lost started in Kodansha’s Weekly Young Magazine on April 14, 2014. Fujisawa put the manga on hiatus in October 2017 due to a staff shortage. In May 2019, Fujisawa announced his plans to resume the series.
Kodansha USA currently publishes the manga in English in a digital format since 2017.

Production

When writing GTO, Fujisawa was influenced by the writing style of Kouhei Tsuka. The series was originally intended to run for 10 volumes, however it was extended at the request of the publisher. Fujisawa began to run out of characters as a result. When faced with writing block he would write stories without Onizuka.
Onizuka’s first name, Eikichi, was taken from musician Eikichi Yazawa. When developing Onizuka’s character for the series, Fujisawa sought to incorporate real character traits from Japanese gangs often referred to as “Yankees”. Onizuka’s look is modelled on such gang members and was not intended to convey an “American look”. Onizuka acts tough and confident but is actually shy and lacking in confidence to follow through on some of his desires. He is a simple character that stands by his own reasoning and principles and has his own conscience. Fujisawa gave him the viewpoint that you should take responsibility for your actions, something he sees as important.
Onizuka’s role in the school is to provide a bridge between the students and teachers. The character of Fuyutsuki reflects the point of view of the average teacher. Fujisawa highlights his own school experience where teachers were mostly focused only on a good performance record rather than the teaching itself. However he was able to take an interest in Mathematics because of the approach of his teacher. He used this experience to build the series.
Tatsuya Egawa has claimed that GTO plagiarized his debut manga, Be Free!.

Plot

Eikichi Onizuka is a 22-year-old ex-gang member and a virgin. While peeping up girls’ skirts at a local shopping mall, Onizuka meets a girl who agrees to go out on a date with him. Onizuka’s attempt to sleep with her fails when her current “boyfriend”, her teacher, shows up at the love hotel they are in and asks her to return to him. The teacher is old and unattractive, but has sufficient influence over her that she leaps from a second-story window and lands in his arms.
Onizuka, upon seeing this display of a teacher’s power over girls, decides to become a teacher himself. However, he earns his teaching degree, just barely, at a second-rate college. In his quest, he discovers two important things: he has a conscience and a sense of morality. This means taking advantage of impressionable schoolgirls is out of the question, but their unusually attractive mothers are a different matter. He enjoys teaching and, most of the time, he teaches life lessons rather than the routine schoolwork. He hates the systems of traditional education, especially when they have grown ignorant and condescending to students and their needs.
With these realizations, he sets out to become the greatest teacher ever, using his own brand of philosophy and the ability to do nearly anything when under enough pressure. He is hired as a long-shot teacher by a privately operated school, in Kichijōji, to tame a class that has driven one teacher to a mysterious death, another to nervous breakdown, and one other to joining a cult. He embarks on a mission of self-discovery by breaking through to each student one-by-one, and helping each student to overcome their problems and learn to genuinely enjoy life. He uses methods that would be unorthodox, against the law, and also life-threatening, yet somehow, he manages to succeed in educating and opening up his students.

 

Film Friday- Hoshin Engi

Film Friday- Hoshin Engi

Hoshin Engi, also known as Soul Hunter, is a Japanese manga series by Ryu Fujisaki. Hoshin Engi is inspired by the Chinese literary classic Investiture of the Gods, a shenmo novel. The story involves the Chinese mythology and history of China, in particular the last members of the In (Yin Dynasty aka Shang Dynasty) and the plot to overthrow them.
The manga series was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine from 1996–2000 and compiled in 23 tankōbon volumes by Shueisha. Viz Media acquired the rights to the manga, with bimonthly releases starting June 5, 2007. The manga has been re-released and re-compiled into fewer larger volumes with new cover art, illustrations and afterwords. The 18 kanzenban volumes were released periodically between July 2005 and April 2006 in Japan only.
The story has been adapted into a 26-episodes anime series titled Senkaiden Hōshin Engi, broadcast on TV Tokyo in 1999 and released in North America on DVD as Soul Hunter in 2001. In January 2009, Shomei TV announced their intentions to remake the anime series if they received 10,000 signatures.
A new 23-episode anime television series adaptation titled Hakyū Hōshin Engi and featuring a new cast aired from January to June, 2018. Fujisaki also wrote a short manga series that was serialized in Weekly Young Jump from April to June, 2018.

Anime

First series (1999)

Hoshin Engi was adapted into an anime television series titled Senkaiden Hōshin Engi, produced by Studio Deen and directed by Junji Nishimura. The 26-episodes series was broadcast on TV Tokyo between July 3 and December 25, 1999.
In North America, the series was first licensed by ADV Films in 2001 under the name Soul Hunter. In 2016, Discotek Media re-licensed the series for a single DVD collection release on June 28.
In January 2009, Shomei TV announced their intentions to remake the anime series if they received 10,000 signatures.

Second series (2018)

A new 23-episode anime television series adaptation titled Hakyū Hōshin Engi, produced by C-Station and featuring a new cast aired from January 12 to June 29, 2018. The series is directed by Masahiro Aizawa, with Natsuko Takahashi in charge of the series scripts, characters design by Yoshimitsu Yamashita and music composed by Maiko Iuchi. Crunchyroll streamed the series, while Funimation produced a simuldub.

Other media

A video game based on the manga was created for the PlayStation and the Wonderswan. Several audio dramas were released in 2005.
Four characters of Hoshin Engi appear in Jump Ultimate Stars for Nintendo DS. Out of these, only Taikobo can be controlled by the player. The other three appear as either support (So Dakki) or help komas (Otenkun and Subushan).

Anime plot

The 26-episode anime storyline somewhat follows the main plot of the manga, with the young (72-year-old) “doushi” (Apprentice to a Sennin) Taikoubou told to go from the Sennin (Immortal) world to Earth (and specifically Yin China) to hunt down 365 renegade evil spirits in order to bring down the fall of Queen Dakki, a Fox spirit who has enslaved the Emperor.
Taikoubou recruits Nataku, a human/weapon hybrid, and Raishinshi, a would-be vigilante, in his quest to hunt down Dakki. He is later joined by Youzen, the Tensai (Genius) Doushi of Kunlun and Kou Tenka, the son of the duke Kou Hiko. He also rides a talking ‘hippopotamus’ (actually a Reijuu) named Suppushan, who remains the most popular character of the series.
Ki Shou, the Lord of the West, is a man who is unwittingly destined to found the Zhou dynasty. Imprisoned for trying to stop Dakki’s evil, he suffers a grievous guilt when his son is murdered and served to him as a meal, causing him to refrain from eating. Escaping from his captors, he returns with an army to overthrow the Yin with the help of Taikoubou.
In the midst of this historical drama, the Immortal High Council (a group of three Immortals seemingly of a higher position than Genshi-tenson) is plotting some form of magical spell that requires the capturing of many souls, which made them deliberately lie about the purpose of the Houshin Project to Taikoubou.
The anime ends with Dakki’s death due to the combined efforts of Taikoubou’s group and Shinkouhyou, with the Juunisen making a short appearance near the end and no mention of Jyoka.

Taikobo
He is a disciple at Konronsan and Genshitenson’s best pupil. He received the Hoshin project from Genshitenson, and became a strategist to defeat the collapsing Yin Dynasty and to help the Buo of the Shu. Although he wears very strange clothes, he has the sharpest mind in Konron. Taikoubo was the son of the leader of the Kyo tribe, and was named Ryo Bo, but he lost his parents in a Yin human hunt. After twelve years on earth, he became a disciple, and with 30 years of study, attained Senin level power. Though, Taikobo is still an average Senin with a low rank, he is the personal disciple of the leader of Konronsan, Genshitenson, so his position in the Senkai (spirit world) is high. At the beginning of the story, he receives a retractable baton-shaped Paopei (Magic Tool) called Dashinben, which grants him the power to create and control wind. Later, because of the Orb of Revival, the Dashinben gets an upgrade, a larger shape and improved abilities. Eventually, his Dashinben is upgraded by fusing with the paopei ‘Kyokoki’ that can absorb Konronsan’s energy for recovery, and the super paopei, ‘Taikyokuzu,’ that negates all other paopei’s power,draw magic seals and can heal injuries. Basically, his speciality is fighting by wits, and using cleverness to swindle his enemies, so that sometimes even his allies boo him. His constant companion, main ally, and mode of transportation is the spirit beast, Supushan. Taikobo’s real age is at least 72 years old, and contrary to his boyish appearance, love of peaches and sweet things, and dislike of shots and medicine, his speech and mannerisms are that of an old man. His personality is aloof, and he has a strong belief in a peaceful human world. Additionally, he is left-handed, but during the fight with Inkou (the older), he lost his left arm up to the elbow. Soon after, he received an artificial arm created by Taiitsu Shinjin.
Although Taikobo is often criticized by other characters for being very ‘un-protagonist-like,’ he was voted first in a Jump magazine character poll twice. From time to time, the author changes his drawing into a simple shape, with a circle and two points for a head and a stick figure like body.
Suupuushan
Taikoubou’s spirit beast who has the appearance of a white hippo (his original design was more like a dragon). Suupuushan uses the inflection “~su” at the end of sentences. He has adult-like and serious personality. Originally, he lived in his birthplace in the Suupuu valley in Northern Europe with his parents, Suupuupapa and Suupuumama, but Suupuupapa, Genshitenson’s spirit beast, was greatly wounded in a battle with Chou Koumei, and was forced to retire. In order to support the family, a young Suupuushan went off to work. From the beginning, he carries the Orb of Revival, which he uses to come back to life in a temporary adult form after he was killed in the battle with Chou Koumei. In his adult form, his voice and speech patterns change, and, like all adults of his species, can eat paopei energy. The battle with Bunchuu activates a licence designating Supushan as an adult, and from that point forward, he is able to transform at will. Later, he receives a second Orb of Revival, recovered from the ruins of Kingo Island.

 

Manga Monday- Hoshin Engi

Manga Monday- Hoshin Engi

Hoshin Engi, also known as Soul Hunter, is a Japanese manga series by Ryu Fujisaki. Hoshin Engi is inspired by the Chinese literary classic Investiture of the Gods, a shenmo novel. The story involves the Chinese mythology and history of China, in particular the last members of the In (Yin Dynasty aka Shang Dynasty) and the plot to overthrow them.
The manga series was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine from 1996–2000 and compiled in 23 tankōbon volumes by Shueisha. Viz Media acquired the rights to the manga, with bimonthly releases starting June 5, 2007. The manga has been re-released and re-compiled into fewer larger volumes with new cover art, illustrations and afterwords. The 18 kanzenban volumes were released periodically between July 2005 and April 2006 in Japan only.
The story has been adapted into a 26-episodes anime series titled Senkaiden Hōshin Engi, broadcast on TV Tokyo in 1999 and released in North America on DVD as Soul Hunter in 2001. In January 2009, Shomei TV announced their intentions to remake the anime series if they received 10,000 signatures.
A new 23-episode anime television series adaptation titled Hakyū Hōshin Engi and featuring a new cast aired from January to June, 2018. Fujisaki also wrote a short manga series that was serialized in Weekly Young Jump from April to June, 2018.

Manga

Hoshin Engi is written and illustrated by Ryu Fujisaki. It is based on the Japanese translation novel by Tsutomu Ano of the Chinese literary classic Investiture of the Gods, published by Kodansha between November 8, 1988 and January 6, 1989. The manga series was serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine from June 24, 1996 until November 6, 2000. The series was compiled into 23 tankōbon volumes published by Shueisha between November 1, 1996 and December 22, 2000. The manga has been re-released and re-compiled into fewer larger volumes with new cover art, illustrations and afterwords. The 18 kanzenban volumes were released periodically between July 4, 2005 and April 4, 2006 in Japan only.
In North America, Viz Media announced at the New York Comic Con 2007 that they had acquired the rights to the manga. The first volume was published on June 5, 2007, and the last volume on June 7, 2011.
In 2018, Fujisaki wrote a short manga series that was serialized in Weekly Young Jump from April 26 to June 14. A tankōbon volume was released on July 19, 2018.

Plot

The story is set in legendary China. A beautiful female fox spirit named Dakki is controlling the emperor Chū-ō  and the ruling In dynasty, and is using her power over him to do evil in the nation. An immortal-in-training named Taikōbō is chosen by the great immortal sages for the Hōshin Project — to seal away or destroy the evil demons that infest the world. In the course of his adventures, Taikōbō gathers other powerful companions and sets out to seal away the demons and eventually destroy the fox spirit Dakki.
There are significant plot differences between the novel, the manga series and the animated adaptations.

Manga plot

The 23-volume-long series follows the adventures of Taikobo and his trusty “Rei-jū” Sū-pū-shan. Taikobo was given a mission by Genshi-tenson. Taikobou’s mentor and the leader of the Sennin World – Konron to complete the Houshin Project.
The goal of the Hoshin Project, as explained by Genshitenson, is to trap Dakki and her minions in a ‘middle’ world between the Sennin World and the Human world, renamed ‘Shin’ (Deity or Gods) World, named ‘Shinkai’, Realm of the Gods. Taikobo’s mission is to hunt down the 365 people whose names were written on the Hoshin Scroll. As Taikobo defeats and seals off each of the 365 people on the scroll, their souls are instantly transported to the Hoshindai (a floating island made to trap souls) and sealed there until all the 365 souls are gathered.
At first, Taikobo refused to take up such a troublesome mission, but when threatened with expulsion from Konron, he quickly relented. After that, he was given a Pao-pei, Whip of the Gods, as his weapon along with Supushan.
Upon leaving Konron, Taikobou and Supushan immediately met up with the first person listed on the Houshin Scroll, the all-powerful Shinkouhyou and his Riding Beast – Kokutenko. After a short battle between the two Doushi, in which Taikoubou was easily defeated, Taikoubou suspected that the order of the Houshin Scroll is sorted according to strength (Shinkouhyou being the first on the list) and decides to avoid fighting him. Aiming for the core of the whole problem, he enters the capital, Chouka and defeating one of Dakki’s sisters, Ou Kijin (who reverted to her original form, a stone lute), he used her to enter the service of the emperor in order to spot Dakki’s weakness. Furious with her sister’s plight, Dakki contrives a plan to reclaim her sister. Taikoubou, overwhelmed by her guile, was defeated and was about to be thrown into the taibon (a pit full of poisonous snakes) along with some of the Kyou clan, when during a commotion caused by them, Buuseiou Ko Hiko saved him. It was then that he came to a realization that there was no way he could take on Dakki and her followers, on his own. That’s why he set off searching for strong fighters to join him on his quest to rid the world of Dakki. Taikoubou soon met up and joined forces with Nataku, Raishinshi, Kou-Tenka, and Youzen .
As the series progresses, Taikobo slowly realises that there is no hope in disrupting Dakki’s strangle hold on the Yin Dynasty or her influence over Chuuou. As such, he abandoned the kingdom and requested that Ki Shō  form a new Monarchy to rival the Yin, renamed the Shū Dynasty with their new emperor – Bu-ou, who is the second son of Ki Hatsu who had died due to self-starvation caused by Dakki serving him his son as a hamburger during his capture. Taikoubou then became the military advisor to Zhou, helping the Western Army conquer the lands once owned by Yin.
Bunchū, the senior advisor to the emperor Chū-ou in the country of Yin and also a pao-pei user, sees Taikoubou as an obstacle and sends out some of his best Doushi companions to attack Taikoubou and company. The ensuing fights between the two groups eventually lead to the involvement of almost all members of the 2 Sennin Worlds – Konron (where Taikoubou originates) and Kingou-tou (金鰲島) (where Bunchuu learnt his arts). At the climax of the Sennin war, both worlds were completely destroyed with hundreds of souls sealed into the Houshin Dai. And though Bunchuu was eventually defeated, Taikoubou lost many friends and his home in the process.
Eventually, after Taikoubou and the Zhou army successfully defeated Chuuou and officially declared the fall of the Yin Dynasty, Taikoubou and company decided to leave the Human world and return to what’s left of the Sennin world. It is then revealed to him that there is possibly a third Sennin World, one that belongs to Dakki, and is probably where she and the last of her minions fled to when the Yin country was finally conquered.
Genshitenson also reveals to Taikoubou that the real goal of Houshin Project isn’t just about defeating Dakki, it is about defeating the eternal being supporting Dakki throughout all her chaos years, one of the ancients.
The ultimate enemy of Houshin Engi – Jyoka is a “Jui Que”, one of 5 ‘aliens’ which landed on the Earth, millions of years ago. Jyoka had a dream to recreate her home world on Earth (which had self-destructed some time ago), but the other aliens disagreed and enclosed her in a glass cage. Later, she was able to move about in her “soul” form and direct the trend of history to her liking. This is when she met up with Dakki, and the two started working together to make Jyoka’s dream come true. Each time history diverted from what Jyoka wants it to become, she completely destroyed the civilization that existed and started all over again, like a child moulding a perfect sand castle. No one really knows how many civilisations Jyoka had destroyed throughout time in her pursuit to perfectly replicate her old home, but when asked why she’s trying to do this, Jyoka simply states that she would like to know what would have happened if her home planet had not made those simple mistakes that led to its own destruction.
After hearing the ultimate truth, the Sennins retaliated against Jyoka. Soon, she finally decided to destroy Earth once and for all, and find another world in order to replicate her old home. The battles raged for a while before the deceased Taikoubou (who had ‘died’ recently) reappeared in front of his comrades again. This time, it is revealed that he was once one of the “Jui Que” as well, the last of the 5 aliens and was left on this earth for the sole purpose of killing Jyoka once and for all. Using the energy of his friends as well as those souls trapped in the Houshin Dai, Taikoubou (now renamed ‘Fukki’) was finally able to defeat Jyoka and release the world from her influences.
Just prior to this happening, Dakki somehow managed to take over Jyoka’s body for a time and merged with the life energies of the Earth, becoming the mother of all life. After the fight with Jyoka ended, Jyoka selfishly asked Taikoubou to disappear together with her, afraid of being left alone again and since Taikoubou felt that he had done what he had set out to do, complies (also due to severe injuries in the last fight). When he was about to fade away, Dakki came and saved his life, thus reviving him.
In the epilogue, Youzen was made the Headmaster of the new Sennin World, with Choukei (Bunchuu’s only disciple) representing the Youkai (demons) and Nentou-doujin (ex-Juunisen, who helped defeat Jyoka) representing the Humans, supporting him. Genshi-tenson manages the ex-Houshindai, which houses all the souls which had been houshined, and dispatches them to the Human World if their help is needed. Since these souls are invisible to the Human eye, they are able to solve matters without being seen. When Supushan and Bukichi went to the Human World to update Buou on the happenings of the Sennin World, they found out that Taikoubou is still alive (he visited Buou before they arrived) and went in search for him but to no avail as Taikoubou seemed keen on avoiding them to the extent of following them behind their backs without them knowing, and somehow prevents the people they meet from revealing his whereabouts.
In the end, Supushan and Bukichi returned to the Sennin World to request Youzen’s help. While Taikoubou was lazing around, Shinkouhyou approached him and wanted a duel, but he left saying that it would be boring if his only rival were to perish so quickly by his hand. Taikoubou then disappeared to places unknown.

Setting

The fantastic world of Hoshin Engi encompass both the pre-historical world – in which primitive human society coexist with the revered divine gods and goddesses – and the futuristic world – in which highly technological weaponry, combat strategy, as well as futuristic visions, are employed. Paopei, the sacred weapons used by Doshi and Sennin alike, are versatile instruments created Sennin.
The Seven Super Paopei were the ones left from the Original People, and all the rest are copies made from those. Paopei can only be used by Sendou, those born with Sennin bones which are trained to be used to power paopei. If someone born with these bones is not trained, then they become a Tennen Doushi, and the potential of their skeleton creates almost super natural strength or speed; however, they would never be able to use a Paopei. It is possible to transplant Sennin bones into a normal human, as in the case with Younin, but it does not appear to be a common practice. There are such beings as “human Paopei,” that is, a living being created from a paopei. They all have a core they are built around, and can take extensive damage and be rebuilt so long as the core remains intact.
Besides paopei, there are spells, an ancient form a magic rarely used by the time series takes place. The only ones seen in the series are the peaches that can turn water into sake, Youzen’s transformation technique, and Nentou’s various fighting and healing abilities.

Film Friday- The Twelve Kingdoms

Film Friday- The Twelve Kingdoms

The Twelve Kingdoms is a Japanese series of fantasy novels written by Fuyumi Ono and illustrated by Akihiro Yamada. The first entry in the series called The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow was published by Kodansha in Japan in 1992; the last Kodansha volume was released in 2001. In 2012 the series was resumed under the Shinchō Bunko line from Shinchosha. Shinchosha has also begun reprinting the older volumes with new cover and interior art from Akihiro Yamada. The first new publication of the series in six years was announced for a 2019 release date.

The Chinese mythology-influenced books were adapted into an anime television series by Pierrot in 2002. It aired on Japan’s NHK from April 9, 2002 to August 30, 2003, and totaled 45 episodes.

The novels were licensed in the United States by Tokyopop and the first four volumes were released between March 2007 and November 2010 as part of their Pop Fiction line. Subsequently, the English license reverted to Kodansha. The entire anime series has been released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States by Media Blasters, which are now out of print. Now, the license is transferred to Discotek Media for a complete series Blu-ray released in 2019.

Overview

The Twelve Kingdoms is a series of novels that focus on a world inspired by Chinese mythology, where twelve different kingdoms exist under the rule of an individual chosen by the Tians. The series does not exclusively focus on one character, though the stories of Youko Nakajima, the protagonist of the first novel, and Taiki, the protagonist of the second book, are most prevalent in the series.

Characters

One of the major stories of the series centers around a red-haired girl named Youko Nakajima from Japan who is suddenly transported to the world of the Twelve Kingdoms and searches for her destiny. However, neither the series nor the anime concentrates solely on Youko and they do tell stories of other characters. The anime uses Youko as a framing device for telling other stories while the novels do not.

Each of the Twelve Kingdoms has a monarch and a Kirin, a mythological beast who first selects and then serves the monarch of his or her kingdom and can assume human form. Though only a few rulers and Kirin are in the main focus of the story, many are encountered in the series and play a significant role.

The novels focus on several characters other than Youko, including Taiki, a timid rare black Kirin who serves the ruler of Tai, and Enki and Shouryuu, the Kirin and King of En respectively. Other major characters include Keiki, the Kirin of Kei who brings Youko to the Twelve Kingdoms; Gyousou, a general chosen by Taiki to become King of Tai; Shushou, the Queen of Kyou; Shoukei, the disposed princess of Hou, and Suzu, a peasant girl who is unexpectedly transported from Japan to the Twelve Kingdoms.

Anime adaptation

Plot

The anime casts Yoko Nakajima, a Japanese girl who is suddenly transported to another world and eventually discovers that she is the empress of the kingdom of Kei, in the role of the main character; however, in the novels, Yoko is only one of many main characters and her story is focused upon in only two novels.

The anime focuses on the Kingdom of Kei and the events surrounding it. Several of the other countries are introduced, the most prominent being Kou, En and Tai, while Kyou, Hou, Sai and Ryuu play a minor role compared to the other three. The rest of the kingdoms are only introduced by name and a brief description of the current ruler and taiho. The anime also introduced the characters Asano and Sugimoto to accompany Yoko to the Twelve Kingdoms. Their role is to externalize some of Yoko’s problems that were internal in the novels.

Kingdom of Kei inhabitants

Youko Nakajima

is a sixteen-year-old honors student in Japan who lives an ordinary life. Her primary worries are her naturally red hair (it was speculated by some students and a teacher that Youko might’ve dyed her hair red) and an inexplicable recurring dream that haunts her. When a man named Keiki suddenly appears at her school, he bows at her feet, swearing loyalty to her and offering protection. The school is attacked by a giant bird and she reluctantly accepts his oath. He gives her a sword and transports her across the Void Sea to the Twelve Kingdoms, where she ends up in the Kingdom of Kou.

Youko is initially confused by the changes that have been brought onto her including a complete change in her appearance that she cannot see herself and being stranded in an unknown land with no means of returning home. These changes cause her to cry constantly, lapse into a state of helplessness, and complain about interfering in other beings’ lives no matter what the situation. As she searches for Keiki, she finds herself constantly battling against Youma and being betrayed by civilians of Kou many times. While Youko becomes wary of trusting others, she eventually comes to befriend and trust a hanjyu named Rakushun. They escape to the Kingdom of En where Youko learns that she is the heir to the throne of the kingdom of Kei. Although she is initially reluctant, Youko accepts the position through her growth in the story. In a later story arc as the newly appointed queen, Youko learns of several problems in her kingdom including a revolt in the Province of Wa. Subsequently, she is pulled into the search for Taiki when the Tai general Risai beseeches Youko’s help in finding him.

As the ruler of Kei, she is given the regnal name of Sekishi (Red Child), because of her bright red hair and because her councillors initially view her as a child. Despite being a weak character to begin with, appearing very withdrawn and not wanting to do anything that would bring attention to herself, Youko grows in strength and maturity, becomes empathetic towards the people around her, thinking articulately about her actions (especially as queen) and continues to do so until the end of the series.

Keiki

is a Kirin and the Saiho of Kei. Like all Kirin, Keiki abhors violence and prefers peaceful resolutions. Keiki appears as a very quiet and unemotional type, however does have caring qualities, especially seen towards the Kirin Taiki. In spite of being gruff and somewhat unapproachable, he is actually very sincere and loyal to Youko.

Before meeting Youko, Keiki had taken a long time before selecting Youko’s immediate predecessor, Joukaku, to become the ruler of Kei. However, she was an ineffective ruler and fell in love with Keiki; her jealousy resulted in irrational acts including expelling all the women from the country and executing those who remained. Keiki contracted Shitsudou and in order to save his life, Joukaku abdicated her throne and killed herself after a short reign of six years and was posthumously known as Yo-ou (the Prophet). Cured of his illness, Keiki set out immediately to find a new monarch for Kei.

He eventually finds Youko Nakajima, who had been living as a taika in Japan without any knowledge of the Twelve Kingdoms, and forcibly brings her back to the Twelve Kingdoms. They are separated on arrival and Keiki is captured and enchanted by Kourin, the kirin of Kou, so that he is unable to speak, summon his Shirei, or return to human form. Forced to appear before Joyei, Joukaku’s sister and pretender to the throne of Kei, Keiki remains a prisoner of the false ruler until Youko, aided by the King of En, rescues him and frees him from his enchantment. After liberating Kei, Keiki continues to advise Youko on statecraft and politics.

Aozaru

is the physical manifestation of the sentient spirit of the scabbard of the Suigūtō  (the Water Monkey Sword). The sword is a royal treasure to the kingdom of Kei and can only be wielded by the kingdom’s rightful ruler – as such, Youko is the only one who can draw the sword from its sheath. The sword was forged from a water demon that a previous great ruler of Kei had defeated while the scabbard was created from a long-tailed monkey demon. From the scabbard hangs a large jewel that can heal the one who holds it.

The sword is not only capable of killing demons and sages and breaking substances like metal chains, but is also capable of presenting visions of the past, future, and things in the distance. The sword and scabbard must be kept together, otherwise the phantasms of the sword appear unchecked while the spirit of the scabbard is free to act as it wishes. When Youko loses the scabbard during an attack by Kikis, it appears in the form of Aozaru, the blue monkey, and taunts her with her doubts while the sword presents her with visions of things she does not wish to see. Eventually, Youko, overcoming her own doubts, kills the monkey and picks up the dead scabbard. Because she has killed Aozaru, the sword can be drawn from the sheath by anyone, though it can be wielded effectively only by Youko.

Seikyou

has long served as the Chosai, the top administrator, of Kei. Seikyou works to convince Youko that Koukan, the leader of the province of Baku, is a threat to her. After an assassin plots to kill Youko, Seikyou advises Youko that Koukan planned it and that she should execute him, but Keiki advises her to listen to Koukan before acting. When Youko orders Koukan to report, Seikyou has him attacked, forcing him to flee. Seikyou continually seeks to confuse Youko, telling her that Gahou is corrupt but advising that no action be taken against him, even though Seikyou secretly supports Gahou. He repeatedly seeks meetings with her when Keiki is not present so that the kirin cannot advise her. Youko, citing Seikyou’s attempts to manipulate her and his failure to better safeguard her life, demotes Seikyou and appoints Keiki as chosai. When Youko leaves to study with Enho, Seikyou takes advantage of the situation to usurp Keiki’s authority. When the rebels become a threat to Gahou, Seikyou sends a royal army force under general Jinrai to Shisui to scare the rebels into surrendering, unaware of Youko’s presence in Wa because she told everyone in the court except Keiki that she was going to En. Seikyou’s plan fails because Youko appears to take control of the royal forces and she redirects them against Gahou. After Shoukei convinces Youko that Seikyou is the mastermind behind the plot, Youko has him arrested.

 

Novel Monday- The Twelve Kingdoms

Novel Monday- The Twelve Kingdoms

The Twelve Kingdoms is a Japanese series of fantasy novels written by Fuyumi Ono and illustrated by Akihiro Yamada. The first entry in the series called The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow was published by Kodansha in Japan in 1992; the last Kodansha volume was released in 2001. In 2012 the series was resumed under the Shinchō Bunko line from Shinchosha. Shinchosha has also begun reprinting the older volumes with new cover and interior art from Akihiro Yamada. The first new publication of the series in six years was announced for a 2019 release date.

The Chinese mythology-influenced books were adapted into an anime television series by Pierrot in 2002. It aired on Japan’s NHK from April 9, 2002 to August 30, 2003, and totaled 45 episodes.

The novels were licensed in the United States by Tokyopop and the first four volumes were released between March 2007 and November 2010 as part of their Pop Fiction line. Subsequently, the English license reverted to Kodansha. The entire anime series has been released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States by Media Blasters, which are now out of print. Now, the license is transferred to Discotek Media for a complete series Blu-ray released in 2019.

There are nine novels in the Twelve Kingdoms series, including two short story collections. The novels are illustrated by Akihiro Yamada. Some of the novels have been published in two volume editions such that the total number of volumes consists of twelve books (as released in Japan).

U.S. release

On May 11, 2006, U.S. publisher Tokyopop said in an interview with comic book news website Newsarama that it would be publishing the novels under its “Pop Fiction” imprint. The first book was released in March 2007. The first four books have been released; after the licensing rights to the series reverted to Kodansha, the English publication status of the fifth book and onward will be dependent on Kodansha USA.

Setting

The Twelve Kingdoms tells several stories from the world of the Twelve Kingdoms, located on a group of several islands in another dimension accessible from our world through portals created from naturally-occurring magic (though the other way around is normally impossible). The portals occur in the ocean waters of Japan and China, and every so often will end up dragging someone from our world from those waters to the kingdoms’ islands, and/or on rare occasion, pulling an unborn child from the kingdoms into our world, causing them to be born there. On the islands, magic works and societies similar to those of classical Japan and China exist. While the inhabitants of the kingdoms are aware of the existence of our world as the lands of Hourai (Japan) and Kunlun (China), the reverse is not true for any inhabitants of our world. The inhabitants of the kingdoms speak a different language than the languages of our world, both of which can be learned by either side. Only by through extraordinary circumstances can the two worlds affect each other to a respective certain extent.

In this world, there are a total of thirteen lands. At the center of the world lies the Koukai (the Yellow Sea) and Five Mountains where the Gods communicate their will to the Twelve Kingdoms of the world. Each of the Twelve Kingdoms possess their own ruler and its own Kirin, a divine creature which embodies the will of heaven and is entrusted to choose a kingdom’s ruler by Tentei: Emperor of Heaven, and serve as the ruler’s aide. The ruler will have immortal life as long as they keep the kingdom healthy and their heads are not severed from their body. If the ruler’s Kirin dies or is killed, the ruler will die within a year.

The Koukai, known as the Yellow Sea, is surrounded by four inland seas: the Black Sea in the north, the Blue Sea to the east, the Red Sea in the south, and the White Sea to the west. Eight of the Twelve Kingdoms (Kei, En, Ryu, Kyou, Han, Sai, Sou, and Kou) border at least one of these four seas, extending from the center like the petals of a flower. The remaining four kingdoms (Tai, Hou, Ren, and Shun) are not part of the central mainland and are isolated by the Kyokai  (Void Sea) which surrounds the lands of the Twelve Kingdoms.