AYASHI NO CERES
Creator: Yuu Watase | Length: 26 Episodes | TV SERIES
The story is concentrated on a 15 year old girl called Aya Mikage. She has a twin brother named Aki Mikage, and their birthday is very soon. She goes to a fortune teller who tells her a rather dramatic and terrifying future prospect, and warns her that the road lying ahead will be full of pain and [implied] violence/ turmoil. She doesn't believe any of it though, of course, because living for 15 carefree years with a normal family and loving brother would not arouse any suspicion towards such a grim prophecy.
Aya is a bubbly and happy school girl. She loves to sing, and she is like any other ordinary teenager. The thing that really did start any doubts of a safe future was when she miraculously floated to her feet as she fell off a bridge catching a handbag. She meets a dashing redheaded man with emerald eyes.
That's just about the beginning of this anime.
Like Fushigi Yuugi, Yuu Watase chose to go ahead with an existing fairy tale or legend [that being the zodiacs in Fushigi Yuugi]. Here in "Ayashi no Ceres", Watase borrowed the fairy tale of the "tennyo" [in the anime they translated this roughly as a fairy, but really something like a beautiful woman from heaven].
What has Aya Mikage got to do with anything with a tennyo? Well, her whole family tries to kill her on her 16th birthday, and she is facing her father at gunpoint, ready to be killed by her own parent.
The underlying plot of Ayashi no Ceres is that a previous Mikage ancestor fell in love with a tennyo. A group of these beautiful women came from the heavens and were bathing in a lake. He saw these beautiful feathered robes [hagoromo] hanging on the tree and hastily took one. When the women were ready to get back to the heavens, one tennyo found to her dismay that her hagoromo went missing. Seeing a young man shiftily nearby, she asks him if he had seen it. He denies seeing it and then marries her.
During the years, the Mikage family have been only marrying within the family to prevent the tennyo blood from leaking out to the open. They have also been killing every 16 year old Mikage girl, in fear that Ceres will reincarnate and take revenge on the Mikage family, for these are the descendants of the "man who shamed her" [because he lied of course >_>], as she vowed before her death.
Aya discovers that her incredible power belongs to Ceres, who has been asleep within her for all these years, and will eventually take over her body. However, with Aya's strong will, she can keep Ceres within herself, and promises Ceres to find back her hagoromo - that is, if Shisou doesn't reincarnate, and the other Mikages like her own cousin, try to capture her.
Another side plot is the sci-fi plot of Ayashi no Ceres. Aya's cousin is a pure genius and possesses all the tennyo traits- being handsome, intelligent and one of a kind. However he is plotting a project to capture Ceres and by examining her DNA, create tennyos out of humans. In doing so, he can create a super race.
One other plot is the romance. Apart from the dashing redhead, Tooya [who also possesses superhuman powers... who is he?], another lovebird is Yuuhi, the aspiring chef whose idol is Iron Chef Rokusaburo Michiba. Who does Aya choose? A cold, yet cool Tooya who has no memory? Or a hot headed and hot hearted Yuuhi?
Along the way in her race against time to find the hagoromo, there are encounters with other tennyos, half tennyos, and failed experiments to create the perfect human.
"Ayashi no Ceres" is a play on words. The "Aya" in Ayashi is the kanji of Aya's name, however, Ayashi on its own means "suspicious". Ceres is the largest star in the Universe [as we know now anyway], and was chosen to demonstrate her power and superiority over other tennyos.
As I said somewhere, all the characters have a distinct personality. There are the evil, the kind, the funny [Q-san!], the cool - there is such a variety of characters here in this anime! Of course, the personalities of Aya and Ceres are just about completely different... which only complements the idea that they both have to share the same body, share the same blood and powers, yet have different goals and ideas on life.
The art is a lot more advanced than the art in Fushigi Yuugi, but unlike FY, Ayashi no Ceres runs for half the number of episodes, and gets straight to the plot. Like Fushigi Yuugi though, Watase successfully captures a fantasy world involving characters with distinct personalities, and themes such as family, love and friendship.
Watase mentioned something about trying a different style in the Ayashi no Ceres manga, so the eyes do look different, however the same flowing hair is done well. There is also no shortage of bishojos and bishonens ^_^
Voice acting, music (8/10)
Iwao Junko's voice is very beautiful and suits the character of Ceres well. The opening theme is sung by Iwao, and it depicts the pain of the anime well. The upbeat ending themes by DayBreak are well chosen as well to show the fast paced nature of the series.
The voice acting is generally done pretty well, as the voices all match up with the personalities.
I personally enjoyed this series a lot. At times I must admit that the violence is rather disturbing, and so are the themes [incest to name one] - however this is a to-the-point, and quite original anime in terms of the plot and ideas. There are many twists and turns, and if you enjoy unravelling mysteries, this is surely one anime to look out for and watch
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