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Favorite Episode
My favorite show in Ayashi no Ceres is probably the one when Tooya and Aya moved to Niigata (eloped?). A lot of things went on in this episode. Although it wa so much better in manga--Dr. Kurozuka was hilarious--the anime's great also. The whole thing felt like a reprieve from all the action and violence that ensued before. More importantly, it took place after Miori. The whole thing with her was just so wrong and disturbing...anyway, it seemed like a clean beginning for Tooya and Aya. Close to the beginning of the episode, it had this hopeful melody that was just so endearing. Tooya and Aya started leading this unglamorous but happy life together. He started working as the good doctor's assistant, although he was probably qualified to be a doctor because Kagami gave him memories of one. There was also this scene when the doctor called to Tooya and told him that his wife would be having dinner with them. The whole thing excited Aya so much, she started waving her arms up and down. It kind of seems corny, but it's actually funny once you think about it. Just then, the doctor got called to attend to a patient, who lives across the sea. Tooya and Aya came along. While on the boat, Aya fell into the water and Tooya jumped in after her. He managed to carry her to the shore, but then he noticed his hands had webbing on them. The following day (I think it was the following day), Tooya was pensively gazing out into the ocean and then started wading in. Aya saw him and freaked out, thinking he was going to kill himself. She tried running after him and then fainted, which made Tooya freak out. He took her home and called Dr. Kurozuka to check up on her. The good doctor assured him that Aya was okay. After this, Tooya went to Aya's bedside and asked her if their life was what she wanted, and whether she's happy. The whole thing between them was just so bittersweet, considering the events that happened before and the events that would happen after. This is also the episode where Tooya remembered his real past. Ah, finally! Then Ceres appeared and gave a premonition of the things yet to come...

Ayashi no Ceres
Synopsis | Review

Ayashi no Ceres was written by Watase Yu, the same mangaka who created Fushigi Yuugi. It translates into "Eerie Ceres." However, the former is not a dreamy fairy tale like the latter. Not that Fushigi Yuugi is the type of anime to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside; it has issues like rape and murder. Well, Ayashi no Ceres is even darker. It's less of a magical girl and more of a horror series. Unless you like these types of stories, you might want to watch it an episode or two at a time. The story is just so dark that it's depressing.

Synopsis
Mikage Aya met a fortune teller who essentially told her that her life was going to change and that she would be rescued by a handsome stranger (I forgot if it was specified that he would be handsome). That disturbed her, but not for long. Soon she was hanging out with her friends and her twin brother, Aki, at a karaoke bar, just chillin' and making plans for their birthday the following day. On their way home, they witnessed a woman being robbed of her purse. Aya impulsively went after the thief on the bridge and got the purse back. In the process, she lost her balance and fell off the bridge onto the street below.

As Aya was falling, a strange symbol flashed before her eyes. For some reason, her fall slowed down, and she harmlessly landed on her feet. Unfortunately, she landed right in the middle of the street and in front of an oncoming car. Then a guy shot out of nowhere and shoved her to the side of the road, where she got a good look at him. Yep, he's gorgeous. When Aki and their friends reached her, however, the gorgeous guy was gone.

When they got home, their parents told them they would be going to their grandfather's place to celebrate. It sounded weird, but Aya and Aki didn't think much of it. The following day, they went to Grandfather Mikage's mansion and was surprised to find the whole family seated at one long table. Aya and Aki were seated at the head, and a box was brought to them. The box awakened a latent being within Aya and suddenly, Aki was covered in numerous cuts.

A tennyo, named Ceres, was living within Aya and according to legend, she would manifest her powers on her sixteenth birthday. Hence, her family wanted her dead. It seemed Ceres was very dangerous. Before Aya knew it, her father was pointing a gun to her head and Grandfather Mikage was ordering him to kill her. When Aya's father hesitated, he was shot in the head.

The whole scene caused Aya to black out. When she came to her senses, she was sitting on top of the tall tree outside Grandfather Mikage's house. Just then, the gorgeous guy who saved her the other day appeared and was by her side in a second. It was not long before they were spotted by Grandfather Mikage's henchmen. They were rescued by a new guy, Yuuhi, who appeared out of nowhere and announced that he was there to save Aya. He was sent by his sister-in-law, Suzumi, who was also part-tennyo and sensed that Aya was in danger.

The story chronicles Aya's life on the run from the Mikages. While Grandfather Mikage wanted her dead, her cousin Kagami wanted to capture her and examine Ceres. In her struggle to maintain a normal life, Aya had to cope with Ceres' manifestations, encounter other people who possessed tennyo blood, and try to be happy. For some reason, she was incredibly attracted to Tooya, the gorgeous stranger who rescued her from the streets (I would say that it's just because he's so hot, but there's another reason entirely). He turned out to be one of Kagami's henchmen, assigned to keep her under surveillance. He also had to deal with his own inner demons. Apparently, Tooya had no memories of his past. Kagami offered to restore his memory if he did his job, namely tail and possibly capture Aya.

Ayashi no Ceres had 24 episodes. For the most part, the anime stuck to the manga. The racier and more gruesome scenes, however, were cut out and some events were condensed. There was this whole thing in the manga where Aya transferred schools with Yuuhi, and he had to enroll as a girl, which was pretty hilarious. Also, in the manga, Aya met a rock star, Shuro, who also had tennyo blood in her. In the anime, Aya's only encounter with Shuro was on TV. After Ayashi no Ceres, Watase wrote character novels and a sequel called "Episode of Miku."

Review
Have I mentioned that this is a depressing anime? I was so depressed after watching it that I had to start watching Pretear to cheer myself up. This anime requires decompression. Sort of like watching a chick flick immediately after a horror movie. Anyway, this series is not for the weak of heart. That whole thing with Aya's father being killed before her eyes was a sign of things yet to come. Seriously. This series is pretty bloody and is very, very dark. It also goes without saying that this is not for kids. Major characters die and/or get pregnant. This series also toys a lot with its audience's emotions.

Given that disclaimer, this is a good anime. First of all, it's filled with bishounen, starting with Aki, and then with Tooya, and then with Yuuhi. Even Shuro's hot...hey, she was impersonating a man when she first came on the scene. Aya's also one of the prettier shoujo heroines out there. Evidently, most of the guys in the anime thought so too. That was probably why she got kissed a lot by so many guys. And Ceres is definitely beautiful. She must be for Kagami and her long-dead husband to be obssessed with her. Anyway, yeah, Aya and Ceres are a departure from the regular, everyday cute girls like Usagi, Miaka, and Miki. So this title has lots of eye candy. There's actually a lot of Cereses in the show because there would be people with tennyo blood who can transform into a tennyo. And all tennyos resemble Ceres. So there's a lot of Cereses to ogle at.

But going back to the bishounen, Tooya resembles Tamahome. A lot. In fact, if you're watching the anime for the first time and you've already watched Fushigi Yuugi, it's kind of hard to think of Tooya as a new person. I was half expecting him to start talking about money at any moment :D But he did take on a character of his own. It helped that the voices were different. While Tamahome sounded like your everyday dashing, masculine, and sometimes shy guy, Tooya had this great bedroom voice by Katsuyuki Konishi. Tooya's a good illustration of Watase's transition between Tamahome and Genbu Kaiden's Rimudo. The latter looked more like Tooya than Tamahome. In fact, Ayashi no Ceres itself is an illustration of Watase's transition from Fushigi Yuugi to Genbu Kaiden. On the other hand, Yuuhi resembles Tomite, one of Genbu's seishi who made a cameo (actually, that was his first appearance) in Fushigi Yuugi when Miaka and her seishi went to Hokkan. Yuuhi also resembles Kyou, the hero in Alice 19th, another one of Watase's series. And of course, I have to say that Kyou's hot. He's more hot than Yuuhi.

Another plus about Ayashi no Ceres is its complex storyline. There was all this talk in it about C-genoma and the hagoromo. There's a lot of side stories too, such as Suzumi's grief, Yuuhi's family issues, Chidori and her brother, Miori's revenge, and Shuro's battle. In fact, it's so complex that it seemed 24 episodes couldn't handle them all. Indeed, there seemed to be a disconnect when Aya suddenly moved to a seaside town. This was more developed in the manga (where Yuuhi had to dress like a girl).

The opening music in Ayashi no Ceres probably isn't depressing to begin with, but since it got associated with the anime, it now is. The closing songs, "One" and then "Cross My Heart," had a J-pop feel. They sounded kind of weird after watching a lot of dark events, but after a while, they grow on you. Actually, I can't listen to "Cross My Heart" without envisioning Tooya appear in the last episodes.

So if you're of age and can handle watching a lot of violence, then go ahead and watch this. It's a good anime, only dark. Oh yes, and make sure you have some lighthearted anime on the side. It's a good idea to pop in Sailor Moon or Pretear after you're done with this.

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