Ceres was a tennyo (Celestial maiden) who came down from the heavens to bathe in a stream. She hung her hagoromo (robe) on a tree nearby, which was her key to returning to the heavens. But the robe was stolen and the man who had stolen it forced her to become his wife, thus producing a family full of human and tennyo blood mixed.
Now, in modern day time, Aya Mikage is a descendent of Ceres, and has quite an amount of tennyo blood. On her 16th birthday, she and her twin brother, Aki, are thrown a party. At the "party," Aya's grandpa plans to kill her, for she has tennyo powers unlike the rest of the family, and can actually become Ceres herself and destroy the Mikage family. Aya, however, can switch back, so this transformation happens quite frequently.
With protector Yuuhi by her side, it is up to Aya to control Ceres and keep her from coming back, but her relationship with an ex-worker for her evil grandpa may be a distraction.
Ayashi no Ceres presents a beautiful love story, which intertwined with great action and characters makes for a sad, yet heartwarming story that can grip your heart.
It starts off very peacefully, with Aya Mikage and her twin brother Aki spending time with their friends, celebrating the twins' 16th birthday. However, this peaceful day is interrupted by Aya falling off a bridge, down on the highway underneath. Miraculously, she lands without getting a scratch, and she's saved from cars on a collision course by a mysterious, red-headed man. And that day marks the end of the happy days for the two.
They are summoned to the
family mansion to celebrate their 16th birthday, but instead, they end up being the victims of the Mikage family's gruesome rite of killing off female descendants with strong tennyo powers in them. Said powers suddenly awaken, preventing her from getting killed.
From here on, the story goes darker, deeper and angstier as we're thrown into the mess that Aya suddenly finds herself in, being hunted by her own family all of a sudden. She has to deal with the fact that her twin brother has turned into a reincarnation of an evil man from the past, and she has to make sure Ceres doesn't take over her body completely. This leads to some great action scenes, as Ceres emerges to fight the Mikage family from time to time, with her astounding powers.
And then there's the love, the beautiful, yet sad love that is Aya's and Toya's love - Toya is the guy who saved her, but also a Mikage henchman, which means he's out to get her. However, he slowly falls in love with her, and her with him, despite the two of them being enemies. Now they must find a way to live out their love without the Mikage family or Ceres, who has a vendetta against the Mikages, getting in the way. Of course, there's Yuhi, and there's actually some mutual love between Yuhi and Aya as well, creating a love triangle that can rip Aya apart.
The characters in the anime are all very realistically portrayed. From Toya's quest to find his place in this world to Aya's struggles to remain herself through all that happens around her. The love that slowly develops between Toya and Aya is never forced, and their relationship progresses nicely over the course of the series.
The side characters are all good too, and despite not having so major roles, they fulfill them excellently, and they are portrayed very well too. Most of the characters you will see have some depth to them, which causes your heart to be with them as well, and not only Aya and Toya.
I'm also fond of the character development that takes place during the course of the series - at the end I could see how much they had matured, obviously having learned a few things about life and love during the events that took place during the course of the series.
Studio Pierrot did a nice job on the animation, and despite it being a bit old, it's very good. The lighting effects are very well done, though the same can't always be said about the special effects - they had their moments they too, though. The overall detail is very good, but there's one thing that bugged me, and that was the fact that their hair seemed transparent when in front of their eyes. You can't see your eyes through a layer of hair >_
A very original plot line, immersing a young woman on her 16th birthday, into a world of danger and constant threat while those who are around her and those who she loves are hurt. With love triangles that are sometimes heart wrenching and at other times very sweet. And with a very important message which you will be blatantly told if you haven't already figured it out by the end of the series.
Characters that are simply amazing, follow them all through their pain and trials that they have to overcome. All are excellently portrayed and their feelings
really reach you. The romance between some of the characters is just grand, it really gives and shows you the true feeling of love.
Soundtrack is just amazing, opening song: Scarlet, must be hands down one of the best openings for an anime. The background played throughout the anime is outstanding with beautiful instrumental and piano music. The voice actors, just wow, their acting, the feeling they put in each character, it is just outstanding, some scenes I actually think in the recording studio the voice actor actually cried.
What is so good about this anime?
For an anime that was released in 2000 the art is simply amazing. The plot line is so intricate and very original. The romance between various characters that really portray their anguish, sadness, happiness, confusion, and love. An amazing soundtrack that completely fits the mood and just makes you want to listen to the songs over and over again. I have to say, this is one of the best romance anime's out there. Enjoy this series.
"The victor is the one left standing." So quoth Aki, local sage and official series craziest person, which is really saying something for this series. I mean, between Toya, Aya's cousin, Aya's OTHER cousin, Yuji, Mrs. Q, Grandpa Mikage, and Aya herself, we got crazy coming out of the walls.
There is precisely one good thing about this series, which is the opening, "Scarlet" by Junko Iwao. Not the weird animation, just the song. I have the Japanese version and the piano only version and they're quite pleasant and pretty.
You want generic tropes with good ol' 90s animation? You got it! Toya's got like double or
triple plot amnesia which gives him extra doses of mangst, because what's a bad shoujo without amnesia? He then meets Aya and for reasons unbeknownst to me, cept that she got through his "cool dude mystique" and decided that he was safe and that she felt safe with him she falls in love with him, because I guess you fall in love with people because of that? Even though she knows nothing about him and barely knows him. Toya then "rediscovers his memories" and then gets Harry Potter syndro-I mean, convenient headaches! And goes back to the dark side! And then we find out that his memories aren't his memories after all! Because some time ago he was brought in covered in bruises and given false memories that gave him pain when he thought of Aya. When did any of THAT happen, exactly? Who cares, because ONWITHTHESTORY!
And if you think THAT didn't make sense, I'm not going to get into the rest of the plot because it REALLY doesn't make sense. Possession, reincarnation, abusive scumbags, spoiled kids with creepy obsessions, underage sex, incest, lots and lots of obsession, attempted child murder, attempted fratricide, stalking, sexist stereotypes... It's got all kind of fun in it, I guess.
It also really bothered me that the Smart Dude had incredibly tiny glasses which wouldn't have helped if they were normal-size anyway cause he had these ridiculous bangs in the way and I kept grumbling to myself "cut your friggen hair you incompetent you're a SCIENTIST" and I LOVE long hair on men so this was incredibly confusing.
Also, common sense? Hahahahaha WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THIS IS A TERRIBLE SHOUJO NO ONE USES THEIR COMMON SENSE HERE! It's verboten! (I like shoujo but gods help me I can't STAND this anime).
Despite the implications of the ending (it's hilarious, really, you just have to lose your sanity to appreciate it), this series also presents a double standard that's tropic of reverse harems. Women don't get harem endings (where the end result is left open to interpretation and more than likely they have an open marriage), so one of the guys (there are typically only two) have to either die or vanish. It's typically the hotter one, so the underdog who's "better" for the woman (despite her preferences hahaha women making choices what's THAT about, amirite??) gets a chance. Well after the woman's lost her virginity, anyway, since that's a BIG part of their character development, donchaknow? Interestingly, guys in harem stories typically don't lose their virginity, if they have it, although male harem stories arguably have the men get sexually assaulted far more often, as a gag joke, so... Yeah I don't think it evens out but trying to understand this series hurts my brain.
Anyone telling you this series has character growth is a LIAR and you SHOULD NOT listen to them. Unless they mean that after about 18 episodes characters with pretty much zero personality suddenly get backstory at 100 miles an hour. Backstory does not equal character growth but sure, whatever floats your boat.
You want a good shoujo? Well... watch "Yona of the Dawn". It's arguably a reverse harem set in a fantasy world. It's hilarious -on purpose- and well-written and includes a lot of great character development and the animation is pretty. The "Sailor Moon R" film is also a great shojo film about a superpowered woman rescuing her male hubby who is endangered by his ex-boyfriend. Just don't watch this. Don't.
Story: Ayashi no Ceres starts out like an average shojo anime with a mysterious, aloof love interest (naturally), fantasy elements, and a love triangle, but unlike other shoujo, this is based on a Watase Yuu work, so expect a lot of drama and some darker moments (see incest). This show ends up moving in some wild and frankly implausible directions, even aside from the usual angst and drama we come to expect from a shoujo anime. It's not light, that's for sure.
Art: What can I say? It's typical Watase Yuu, but the art, especially for the male characters, is delicate and pretty. As with
most shoujo, it's colorful. I imagine if the work was done today, the colors would be even more vivid and glossy and less faded, but they're not at all bad.
Sound: The theme song was awesome. :)
Character: Unfortunately, as happens with many anime that suddenly choose a villain from among the main cast, we can't really say much about the characters because their personalities change wildly when they suddenly become villains or suddenly embody the reincarnated soul of a vengeful spirit (yes, it happens). The characters become plot devices themselves. Events move this story along rather than the characters.
Overall: If you like your romance staid and centered on relationships and characters, then this anime is not for you. If you like your soap operas full of drama, unlikely plot twists, and fantasy, then this may be for you. If you're a Watase Yuu fan, go for it.
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