In the year of Tenpo 14, Yoi, monsters from another world attack Edo. Those who fight against them are members of Bansha Aratemesho. In public, Bansha Aratemsho is known as an organization to study foreign books. In fact, they are a organization dedicated to destroying the Yoi. These warriors are called Ayakashi. They gather information of odd events in the country, and are sent to destroy Yoi who appear. They are generally very strange people. For example, a guy who has lost his memory, a girl who dresses like a man. They have special powers with which to beat the Yoi.
Ayakashi Ayashi is set in the Tenpou era in Edo, Japan. The events in the story occur before the arrival of Commodore Perry. The leads of the show are a band of warriors known as Ayashi, who are commissioned to fight beasts from the other world, known as Youi.
The series starts out a little episodic (monster of the week, if you will). However, it comes off very well in blending fantasy into real history. The plot starts to pick up near the middle, but feels a little rushed near the end due to the fact that the series was originally planned for a 50
episode run. Being cut in half due to the unsatisfactory ratings required of a "primetime" show really hurt this area. It still is pretty enjoyable, though I felt it would have been much better given a few more episodes.
If you are interested in Japanese calligraphy/word study, this series will appeal even more to you. Ryuudou can draw "Ayagami" from people and youi, which are basically their names and depending on their meanings (current, and original meaning of the word), he is able to magically create weapons, armor and whatnot.
The art style used is very aesthetically pleasing to the eyes and remains constant throughout the series. The action scenes are animated very well and the style blends really well with the mood of the series. It also gives off a very 'classy' Japanese feel. Very beautiful and one of my favorite parts of this show.
Personally, I found the OPs and EDs to be great. The ED animation might not be very flashy, but it fits well with the songs and the show in general. The OPs are quite fast paced and are animated quite well.
The soundtrack fits the show to a "T", and although not one of the best, still really helped enhance the mood of many scenes.
Characters are generally likable and have quite a few focal episodes where they are well developed, including their pasts etc. Voice acting is also superb for most roles. I liked how the main character was a middle-aged man and not a young child like most shows in this slot (Gundam SEED, Blood+, Eureka Seven). However, the lack of a main where kids can relate too probably helped contribute to the lack of popularity for the show.
I found myself enjoying this show quite a bit. If you enjoy a little history or Japanese mixed into your anime, then you might wanna check this one out. But if the premise of the shows doesn't interest you, then you might want to save your time and watch something else.
I still feel it was a waste that it had to be cut though. Could've done much better with twice the showtime. Off to watch the OVAs now.
Anybody remember the name of Sho Aikawa? Well, people who follow anime and especially manga knows him from doing scripts for Fullmetal Alchemist, Martian Successor Nadesico, Gad Guard & Violence Jack to name a few but with this wholly original idea from him, it actually has a peak of interest in one anime connoisseur to another but once going in, should we be quick to call this a classic in the making?
Anyway, in the 14th year of the Tenpo era, there was a secret shrine for “Bansha Aratamesho” (a research institution for foreign literature and learners) under the city of Edo. To the public,
this organization was punishing the scholars who studied the Western Culture. However, this organization's true mission was far more significant. Bansha Aratamesho was responsible to slay the “Yoh-is”, the evil spirits with flesh and blood from another world, that were expanding into Edo. Bansha Aratamesho is not an official organization. Members do not have the typical credentials to be the vassal of Shogun. It consists of a man who lost his memory, a man who was raised in a mountain and a girl who dresses up in a man’s outfit. Their special powers are yet to be known, but they all have special abilities that help slay the Yoh-is. The code name given to them is – “Ayashi”. Ayashis collect all types of information that seems bizarre. With thorough investigation, they locate the Yoh-is and hunt them down.
Now this is where I got to share my problems with the series…..and the main problem is either the pacing issues in the plot, as in it is very slow and it will feel like you’ve been watching the show for half a day. The series does highlight Japanese calligraphy and word study if you interested in learning the language itself and some historic facts often show up in the show, much like Hetalia does sometimes and while it is informative and I will give them merit for that, this series sells itself as an action series and yet the action isn’t up to par to being exciting, it’s just there and it does the pattern of an “monster of the week” plot and for the main storyline does suffers of you trying to keep up and not drift asleep to it. I can see why the series was originally supposed to be 50 episodes, but due to low ratings in Japan, they decided to can the series with only 25 episodes and 5 OVA episodes entitled “Ghost Slayers Ayashi: Inferno”, which I don’t think concluded the series to a satisfying finish.
The characters are honestly very unenthusiastic and dull, and you couldn’t care less about what happens to them. You got Yukiatsu Rydou, the main character who’s a vagrant and has the power of the Ayagami and he was a relatively okay character but I was never completely invested in any of the characters, not even the cross-dressing member of the group Genbatsu Edo or Saizo, the female warrior of the group who dresses like a man and possibly Atl and she is summed up to be the damsel in the group. The other characters are too forgetful or unimportant to mention.
The animation and production values from BONES are remarkably well. Even though I thought the action scenes just felt like it’s just there so you’ll be awake, it was well-animated and the art style of the characters, minus the Yoh-is (they were more “meh” rather than threatening), was acceptable and feel smooth overall. The music of the series was the standard feudal-Japan era BGM and it was done fine but the opening and ending songs are just generic J-Pop tracks that I’ve heard too much in anime and I would just skip them every time I watched an episode, to be honest.
And then there’s the dub by Bandai/Bang Zoom and like the series, it was lacking in the writing department but the dub isn’t bad, it’s just dull and yet the dub has some of my favorite LA-based anime voice actors (Steve Blum, Crispin Freeman & Stephanie Sheh) and even they can’t save this show and that’s the hard thing about it. Maybe Crispin Freeman voicing a cross-dresser help a little bit but the script was written to be straight-laced, no intentionally funny wits and not bullshitting around; and I thought that the script should’ve used a little bit more humor to even it out.
FINAL VERDICT: I’m going to be straightforward about this show…..AND THE FACT THAT IT IS BORING!!! It’s one of the shows that had some potential but it kept on stubbing some toes along the way. I’m very sad and disappointed for this and I wouldn’t recommend this show to action/samurai fans but I’m not going to fully discredit this series and if you like some of the history facts about feudal Japan and calligraphy, then it’s your cup of tea.
Overall Rating 4/5
Definitely a show worth watching and owning.
Set in Feudal Japan the lead character, Yukiatsu Ryuudou, eventually joins a secret sub-government agency to fight with the power of Ayagami (to form weapons from true names).
Yukiatsu, age 39, is overall joined to a group of other oddly talented adults and a couple of teenagers. So if you want to watch a show that isn't about another Japanese high school, this is a good show to get started on. The group fights Youi (aka Ayakashi, Yokai, supernatural creatures from folklore). The group travels around protecting towns and whatnot while the main plot
revolves around government change and the agency's ongoing usefulness.
Theme Songs 4/5
Two opening and two ending themes are all solid and interesting. All fairly fast paced and good, I never skipped them.
Ending 4/5 (conditional)
The TV ending finished the plot well enough.
The OVA has a more complete ending but a less happy ending, thus 3/5.
Basically what sticks out about this show is that the art direction has a somewhat retro (not dated) feel. Nice Monster design in most episodes and short story arches so you dont feel like your just waiting for the action sequences. Also if you have studied any Kanji/Chinese then you'll like the main character's power of bringing out the monsters "Character" then turning it into a weapon. Overall an enjoyable ride.