Even after death, life is full of paperwork and criminals. Tsuzuki Asato is a 26 year old, happy-go-lucky, and dorky shinigami (god of death) whose job is to makes sure that those who are dead remain dead and stay in their proper realms. Even though he's had this job for over 70 years, he is in the worst division with horrible pay. He also has a knack for not keeping partners (since shinigami work in pairs), but now he seems to have one that will stick around; stubborn, smart-mouthed, serious and defensive 16 year old, Kurosaki Hisoka. With each case they investigate, they come closer to the conspiracies of the serial killer Dr. Muraki Kazutaka. Tsuzuki's relationship with Hisoka is growing stronger and closer...but there is a dark past to how Tsuzuki died that will not give him peace.
Note: This review has been updated to be consistent with my changing views on anime.
Descendants of Darkness is based on the manga of the same name. It follows four major story arcs of the manga. Three episodes comprise each of the first three arcs while the last four episodes focus on the fourth. Since the anime leaves off where the manga caries on (the manga isn't finished either), the ending doesn't really offer a true conclusion and a lot of questions are left unanswered. Fans of the manga might also be disappointed that a lot of the manga's characters are either left out or shoved
into the background.
Despite these unfortunate circumstances, I think that the anime more than does the manga justice. In fact, I find it to be an improvement over the manga. While some of the humor and silliness are there, the anime takes on a more serious tone, capitalizing more on the angst, mystery, and supernatural element of the story. The art and music are also absolutely beautiful! Descendants of Darkness has a superb soundtrack which is well worth downloading or even buying! Aside from the characters being beautiful, the monsters and magic are also magnificently rendered. Even though it isn't really a fighting anime, the action sequences should be awesome enough to please those who would otherwise be bored with the drama.
The series consists mostly of fairly mediocre characters, yet it has what I consider to be one of the greatest villains in anime history. Tsuzuki and Hisoka are the protagonists of our story. They are likable characters overall. Tsuzuki is a real sweety despite being a little bit dense and childlike at times. Hisoka has a little bit of an attitude problem at first, but once it becomes apparent where he is coming from, you can't help but sympathize with the guy. Watari and Tatsumi are minor characters who had significantly larger roles in the manga. For the most part, they are just there. They don't really add that much to the anime, but they don't detract from it either. The Gushoshin twins are the only characters that could really be considered annoying. This is mostly because they seem a bit out of place (being two cutesy little talking birds in an otherwise human cast).
Our antagonist Dr. Muraki gets his own paragraph since no couple of sentences could possibly do him justice. He is the subject of much admiration as well as loathing from DoD fans, and he deserves every bit of both. Practically everything he does is just horrific and despicable, but he is so cool and gorgeous and entertaining that you can almost forgive him for being the monster he is. He desires Tsuzuki's body both carnally and scientifically. The scientific reason is revealed later and it gives Muraki's character quite a bit more depth, though you are longing for much more once the anime ends.
While the show isn't technically shounen-ai (gay male romance), it contains a lot of hints and fanservice. It is very easy to read in an attraction between our two heroes. I personally believe in this attraction, but other fans are free to form their own interpretations. Muraki is much less ambiguous and regularly molests Tsuzuki. This lust Muraki has for Tsuzuki is clearly one-sided, but it makes for some rather hot homoerotic material (even though nothing overtly sexual actually happens).
The show masquerades a bit as a mystery series. In reality, the mysteries aren't really any big puzzle. As the audience, we basically know that Muraki is behind everything (with the exception of episodes 4-6). And while the story isn't particularly imaginative as far as anime goes, the characters and the art make it more than worthwhile. All in all, I can't think of any reason to dislike this series unless you're either homophobic or a hardcore manga snob. But we can't please everybody, can we?
The first anime I watched with a light yaoi feel, hahaha..Funny enough the fact that it has a slight touch of yaoi makes this anime a bit more interesting than the usual agents-from-the-afterlife-theme series. The opening music is amazing and suits it well, with cool guitar and electronic mix and lyrics that matches the series itself. Its a mixture of dark and humor -- centering on Tsuzuki and his co-shinigamis, who are in charge of keeping the balance in the afterlife by making sure that those who die go to their right place and investigating situations that threatens that balance caused by mysterious deaths that
occurs in succession. Alhtough I prefer the manga version more which is longer, this anime is very well done and all the vital chapters are included. Although it has funny situations, the dark side of each characters are shown -- each with their own reasons for becoming a shinigami, whether its for finding one's dark past or for atoning for their mistakes. The antagonist Dr. Muraki is very effective, he's darker than dark, yet charming and comes across as very likeable. For anyone who wants a different yet familiar series to love, this should definitely be on your list.
Yami no Matsuei is a fantasy, horror, supernatural, mystery created by Matsushita Yoko. It was published in manga form from 1996 to 2003, when it was put on hiatus for eight years, resuming in 2011 and still going. In 2000 J.C. Staff took four arcs from the manga and adapted them into a thirteen episode series. So, how does the anime hold up?
Our narrative opens with a meeting of Shinigami. There have been unusual deaths in Nagasaki in which the victim’s have been drained of blood and left with twin puncture marks on their necks. The shinigami in charge of that sector, Tsuzuki,
is sent to rendezvous with his new partner, Kurosaki Hisoka, and investigate. They find out that there's a lot going on that isn't readily apparent and have their first encounter with the villainous Doctor Muraki, which sets the stage for their partnership going into further missions.
The only major complaint I have about the story is the pacing. I will give J.C. Staff credit for trying to cover all the important plot details of the arcs they look at while leaving room for character moments, but it doesn't always work very well. There are several plot elements that get skimmed over or that wind up being inadequately explained or rushed through. One minor issue I had was with the “horror” classification. While there are some dark and disturbing elements to the series, it's really not scary in the slightest. Part of it is that it has a lot of comedic moments that are kind of goofy and part of it is that the characters largely face the dark situations with courage and the conviction to solve them. There are certainly times where you worry about them, but it really doesn't work as horror when the characters have the power ad will to reasonably be able to conquer the problem.
Those issues aside, there is a lot that the series does well. It has a strong sense of dramatic tension, with every arc having some good build up and with the antagonists being legitimately menacing. The humour is also used to great effect. It's used to wind down from tense moments or for character moments before the action starts rising so it doesn't clash with the tension. It also helps create a good contrast between the serious, dark content and the lighter moments. Which helps make the dark moments more intense. As opposed to a series where the characters are always needlessly angsty and it has no impact when things turn serious. The series is also good about treating its dark content with gravity and respect.
There are some really great characters in this series. I do like that Tsuzuki is a largely happy guy since it does enhance the effect when things do go wrong and he goes through a difficult time. I also like that he does know when to be serious, particularly when someone's life is on the line. Hisoka plays perfectly off of Tsuzuki. He's more serious and mature but not to an extreme point. As such, the two complement one another very well. Muraki is the type of villain who is just irredeemable and infinitely hateable. Rather like Tenzen from Basilisk, but more interesting. On a side note, Tenzen and Muraki have the same voice actor. The side characters have some interesting moments as well, although they are less developed. Watari and Tatsumi are both really good characters with some great scenes. The series also does well at developing the characters who need help from the shinigami so that you do get invested in them and hope for them to get out of their situations safely.
The art is really good. The character designs are spectacular and have unique elements to them without being really outlandish. Particularly characters like Muraki and Tsuzuki who have distinctive eyes. The backgrounds have great details and there are some really strong action sequences. However, there is one issue with the action. Some of the special techniques, though they look cool, do get reused without much change. Rather like the special attacks of a magical girl anime, but in a series that's a lot more serious.
There are some really good performances in this. Miki Shinichiro, Brotherhood's Roy Mustang, does a great job as Tsuzuki. Hayami Show gives a very intimidating performance as Muraki. Asano Mayumi, Wolf's Rain's Blue, also gives a really strong performance as Hisoka. Really, there are no weak links in the cast. The music is nice and atmospheric.
This series has quite a bit of yaoi. Some of the scenes are screwed up and disturbing, specifically the ones with Muraki. Others are really heart-warming and adorable. Mostly the ones with Tsuzuki and Hisoka. There are also some other guys who seem to have crushes on Tsuzuki. The content isn't really graphic, but there's certainly quite a bit. The ho-yay factor is going to be a 7/10.
Yami no Matsuei is a really good series, in spite of a few issues. It has a strong narrative, great characters, amazing art, and good performances. If you're a fan of supernatural drama it won't disappoint. My final rating is going to be an 8/10. Next week, horror anime month continues with Kousetsu Hyaku Monogatari.
This anime first peeked my interest when I was on the lookout for shounen-ai/yaoi mangas with the hope to have watched them all one day in my mind.
Now, a few years later, I have re-watched it for the 3rd time and I would definitely do it again! If that doesn't already speak for itself - the anime is super interesting and digs deep into the sensitive topic of death and life, accompanied by quite humorous and cute scenes.
The main characters are unique and one starts feeling a connection to them quickly. I just wish the yaoi part were more spicy and explicit, but that's more
of a personal thing rather than critique haha. That's why I would have loved there to be more episodes that also reveal more details of every important characters' past.
To sum it up, a must watch!! Although the artstyle and animations are of course somehow outdated in a 2017-pov, it doesn't make the experience any less thrilling!