An Onmyodo School Fantasy of a Failing Private Onmyo Academy Student!!
Tsuchimikado Harutora was born into a prestigious Onmyoji family, but he can't see "spirit energy." Therefore, he's been enjoying a peaceful daily life with his friends at an Onmyo branch school. One day, his childhood friend Tsuchimikado Natsume, heir to the head family, suddenly appears. Will this cause his destiny spring into motion!?
If you’re charmed by the miko outfit (yes I was… too…) I suggest you turn back at once (for now), because you probably won’t be seeing it anytime soon. Go away you bunch of pervies.
If you are still following the lines however, welcome! Tokyo Ravens is a nice find with a story of onmyodo reinterpreted onto modern society. There are schools created to train young onmyoji, the most gifted 12 are given title “Heavenly General”, there are ranks and government are relying on these arts, dispatching curse investigator to subdue the unlawful use of onmyou arts.
[ Story - 9 - ]
About half a century
ago, an onmyoji who was hailed as the greatest –Tsuchimikado Yakou failed an onmyou art of soul transfer “Taizan Fukun”, perished, and brought calamity upon Tokyo. Tokyo is then terrorized by evil spirits, even until today.
Moving back to the present, there are people, seemingly related and closely bonded to the national onmyoji agency, believing that Yakou hadn’t failed his spell, that Yakou had succeeded in transferring his soul – They are Yakou’s disciples, forming the Order of the North Star’s King.
“Yakou’s soul must have lived on, through his bloodline!”
What will happen to the now targeted Tsuchimikado Natsume, a crossdressing girl who is believed to be Yakou’s reincarnation? What about her clueless, bonk-head childhood friend and human shikigami -Tsuchimikado Harutora, whom she seems to be very so in love with? Why does he hold such strong, albeit with little control of a spiritual power despite only being a branch family of Tsuchimikado? There seems to be much in store to this pair of master and shikigami, not only from the threat of those who yearn for the King’s return, but also from idiot of a shikigami’s inability in reading the obvious.
For the uninitiated, onmoyodo is Japanese term for the Art of Yin and Yang, a concept originated from Chinese philosophies. In anime and manga culture, an onmyoji would be able to do divination, spells of Five elements (Wu Xing), and summons of Shikigami (familiar). Tokyo Ravens instead centered heavily on the shikigami part, so it’s sufficient for you to know only of this -Harutora is Natsume’s human shikigami, a tradition practiced only in Tsuchimikado family.
Mainstream? Very much so. The plot is set on modern Tokyo, give it a background story, which in Tokyo Ravens’ case, Onmyodo, ayakashi, ma mono, mononoke, oni, magic and spiritual power, school where you learn the art of onmyodo, also a place where girl meets boy and “Hey didn’t we meet before when we were young?” sort of situation. Even then, the story is very well done. Tokyo Ravens has a pacing that doesn’t give a break, it is upbeat yet every events are meaningful and seems to point towards future happenings. One way the story carries itself is the casual conversation between characters, all of which contains many hints to the background and facts of someone, something, probably due to the fact that this is orginally a manga adapted from light novel.
Subtlety is one awe-inspiring part of Tokyo Ravens, call it cheekiness if you will, but they are perfectly executed. I find it lovable how the stories doesn’t exactly tell you about itself, but instead through a light chat, hinted by flashbacks, then present. One of these examples would be Hokuto, a girl who resembles an idol Harutora admires, its significance, her wanting Harutora to become an onmyoji, her death, her being a shikigami relating to Natsume, and later, Natsume’s haircut. I wish not to spoil further. Try read for yourself!
[ Art -10- ]
I am not so sure how do I describe the art of this manga, if I have to say, it just perfectly fit to the story. The art is modern, and slightly cute-ish, very similar to Nisekoi (by Komi Naoshi), set on modern Tokyo with clearly drawn background and buildings, clean with enough shadings. Another thing I may as well point out here is the dynamic placing of Koma (panels), it’s quite unique, really.
The characters are drawn cute-ish as well, with tons of different, slightly exaggerate (but never over the top) emotions shown on face befitting situations (mainly Natsume). I find myself enjoying these very much! I’d smile, just because of a weird face from Natsume. I hope you’d find it cute as well.
[ Character -7- ]
I actually, for once, do not have much to elaborate about characters of a story, as it is still a little early in the story. All I could say is Tokyo Ravens suffers a little In terms of its cast and characters due to its generic nature, that Harutora holds power greater than norms, that he commands unique shikigami unlike most others, but lacks skill due to his ignorant days, or that Natsume is Tsundere (well quite), who is the most respected student of talents in onmyoudo of her class. They do come off as cliché of a contemporary anime/manga characters and setting but it does look promising indeed and there could be more that we have yet to know. Anyway, what I find may interest readers are future elaboration on Toji, a friend of Harutora who is a little mysterious and isn’t as normal as his vibe would suggest. Also we’d want to see more from Kurahashi, a girl who mistook Natsume as the boy she met when she was small. Other than that, there’s of course the relationship between Harutora and Natsume that is the main attraction.
[ Enjoyment -10- ]
I ENJOY THIS ONE A LOT.
That comes with reasons. The main reason why this manga, I enjoyed so much, is because of its formula and chemistry. The art support the story telling of the manga, its casual conversation, all of which were carefully planned, full of hints to inform readers in a clever (?) and mischievous way. The characters are in the midst of this obviously, the dunce-head Harutora is dumb and failed to notice the obvious, but it is this reason why subtlety works well between him and Natsume. Other than that story is enticing and you’d want to hope for more, even with all that each chapter is so full of development that it doesn’t seem slow. Sometimes the panels are of the light hearted, gleefully done that calms the progress that is yet to deliver, but when it delivers, it comes off with nothing less than attention grabbing.
[ Overall -9- ]
With all said I have nothing else to add here except that it seems an anime is coming soon! Otherwise I really am looking forward to more releases, glad that I found this hidden gem, a gem that may be polished to shine even more.
I thank you for reading this lengthy review (haha… for a 17 chapters…). Good Reading!