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Ayashi-no-Ceres-wallpaper-500x364

Ayashi no Ceres (Ceres, Celestial Legend in English), by Yuu Watase, draws on ancient Japanese myth and mixes it with a cynical modern perspective to produce a dark yet compelling tale of a young girl caught up in supernatural events beyond her control or understanding.

It starts with twins Aya and Aki Mikage being driven to their grandfather's house on their 16th birthday. On arrival, they are made to view a family relic; the mummified hand of the clan's founder. Wounds appear on Aki; when Aya asks why no-one is helping him, her grandfather orders her death. During her escape, Aya meets Tooya, a mysterious amnesiac in the hire of her family who helps her. She is then taken in by her friend Yuuhi, his older sister Suzumi and their strange housekeeper Q.

As the series progresses, it is revealed that Aya's family is descended from a "Celestial Maiden" ("Tennyo" in Japanese), Ceres, who was trapped on Earth and forced to marry a mortal. Aya is the vessel of Ceres, who occasionally takes over Aya's body and is willing to take revenge for all the misfortune she went through. Aki is posessed by Mikagi, Ceres' human husband from her former life, (also known as the Mikage "First Ancestor", or "Shiso" in Japanese), who over the years has gone... somewhat insane. Whilst Aya and Ceres cohabit, Aki is totally taken over by his ancestor, who now is on the hunt for Ceres. The rest of the family, lead by Aya's cousin Kagami, are trying to create their own army of celestial maidens, through various scientific methods.

Eventually, Aya makes a deal with Ceres. In order to go back to heaven, Ceres needs her Celestial Robe ("hagoromo" in Japanese), which was stolen and hidden by Mikagi thousands of years ago. Aya promises to find it if Ceres promises to not harm anyone else in the mean time. Of course, finding the robe is not easy, and takes Aya and his friends travelling throughout Japan.

Ayashi no Ceres is very violent, and features several characters with varying form of insanity: the Ancestor; Aya and Aki's mother tries to kill Aya (although because she thinks Aya is responsible of her father's death); a girl commits suicide as a wicked form of revenge; there is borderline incest as the Ancestor in Aki's body tries to have his way with Ceres in Aya's body and Aya's cousin Kagami, a Mad Scientist, threatens to rape her to make Ceres persona to manifest. All in all, not recommended for the easily shocked.

This manga was a big turning point in Watase's career, and many people consider it to be her best work yet.


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