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Here you will find honest, intelligent manga reviews for shojo fans of all ages.

Jun 24, 2009

Ceres Celestial Legend - Yuu Watase

Ceres Celestial Legend was originally serialized in Shojo Comic from 1996-2000. In 1998 it won the Shogakukan Manga Award for best shojo manga. A fantasy based on a ten'nyo legend, the story revolves around the Mikage family.

Synopsis: Fraternal twins, Aya and Aki Mikage, discover during a family ritual on their sixteenth birthday their unique heritage. Aya is a reincarnation known as Ceres, a celestial maiden who became trapped on Earth when a farmer stole her hagoromo, or feathered robe. When Aya transforms into Ceres she is bestowed very strong powers, and often forgets what has transpired, thus creating a dual personality. With the revelation of her powers, Aya is deemed a curse of the Mikage family and sentenced to death. Running from her family, she is discovered by Toya, a Mikage employee with no memory of his past. He is assigned to protect Aki from Ceres and also to observe Aya. In his observations he and Aya develop feelings for one another. Meanwhile, Aki is overcome by his own familial "curse" and begins the transformation into Mikagi, the reincarnation of the farmer who stole the maiden's robes. This leads him to seek out Ceres and make her his possession. With the help of allies, and a deal with Ceres, Aya agrees to find the celestial robe in exchange for Ceres not harming her brother or Toya. Her resolve to find the robe wavers as she struggles with the trauma of losing her family, fighting off the advances of her brother as Mikagi, overcoming the complications of her relationship with Toya, and the resulting events created by the c-project, a gene manipulation program that identifies and creates descendants of Ceres. Toya direly searches for his own past and identity, and the comprehension of what draws him to Aya. Together they must fight off the Mikage and return Ceres to her home in the heavens.

Review: Whew...it's a very intricate story, with a long cast of characters. I only mentioned a few, but there are more involved in the production that aid and hinder the main cast. I have to give Watase credit for creating and maintaining the amount of characters used in her story. The story itself is fascinating in its own way. For those not knowing any Japanese legends, the plot familiarizes readers with the stories of the ten'nyo and some of the locations of told sightings in Japan. It has the elements of fantasy, action, romance, mystery, and horror. This is one of the few series that I was completely satisfied with the ending. It is evident that Watase planned out her story and did vast research in order to deliver the chapters with such finesse. She also left some social commentary in there with her views on gene manipulation, and the roles of men and women in society. Her layouts can be boxy at times, due to amount of dialogue, but look nice in the romance or action sequences. The drawings are definitely in her own style, and you can see similarities between these characters and others in her earlier works. The amount of toning and textures definitely add to the scenes instead of detracting from them. Overall the art is appealing for its time.

The relationships in this series are what hold the story together. Aya has three men in her life that support her, her brother Aki, Toya, and Yuhi Aogiri. When things get incestuous between herself and her brother, and her relationship with Toya goes astray, it's Yuhi that stands by her. I find the relationship with her brother the most complex. Being twins they are very close. Then they are separated because Aya is a "threat" to Aki, and then Aki becomes her nemesis. Her feelings of love for her brother always remain in her heart, but his existence is threatened by Ceres. Aya is always trying to protect Aki, but is deeply hurt by his insistence on dominating her as Mikagi. The relationship between Toya and Aya is the main romance, and their relationship becomes intimate. Even though Toya can't remember his past, he feels something right with Aya. His character is vital to the plot. As for Yuhi, he also has deeper feelings for Aya, but Aya is captivated by Toya. Yuhi is the dependable one, her best friend and the shoulder for her to cry on, and his relationship with Aya is the most stable. Watase uses these three character examples of men's relationships with women as being dominating, idealized, or reciprocal. An interesting juxtaposition of characters. I believe any shojo fan who likes fantasy would find this series entertaining and an engrossing read.

Romance Rating: Lustful - There are enough tender and intimate moments to touch the heart of any shojo fan.

Media Status: Ceres Celestial Legend is complete and available in 14 volumes from Viz Media. This series was adapted into an anime. Directed by Hajime Kamagaki and produced by Studio Pierrot, the Ceres, Celestial Legend anime adaptation ran for twenty-four episodes in 2000. It is available on DVD from Viz. Although the art is dated, it is true to the manga.

3 comments:

Lorena said...

Amazing -- this is a series I want to check out and, since we seem to share the same tastes, I definitely will do so soon! :)

Keri Bo Beari said...

I haven't looked at the manga, but this anime still sits on my shelves begging to be finished sometime in this lifetime.

Laura said...

Well you may turn your nose up at the dated art, but it does tell the story fairly accurately. Somewhere in your vast spare hours you should watch it. :)

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