A Y A S H I
N O C E R E S
in April, 2001 by Mark Vallen, Jeannine Thorpe, and John Lentini
Screen shots generously provided by John Lentini.
by Jeannine Thorpe) This latest release by popular
manga Artist Watase Yu presents us with all the wonderful
storytelling, drama, fantasy, and romance that we have come
to love her for. Mikage Aya and her twin brother Aki
lead completely normal lives as Tokyo teenagers, until on
their 16th birthday they learn of their family's dark secret
that will change their lives forever. For within Aya sleeps
the power of a Tennyo (Heavenly Maiden), the beautiful
and extremely dangerous Ceres... whose only motivation
is revenge against the Mikage family. Suddenly Aya is alone
and has no idea who to trust, with even her own family out
to destroy her. She is taken in by others who know of the
Tennyo power, but Aya is constantly in conflict with her emotions....
the adventure completely envelopes you and leaves you begging
no surprise to me that Watase Yu created Ayashi no Ceres
after the popularity of her previous shoujo tale with heavy
fantasy elements, Fushigi Yuugi.... but what is a surprise
is how different and original it is. Aya is a more mature
heroine by far than Miaka, and from the very beginning
the series is darker and more realistically dramatic. Whereas
Fushigi Yuugi was set in a fantasy world, Ayashi
no Ceres is in modern Tokyo... sword fights are replaced
with gunfights... so the drama seems that more real.
Yet the series is also very Japanese, with lead characters
Suzumi and Yuuhi living in a beautiful Japanese
style home, and Suzumi always wearing kimono. Thus Ceres
presents a realistic view of the multiple dimensions of modern
Japanese life, combined with a little mythology based fantasy.
animation far surpasses that of the Fushigi Yuugi television
or OAV series... computer animation perfectly melded with
cel drawings to create wonderfully realistic effects, such
as the rain in the image above. The animation is frequently
composed of large, close up face shots of the characters,
a trend started in the Fushigi Yuugi OAVs.... a wonderful
technique that heightens the drama to a palpable level. The
music is also first rate, combining a slow enka-inspired opening
theme, a loud techno ending theme, and a great new age background
soundtrack. I can't wait to see the entire series all the
way to the end!
by Mark Vallen)
no Ceres manga and anime series is a splendid mix of Science
Fiction and Mysticism that is sure to have very wide appeal.
One of the first things I noticed while watching the anime was
how the quality of it's animation differed from that of Fushigi
Yuugi (the other great work from Watase
This latest anime combines traditional hand painted cel animation
with computer generated imaging (CGI), and the results are quite
impressive. While the CGI work was apparent and rarely masked,
it never came off as being just a cheap effect, rather, it enhanced
the overall quality of the anime.
The music to this anime is wonderful, and I encourage audiophiles
to seek out the CD soundtrack. The opening song with vocals
by Junko Iwao
(the voice actress for
Ceres) is an unforgettable, lilting, ballad that serves as
the theme music for the series. The closing song is by Day
Break, who offer a catchy, energetic bit of rockin J-Pop
that I've had great difficulty getting out of my head. There
is no current release of this anime in the West, but Viz
Communications has purchased the rights to the series
and is supposedly planning to release it in the Spring of
2001. I've only watched the first four episodes of Ayashi
but that was enough to make me want to watch the show to it's
by John Lentini)
fans take note... here comes Ayashi no Ceres. If
you are familiar with Watase Yu's character styles
and storylines, then you should really check this one out.
After you spend the first episode saying to yourself, 'Hey,
that looks like (insert random Fushigi Yuugi character here)?'
You can really sit down and enjoy this series, along with
the strong character designs that Watase-san is known for.
A very good visual story with a tremendous soundtrack behind
the show, that may even remind you of the fine pages of
a certain book from long ago. So
to all the FY fans out there... and we know of quite
a few, get the word out on this up and coming series before
it hits the shelves!
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