Ceres, Celestial Legend
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|Ceres, Celestial Legend|
First volume of the original Japanese release of the Ceres, Celestial Legend manga
(Ayashi no Ceres)
|Genre||Action, Fantasy, Romance|
|Written by||Yuu Watase|
|English publisher||Viz Media|
|Original run||May 1996 – March 2000|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Hajime Kamegaki|
|Produced by||Akito Yamashita
|Written by||Sukehiro Tomita
|Original run||April 20, 2000 – September 28, 2000|
Ceres, Celestial Legend (妖しのセレス Ayashi no Seresu?) is a fantasy shōjo manga series written by Yuu Watase. It was originally serialized in Shōjo Comic from May 1996 through March 2000 and later reprinted by Shogakukan in fourteen collected volumes.
The series focuses on Aya Mikage, who learns on her sixteenth birthday that she is the reincarnation of a celestial maiden (天女 Tennin?) named Ceres, and her twin brother Aki the reincarnation of Ceres' former husband, Mikagi. Ceres begins manifesting in Aya, and to save her brother she must find Ceres' lost celestial robe (羽衣 hagoromo?), while avoiding being killed or captured by family members who want to use Ceres's supreme celestial abilities for their own personal gain.
The manga series is licensed for English language release in North America by Viz Media. In 1998, it won the Shogakukan Manga Award for shōjo. Studio Pierrot adapted the series into a twenty-four episode anime series that premiered in Japan on WOWOW on April 20, 2000 and ran until September 28, 2000. The anime series was also licensed by Viz, but has since been re-licensed by Discotek Media.
Aya Mikage and her fraternal twin brother, Aki, go to their grandfather's home for their sixteenth birthday, unaware that it's actually a test to see if they have angel or celestial maiden blood. Aya learns she is the reincarnation of a supremely powerful celestial maiden called Ceres. When she transforms into Ceres, Aya obtains supernatural abilities of flight, long-distance teleportation, telepathy, powerful telekinesis, premonition, and superhuman speed; she can also project destructive pink energy blasts from her hands, and create impenetrable shields and barriers of pure pink energy. According to the legend, Ceres will kill the entire Mikage family in revenge for stealing her hagoromo (celestial robe), thus preventing her returning home to Heaven. Because of this, Aya's family attempts to kill her, but she is saved by Suzumi Aogiri, another Tennin descendant with supernatural abilities, and Suzumi's brother-in-law, Yūhi. Aya struggles to control Ceres' power. Her brother Aki is eventually completely taken over by the vengeful spirit of "Mikage", the original ancestor of the entire Mikage family who stole Ceres' celestial robe, forcing her to stay with him on Earth. Aya promises Ceres that she will help find the celestial robe in exchange for not killing those who hunt her, especially Aki, since Aya still loves them as family.
Aya also wrestles with her strong romantic feelings for Toya, a servant of the Mikage. Toya is trying to kill her as well, and has lost his memory of his past. However, he begins to reciprocate Aya's feelings, and they conceive a child together. Toya regains his memory and learns that he was the immortal humanoid organism, also known as "the manna," that the celestial robe created to help it reunite with Ceres.
In the end, Aki, having resisted Mikage's spirit, sacrifices himself to save Aya, and Toya sacrifices his own manna and immortality to save Aya and their unborn child. Months later, Aya and Toya await the birth of their child, knowing that Toya has limited time left.
- Aya Mikage (御景 妖 Mikage Aya?)
- Aya is a sixteen-year-old high school girl and the protagonist of the story. She is a direct descendant and reincarnation of a Tennin named Ceres, who uses her as a medium for existence. The Mikage family considers Ceres a threat and continuously tries to take Aya's life. Aya is horrified but determined to right the past wrongs of her family and recover Ceres' hagoromo so that her family will no longer suffer in fear of her. She falls in love with Toya, and they conceive a child together. In the sequel Episode of Miku, Aya gives birth to a girl named Miku and, three years later, a boy named Aki, who is the look-alike reincarnation of her late twin brother.
- Ceres (セレス Seresu?)
- Ceres is a powerful Tennin (Celestial Maiden) from legend who married Mikagi, the founder of the Mikage family. While she is powerful and volatile, she needs her hagoromo (celestial robe) to recover her true form and full abilities. She has repeatedly attempted to manifest herself through certain female descendants of her bloodline when they reach the age of sixteen. Because her tragic past was misinterpreted by her descendants, her reincarnations are relentlessly killed by the Mikage family.
- Toya (十夜 Tōya?)
- Toya is Aya's main love interest in the series. He is a mysterious young man who has absolutely no memory of his past or his true nature; his only clues are two names: "Toya" ("ten nights", his name), and "Mikage". He works for Mikage International until he falls in love with Aya, rebelling against them to protect her. It is later revealed that he met Aya when she was a six-year-old child. Toya is the embodiment/offspring of the hagoromo of Ceres. He sacrifices the manna bestowed upon him by the celestial robe to give him immortality, saving Aya and protecting their unborn children.
- Aki Mikage (御景 明 Mikage Aki?)
- Aki is Aya's twin brother, a gentle and caring person who becomes a medium for the spirit of Mikagi, the founder of the Mikage family. Mikagi in Aki's body aggressively pursues Aya and Ceres, and almost rapes Aya. In the end Aki sacrifices his life to destroy the violent and hateful spirit. In the sequel Episode of Miku, he is reborn and reincarnated as Aya and Toya's second child Aki.
- Suzumi Aogiri (梧 納涼 Aogiri Suzumi?)
- A widow and a C-Genomer (Tennin descendant) from the Kansai region, Suzumi is the head of a branch of one of the Aogiri family's schools of Japanese dance. She welcomes Aya into her household when she discovers Aya has become Ceres' latest medium. Suzumi cannot become a Tennin like Aya, though she does possess some psychic/psionic abilities, such as clairvoyance, premonition, and powerful telekinesis. She is capable of making protective celestial amulets that possess enormous power.
- Yūhi Aogiri (梧 雄飛 Aogiri Yūhi?)
- Yūhi is the adopted younger brother of Suzumi's deceased husband. Early in the series, he wears a headband enhanced with strong Tennin magic made by Suzumi, designating him Aya's bodyguard. He has a strong unrequited love for Aya. Though attracted to Yūhi, Aya ultimately comes to see him as a close friend on a strictly platonic level, and Yūhi is able to accept the fact that Aya only loves Toya. Later, he begins to care deeply for Chidori Kurama. A notable martial arts expert, he is also an extraordinary cook.
- Kyū Oda, "Mrs. Q" (小田 玖 Oda Kyū?)
- The Aogiri's household help, "Mrs. Q" is a gnome-like woman known for her reckless driving and ridiculously ugly appearance, despite her consistent claims that she is a beautiful woman. She's convinced that she and Toya are made for each other.
- Chidori Kuruma (来間 千鳥 Kuruma Chidori?)
- A C-Genomer from Tochigi Prefecture, Chidori is a cheerful high school girl who looks and acts child-like until she transforms into a Tennin. She cares very deeply for her younger brother, Shota, who was hospitalized upon her introduction into the story. She can transform into a Tennin at will or whenever she gets mad or upset. She seems to have developed deep romantic feelings for her crush Yūhi, and later dies for his sake just as she is about to confess that she had always cared for him. The Mikage scientists identify Chidori's Tennin type as Pallas.
- Yuki Urakawa (浦川 由貴 Urakawa Yuki?)
- Voiced by: Akiko Kimura
- Yuki is a high school girl and a C-Genomer who goes the same school as Yūhi and Aya. She is quiet and has a weak constitution, so she can't transform into a Tennin, but she can manifest pyrokinesis. She has a relationship with her teacher, who is actually an agent sent by Mikage International to capture and eliminate Aya and Ceres. In the end, Urakawa burns the agent with her power and hugs him, causing the fire to kill her as well.
- Miori Sahara (佐原 美緒里 Sahara Miori?)
- Voiced by: Akiko Yajima (Japanese), Meredith Taylor-Parry (English)
- Miori is Aya's distant cousin and a C-Genomer from Shizuoka Prefecture. She was Toya's lover in a fake past that Kagami implanted in him. She is an ordinary high school girl living a normal, happy life with her mother, until her mother was summoned by the Mikages and killed at the main house when Aya first transformed into Ceres. She pretends to become friends with Aya when Aya transfers to her school, then transforms into a Tennin to take on Aya (as Ceres) and avenge her mother's death. She later commits suicide as her final act of "revenge" against Aya. Miori is identified by the Mikage scientists as possessing the same Tennin type as Aya.
- Shuro Tsukasa (司 珠呂 Tsukasa Shuro?)
- Voiced by: Shizuka Sasaki (Japanese), Elizabeth Stepkowski (English)
- An Okinawan C-Genomer, Shuro was raised as a man by her family out of a fear that she would one day take away the family's heirloom, Ceres' hagoromo, and ascend to heaven. She is GeSANG's famous pop star alongside her cousin Kei Tsukasa, who she is in love with. She dies near the end of the series while attempting to free the C-Genomes. Shuro has the ability to magnify her voice to an amplitude that can rupture a person's heart when she transforms into a Tennin. Mikage scientists identify her as Tennin type Juno.
- Kagami Mikage (御景 各臣 Mikage Kagami?)
- Kagami is Aya's distant cousin and director of the C-Project (Celestial Project) conducted by Mikage International. He is one of the few members of the Mikage family who wants to meet Ceres and does not fear her. At times he seems in love with her. Kagami wants to capture Ceres and study her, to harness the ability of the Tennin and learn their true nature. He aims to better humanity by creating a perfect human race, though his methods are less than moral. His personality developed from a tragic childhood, where his mother beat him for not being the best.
- Alec (アレク Areku?) / Alexander O. Howell (アレクサンダー·O·ハウエル Arekusandā O. Haueru?)
- Voiced by: Tomokazu Seki (Japanese), Jonathan Love (English)
- Alec is a Scottish scientist who studied in the U.S. and speaks Japanese with a thick acccent. He is a certified genius with a very high IQ and a complete otaku. He works for Mikage International and provides advanced technology for the development of C-Project. As the project progresses, Alec finds that the situation is not what he expected, and tries to back out because of his own moral convictions.
- Gladys Smithson (グラディス·スミソン Guradisu Sumison?)
- Voiced by: Yuko Nagashima (Japanese), Maureen Jones (English)
- Gladys is an American colleague of Alec who also works for the C-Project at Mikage International. She's responsible for the C-Genomer's power growth and development. She dies when she puts herself between Mikagi and a pregnant Ceres.
- Wei Fei Li (偉 飛麗 Wěi Fēi-lì?)
- Voiced by: Kouichi Toochika (Japanese), Ethan Cole (English)
- Wei is a young, skilled martial artist from China hired by Mikage International. Wielding a vicious chain whip and various tiny throwing blades, he is often sent out to capture C-Genomers or perform other covert tasks. When Toya tries to leave the headquarters together with Aki, Wei is sent stop them, and Toya takes out his left eye. Wei is Aki's and Shiso's caretaker and bodyguard, and Toya's replacement. He seems to be calm most of the time and does not complain, but he harbors a grudge against Toya for his injury.
- Shiso Mikagi (始祖·ミカギ Shiso Mikagi?)
- Voiced by: Shinichiro Miki (Japanese), Jonathan Love (English)
- The founder of the Mikage family, Mikagi, first lived during the Jōmon period of Japan. He began as a gentle, kind young man. Ceres falls in love with him, and when their family is attacked and he is ashamed of his inability to protect them, she grants him power. His growing strength drives him mad, and his love becomes an obsession that drives him to hide the hagoromo, causing Ceres to fear for her children's safety. When she leaves, he chases her and kills their first child, so Ceres kills him, covering his body with lacerations that remain when he manifests in Aki. He will stop at nothing to make Ceres his again.
- Assam is a young assassin from Indonesia hired by Kagami to replace and kill Toya. He wants the C-Project to stop using children as objects of war.
Ceres, Celestial Legend is the third manga series written by Yuu Watase. She based it on the legend of the Tennin Ceres and her stolen hagoromo. This legend is also the basis for one of the most performed Japanese Noh plays, Hagoromo. It is the Japanese version of the Swan Maiden legend; versions from other cultures are mentioned throughout the series.
As with most of her serials, Watase planned the basic story line of Ceres through to the end before beginning work. She notes that it is easier to work this way, but that even with planning sometimes the characters will "move on their own" and refuse to follow her original plans. When she reaches the end of the work, though, she can understand why they did so. Watase noted that one of the hardest parts of writing a serial manga was having to plan for a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter. She wanted each one to make the reader want to know what happened next, so they would want to keep reading.
To accurately depict the many locations used within the series, Watase traveled to Miyagi, Okinawa, and Tochigi to visit the locations where legends say Tennin landed. She was able to negotiate entry into some areas normally closed to the public.
The characters in Ceres are not based on real people, but Watase notes that each one reflects some part of herself, as does the story as a whole. For example, Watase incorporated her thoughts on genetic engineering and other new technologies through the character of Kagami, who shows cruel disregard for the lives of the celestial beings he creates. While she feels such technologies can be useful to society, they should not be abused.
Watase purposefully left Ceres' true nature ambiguous in the end, never clearly stating if Ceres is an alien or truly a being descended from heaven. She notes, however, that part of the reason for this was that it wasn't something she'd thought about. In reflection, she felt Ceres was a symbol. In Japan, men are considered the dominant sex, and Watase notes that as a woman there are things about the system that anger her, such as men saying she is "just a woman." Ceres became a story about the relationship between men and women. She also wanted to show that while the Tennin and the humans in the story may have come from different origins, and evolved differently, they were still the same living creature in the end, with similar feelings and thoughts.
Written by Yuu Watase, Ceres, The Celestial Legend premiered in the May 1996 issue of Shogakukan's Shōjo Comic, and ran through the March 2000 issue. The chapters were later published in fourteen collected volumes, with the first volume released on December 11, 1996. Starting October 15, 2005, Shogakukan began re-releasing the series in six special edition volumes, with the final volume released December 15, 2005.
In 2001, Viz Media licensed the manga for an English language release in North America. The series was originally released in a flipped trade paperback format. Viz stopped publication after four volumes. In 2003, Viz re-released the first four volumes in unflipped standard manga-size volumes, along with the remaining ten volumes. In the table below, the dates and ISBN numbers given for the first four volumes are for their second edition re-releases.
|No.||Title||Original release||English release|
|1||Aya||December 11, 1996
|October 29, 2003
|2||Yûhi||March 19, 1997
|February 4, 2004
|3||Suzumi||June 26, 1997
|May 5, 2004
|4||Chidori||September 26, 1997
|August 4, 2004
|5||Mikage||December 15, 1997
|October 29, 2004
|6||Shuro||March 26, 1998
|February 4, 2004
|7||Maya||June 26, 1998
|April 28, 2004
|8||Miori||September 26, 1998
|August 17, 2004
|9||Progenitor||December 15, 1998
|November 16, 2004
|10||Monster||March 26, 1999
|February 16, 2005
|11||Maiden||June 26, 1999
|May 10, 2005
|12||Tôya||September 25, 1999
|August 17, 2005
|13||Ten'nyo||December 14, 1999
|November 8, 2005
|14||Hagoromo||March 25, 2000
|February 7, 2006
Directed by Hajime Kamegaki and produced by Studio Pierrot, the Ceres, Celestial Legend anime adaptation premiered in Japan on WOWOW on April 20, 2000. It ran for 24 episodes until its conclusion on September 28, 2000. It was released to VHS and DVD by Bandai Visual in twelve volumes, with each volume containing two episodes.
Ceres, Celestial Legend was licensed for Region 1 release by Viz Media, which also owns the North American license for the source manga. Viz released the series to VHS and DVD in eight three-episode volumes, with the first volume released on July 24, 2001. The VHS editions were dubbed in English, while the DVD volumes offered a choice between the dubbed English audio track and the original Japanese audio, with optional English subtitles. The DVD version also offers extra features, including art galleries, character profiles, and interviews with Yu Watase. In 2003, Viz re-released the series in two-volume collector's edition sets that contained twelve episodes on each disc, and all of the on-disc extras from earlier releases.
The Ceres, Celestial Legend novels were written by Nishizaki Megumi and illustrated by Watase Yuu, with storylines created by both. The first three novels each tell a side story of one of the characters; the last novels contain a three-part sequel to the main story.
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- Watase, Yuu (Interviewed) (2003-09-16). Ceres, Celestial Legend: Volume 1 - Yuu Watase Interview: New Technologies (DVD). San Francisco, California: Viz Media.
- Watase, Yuu (Interviewed) (2003-09-16). Ceres, Celestial Legend: Volume 1 - Yuu Watase Interview: What is 'Ceres'? (DVD). San Francisco, California: Viz Media.
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- Official PIERROT anime web site (Japanese)
- Official Viz Ceres: Celestial Legend manga web site
- Official Viz Ceres: Celestial Legend anime web site
- Ceres, Celestial Legend (manga) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- Ceres, Celestial Legend (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- Animerica article