From Takashi Shiina, the creator of Zettai Karen Children, comes a supernatural horror comedy.Overdevelopment and crowding in Japan has forced many of its indigenous spirits and ghosts to lose their homes. Due to problems caused by the homeless spirits, a new profession was created, the Ghost Sweepers (GS). Private exorcists for hire, they serve only the highest bidder to survive in the cut-throat corporate world. Among this, the Mikami GS Company, led by Reiko Mikami and her two assistants, Ordinary High-School Student Tadao Yokoshima and the Cute Ghost Girl Okinu, is said to be the best.The manga and anime setup is scenario-to-scenario, with many plots intertwining classic Japanese culture and modern day realities (by 1990's standards), with occasional references to Western influences. In between these plots are some longer story arcs where new characters are introduced and the existing ones are developed further. There isn't one ongoing storyline; the plots are character-driven, serving to gradually develop characters, especially the main protagonists.The series was later adapted into an anime in 1993 by Toei Animation, and aired on TV Asahi from April 11, 1993 to March 9, 1994 on Sunday mornings (strangely enough Takashi Shiina's most recent series Zettai Karen Children also aired on Sunday mornings). An OVA was released in 1994, which features some great swordfighting choreography, as well as some face time for most of the main characters.The series has a small fanbase in North America, and Manga Entertainment released the movie related to this show, but it received a terrible English dub, and strangely in the UK, Manga Entertainment decided to license the final episodes of the series. The Latin American dub, on the other hand, was fairly respectful and had good cast choices, helping the series reach cult status amongst anime fans. (reruns probably helped)Now the unthinkable has happened: the anime has been licensed in North America by Sentai Filmworks.There is a Character Sheet newly minted, so please post character tropes there.This series provides examples of:
Action Girl: Mikami, Emi, Shōryuki, Maria the combat android, and Shiro.
Action Mom: Mikami's mother, she can even travel through time!
She has appeared in the war-against-Ashtaroth arc....and has shown that her methods are quite...unethical, to put it mildly, showing to be willing to go to any length to defeat Ashtaroth. Even willing to at least consider killing Mikami if she can't get strong enough, and actually going through with a strategy that involves sacrificing Yokoshima's life. Granted, she couldn't quite bring herself to finish it, but...
And later on Yokoshima's, even Mikami admits she more then a match for her. She apprehends a planejacking terrorist in her first appearance, raise the stock value of the company she works for just by showing up, and outfoxes Mikami into revealing her feelings for Yokoshima...well, almost.
Adaptation Distillation: The manga takes about 6 chapters to deal with "the piper"; which gets kind of boring. The anime, takes one episode.
All Just a Dream: The very last pair of files involves this; the far-future situation in the first file is revealed to be a dream in the second file. However, it appears to be a shared dream of Yokoshima and Mikami, with this quality making them briefly wonder if it actually was a sort of peering-into-the-future vision.
Alpha Bitch: Yumi. What makes it worse is that she can't even stand the other students looking up to a successful GS like Mikami. Keep in mind that she's at a school where Ghost Sweepers are trained—she'd keep them from having role models, apparently.
Yumi's anger in that situation came from the fact that she idolized Mikami as much any of them, and was jealous that Ichimonji was getting noticed by her idol rather than her. Her hate also stems from the fact that she went through Training from Hell since the day she was born to be a worthy successor to her ghostbusting family's name while Ichimonji apparently is just so gifted that she starts out at a point where she's already about equal to Yumi's level without needing much training.
Ambiguously Brown: Emi Ogasawara, who seems to share Mikami's background and training, with the exception of using voodoo for her exorcisms.
And I Must Scream: A good chunk of the cast was at risk of this when they tried and failed to exorcise a cursed Crane Game. If you play it, and you fail to snag something, you become a doll prize. Inside the cursed game. Meaning that the only escape is for someone to successfully "win" you...and thus, risk getting trapped themselves.
Bad Boss: Ashtaroth. He thought little of wrecking Dogura in his fury after the loss of the energy crystal. Of course, Dogura, being a sort of golem, could be easily restored. However, he claims to have "disposed of" the bug sisters after they proved unable to find Mephistopheles/Mikami, even though he suggests that in the end, he might have been the only one who could have found her anyway. Yokoshima takes this poorly.
Battle Couple: Yumi and Yukinojou seem to be being set up as this.
The Beastmaster: Meiko Rokudo is a shikigami tamer and can control a full twelve of them. However, her control over them relies heavily on her own self-control...and she has essentially none due to her insecurity.
Meiko's mom, however, plays it more straight. Being much more experienced and level-headed, Mrs. Rokudo can even make the shikigami drink tea with her easily.
It should be noted, however, that under Meiko's wing, they only lose control when she loses it. Anyone else who has had control of them (Emi and Mikami, among others) lose control of them on the instant they are summoned. A fellow shikigami tamer who was presented as being better than her even lost control and they started to attack him after he took control of more than three.
Lampshaded in that Dogura and the bug sisters—villains, mind you—treat him more nicely than the good guys.
Calling the Old Man Out: Yokoshima gets into quite a scrap with his father early on—he's sick to undeath of Daishuu's philandering (remember that Yokoshima is actually honest about his overagitated sex drive), and his trying to trick Mikami into his bed is the last straw. This kind of confrontation also happens with Mikami, whose past life Mephistopheles was created/"fathered" by Ashtaroth.
Combat Pragmatist: Saijou, which makes for an...interesting...juxtaposition with his proclaimed dedication to justice. One could argue, though, that he's more concerned with just ends than just means.
Cosmic Plaything: Yokoshima, seriously. If he's not in some unpleasant situation by the end of a chapter due to Mikami's neglect or abuse (if it's not his own fault of course), then it's a whole chapter made to screw him over. Poor guy.
Yukinojou: You've been dead for a long time, man. I'm way out of your league now!
Kankuro: I hate the power inflation rate of shonen manga!
This was justified by Luciola mentioning that the resurrected characters only come back with the strength they had when they were still alive. The heroes are much stronger at this point, so the restored spirits are pretty much just annoyances to the heroes. Nonetheless, it was cool seeing Medusa get owned by Yokoshima. Especially since it's the second time she lost to him.
Cute Ghost Girl: Okinu, arguably Aiko? She's actually the spiritual essence of an old schooldesk, but consistently manifests as a ghostly schoolgirl
Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The masoujutsu, or Demon Armor Art. Gives you amazing strength and resilience, but use it for too long, and you become a demon. Yukinojou has the presence of mind to disengage it before that can happen. Innen doesn't, and one gets the feeling Kankuro welcomed it.
Death Seeker: Believe it or not, this was the whole intent behind Ashtaroth's schemes—to get himself killed, at least if he couldn't make it impossible for himself to ever be held as a villain. It doesn't help he thought that the latter would be inevitable so long as the god/demon equipoise persisted.)
Later on, there's Kimihiko Amatsuga, a man who's cursed with uncontrollable telepathy—he can't avoid reading others' memories, and it is agonizing. He finally finds a way to die meaningfully when he uses his telepathy to draw the demon Tubular Bell into himself, expecting Michie and Karasu to kill them simultaneously. Not that it happens this way, since Kimihiko is Reiko's future father...
Demoted to Extra: Most of the cast after the tournament arc. Meiko, Dr.chaos, Pete, Emi, just to name a few.
Empty Quiver: Part of how Ashtaroth tries to blackmail Mikami to his lair. In this case, Papilio's hijacked several nuclear submarines, and if Our Heroes start making things difficult for him, the missiles will ransack the entire world. He actually launches them when Yokoshima saves Mikami and Luciola from certain death, and indirectly saves Michie by saving Luciola...
Even the Girls Want Her: Mikami's beauty is remarked on by both males and females, and Meiko is pretty much in love with her.
A God Am I: Ashtaroth certainly likes to think of himself as one, at least as far as his creations are concerned. In addition, he plans to displace all the current gods and take their place as a sole god without any peers, his idea of putting an end to the god/demon wars.
Gonk: Mega-hime, in immense contrast to her noble, self-sacrificing nature. And that's in contrast to her somewhat classist father. Ugliness is only skin-deep, indeed...
This actually got her into major trouble when Ashtaroth used it to his advantage to lure her into a trap.
Groin Attack: Yokoshima's past self actually inflicts one on himself when Mikami's demonic past self offers herself to him. He insists that despite his tendency toward perversion, he wants there to be real love when it comes time to do the deed. Naturally, Mikami's past self wonders What Is This Thing You Call Love??
Heel-Face Turn: Yukinojou when he becomes disenchanted with Medusa's win-at-all-costs mentality, Luciola when she falls for Yokoshima and thus becomes open to the idea of keeping humanity in one piece, Papilio when Mikami explains why Yokoshima held back on her (even if Mikami's explanation was at least somewhat fictitious).
Heel Realization: Yumi, on finding out Ichimonji was not as lazy as she had thought her to be.
Heroic Sacrifice: Yokoshima jumping in front of Luciola to protect her from a blast from Vespa that would surley kill her. Keep in mind that Luciola was intercepting Vespa in a Heroic Sacrifice of her own so Yokoshima would have an opportunity to release Mikami from Ashtaroth's clutches.
Human Popsicle: Inverted in that Okinu was actually killed by the sacrifice ritual that froze her into a block of ice, but the ritual was actually designed so that after the purpose of the the sacrifice was fulfilled, her body would be perfectly prepared for quick resurrection.
I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Pietro aka Pete is actually half-vampire, half-human. And yes, he hates his father Count Vlado.
I Am Not Left-Handed: Like in any other battle manga, this happens a lot. Specially when Mikami is involved, and she can cheat someway or another.
Insulted Awake: When Mikami had her Heroic BSOD after getting recruited by Saijo into the G-men and forced to work for fixed pay and free charity events, the thing that snaps her back is Yokoshima making a move on her like he usually does.
The Idiot from Osaka: Yokoshima, in the literal sense at least? That is, he heralds from Osaka, and his mentality is at best inconsistent.
Not to mention Yokoshima's seiyuu, Ryo Horikawa also hails from Osaka.
Jack the Ripper: An interesting version in this series. There was no single person known as Jack the Ripper. Instead, a razor became possessed with a bloodthirsty spirit, and controlled its victims in turn. In other words, each prostitute had been slain by the previous dead prostitute.
Jerkass: Mikami most of the time, especially when money is involved. The thing of it is she doesn't even realize it, and when told directly about it she tries to deny it.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: On the flipside though, Mikami does have a few rare moments of "humility", where she can be kind enough when she feels like it.
Lethal Chef: The binboukami has a pretty good sense of nutrition. Unfortunately, he forgets that "nutritious" and "delectable" or even "edible" aren't always the same thing. To give an idea, the "nutritious" burger he made are later used to perform soul-body seperation, simply by biting it once.
Licking the Blade: There's a serial killer in the Shiro vs. Tamamo arc who does this. Although this takes on some curious overtones, since the razor itself is the killer, possessing its victims...
Lotus-Eater Machine: Mikami falls prey to one designed by Ashtaroth, Vespa, and Dogura, meant specifically to get her to lower her guard so Ashtaroth could yank out the energy crystal. One unique feature of this one: While Mikami experienced two months inside of it, only three days had passed in reality. Also, the dream-come-true that Ashtaroth used to manipulate Mikami was the resuscitation of her old, normal, ridiculously-high-profit business schedule.
Actually happened several other times during the series.
Louis Cypher: Ashi Yuutarou, a man similar in looks to Ashtaroth. Mikami even thinks at first that this is a Paper-Thin Disguise for Ashtaroth, but it turns out he's an ordinary human with unfortunately similar name and looks. Then it turns out he is Ashtaroth, and his Ashi stint was just to get Mikami to lower her guard inside the galaxy egg.
Lovable Sex Maniac: Yokoshima, but you can't blame him, Yokoshima's a typical 17-year-old guy with a healthy libido, and it doesn't help that Mikami is a hot and sexually attractive 20-year-old.
It makes even more sense when you consider that his father, Daishuu, is an unrepentant Casanova. Looks like he inherited a measure of that...
It gets better. It turns out that Daishuu acts very much like Yokoshima does when trying to woo the woman who would be Yokoshima's mother ... and the latter acts exactly like Mikami does when rebuffing his over-the-top advances. Yokoshima's probably just taking a few notes from his parents' experience. Mikami was, quite understandably, disturbed.
Later on, it turns out that Yokoshima's past life, Takashima, was a womanizer on par with Daishuu. If you were a woman in Heian-era Kyoto, no matter your class, Takashima was probably interested in you.
The Man Behind the Man: Medusa, despite being a dragon god in her own right, is a member of Astaroth's faction of demons. She lets this slip when she refers to the possibility of being given an order to assassinate Mikami or her mother.
Medium Awareness: Not to the point that the Fourth Wall is non-existent, but it happens quite a bit. Some notable examples include Mikami snarling that Yokoshima's lasciviousness is pushing the boundaries of shounen manga; commenting that she's gone the course of the manga without killing anyone living (and that she wouldn't mind interrupting that if she gets to take down Medusa and/or Kankuro); and engaging in a singing contest with a siren using the anime's opening song. There's even a point where Yokoshima disparaged the author, who immediately sends down a bolt of lightning to fry him, on a sunny day, and in broad daylight. The frequency rises somewhat as the series goes on.
Miko: Okinu, until her death. Now she's a lovable ghost girl.
Mood Whiplash: Has a habit of going from tense to comedy and back again. Lampshaded on a few occasions.
My Beloved Smother: Yokoshima's mother, Yuriko. She's a general Control Freak who will not suffer anything to not go her way. This includes Yokoshima not wanting to live with her or Daishuu, and him working with Mikami. Thing is, she's actually one of, if not the most rational person in the series, as admitted by Mikami herself. There's a ridiculously short supply of rational thought and behavior in the manga.
My Skull Runneth Over: Dr. Chaos has a continuously solved version of this. Because of his lifespan and studies, his brain is literally full with information. Whenever he learns something new, his brain just overwrites something earlier. This leads to a spotty form of amnesia, to the point where even though he can understand the nature of the Tenshi Luopan, he completely forgets that 2+2 is 4, not 5...
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Mikami unbinding Okinu from Mt. Orochi had a rather unpleasant side-effect. Namely, de-sealing the earth vein that a demonic plant was barred from draining. Why? The seal was Okinu's own soul.
No One Could Survive That: Mikami thinks that Ashtaroth is finally out of her hair after he and Vespa get pounded with a swarm of nuclear missiles that Papilio called back. However, the fact that Hyakume still isn't getting any better makes Saijou think that this isn't the case. There's also the scene of Dogura (who admittedly thrives on radioactive material anyway) making its own escape...
The Rival: Yukinojou feels this way towards Yokoshima. Yokoshima is somewhat oblivious to this, something that becomes way funnier when its revealed that both of them had dueled before...while they were children...in an RC car tournament..and Yokoshima won
Reika and Emi of course
And there's a story where a popular movie star shows up and Yokoshima very much threats him like this because in school he was always super popular while he kept being harassed by the girls over his friendship with him, and as a final twist of the knife, the day before Yokoshima was left the school they went to together, he had been planning to ask out the girl he had a crush on, but saw his pal making the love confession to her already. Of course at the end came the twist where the Movie Star recalled that when he made said confession, the girl had told him she actually liked Yokoshima better.
Out with a Bang: After the Mephistopheles incident, Ashtaroth decided to prevent a repeat occurrence by installing several failsafes in his later created servants that would kill them if they took any similar steps. Bedding a human? Breaks failsafe #7. Once he learns about that, Yokoshima can't bring himself to bed Luciola, at least until Ashtaroth and his failsafes are dead and gone.
Perpetual Poverty: Dr. Chaos is the epitome of this. No matter what he does to try to get his rent money, it backfires on him. Kobato and her mother were also caught in this, until Yokoshima lifted the curse attached to the binboukami. It's taking some time to properly wane, though. Yokoshiuma also suffers from this, due the absurdly low salary Reiko pays him.
Petting Zoo People: The inukami. Partly justified in that they're a kind of werewolf and descendants of Fenrir. The main traits they keep in human form are the tail and the fangs. There's also Tamamo, a kyuube no kitsune whose hair in human form resembles the nine tails of her fox form.
Power Perversion Potential: Yokoshima uses one of his Monju beads to make a demon fall in love with him. Time will tell whether he uses it that way again. The possibilities are endless, and a Lovable Sex Maniac of his caliber wouldn't let them go untried.
It happens in the very next story arc—he tries to use one to peer into the showers of a school while some of the students are in there. Only running into an emerging Okinu stops him.
Power Trio: Lust-addled Yokoshima would be the id, workaholic, money-obsessed Mikami the superego, and calm-tempered Okinu the ego.
Pure Is Not Good: Or rather, Pure Is Not Good Enough, when it comes to Marin's arts. She thinks it's enough to cleanse a place of all its current taints, but all that does is let weaker wraiths flock in with all the competition gone. In other words, the purity she induces can actually make things worse.
Reincarnation: Thanks to Hyakume, Yokoshima and Mikami get to learn about the past existences of three characters. Saijou/Saigou is as straight-arrow as ever, Yokoshima/Takashima is as lust-ridden and antagonistic towards Saijou/Saigou as ever, and Mikami... was originally A FRESHLY CRAFTED DEMON NAMED MEPHISTOPHELES.
Medusa pulls off a rather impressive one during the space arc. On the verge of being defeated after taking hit from both Makami and Yokoshima, she resort to a desperate tactic of kissing Yokoshima and implanting some of her essence in him. Yokoshima later spits it out where it grows into a younger (or, in his words, "fresher") version of her.
And then, at the close of the War-Against-Ashtaroth arc, there's the promise that Luciola can be reincarnated early—as Yokoshima's child. For once, his lust overdrive can have good fruit, so long as he avoids the obvious problem.
It is also said that in a future (which is not shown in the manga) Luciola will Reincarnate into Yokoshima's daughter
Ret Gone: Dr. Chaos tried to feed a P.E.T. poison that was supposed to do this to Mikami. Yokoshima was hit instead, and his history was steadily erased from present to past. It was only stopped when his history regressed to his being a months-old baby, and a five- or six-year old Mikami passed by, cooed at the adorable kid, and kissed him on the cheek—a repeat of the Accidental Kiss that was seared into his memory just before getting poisoned. That repeat of "fate" undid the poison's effects.
Romantic False Lead: Saijou, the former apprentice of Mikami's mother. Yokoshima just gets more resolutely desperate to win Mikami back to his side (via keeping the agency in the black, of course).
RPG Episode: There was one episode where they were sucked into a possessed RPG.
Samus Is a Girl: Shiro, who started off looking like a small boy till she absorbed some power from Mikami and revealed her true gender.
And it's hereditary. The original Rokudou is, if anything, even more childish and spookable. Meiko's mother manages to keep a cap on it most of the time, at least as long as she can keep her aggressive demeanor going.
Smoking Is Cool: If his demeanor then is anything to go by, that's why Karasu was smoking back in 1978. On the other hand, getting winded trying to climb up the Sunshine building does convince him that quitting's a smart move...
Talking the Monster to Death: The fate of Yodogawa, an author ghost who isn't defeated by Mikami, but rather a female author who had tagged along with them. Both authors get into an argument on writing styles (Yodogawa sounds like he takes after Yukio Mishima while his name is based on Edogawa Ranpo, Anna is general popular mystery-thriller) and Yodogawa exorcises himself when he finds out how many books the female author sold, proclaiming "Literature is dead!".
Tomato Surprise: Mikami's past life being a created demon name Mephistopheles. Explaining why demons are after her as she has a powerful artifact bound to her soul due to Mephistopheles swallowing it. This also explains why she was able to travel through time as well.
Tournament Arc: Shortly after the point the anime stopped, we get this. Yokoshima and Mikami are just there to fish out Medusa's infiltrators. This is where Yokoshima also gets a little bonus: spiritual powers of his own.
Training from Hell: Apparently par for the course for Touryu exorcists. It seems to be a big part of why Yumi acts like she does—she can't stand the thought that all her effort and suffering were somehow unnecessary, if compared to the likes of Okinu and Ichimonji.
Then there's what Michie puts Mikami through in order for her to be able to defeat Ashtaroth and Dogura...
Before that there was Shouryuuki and Hanoman's training...though the latter consists of playing a fighting game for months on end. It's the test after that latter training that constitutes the "hell" part.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Suzume, the last pixie alive, is introduced and made part of Mikami's crew for a grand total of two chapters, then is inmediately forgotten and unspoken of for the remainder of the series, with only a vague cameo indicating she's still around.
After Luciola performs her Heroic Sacrifice and gives the rest of her energy to Yokoshima, Papilio and Vespa try to collect enough "soul fragments" to revive her (similar to the way Vespa was revived), but it turns out they're not enough. Adding part of another soul is not possible, as the result would not be Luciola. They can only find one solution: Yokoshima can father a child, passing the essence and the collected soul fragments down, but he needs to do it quick because the essence is not going to be with him forever. After mentioning this, it's never brought up again for the rest of the series. For a series like this, one would think they would be able to make a clone or homunculus of Yokoshima.
Whip It Good: What Mikami's shintsukon becomes after she powers up during Demian's attack on Myoushinzan.
Widget Series: In its own right, this series is random enough to be considered one.
Wig, Dress, Accent: How Mikami infiltrates the tournament without Medusa catching on. Although, you'd think someone would have noticed how familiar her alias name—Mika Rei—sounded.
Well, Kankuro did...
With Friends Like These...: At least, with regard to how Okinu thinks that Mikami and Emi are friends, and their fervent business rivalry is actually fueled by it. No one else seems to share her opinion, though. Least of all Mikami and Emi.
Yamato Nadeshiko: Okinu. Kobato would probably be one if she wasn't so goddamn poor...
You Already Changed The Past: This seems to be Shiina's preferred understanding of time travel for this series. Spoilered examples from various points in the manga: Mikami saving Yokoshima from getting skewered by Nuru; present Mikami interfering with Ashtaroth recapturing his super-demon's power core from her past life Mephistopheles; and present Mikami using forgetfulness monju to make herself and Yokoshima forget about the arrival of future Yokoshima, complete with his revelation that Yokoshima and Mikami will marry in the future. The point about this last bit is that present Mikami did that to efface the horror of the thought of marrying Yokoshima...which just ups the chances of that marriage happening, epsecially given the events that happen later on. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that small changes to the past can occur, but will inevitably be reversed almost at once. So not so much as a single, unchanging, infinite, strand of thread as a single, unchanging, infinite thread with a few knots here and there. Multiple lines at a point, but still the same single chain of causality.
You Can't Fight Fate: Dovetails with You Already Changed The Past above, a little. Mikami points out that the reason things have gone so horribly, slapstically wrong for Ashtaroth since the Cosmo Processor was de-powered is because the universe is actively retaliating for the attempt to sway it from the shape it was trying to take and maintain from the beginning. Her example for how it works is her going back in time and assassinating Hitler. As she points out, the cosmos wouldn't let its shape be altered like that for long; it'd just arrange for the Nazi movement to re-manifest. Amusingly, in her example, the new Nazi archon was John F. Kennedy...