"I am invincible. My Shadow Skills... perfectly honed. The power of my blow... HAS. NO. EQUAL!"
— Mantra said before unleashing some serious ass-kicking. (English dub).
"I am invicible. No one can defeat my Shadow Skill. My one single blow is invicible!" (Japanese sub).
Shadow Skill is an Anime
series that aired first in Japan in 1998 and was dubbed by ADV Films
in 2005. It tells the story of the first-ever female Kuruda Sevaar Elle Ragu and her adopted brother Gau Ban and their adventures as they fight in a world of honour, magic, and fearsome enemies.
Elle Ragu is a Sevalle
, one of the elite warriors of the kingdom of Kuruda. She uses her martial arts language, the Kuruda Annihilation Techniques known as "Shadow Skills", in combat in a manner which is legendary. She is the 59th Sevalle
and the only female in living history. Elle, however, drinks like a fish and rarely pays rent. The only thing she seems to be good at is fighting, which she does well enough to somewhat overcome these deficiencies. She is also not the most intellectual sort, a fact frequently lampshaded
by other characters.
Her adopted brother, Gau Ban, is another fighter using the Kuruda Annihilation Techniques, and seeks to surpass Elle. Also along for the ride are Faurink Maya, called Folli, a Sui Reme talisman user who acts as a sort of watchdog for Elle, providing the brains to her brawn, and Kyou Ryu, a Septia (those who catch demon beasts) who has a crush on Gau.
- All-Powerful Bystander - Even though Scarface and Crimson are the most powerful fighters in Kuruda, the former being next in line to succeed the King and the latter being the Court Mage and Master Swordsman, they mostly do nothing substantial throughout the series to prevent/oppose the Big Bad's plans, with the exception of trying (and failing) to capture Kain.
- Amazonian Beauty - Elle has a slender though very muscular physique.
- Anime Theme Song - Surprisingly NOT by Megumi Hayashibara.
- Megumi Hayashibara actually get a chance to sing it in episode 13. She's supposed to be singing it as if she isn't a singer but she's obviously failing.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy - Len Fuma is the poster boy and fan club president.
- Ash Face - In the first episode, Elle gets engulfed in the flames of a fire attack and is left charred black, only to shake it off and complain about her hair being ruined.
- Asskicking Equals Authority - The Kurudan monarchy.
- Authority Equals Asskicking - Eva Stolla, Scarface, and Crimson.
- Badass - Anyone they bothered to come up with a name for. Notably Elle, Diaz, Ren, and later, Gau himself.
- Badass Grandpa - Iba Stol and his identical twin brother Jin Stol are supposed to be this.
- The Beast Master - The native magic style of Ashliana's rival, Soulfan. Gana Greeg, their champion is a Type 3.
- Berserk Button - Gau, Elle, and Diaz become filled with Unstoppable Rage whenever someone they care for is threatened or injured.
- Big Bad - Shere Kahn, Ren Fuuma's boss, who is also He Who Must Not Be Seen.
- Big Brother Instinct - Somewhat inverted in Elle to Gau, played straight with actual siblings Diaz and Elle.
- Big Brother Worship - Elle to Diaz, somewhat inverted with Gau to Elle.
- Played with with Gau towards Scarface, since he isn't aware that the latter is his older brother.
- Break the Cutie - Darkness to Gau, at Scarface's request.
- Broke Episode - Elle manages to drink away most of her money.
- Calling Your Attacks - Required for Kuruda Annhilation Techniques.
- Card Games - Faury's magic style is Yu-Gi-Oh!-style summoning and spell-casting.
- Colony Drop - The Big Bad's plan to destroy Kuruda in the tv series finale with a magical mountain-size meteorite.
- Crowning Momentof Awesome - All of the major characters manages to get at least one.
- Cute Monster Girl - The Holy kingdom of Likitoa is a forest nation of feline Petting Zoo People, as exemplified by their champion, Kyla Lu Luka.
- Dark-Skinned Redhead - Elle, who was a Dark-Skinned Blond in the manga
- Death Equals Redemption - Kain, who was finally restored to sanity after he was forced to fight Gau in a lucid state, when Gau managed to survive his G's seven-part killing attack, which should have killed him, as Gau managed to evade a single strike, so the technique was not completed on him, but even then, he was already beaten to within an inch of his life.
- Defeat Means Friendship - Virtually every surviving fighter in the series. To be expected since it's a warrior culture after all.
- Died Standing Up - Diaz.
- Dying Moment of Awesome - Diaz's last stand against Darkness, the immortal, beyond-superhuman embodiment of humanity's fear of death, as well as his corresponding posthumous award of the highest honor of the title of Sword of Ashliana which which results in being resurrected and transformed into an unkillable immortal just like Darkness.
- Elemental Powers - The Holy Kingdom of Likitoa uses this.
- Fallen Hero - The disgraced 58th Sevalle and Elle's immediate predecessor, G aka Kain Phalanx. A Child Prodigy who was potentially even more powerful than Scarface, he gradually degenerated into an braggart who finally went rogue and tried to short-cut the formal process of royal succession by attempting to assassinate Hawk Eye.
- Final Battle - The epic 3-part tv series finale.
- Finishing Move - Also doubles as Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Cannon for the Shadow Skill and Kuga for the Yin Style.
- First Law of Resurrection - G, who came back as a Lich composed of Paper Talisman 's who was Living on Borrowed Time, until he could get his revenge on Kuruda.
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl - Elle. It's also the reason why she's in debt.
- Hannibal Lecture - Virtually every fighter does this, except Gau.
- Hey, It's That Voice! - Megumi Hayashibara is cast as Elle. If you've watched Slayers, Elle's first few minutes on-screen will give you serious deja vu vibes.
- The English version provides an instantly recognizible Greg Ayres as Gau. Luci Christian, despite putting on a rarely-heard husky voice, is only slightly less recognizible as Elle.
- Honor Before Reason - The representative of the Holy Kingdom of Kishulana, Zel Zakulet forces Elle to kill him in a duel to the death when he seeks to avenge the honor of his father and mentor, the previous representative, who also forced Elle to face him in a fight to the finish in her younger years.
- In a Single Bound - Kurudan Sevalles and Valles
- Incest Is Relative - The inverted Wife Husbandry of Elle to her adopted younger brother Gau when they take a Relationship Upgrade after her real older brother Diaz dies, since they're Not Blood Siblings after all.
- Incurable Cough of Death - Diaz Ragu
- Informed Ability - Iba Stol (Hawk Eye) is the king of Kuruda, but the only time we see him in battle he gets winded from one attack from Ren Fuuma.
- Then again, it was the Ultimate Attack of Ren's style.
- Kick Chick - Elle Ragu.
- Klingon Promotion - To become king of Kuruda, a Sevalle must defeat the current king to become the High Sevalle and next in line to the throne.
- Love Triangle - Low likes Kyou who like Gau who is more or less oblivious He's secretly in love with Elle, who loves him back too — at least in the extended anime remake of the OVA.
- Luke, I Am Your Father - in the tv series, Hawk Eye is actually Kyo's grand-uncle, being the identical twin-brother of her deceased grandfather. In the manga, it is revealed that Big Bad Shere Kahn is actually the biological father of both Scarface and Gau, making them either full-brothers or half-brothers.
- Martial Arts and Crafts - To a degree, with the Martial Arts Language.
- Meaningful Name - Each Sevalle who wins the Annual Royal Fighting Tournament is priviledged to choose their own codename, which will be their title. Scarface chose his name based on his famous scar that Crimson gave him; egomaniac G chose his name, because it was the 7th letter and thus "strongest" letter of Kuruda's alphabet (which is Latin!); and Black Wing aka Diaz, chose his name as it was also the name of his own personal weapon, the boomerang.
- Medieval European Fantasy - The Holy Nation of Ashliana and the four kingdoms within it are very reminiscent of the classic Medieval European Fantasy, with noticeably less bladed weapons.
- Missed the Call - Subverted with Diaz, who sacrificed his sure-shot at being Sevalle to become a highly-paid mercenary to be able to cure his sister's fatal disease, even if he ended up a diseased cripple.
- Motion Capture Mecha - Subverted. A magical variant of this — where a Master Swordsman generates a mecha-sized Golem using his sword and manipulates it with said Sword ala Nintendo's Wii — are used by the Holy Kingdoms of Kishiluna and Felisha.
- My Sibling Will Live Through Me - Elle's motivation for becoming a martial artist in the first place, to repay her brother for his sacrifices on her behalf.
- Mysterious Protector / Sink-or-Swim Mentor - Scarface
- Megumi Hayashibara - Elle Ragu
- Name's the Same - Shere Khan?
- The One Guy - Gau in the central ensemble. Note that there are FAR more males than females in the series overall, but within the band, Gau is the only male.
- One-Man Army / The War Sequence - The Battle of Blorahan. Subverted in that Everybody Lives.
- One-Winged Angel - Darkness, who transforms from a short-haired blonde to a long-haired brunette (sort of like a reverse Super Saiyan).
- Papa Wolf - Diaz to his younger sister Elle and surrogate younger brother Gau.
- Power Born of Madness - G's Start of Darkness.
- Promotion to Parent - Diaz to Elle, Elle to the orphaned Gau.
- Redemption Equals Death - The former general/leader of Ashliana's rival nation, the massive-sized and massively-impoverished nation of Soulfan (who resents Ashliana's good fortune and blames Ashliana for it's own tragically low level of Souma), Badass Normal Master Leen, after resigning his position to go on secret fact-finding mission, tragically realizes too late that Ashliana is not really at fault at all for Soulfan's tragic predicament and Soulfan is actually merely being used by the Big Bad in his plan to destroy Ashliana. However, he does manage to reveal vital info about the Soulfan invasion of Kuruda to Gau before he succumbs to grevious injuries from Ren Fuuma.
- Redhead In Green - Kyou. All she needed was an Irish accent...
- Rings of Death - Kyuo's chulinks.
- The Rival - Low to Gau, they even have corresponding battle names, White Lightning and Black Howling, respectively.
- Serial Escalation- Gau and Elle both strive for this with varying levels of success.
- Spell My Name with an "S" - Faury/Folli/Folly, for just one example. The whole series liberally mixes the pronunciation and spelling of "s" and "l" in both the manga and the anime ova and tv series.
- Staking the Loved One - Scarface, when he was forced to stop his best friend G from killing Hawk Eye.
- Teach Him Anger - Scarface's strategy for secretly training Gau. Subverted in that it is revealed that Gau was actually more powerful as a child when he was newly-orphaned and full of Unstoppable Rage over the murder of his parents by bandits. Ironically, being with Elle has thoroughly mellowed him out to be too much of a Nice Guy that Low and even Elle calls him out on it.
- Terminally Dependent Society - The wealth and prosperity of the Holy Kingdom of Ashliana (composed of the Floating Continent capital city of Juliannes and it's surrounding border city-states of Kuruda, Kishiluna, Felisha, and Likitoa) is due to it's unnaturally-high levels of Souma which is a result of the regular periodic manifestations of Ashliana's patron diety, Lunalis Umbra, Lord of the Moonshadow. However, souma has a finite supply limit, and should it run low and fail to be replenished (as it was in the tv series when Lunalis Umbra was prevented from returning for a prolonged period of time, as he could only visit the earthly plane during the New Moon), widespread intense famine and heat-drought resulted and there was a general decline in the overall physical and magical abilities of Ashliana's superpowered inhabitants.
- The Dragon - Ren Fuuma.
- This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself - Subverted in the tv series finale, in as Gau is only able to both overcome his phobia of dying and defeat Ren Fuuma with the moral support and emotional encouragement of the rest of the main cast.
- Took a Level in Badass - Gau, who successively goes from being the weakest fighter at the start of the tv series to arguably the most powerful (via his unprecedented mastery of Cannon) at the tv series end.
- Trippy Finale Syndrome - The last fight of the TV-series is mostly some kind of bizarre/symbolic flashback including giraffes for some reason. It's all very serious Fauxlosophic discussion about violence. Or something.
- Actually it's all about Gau learning to face his fear of death in order to be able to move forward and beat Ren Fuuma, which he does by being inspired through the example of Elle.
- Foreshadowed by Darkness and expounded by Ren Fuuma. Basically a beast fights for survival, it needs no other reason and does not fear battle. Its primal instincts are its battle skills, it has no need for fancy combat techniques. Darkness, Kain Phalanx, Scarface, Elle Ragu, Len Fuma, and several others have told Gau he needs to become a beast to survive combat with the opponents he faces. The montage is Gau finally realizing this for himself with the help of The Power of Friendship of the rest of the main cast and becoming a true warrior.
- Upbringing Makes the Hero - Subverted. Ironically, Gau's happy life with Elle is what's said to have caused Gau to weaken as a warrior. Played straight in later arcs in the manga, where it's revealed the infant Gau was secretly placed with his foster parents, who were simple farmers, to prevent him from becoming evil like his biological father, Shere Kahn.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy - Kain to Gau, when he comes back as a ghost to help against Ren in the tv series finale.
- You Leave Him Alone! - Diaz to Scarface over Gau, as Diaz opposes Scarface's tough-love shock-therapy approach to Gau's martial education.