Tokyo, 1923. The Roaring Twenties are at its peak, and specially in the twelfth year of the Taisho Era. At this moment in time, the city is a mixture of extremes: past and present, rich and poor, good and bad. This is a city where we see both horsecarts and motorcars, swords and pistols, lords and businessmen...Two of the persons involved in this Crapsaccharine World are Akiko Hashou, a young and beautiful noblewoman, and her equally pretty maidservant Sara Uchida. The girls's lives seem to be going on relatively smoothly until both Akiko and Sara meet Takao Itou alias Taka, a handsome man from a low-class setting, who also has ties to the Yakuza; this sets off a turbulent Love Triangle that totally changes the three's lives. For worse, a fateful date is nearing: September 1, the day of the Kanto Daishinsai aka Great Kanto Earthquake...Kasei Yakyoku is a josei manga written by Makiko Hirata, published in the late 80's. In 1988, director Osamu Dezaki would release it as a 4-episode OAV series, which now is almost impossible to find.
Bittersweet Ending: It has Great Kanto Earthquake, what are you expecting. Surprisingly, it's not as bleak as one would expect: Akiko leaves Tokyo alone but determined to get her own life, Taka and Junichirou manage to escape from the Yakuza chasing them (but at the cost of leaving Sara), and after a heart-to-heart Sara gets together with Akiko's ex-boyfriend Saionji.
Break the Cutie: And how. Specially Sara, who gets forcibly stripped and almost gangraped by yakuza in the second OAV, but the worst comes in the fourth, when she nbrely survives the Kanto Earthquake, loses her and Junichirou's mother, witnesses Saburo's death after barely escaping from more thugs, and learns that Taka and Junichirou have left. Wah!
But Now I Must Go: Akiko, who decides to leave her old life behind and build one of her own after the Earthquake. Taka and Junichirou, who leave on a boat after a talk with Saionji.
Fan Disservice: Seeing the beautiful Sara naked in the second OAV should be a reason to squee, but not when this happens after she's stripped and pinned down to the floor by rapist Yakuza.
That same OAV gives us Taka and his boss speaking when the second is in a sauna, remembering the day when he caught his beautiful wife trying to seduce a teenaged Taka. Not only teen!Taka is almost completely listless as she strips both of them (complete with Dull Eyes of Unhappiness), but the Yakuza's reaction is to grab his katana and murder his wife right there.
The word "yakyoku" translates in a straightforward way as night music, evensong, nocturne, etc. (...) However, the word "kasei" is less easy to render. As spoken, "kasei" could mean "Mars" which would be written as a combination of the usual kanji "fire"+"star". However, the "ka" from the combination "ka-rei" meaning "splendor, magnificence" is used instead of the Mars "fire" kanji, implying that the meaning is not literally "Mars."