When a young child known only as Zero is saved from certain death by a powerful, beautiful witch-gunslinger known as Kurohime, he dedicates himself to justice in her name, and begins training to become a gunman himself. Ten years later, still in search of a now-missing Kurohime, Zero stumbles across a young girl calling herself Himeko, running away from the nefarious bandit Onimaru. As it turns out, Himeko, despite appearances, is much more than she seems—as evidenced by the legendary gun in her possession, Senryuu (lit., Tornado Dragon), she is actually the legendary Kurohime, turned into a child by the gods after a failed attempt to defeat them ten years ago.The only way to completely break the curse is for Himeko to experience true love; mild infatuation only weakens the restrictions temporarily. The only problem is that Himeko is not as nice as her cute face would lead one to believe. Subsequently, she and Zero embark on a long journey to break the curse, while uncovering the source of Kurohime's enmity with the gods.Now with a character page. In terms of spoilers, if it's been published in the English manga already, it's probably not a spoiler anymore.This series provides examples of:
Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Kokushinbokuto, despite being made of wood (holy wood, true, but wood nevertheless), has been shown to cut through almost ANYTHING. The same goes for the blades Yamatohime fashions from the gods' White God Tree.
All Your Powers Combined: While Kurohime does have her own abilities, her near godlike power level comes from the Black God Tree. Which in turn gets its power from all of the dead souls she's absorbed, who really and truly HATE her.
Badass Normal: Zero, who can fire four guns with Improbable Aiming Skills, Kazuma, who can cut pretty much anything with his katana, and Rider, who wields a gun-hammer and was the single most effective fighter in the Wolf Brigade.
Back from the Dead: Himeko has done this twice; first, she was revived as a side effect of the Time Travel scheme that Asura pulled to make the Ultimate Sword. In chapter 79, she appears as a crude facsimile that looks like the Black God Tree; this is less than ten pages after committing suicide in Zero's arms.
Because Destiny Says So: the deaths of Ouka's father and the entirety of Rei and Zero's backstory, including Zero's death and Rei's decade of solitude, are predetermined events. Also Asura was gifted with her powers to become part of the Yamato Senryuutou in place of Yamatohime.
Screw Destiny: In a way. While the past may be inevitable, you can make small changes about how or why it happens. Not to mention the future is a bit more open-ended. For instance, Himeko is able to avoid sacrificing Asura to the Yamato Senryuutou, but dies in the process. Ouka, on the other hand, was much less fortunate, as she only changed why her father died, not the fact that he died.
BFG: Senryuu is much bigger than the average handgun, and can fire regular bullets with extreme force.
BFS: The Sword of Vengeance, the Kokushinbokuto, and the Yamato Senryuutou are the most prominent examples.
Big Damn Heroes: Himeko is quite fond of these; amongst her many exploits are saving Sara from Asura in Chapter 68, almost killing Yashahime in Chapter 73, and sort of coming back from the dead in Chapter 79 to save her friends from being killed by Yashahime.
Clingy Jealous Girl: Sword and Yashahime, to Darkray. Again, Yashahime stands out here; it was shown that she was extremely hateful of Sword and the rest of Darkray's Living WeaponAmazon Brigade. The only reason she never killed any of them is they never acted out in front of her. She feels the same hatred towards Himeko because Dark Zero, her current crush/obsession, still cares about Himeko.
Defrosting Ice Queen: Asura fits into this. At first her only real goal is to free her master Yamatohime, and the other spirits, from the servitude of the gods. Over time she becomes much warmer towards people, starting with Zero, as opposed to her initial disregard of him and other humans. Yuki-onna is a more literal example.
Determinator: Zero, of course. In the past, Rei fulfills this role in a dark way.
Died in Your Arms Tonight: After combining with Sword one more time and beating Dark Zero, Himeko hugs him, and drags them both into the waters of Hell. After telling him that she's happy simply dying in his arms, she dissolves into a skeleton; Zero, being immune, is left to grasp at her bones.
Enemy Mine: After being depowered by the absorption of souls that died during her fight with the goddess Venus, past!Kurohime, now in the form of a child, recieves assistance from Sword and Ouka, who were formerly cursed into the forms of a wolf and past!Kurohime's clothing respectively. It takes a good hard fight a three-way fusion between them in order to take the enemy down.
Sword and Ouka are adhering to this in the current situation against Dark Zero and Yashahime.
Fission Mailed: After Himeko's death at the hands of Yashahime, Asura leads the remaining living villagers to the entrance to Mt. Fuji. Shortly after that, Asura convinces the spirits to rewind time so that she can sacrifice herself to the Yamato Senryuutou and turn it into the Ultimate Sword.
Heroic Sacrifice: Zero puts an injured Kurohime onto Kandata's boat and pushes towards safe land, being dissolved alive by the waters of Hell. A villainous example would be the Death Angels giving their life-force to ensure Sword's survival.
Humanoid Abomination: Yashahime, in her true form. In Chapter 79, Himeko emerges from the Hell water in a form similar to Yashahime's wooden appearance after her suicide and Big Damn Heroes moment, except that the wood appears to be from the Black God Tree.
Stabbing herself to keep her from killing Kurohime, and then claiming the resulting scar is Kurohime's fault.
Claiming that the God of Death isn't supposed to be concerned about anything or anyone, and then blushing because he asked if her wounds had healed.
I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Asura resents being a Half-Human Hybrid, but more than that, she resents that humans, specifically her mother, will sacrifice her without a thought of her feelings. Making up with her mother finally allows her to regain control of her transformations.
Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Onimaru. He and his gang helped Kurohime ten years ago by building the tower that would allow a human to become a god, only to be betrayed by her at the last moment (and branded with the kanji for 'dog', no less). As a result, he carries a large grudge against Kurohime for most of the manga. After his gang's encounter with the Death Angels (which leaves him as a...miniature snake-man thing) Kurohime's real motives are explained to him by the goddess Shirohime, and he gradually regains the respect he had for Kurohime as she undergoes her own emotional development.
Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Kurohime is legendary because she can make witch-bullets that can summon dragon-golems at will. She once turned an ENTIRE castle into one such dragon.
Jerk Ass: Himeko/Kurohime, as noted at the top of the page. This isn't entirely her fault, though, as the gods removed her ability to love when they first imprisoned her, by turning her compassion and love into a god that looks exactly like her, Shirohime. And thanks to Character Development, she gradually grows out of this, becoming a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
Rei's not much of a charmer either, having been treated as punching-bag his whole life and now being possessed by a Shinigami isn't helping. Still, despite kicking her in the shins, calling her a hag and almost shooting her in the face, he grew on KuroHimeko.
Jerkass Fašade: Kurohime is well known for her cruelty and arrogance... but as it turns out, she purposely earned herself the reputation to give humanity something else to focus on besides the race to become a god.
The village elder is a somewhat crotchety old woman with a stiff upper lip. That is, until Kurohime dies, whereupon she runs off to make up with Asura, her daughter. At that point, the world was more or less doomed, and though she sincerely loved Asura, the elder had spent all of her "life" treating Asura like a tool.
Jerkass Gods: Pretty much the main reason the series events are happening in the first place. Not all of them are so unfeeling, but a majority of them pretty much have no regard for human life. Kurohime will have NONE of this.
Kick Them While They Are Down: Darkray was fond of doing this, insulting Hime and Zero for their love and later impaling and killing most of his loyal weapons. His reasoning is that as humans and angels respectively, they are simply not as awesome as he is, so why should he care what happens to them?
Laser-Guided Amnesia: Himeko begins suffering from this during the Yamato arc. As a side effect of Zero's death, Himeko's been re-cursed. By giving up a memory of Zero, she clears part of the mental block that's keeping her from her powers; if she wants to get back into top form, she has to give up every single memory she has of him. At present, she has almost no memories of anything that has occurred since the start of her journey with Zero.
Laser-Guided Karma: All of the gods do something that COMPLETELY justifies Kurohime killing them.
With Chapter 74 out, it turns out, yes, most of them HAVE done something to justify Kurohime killing them.
Also seen in Kurohime/Himeko. All of the things she's done for either peace or Zero are quickly catching up with her.
Light Is Not Good: The goddess of nature, Yashahime, has white (or at least light-colored) clothes, beautiful hair ornaments, and white Holy Wood. She is also deeply infatuated with the Grim Reaper (in both incarnations), and is completelyNUTS. The all-white ensemble underscores just how very deadly she is, since white means death in Japan.
Literal Split Personality: This is what happens to Kurohime when she challenges the gods ten years before the start of the series; her compassion and love is incarnated as the goddess Shirohime, while her rage and hatred are sent to a prison-dimension as Himeko/Kurohime.
Meaningful Name: The Death Angels' names match the weapon that they can transform themselves into, and many of the witch-gunslingers or other important characters often have -hime (princess) as part of their name.
Zero and Rei have names that pun off of each other, as "Rei" can also mean zero. This is possibly foreshadowing the fact that "Zero" is in fact Rei, having taken on his younger brother's name after the events of the Past Arc.
Rei, when he finally awakens the Shinigami in his body.
Asura, as the weight of her destiny and her own resentment begin to grow.
Painful Transformation, Body Horror: As revealed by Sword, the Black God Tree that Kurohime uses to block attacks and form the Kokushinbokuto is meant to absorb hatred as its power-up method. Because the tree is actually bonded to Kurohime's body, becoming more powerful effectively means that she has to absorb the spirits of the people she kills. After the souls eat holes in Kurohime's body during the absorption, she has to deal with a rejection that makes her spew up blood and literally shreds her down to what looks like a rotting corpse.
Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Occurs twice for Himeko—the first after her battle with the death god Dark Ray and the second following her encounter with Zero once he is reborn as the death god. Each one further boosts her ability, though neither one brings her close to her full power as Kurohime. As of the end of the Past Arc, it happened again, and she displayed the ability to use at least the Genbu armor without her powers as Kurohime.
Plot Tumor: The "Journey To The Past" arc, which initially appeared to be a pointless segue; it actually revealed a large amount of backstory, some bits of which were quite shocking.
Plucky Girl: Kurohime for the good side. Sword and Kurohime again, for the bad side.
Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Black God Tree. Many, many, MANY children. Adults as well. The Yamato Senryuutou is also this, but tends to be forgotten since most of those who power it are more bothered by for whom the sword would be used by, and for, rather than what powers it up.
Psychotic Smirk: Early on, Himeko will frequently take this expression on whenever she transforms into Kurohime, but the instant she starts Evil Gloating, the transformation wears off.
Rage Against the Heavens: Ten years before the series starts, Kurohime becomes involved with the battle to become a god to get revenge on the gods for even creating the contest; not only did it send the world into a mass war, but it's implied that she grew up seeing the carnage that it wrought first-hand.
Red String of Fate: Once she is able to acknowledge it, Himeko truly believes that she and Zero are made for each other. Weirdly enough, in spite of everything, Dark Zero STILL believes in this.
Stable Time Loop/You Can't Fight Fate: Ouka triggers one of these when she attempts to kill the past version of Kurohime in order to save her father from dying at Kurohime's hands. However, Ouka's use of witch-gunslinger magic convinces Ouka's father that older!Ouka is an enemy, and attacks her; subsequently, Ouka's witch-beast attacks and kills him right in front of the young!Ouka's eyes. Surprisingly, past!Kurohime takes the blame for it anyway, effectively giving young!Ouka a reason to chase after Kurohime for revenge.
The Power of Love: Due to the initial curse laid on Kurohime,love is quite literally central to the plot, as it is the only way Kurohime can temporarily/permanently break the curse. It reaches new heights when the River Styx makes its first appearance, though, as Kurohime declares her love for Zero and unleashes a can of whoop-ass onto Dark Ray to protect him and continue her fight against the gods. Additionally, Himeko only agrees to assist Asura's cause on the condition that Yamatohime resurrects Zero.
Time Travel: The focus of the Past arc. Himeko has gone back in time to discover why Zero is "full of darkness", and must make peace with the Kurohime Punishment Squad before she can return to her own time. To make matters even more complicated, Zero must not find out that she is Kurohime (since their first meeting wouldn't have occurred yet, or so it appears at first), or she will cease to exist.
Tomato Surprise, with a touch of Mind Screw: The Zero that Himeko knows is Rei. Before the Past arc, Himeko had never met the actual Zero.
Better yet, the cloaked man (Kandata) that saved "Zero" and Kurohime from the River Styx and followed them back to the past? He's Doc.
And to up the ante: The Spirit King of Wind, Seiryu? It was the SEA DRAGON THE WHOLE TIME.
Why Won't You Die?: Yashahime. Better explained in Chapter 74: As an earth goddess and a part of Yamato, she is literally everywhere in the country. And by sealing Yamatohime into Mt. Fuji, which is in Yamato, and destroying every other landmass, Yashahime is now DIRECTLY channelling Yamatohime's power.
This however came back to bite her in the ass when Yamatohime sacrifices herself to aid Kurohime. With nothing to gain power from, shes finally vulnerable for Kurohime to finish her off.