Otome Youkai Zakuro is a manga series written and illustrated by Lily Hoshino. It started running monthly in the seinen manga magazine Comic Birz in November 2006.Spirits and humans have long had a grudge against each other, but that's about to change. During the Meiji Era, Japan has now established the Department of Spirit Affairs to handle relations between humans and youkai. Three new recruits - Kei Agemaki, Hanakiri Ganryu and Riken Yoshinokazura, are going to team up with four half-spirit girls - Zakuro, Susukihotaru and the twins, Bonbori and Houzuki. The relationships are tense, but relations between humans and spirits - and, perhaps, romance? - are about to begin.Otome Youkai Zakuro was adapted into an anime in the fall of 2010 by JC Staff.US viewers may watch this anime legally on Crunchyroll.
Adorably Precocious Child: Hanakiri. Houzuki and Bonbori see him as their plaything because he's younger and smaller than Riken and Kei.
Alternate Universe: Although it's hard to pinpoint when it happened, it's the Meiji Era with Youkai integrated into society.
Arranged Marriage: Zakuro's mother and the Oracles chief. He arranged it to obtain her spiritual power.
Art Shift: Whenever the spirits are using their power, everything becomes otherworldly.
Badass in Distress: Zakuro is captured during the festival and spends several episodes as a captive. Once freed, she deals the killing blow to the final boss.
Big Bad Friend: Lieutenant Hanadate, Spirit Affair's ally in the regular millitary, is truly Lord Omodaka, The Leader of the Village of Oracles hunting Zakuro.
Bishie Sparkle: Used very sarcastically with Kei, when he's trying to appear cool.
Bishōnen: Many of the males here qualify, just look at the page image.
Blue with Shock: Kei pulls this every time he's around spirits when he first starts working with Zakuro and the others.
Brother-Sister Incest: Omodaka is Zakuro's half-brother and he wants to do this to obtain Zakuro's power. Her friends stop him.
Broken Bird: Half-spirits in general become this way due to their origins and the view society (that of humans and demons) have of them.
Break the Cutie: Tsukuhane was repeatedly broken by the Elder of the Village of Oracles, then broken by her own son. By the time she returned to the Village of Oracles she was a shell of her former self.
Clingy Jealous Girl/Yandere: Lady Rangui begins as the former (clinging to Omodaka and shooing away others) and transitions into the later after he spurns her as a 'filthy demon'. Then she sets fire to his home and declares that she loves him so much she's going to eat him.
Evil Plan: Omodaka desires Zakuro (both her power and her body) so he pushed for the creation of Spirit Affairs under the guise of Hanadake in order to draw her out. Until this comes to light, there are episodic, Monster of the Week, style plots.
Evil Weapon: The katana that turns anyone into a killer, up to and including demure Susukihotaru.
Fantastic Racism: While spirits are considered citizens, they're treated as second-class citizens by the humans, at best. The Village of Oracles are far worse. They kidnapped pregnant women just to create hanyou which they treat like dirt and use as slaves.
Freudian Excuse: one of the classics Omodaka was isolated from his mother for years so he ran away from home to find her. When he does, he sees her in the arms of a human so he tells his father (her husband) who orders the human killed.
Kitsune: Kushimatsu is a fox spirit that can take a humanoid form but she never looks human aside from that. The four heroines are too human to count because they only have ears.
Genki Girl: Bonbori and Houzuki are full of energy and cheer. Hanakiri is often exhausted keeping up with them.
Gentle Giant: Riken. At first Susukihotaru was scared of him because of his great height and stocism. By the end of the first episode, she sees his great kindness and the fear disappears.
Giant Spider: Lady Rangui is The Black Widow; a demon bigger than cars.
Green Thumb: The girls use cherry blossom branches and flower petals as part of their special powers.
Grotesque Cute: Sakura and Kiri are adorable little munchins despite looking like mal-formed vegtables on legs.
Happiness in Slavery: At the end of the final episode, Byakuroku decides that there is no point to freedom since her only purpose in life was to protect her sister who by that point was dead. So she offers herself to Omodaka as his Property of Love. He accepts and the ending shows they survive the fire.
Heroic Bastard: Zakuro is the child of an affair; her mother with a local human man.
Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Riken towers over Susukihotaru. In one episode, he offers to hide her when they walk down the street,
Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: In Japanese the second word of each chapter/episode title is made of a single syllable repeated twice followed by "to". The first part is "Iza yoyo to" the second is "Aka koko to.
I Have You Now, My Pretty: Once he captures Zakuro, Omodaka enjoys carrying her bridal style and other such intimate gestures.
If I Can't Have You: Rangui says a variation of this to Omodaka when he chooses Zakuro over her.
Jerkass: The Elder of the Village of Oracles; both of them. Amoung the Elder's activities are racism, child abuse, and generally acting like an asshole.
Karma Houdini: For all horrible, horrible things he does, the heroes leave Omodaka unharmed in his palace. This because the palace is burning and he's in the midst of a Villainous BSOD becaue of Mommy Issues. They think he died in the fire because he refused to leave but the ending reveals that he's going somewhere with Byakuroku.
Let's Duet: The trio of alternating ending songs featuring Kei/Zakuro, Riken/Susukihotaru, and Bonbori/Ganryu/Houzuki.
Little Bit Beastly: The four heroines could pass for human if they hide their ears. This is a plot point; they are chosen for Spirit Affairs because a half-spirit can serve as the bridge between humans and spirits.
Lovable Coward: Kei, as Zakuro likes to point out, is a wuss. However, he is also a Nice Guy and tries to fight his fear
Mama Bear: Tsukuhane in a non-violent example. Her resistance against the Village of Oracles is inspired by her love for her daughter.
Malevolent Masked Man: Hanadate/Omodaka. Wearing one is his own decision because his father did not. Oddly enough, he wears it in the Village of Oracles where he grew up and thus everyone knows what he looks like.
Meiji Era: Zakuro loves to call anything Western "jesuit".
Mind-Control Eyes: This happens to Susukihotaru when she's possessed by an evil sword.
Mukokuseki: For something about the Japanese in Meiji Japan, this series is full of foreign-looking characters. Even the other characters lampshade how Kei is "blond". Tsukuhane, Zakuro's mother is also blond, but this is forgivable because she is not human.
Pinky Swear: In the final episode Hanakiri makes one with Houzuki and Bonbori simlutaneously; one takes the left and the other takes the right. The promise? That he would 'come for them' after Spirits is terminated.
Power Limiter: Zakuro's necklace is a seal on her power so the Village of Oracles would have a harder time finding her.
Self-Made Orphan: Hanadate claims to have done so. Eventually it is revealed he didn't.
She Cleans Up Nicely: Spirit Affairs has a received a mission that involves military galas so they dress the part to blend in. All the boys are stunned by how beautiful the girls look in european style ball gowns. Hanakiri uses his usual charm, Riken only needs a look and a chaste touch, but Kei has difficulty expressing his admiration. Considering Zakuro can't stand wearing 'jesuit clothing' in the first place, this marks another step in their UST.
Kei introduces himself to Zakuro like a gentleman and addresses her respectfully. She is instantly charmed. This is also the case with Hanadate, a Reasonable Authority Figure that balances human and spirit needs; Zakuro straight up says he's wonderful.
Susukihotaru senses the tremendously kind heart within Riken with her powers.
Houzuki and Bonbori adore Hanakiri because he's a Nice Guy and a flatterer and because he can tell them apart.
Tsukuhane's official husband is a jerkass and her true love is a warm and friendly fellow who doesn't care that she's a spirit. Indeed, the only thing that worries him about that is that she might disappear like in the legend.
Skinship Grope: Houzuki and Bonbori love to cling to Hanakiri, and personally wipe the sweat off his body after his training.
Spoiler Opening: It's fairly easy to tell that Hanadate is the masked man in the OP and ED long before the official reveal in episode 9. Having the same hairstyle aside, when was the last time you trusted the seemingly perfect bishie that was a rival to the Official Couple?
Standing in the Hall: Kushimatsu employs this kind of punishment with the traditional carrying buckets.
Theme Music Power-Up: The OP, "MOON SIGNAL", starts playing when Zakuro awakens to her full power for the final battle.
Tsundere: Zakuro alternates between a Luminescent Blush and yelling at Kei because while he's a Nice Guy he's also a jesuit wuss and she doesn't want to admit that she likes him. Apparently, she got it from her mother.
Twin Threesome Fantasy: Houzuki and Bonbori's favorite pastime is teasing this for Hanakiri. Whether or not they're serious is another matter. They are.
Twin Switch: Houzuki and Bonbori are amazed that Hanakiri can tell them apart even when they dilberately try to confuse him.
Unusual Ears: Remove these and you wouldn't know the girls are half-spirit.
Wham Episode: One could think it's a nice and fluffy romance series... until the end of episode 10. Zakuro is captured to be used as the means to create super powered half-spirits which, like those already living, will be used as slaves.
Why Did It Have to Be Snakes? — Kei is supposed to be a fearless military man but deep inside, he's deathly afraid of spirits. Now he is on a mission to bridge the people and the spirits. Character Development shows him overcoming this little by little until he can play with Sakura and Kiri without blue streaks.
Yamato Nadeshiko: In this era women are supposed to be Yamato Nadeshiko, so Zakuro is the one who stands out.
Susukihotaru is shy and gentle yet made of stern stuff.
Kushimatsu is polite and soft-spoken but is no pushover in terms of policy. She also has a giant fox true form for situations that might get messy.
Youkai All manner of demons co-exist with humans. In the second episode, one guy delivers milk to a demon and regards it with the same strangeness as he would a european; odd and new but nothing scary.