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Manga: Otome Youkai Zakuro

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.


Otome Youkai Zakuro contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Zakuro is the tip of the spear for Spirit Affairs. She's the one to bring down the Monster of the Week.
  • 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.
  • Cat Girl: Itsue in episode 7, though unlike most she's more of a Cute Monster Girl than sexy woman with cat ears.
  • Cherry Blossom: In the first episode, which is about flower-viewing.
  • 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.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment:
    • When Zakuro is upset with Kei she gets her own back on him by taking advantage of his fear of Youkai and telling Sakura and Kiri he wants to play with them.
    • In episode 8 Kushimatsu uses the more usual Standing in the Hall punishment on Houzuki, Bonbori and Hanakiri with the addition of a third bucket on their heads as well as in each hand,
  • Curtains Match The Windows: Agemaki's blond and he has yellow eyes.
  • Cute Little Fangs: All that half-spirits, plus Mugi.
  • Cute Demon Girl:
    • Mugi the demon girl in ep 4 is adorable and has been adopted by a human.
    • When it comes to half spirits, the issue of gender comes up. Female half-spirits can pass for human if they hide their ears, but male half spirits are black ghost-like things.
  • Disguised in Drag: In chapter 3 of the manga, Zakuro convinces Agemaki to crossdress in order to find a creep targeting girls in the restroom.
  • The Empath: Susukihotaru can sense the emotions, thoughts, and the memories connected to them through physical contact.
  • Empathy Pet: Mamezou, Zakuro's Bond Creature, is more affectionate with Kei than Zakuro herself.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Omodaka loved his mother but it's complicated . Let's just say Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas After All...
  • 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.
  • Expy: Riken is like a Meiji, military version of Ryu from Kimi ni Todoke. Put Agemaki in a modern suit and you could never tell him apart from Ouran High School Host Club's Tamaki.
  • 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.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: All the heroines and two of the villains are half-spirits.
  • 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.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Empathy and petal power doesn't seem impressive but the girls find good uses for them.
    • Susukihotaru uses empathy to find memories, and thus intel, connected to emotions
    • Bonbori and Houzuki use their petals for a wide range of purposes from long-distance communication to lock picking to burning enemies like acid.
  • Hellish Pupils: The girls gain them when they use their powers.
  • 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.
  • Invisible to Adults: Itsue, Kei's old pet who turned into a cat spirit due to The Power of Love.
  • Interspecies Romance: The three Spirit Affairs teams are composed of a half-spirit girl and a human boy. All of them are an Official Couple.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: The lyric is innocent and fits the nature of the girls but they only sing it when there are bloody supernatural battle to be fought because it's part of their power-up...
  • 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.
  • Last-Second Chance: Eventually Omodaka takes it and Redemption Earns Life because he is seen in the epilogue 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
  • Love Confession:
    • Between Riken and Susukihotaru in episode 4. The fact that the feelings were telepathically communicated makes the moment even sweeter.
    • Kei and Zakuro in the final episode. He does it twice and the second time is followed by a little more.
    • Ganryu and both Bonbori and Hazuki in the final episode. Canon OT 3
  • Love Makes You Evil: Hanadate, Byakuroku, Rangui all commit evil out of love but the second one in the list is not romantic love.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Kei, Zakuro, and Hanadate.
    • Rangui sees this between herself, Zakuro, and Omodaka..
  • Love Dodecahedron: In Episode 9 the Raccoon maids think the Official Couples (except the OT 3) have partner-swapped. They did not.
  • 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.
  • Magic Music: The song the girls sing in order to power up.
  • 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.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Rangui tries this on Zakuro and inadverently frees her in the process.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: In episode one, Zakuro stabbed Raiju in the top of it's head and it's seen moments later unharmed.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: The little shadow that Zakuro and the crew dealt with in Episode 2. Driving it out of its home is a justifiable cause for retaliation.
  • Odango Hair: Zakuro used this to bind her ears so Kei's racists father wouldn't see them.
  • Ojou Ringlets: Houzuki and Bonbori have really elaborate hair curls on par with Sernia Flameheart.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: The jade pendant Zakuro wears was given to her by her mother, whom she hasn't seen since she was a child.
  • Petal Power: The twins can use petals for offense and defense, long distance communication, and tracking people. However, one of them has to sing in order for any of them to work.
  • Picture Drama: There are a couple on the DVDs.
  • 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.
  • Shock and Awe: Raiju is a lightening beast.
  • Shrinking Violet: Susukihotaru is shy, unsure of herself and scared of her partner, Riken. These attributes are highlighted because her co-workers are the Genki Girl twins and tsundere Zakuro.
  • Shirtless Scene: Beginning of episode 4 has the boys training in the courtyard and an opportunity for shiptease. Zakuro pointedly refuses to bring Kei a towel because everyone thinks she will.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Riken ponders how someone as soft and delicate as Susukihotaru can wield a weapon.
  • Single-Minded Twins: Houzuki and Bonbori speak in unison.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: All four heroine plus Tsukuhane.
    • 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.
  • Theme Naming
    • Floral Theme Naming: The hanyou and youjin with some exceptions. Zakuro: pomegranate, Susukihotaru: Miscanthus sinensis, Houzuki: winter cherry, Kushimatsu: pine tree, Sakura: cherry blossom, Kiri: paulownia.
    • Colorful Theme Naming: Byakuroku: patina green, Daidai: orange.
  • The Stoic: Riken never smiles or raises his voice. He communicates his emotions to Susukihotaru through Holding Hands because she's The Empath and because it's a standard form of non-verbal affection.
  • The Tease: Houzuki and Bonbori, to the extent they could be seen as being Loveable Sex Maniacs, too.
  • 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.

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alternative title(s): Otome Youkai Zakuro
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