Manga / Soul Hunter

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Taikoubou

Soul Hunter (or Hoshin Engi) is a Shōnen Manga series by Ryu Fujisaki, published by Shueisha. Serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine from 1996-2000 and compiled in 23 tankōbon volumes by Shueisha, the 18 Kanzenban volumes were released periodically between July 2005 and June 2006 in Japan only. VIZ Media has acquired the rights to the Manga, with bimonthly releases starting June 5, 2007 to the United States and Canada.

Taikoubou is a young Sennin (a class of supernatural beings) charged by his mentor to seal up all of the rogue Sennin causing trouble in the human world, the chief of whom is Dakki, who has brainwashed the current emperor and causing all sorts of grief for the citizens of the Yin Dynasty...

The plot thickens when Taikoubou discovers that his mentor has ulterior motives, and the conspiracy encompasses all of the Senin world.

Houshin Engi, the Japanese rendering of Fengshen Yanyi (which means The Treatise of The Gods, itself already Very Loosely Based on a True Story) took the same direction as Saiyuki. Whereas Saiyuki revolves around four guys riding a dragon jeep to the west, Houshin Engi revolves around the gods (who are also mostly Bishōnen) altering the course of history and helping the Chinese Dynasty transfer from Yin to Zhou in the 11th Century BC.

The story was also adapted to a 26 episode Anime of the same name broadcast on Japanese TV in 1999 and released in North America on DVD as Soul Hunter in 2001. As of January 2009, Shomei TV announced their intentions to remake the anime series if they received 10,000 signatures.

Additionally, a video game based on the manga was developed for for the Playstation and the Wonderswan. Soul Hunter characters also appear in Jump Ultimate Stars for Nintendo DS, with only Taikobo playable and other characters severing as support.

This series shows examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Venus is definitely a Gonk, but has a good heart, but Taiboku does not want anything to do with her.
    • Played very straight with Dakki, despite being gorgeous.
  • A Glass of Chianti: Chou Komei is rarely seen without a glass of wine.
  • Anachronism Stew - Includes lightsabers, rocket punch, and Precision-Guided Boomerang, ON FIRE!
  • Animate Inanimate Object - Some of the sennin's original forms.
  • Anyone Can Die: Especially in the manga.
  • Arc Words - "The Signpost of History".
  • Asexuality - Taikoubou and, later, Fukki.
  • Asshole Victim: Suukouko, the king of the northern region. While the other three kings deplore the state of the citizens from the capital, he shows no sympathy and finds no problem with their state as long as they are still alive. Although he too is shocked by Dakki's "party", he quickly grovels before her and begins to flatter her in order to save his own skin. In the end, Dakki has him locked up and he starves to death.
    • Nobody felt sorry to see Ryogaku squashed by his own son.
  • Ax-Crazy: Ryogaku, Ryuukan.
  • Badass Family: The Kou clan.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Dakki, Oukijin, Suukokuko, Ma Reikou, Nataku.
  • Berserk Button: Never insult Shinkouhyou's fashion sense. Or harm Taikobou in Bukichi's presence. Or, if you're the Emperor of Yin, never do anything to really upset Bunchuu.
  • Betty and Veronica: Dakki (Veronica) and Empress Kyouhi (Betty) for Emperor Chuuou.
  • Bittersweet Ending - At least, for Bukichi and Suupuushan.
  • Blood Knight: Chokomei who's a Spirited Competitor as well, planted the seeds of conflict of the opposing Sennin forces just so he could fight the enemy
  • Bloody Murder - Outenkun. Just Outenkun.
  • Boisterous Bruiser - Ki Hatsu.
    • Kou Hiko.
  • Break the Cutie - Tenshou. I mean, his mom and aunt both kill themselves, he watches his dad die by acid rain right in front of him, and his older brother kicks it soon after. It is seriously no wonder the kid developed an abandonment complex.
    • Possibly Ou Eki too, although we never see what specifically broke him.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall - Taiitsu is so camera-savvy he always poses facing the panel. Other characters lampshade this endlessly.
    • And there are dozens of references to the readers and the publisher made by the characters.
    • During his duel with Taikoubou, Raishinshi is aghast to discover the format of the page has changed into a four panel gag manga.
  • Canon Foreigner: The girl at the inn does not appear in the manga.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys - All the main characters are dashing young-looking males. Explains all the yaoi doujinshis out there. It doesn't help that the only females are either evil, Clingy Jealous Girl (see below), or otherwise make no impact on the story.
  • Cast Herd - The sennin at Konron, Taikoubou's team, Shuu (which Taikoubou joins), and Yin, just to name a few.
  • Celibate Hero - Taikoubou and, later, Fukki.
  • The Chessmaster - Taikoubou, much to the surprise of those around him, who usually see him in his default "lazy" mode, Dakki, Bunchu and Fuuki.
  • Chivalrous Pervert - Chuu Ou, until Dakki got to him to make him a lust crazed tyrant. Somewhat arguable though, because he had shades of I Have You Now, My Pretty even before Dakki got her hands on him. So Go, Dakki's father, laments his ruthlessness when it comes to acquiring new women for his harem. After hearing that So Go has a very beautiful daughter, Chuuou threatened to make his country suffer unless he brought her to become his concubine.
    • Ki Hatsu. He reforms fast enough to lead his armies, however.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl - Sengyoku, thanks to some Love at First Punch to the mole man Dokouson.
  • Combined Energy Attack - The true purpose of the Houshin project was to collect enough souls to fight the Big Bad.
  • Cooking Duel - Taikoubou arranges one in an attempt to get Ki Shou eating again, but it backfires in his face when the combatants turn it into an all-out brawl.
  • Crapsack World - At least inside the Imperial Capital, where lavish parties are held at the expense of the poor people.
    • Not to mention all of the worlds before the current one are completely destroyed just because they didn't match up to Jyoka's standards.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Ryuukan is this for Sengyoku.
  • Darker and Edgier: While the manga did have some dark points, the anime is noticeably darker and dramatic than the original source, especially with the last episoes
  • Deadly Decadent Court: The arrival of Dakki and her minions has turned Chuuou's court into one of these.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Dakki has the imperial painter's eyes gouged out because he drew an abstract portrait of her instead of a traditional one.
  • Distant Finale - The final epilogue chapter.
  • Doomed Hometown - Taikoubou became a sennin because members of his clan had been press-ganged into being buried with an emperor; later, almost all of anyone who's even remotely related to him perish to a pit of poisonous snakes under Dakki's orders.
    • Turns out he's actually one half of an alien, so his original hometown is a planet far away, and that one's been ruined, too.
  • Driven to Suicide: Kashi, Koushi, Kyouhi and Bunchuu.
  • Dub Name Change - A slightful inversion in the Mexican Spanish dub of the series: Instead of using the "original Japanese" names, the Spanish dub uses the original Chinese names from the original novel the manga and the anime is based from (or translations to English and minstranslations of some ones) of many of the characters. Per example, the main hero Taikobou becomes "Tai Kung" in Spanish (a minstranslation of Jiang Taigong from the original Chinese classic), Nataku becomes "Nazha" (his original name in the classsic) and the villainess Dakki uses her original Chinese name "Daji", plus many others.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas - Nataku, while he isn't bad per se, is ruthlessly violent, and the only person he cares about is his mother. This gets positively Freudian when it's revealed that he has especially murderous intentions towards his father.
    • Outenkun : counts right?
  • Evil Empire: Yin, though most of the evil is concentrated near the top (specifically, Dakki and her sisters); everyone else is pretty much either brainwashed or Just Following Orders.
  • Fingerless Gloves: In the anime, Dakki wears a purple pair.
  • Foe Yay - In-Universe, Dakki attempts to use her body, her charm, and her paopei magic to seduce Taikoubou (in order to brainwash him). It doesn't work.
  • Funny Afro - The result of Taikoubou getting hit with Raishinshi's thunder attack. Supushan, more ridiculously, had Funny Ojou Ringlets instead. It was ridiculous enough that Raishinshi stopped the battle so that the two could fix their hair.
  • Gambit Pileup - First, the Yin dynasty must be overthrown by the Zhou dynasty. Before that, the sennins must engage on a slugfest to severely reduce their number, and hence do not alert Jyoka. Then, the remaining Sennin goes on a hunt for Jyoka. What for? Jyoka, with the help of Dakki herself, is reshaping the world over and over again for her own convenience while Dakki herself, after learning from Jyoka's former crewmates that fused themselves with Earth, wanted Jyoka's powers so that she can become Mother Earth herself.
  • Gambit Roulette - The entire Project Houshin which involves subtly altering history so that the Big Bad Jyoka, who had been shaping and reshaping the earth every time history does not suit her liking, does not notice, while at the same time collecting enough souls to aid the main protagonist into battle. To this end, Taikoubou must ensure that The Zhou dynasty must rise to challenge Yin, and that capturing Dakki is never to be attempted, and the move must be regarded as human progress as opposed to sennin interference. Incidentally, The Plan itself starts with Genshitenson manipulating Taikoubou into executing a soul hunt, which later turns out to be a more complex, secret plan to create a separate world to store the rebel souls to be hunted, which later turns out to be a large scale prediction of causalities in the upcoming war which is to an extent triggered by Taikoubou's actions, a prediction which is secretly meant to be the gathering of souls to execute a Combined Energy Attack. Taikoubou's nemesis, Outenkun, is revealed to seem to be cooperating in a roundabout manner suggesting they may be being manipulated by Genshitenson all along, only to find out he was just following instructions from the real mastermind, who ends up being? Taikoubou and Outenkun's merged self.
  • Gonk - The Unshou Three Sisters.
  • The Grays - Fukki and Jyoka.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Crown Prince Inchao, Bagen.
  • Gotta Catch Them All - The Houshin Project.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Kashi wears violet and purple clothing in both the anime and the manga incarnations. In the anime flashbacks, Empress Kyouhi wears a violet dress.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Shintenkun has the appearance of a set of twins, male and female, joined together by their limbs.
  • Happy Flashback: Toward the end of the anime, we are treated to flashbacks of the Emperor and his family during much happier times: the Emperor's ascension to the throne, the birth of his first son and various family scenes.
  • Heavy Sleeper - Taijyouroukun (Roushi), who is so lazy he gets his paopei to breathe for him. He basically sleeps for years at a time.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D. - Taikoubou gets one early in the series when Dakki destroys his clan in retribution for hurting her sister. He gets over it.
    • He gets this again when Chou Koumei kills Suupuushan, and in fact, blue screens so hard the rest of the cast thinks he's dead as well and Chou Koumei declares victory and runs the end credits.
    • Koushi experiences one as a result of Kashi's death, and it is heartbreaking.
  • Heroic Sacrifice - Taikoubou was falling apart (literally) from the effort to fight the last Big Bad and would have died if not for some timely intervention.
    • Kanei dies protecting Crown Prince Inchao from enemy soldiers.
    • Crown Prince Inhon dies protecting Taikobou from his brother's paopei.
    • Younin, one of Chou Komei's minions, sacrifices himself to save Taikobou.
  • Hope Spot: Every time Dakki's evil influence over Chuuou is reduced or eliminated and he goes back to the diligent and wise monarch he was before, Bunchuu either goes away or Dakki returns and things get worse...
  • Hostage Situation: Several take place during the manga. Taikobou holds Dakki's sister Oukijin hostage in order to gain access to the imperial palace, Dakki takes advantage of Hikou's sister Koushi being married to the emperor and uses her as a hostage to ensure Hikou's loyalty, Hikou's father is held hostage by Dakki's underlings and Crown Prince Inchao holds some Zhou soldiers hostage in his battle with Taikobou.
    • The entire arc taking place in Chou Komei's ship is this.
  • Hot Consort: Chuuou has two: Kyouhi initially, then Dakki.
  • How Dare You Die on Me! - Tenshou to Nataku.
  • Human Alien - Taikoubou who is later known as Fukki.
  • If I Can't Have You: Ryuukan wants to pull this on Tou Sengyoku, the woman he has been stalking, after realizing that she is in love with someone else.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: In one scene, Dakki is shown gorging herself on human remains from the snake pit.
    • Ki Shou was also forced to eat hamburger made out of his own son.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Most of the sennin wear them. Dakki's clothes take the cake, though - several of them are actually paopei.
  • Improbable Weapon User - Given that the paopei are magical items, you end up with people fighting with shoulder throws and genie-style lamps, among other things.
    • This is true in the original Fengshen Yanyi as well. One of the most improbable attacks makes a flaming pagoda appear and drop on an opponent's head, but there are so many other examples that it almost seems like it's normal weapons that should be considered unusual.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Kishou.
  • Karma Houdini - Great Mother Dakki, enough said.
    • Also Nataku's father, who receives no punishment for destroying his grave, throwing his core away and and insulting him any chance he gets.
  • King of All Cosmos - Just about all of the sennin are Bunny Ears Lawyers
  • Konami Code - Called out as instructions to perform a complex aerial maneuver (at which point Suupuushan simply throws his head in despair). Later, after Suupuushan gets an upgrade, he is able to perform the maneuver flawlessly.
  • La Résistance - The Duke of the West plus his sons (i.e. the Duchy of Shuu) and an ever increasing roster of Sennin and disgruntled former Yin citizens.
  • Laser Blade
  • Last of His Kind - Fukki and Jyoka.
  • Lecherous Licking: Taikobou out of all people does this when he takes Suupuu hostage during his battle with Kibi.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Used straight with some characters such as Youzen and Bunchuu, averted with others such as Nataku or Dakki's sisters Kibi and Kijin. Worth noting is that Taikobou receives new clothes on several occasions, some of which are identical to what he was previously wearing.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters - The Houshin list alone is 160 names long.
  • Love at First Sight: Sengyoku for Dokouson.
  • Mad Scientist - Lots, including Taiitsu "please call me 'Science Otaku' instead" Shinjin, to Raishinshi's "father" Unchuushi, and that Sennin that develops biological weapon, in middle-ages China!
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: The sons of Kishou (Hakuyuukou, Kihatsu, Shuukoudan and Raishinshi) have ninety-six siblings.
  • Man Behind the Man - Dakki, the woman behind Chuu Ou. Jyoka is later revealed to be the alien behind Dakki.
    • Much more noticeable in the case of the Houshin Project, whose executors and masterminds seem to change with every revelation. Played for all it's worth in the end when it's revealed that the man at the top of the long chain of command manipulating Taikoubou is... Taikoubou, or rather Fukki, Taikoubou's true self.
  • Market-Based Title: The anime was renamed Soul Hunter when localized into English. The manga stayed Hoshin Engi.
    • Inconsistent Dub: Early episodes also translate the names of the Paopei and a few other terms concerning the Seinnen. Later episodes use the Chinese names instead, though a few original Japanese names make it though. Also, one spirit beast, despite not changing voice actors, suddenly gets a Southern accent.
  • Memory Gambit - Fukki plans the whole Houshin project, hands it over to Genshitenson, splits himself into Taikoubou and Outenkun, while simultaneously sealing his memories. Genshitenson then commands Taikoubou to begin the Houshin Project.. Which kicks off the manga.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard - Don't tell me you didn't tear up a little when Gyokutei Shinjin dies.
  • Musical Assassin: Ma Reikai, one of the four Maka Yonshou, uses a guitar-shaped paopei called Kurobiwa.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The emperor finally realizes just how badly things are going in the capital city too late to make much of a difference, but at least he shows remorse for what happens.
  • Nice Shoes: Seriously, nearly everyone in this manga has oversized, clown shoes, which makes you think that they secretly have big feet.
  • Noble Fugitive: The two crown princes of the Yin escape from the capital and eventually take refuge into the sennin world.
  • No Name Given: In the anime, we never find out the name of the girl Tenka meets at the inn.
  • Not So Harmless: Shinkouhyou looks like a clown, but is one of the most powerful of the Doshi, as Taikoubou finds out.
    • Also Taikobou is actually one half of an ancient alien called Fuuki.
    • Ko Kibi.
  • No Sense of Humor: In the manga, Jyoka has absolutely no sense of humor.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity - Taikoubou.
  • Parents in Distress: Nataku's parents are captured by Chou Komei. Kou Hikou's father is held hostage by Dakki's underlings. In the end, they are all saved.
  • Quirky But Competent - Most obviously Taikoubou, but everybody else is this to some degree.
  • Rapunzel Hair - Plenty of characters, especially the males.
  • Really 700 Years Old - Most of the sennin in general; specifically, Taikoubou, and even moreso, Fukki.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: A rather dark take on this trope. Being the empress of the Yin, Dakki is technically royalty, but instead of working for the people and the country, she focuses all her energy in coming up with more creative torture devices (to the point where she is shown racking her brains) and on two occasions she is shown aiding in their construction by doing hard manual labor.
  • Royal Harem: Chuuou has a harem consisting of two hundred concubines.
  • Say It with Hearts - Dakki. Her sister says it with stars.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can - Jyoka.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: Take Over the World. The end.
  • Shout-Out - One of the sennins training in Konron Island is shown using an A.T. Field. Fujisaki Ryu has said himself to be a fan of Evangelion.
  • Sibling Team - The three sisters.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Fire sennin Nentou Doujin and water sennyo Ryuukitsu Koushu, the sennin half-siblings. Nentou has a fiery fighting spirit and a rather rude attitude while Koushu is calm and polite.
  • Shout-Out: When Taikobou and Raishinshi are ready to begin their bare fists battle, the scene is very similar to fighting games, complete with timer and health bars.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Many important characters who die in the manga are left alive and well in the anime: Kou Hikou, Kou Tenka, Bunchu.
  • Spell My Name with an "S" - In general, the official translation transliterates names as shortly as possible. For example, Taikobo instead of Taikoubou, or paope instead of paopei. For that matter, Hoshin Engi instead of Houshin Engi. Doubled consonants are the only exception; Dakki is the same in all regions.
    • The anime uses transliterations from Chinese instead of Japanese, since it is about the real life Chinese Yin Dynasty. Suupuushan is Sibuxiang, Konron is Kun Lun, etc.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Bukichi can talk to birds because he used to have a part-time job in a zoo.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Ryuukan is a very creepy example of this. He is an obsessive and deluded individual who has been stalking Tou Sengyoku for a long time and seems to be convinced that she is in love with him, despite having no evidence to support his belief. He is the reason why Sengyoku is terrified of birds, as he uses a fire bird paopei.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Tenka has a brief moment of this with Sengyoku while on Chou Komei's ship. Sengyoku is understandably outraged. Worth noting, however, is that Tenka had a point: Sengyoku had not proven herself to be a strong fighter and her paopei is very weak, so Tenka's concerns were legitimate.
  • The Stoic - Shuukoutan, so stoic he barely expresses anything except mild annoyance/amusement at Taikoubou's and his brother's hijinks.
  • Sudden Name Change: Halfway through the manga, the name of Chuuou's first wife Kyouhi changes to Kyoushi.
  • Talking Weapon - Hitou.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Kashi (extremely feminine) and Koushi (tomboy).
  • Took a Level in Badass - Chou Kei, the generally competent paperwork-wise right hand man to Bunchuu, in the later stages of the manga, saw fit to wield Bunchuu's Kinben, after he died. Of course, he needs a lot of finesse wielding it, but he still comes as really helpful.
  • Tournament Arc - The party faces off Dakki's selected fighter in Jyoka's artificial planet.
  • Undying Loyalty: The Shisei have this for Bunchuu.
  • Unwanted Revival - Taikoubou (now known as Fukki) at the end, who is an example of "not wanting to be found by the people looking for him." The reason? He just likes to mess with them.
  • Was Once a Man - Bagen.
  • Weapons Kitchen Sink - The Paopei.
  • Why Did It Have To Be Heights?: Taiitsu Shinjin is afraid of heights. If living on a floating rock is not enough, he often finds himself in situations where he must confront his fear.
  • Yandere: Ryuukan. He will viciously attack anyone who intrudes on his "personal time with Sengyoku."

Alternative Title(s): Houshin Engi

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