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What are the Blade Children?Spiral is not to be confused with the manga Uzumaki, which means "spiral", or the Ring sequel Rasen, which ALSO means "spiral". While we're at it, don't confuse the two with certain terms from Naruto, or with Spiral Energy, or even Spiral Zone, heaven forbid. If you're looking for the French police procedural known in English-speaking markets as Spiral, see Engrenages.Spiral: Suiri no Kizuna (Bonds of Reasoning) is the story of this mystery, into which Narumi Ayumu is drawn after an apparently attempted suicide at his school. The girl involved was a member of this mysterious group, a group that Ayumu's older brother, Kiyotaka, was investigating at the time of his disappearance two years earlier. So, against the wishes of Narumi Madoka (Kiyotaka's wife, and current detective), Ayumu begins his own investigation, assisted by the school's lone member of the newspaper club, Yuizaki Hiyono.At first, Ayumu is simply challenged outright by the Blade Children, who claim to know something of the whereabouts of his older brother. Their "tests" are primarily tests of Ayumu's mental prowess and cunning, but occasionally test his luck as well (the Magic Squares/Bomb puzzle, for instance). As he begins to gain their trust, the mystery of "What are the Blade Children?" is supplanted by "Why are the Hunters trying to kill the Blade Children?" as the Blade Children's ostensible leader, Eyes Rutherford, is targeted by an assassin.The Blade Children themselves are fairly normal, if prodigies can be called normal, and are physically identifiable as different only by a single rib missing from their ribcage. (They're also depicted with cat-like slit eyes, but that's probably just for the audience's benefit since none of the characters ever comment on this.)Unfortunately, the anime ends without reaching the answers it set out to find, due to the fact that it caught up with the manga on which it was based. (The fourteenth and final volume of the manga was released in September of 2005, the anime aired between 2002 and 2003.) The final arc of the anime deals with a similar concept as volumes six through eight of the manga, but takes place under different circumstances.The manga was followed up by the prequel, Spiral: Alive, starring three new characters: Genki Girl Sekiguchi Imari, reluctant serial killer Amanae Yukine, and Sawamura Shirou, a boy who wants to be a detective just like Kiyotaka. Oh, and they're also in a Love Triangle. (Insert Murder the Hypotenuse joke here.) While these three are the central characters, old favorites such as Ryoko, Rio and Kousuke are still central to the plot, and most others have at least made cameos.Characters sheet in construction.
Adaptation Dye-Job: Eyes has purple hair in the manga art, but the anime changed it into white. Kousuke's hair also goes from pinkish red to a more purplish red in the color art for Spiral: Alive.Word of God was that this was for contrast: in the black-and-white manga, there were too many characters with gray-screen tone hair, so Kousuke was switched to being inked black—as per his earliest pre-production designs. The color art was adjusted to match.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Kanone: fighting god, lover of kitties. Even worse is Kiyotaka in Alive: his idea of a disguise is a cartoony frog suit. Which he wears while riding a bicycle. Despite it not having eye holes.
This has interestingly translated in the realm of Fanfic: in many fics in which he's not prominently featured but just mentioned in passing, that mention will include something nasty about him. It's mostly affectionate teasing though.
Cassandra Truth: Eyes' little story about how his mother tied him to a piano to prevent him from killing animals, which is how he learned to play. Naturally, the reporter assumes it is a very off-color joke.
Cain and Abel: Eyes and Kanone. Played with in that they seem to be the "childhood friends" variation, but then Eyes reveals to Ayumu and the audience that while the Blade Children all have the same father, Kanone is the only one he regards as his brother.
And of course, Ayumu and Kiyotaka, though the anime never quite gets there.
Cast of Snowflakes: Everyone is still recognizable when the artist has fun switching around hairstyles and outfits in manga omakes.
Chessmaster: By the middle of the Kanone arc in the manga, everyone is pretty much convinced that Kiyotaka is God.
Chick Magnet: In the manga: Kanone, Ayumu (especially in the Hizumi arc, but also earlier with Hiyono and Rio; and in the prequel Alive... Ryouko.)
Combat Pragmatist: Chapter 68 has Ayumu very unexpectedly pull this on Eyes, easily overpowering him by: 1. Aiming a gun at an unarmed Eyes, 2. Taking advantage of the element of surprise, 3. Punching him in the chest... meaning, on the wound he got fromKanone in vol 6. Low blow, Ayumu.
Composite Character: Sayoko Shiranagatani originally wasn't part of the Blind Without 'Em incident, but the anime co-opted her from the locked room mystery story to simplify things and create a better segue between them.
Darkest Hour: Episode 23 of the anime makes this very clear.
Demoted to Extra: Detective Saeki Tohru from Alive initially seemed like he'd be a main character of the series, until Kousuke barged in. He finally showed up again to complain in the last volume's omake.
Foreshadowing: Incredible amounts of it as you keep re-reading the manga.
Hiyono is about to say the name of Kanone's father when he interrupts her.[note]] However, it was Lost in Translation and turned into a generic cry of pain by Yen Press.[/note]] And then there's the fact she knows that name at all. No, it's not just her insane info-collecting skills.
The discussion Eyes and Kirie have about Kanone during the Carnival arc.
The end of Spiral: Alive, of course, introduces Spiral: Bonds of Reasoning.
Gambit Roulette: Everything from the BlaChil meeting Ayumu to Kiyotaka stealing his crush was planned by Kiyotaka, and it gets steadily more convoluted as the story passes, especially in the manga.
Mama Bear: Madoka pulls out the badass to save Ayumu from Kanone.
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Certain characters are literally unable to commit suicide—one character survives around 25 separate attempts to off himself, one of which was a straight 90 meter drop that shattered his spine. It is repeatedly stated that they can only be killed through the "composition", i.e. by their metaphysical opposites.
Also, a brilliant geneticist was unable to find a biological cause for the Curse of the Blade Children.
Rio and Ryoko for Eyes and Kousuke; some mild inversion in that being one also softens up Rio's own character.
It's arguable whether Rio also this for Kiyotaka as well, or if seeing the unshakeable trust she has in him makes his actions seem worse.
In Alive, if you think about it, Imari is also one for Amanae... weirdly enough.
Neutral Female: Hiyono: though she's usually out of her depth mentally, she does occasionally subvert this by aiding Ayumu.
No Guy Wants an Amazon: Kousuke claims this is his opinion of Ryoko. In Alive, she wonders why it's only girls asking her out, and her classmates explain all the boys in town are afraid of her and the "Takamachi Ryoko Legend." Which is, basically, a bunch of over-exaggerations of things she actually has done.
Omniscient Morality License: Both played straight and subverted with Kiyotaka. The Blade Children believe that whatever he is doing, it must be for the best, while his younger brother questions this.
: Although that changes for some characters as the manga goes along; for instance, Ryouko seems to distrust him, and Kousuke cannot tolerate (nor, at first, believe that Kiyotaka played with Kanone and Eyes' relationship.)
Parental Abandonment: Ayumu, whose parents both seem to be gone, and who lives with his brother's wife, in a rare case of "Sibling Abandonment"
Only played with in the manga, actually: they're revealed to both be still alive, but Ayumu decided to leave them and live with his brother when he was still young. He went back to live with them after Kiyotaka got married, then came back to take care of Madoka after her Husband Abandonment. The parents are still a very good example of Abusive Parents through utter neglect: they clearly didn't care at all what Ayumu did.
Running Gag: Hiyono stealing Ayumu's lunch. Ayumu (and once Madoka) commenting on Hiyono's weird song. Also a minor one near the beginning of the series where every time qualified detectives Madoka and Wataya are investigating a murder, Ayumu and Hiyono just pops in as they please to give insight as if no one minds. Most people not remembering or never even learning Hiyono's name (when Hizumi asks in volume 12, Ayumu thinks about it for a long while then ''admits he has forgotten''. Hizumi thus just calls her "the pigtails girl").
Shout-Out: Numerous chapters of the manga as well as one episode of the anime are named after classic works of American science fiction, including "The Man In The High Castle" (anime), "The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth", "Blood Music", "The Game of Rat and Dragon", and "The Mote In God's Eye". Other chapters have names that strongly suggest, given the previous very obvious examples, that they are the titles of other such works that didn't entirely survive a double translation. These include "A Cold Equation" (try The Cold Equations), "The Scanner of Darkness" (no, A Scanner Darkly), "The Darkness Must Not Fall" (perhaps you meant Lest Darkness Fall), and "Time for Love" (Time Enough For Love..)
Thanatos Gambit: Loads, what with the Blade Children's tendency to risk lives in their games. The manga's plot also relies heavily on those:
Kanone's plans change a few times but always include his death, at his own hands if necessary. When he finally does get killed, it's unplanned for once, but he manages to turn things to his advantage and "win" by dying.
Xanatos Speed Chess / Gambit Pile Up / Out-Gambitted: The major appeal of the series is watching Ayumu, the BlaChil and later, the Hunters, attempt to outsmart and kill each other. The Kanone arc of the manga is basically five volumes of these.