Useful Notes: Onmyodo
Onmyōdō (meaning "The Way of Yin and Yang") is Japanese-style spell-casting. Methods range from Yin/Yang, the Five Elements, shikigami, and divination to ofuda and alchemy. Onmyōdō is a very eclectic blend; while it can be treated as simply Rule Magic, it also has elements of Force Magic and Theurgy. Over the centuries, the various arts and practices of onmyōdō gradually became absorbed into Shinto and Buddhist tradition, and also into the disciplines of the Shugenja, and other ascetic groups. Thus, in many anime and manga works, miko (shrine maidens) are shown as knowing how to summon and control shikigami. A practitioner of onmyōdō is called an onmyōji. Traditionally, the only ones able to legally practice onmyōdō were appointed by the Imperial government, and were in fact, civil servants of the Bureau of Onmyō. During the Heian period, onmyōji had quite a bit of political clout, but when the imperial court fell into decline, their status as civil servants was lost. Their original responsibilities included keeping track of the calendar, divination, and protection of the capital from evil spirits. They also watched for auspicious and/or harmful influences in the earth (earthquake detection). The most famous onmyōji is Abe no Seimei, a figure roughly analogous to the Merlin of Arthurian legend. Like Merlin, it is said that he was not entirely human, but the offspring of a nobleman and a female Kitsune deity. Abe no Seimei is a documented historical personage who lived from about 921 CE to around 1005 CE, the middle of the Heian Period. A shrine dedicated to him was built in Kyoto soon after his death, and still exists today. His descendants, the Tsuchimikado clan, were responsible for managing the Bureau of Onmyō for most of its existence. Sub-tropes
- Gobosei (pentagram)
- In Japanese culture, this is a symbol of magical power, a diagram of the "overcoming cycle" of the five Chinese elements (Wu Xing). A five-pointed star variant (leaving out the outside pentagon) is known as a Seiman, the personal crest of Abe no Seimei.
- In modern Japanese literature, ofuda are always rectangles of paper with holy or magical symbols/spells written on them. They may be used to create a protective ward, seal a building, dispel evil influences, or even as a weapon against those of malign intent.
- Shikigami (or sometimes just "shiki") are spirits called forth to act as servants for the summoner, similar to a familiar in Western mythology. In modern representation, shikigami come in two main varieties:
- A paper doll used as a focus to generate a magical construct shaped like a living creature, with varying levels of realism, power and intelligence depending on the amount of skill and/or magical energy used in its creation. The doll itself is left behind if the shikigami is dispelled.
- A pre-existing creature (usually an animal or a low-level Youkai) into which a shikigami spirit is summoned to grant it enhanced power and intelligence. More powerful servants are harder to control; Abe no Seimei's use of oni shikigami was a mark of his great skill.
- Kuji-In and Kuji-kiri
- The Nine Syllable Seals and the Nine Symbolic Cuts are also among Onmyōdō techniques, though they were never unique to Onmyōdō.
- Eastern Zodiac
- One of the divination means onmyōji employed. During the Heian era, onmyōji were also responsible for making calendars. note As part of that system, The Four Gods were thus also incorporated into onmyōdō.
- Feng Shui
- Another Chinese influence amalgamated into onmyōdō.
- "Kyu-Kyu Nyo Ritsu Ryo"
- The Japanese reading of a phrase once appended to Chinese government edicts, translating roughly as "With Most Haste, In Accordance With the Law" - since the government was regarded as an earthly extension of the Celestial Bureaucracy, it became adopted into Taoism as a way to imbue commands with divine authority. In modern depictions it is generally used as a trigger phrase at the end of a Magical Incantation.
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Anime and Manga
- In Doomed Megalopolis, an anime based upon Teito Monogatari (in Literature, below), the villain Yasunori Kato is an onmyoji. He is shown with the gobosei on his gloves and hat. His magic often involves hand signs (usually Kuji-kiri) where the gobosei serves to focus/increase his power. At the beginning of the story, Kato contends with Abe no Seimei's descendants (see literature below). Throughout the anime, many onmyodo based and related concepts are illustrated, including Shikigami, Ofuda, and Feng Shui.
- Lin Koujo from Ghost Hunt.
- Sumeragi Subaru and Sakurazuka Seishirou, from CLAMP's Tokyo Babylon and X1999.
- In Shaman King, onmyoji are high-level shamans; most notably, series Big Bad Hao Asakura is an onmyoji (and may in fact be partially inspired by Abe no Seimei).
- Abe no Yasuaki from the game and anime Harukanaru Toki no Naka de is an onmyoji and a disciple of Abe no Seimei.
- Ken Akamatsu's Mahou Sensei Negima! features onmyoji as well as Western mages.
- The protagonist of Gainax's Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi is drawn to a parallel world where he learns the the art of onmyodo from Abe no Seimei.
- Not to mention the events of the anime only happened because Abe no Seimei tried to save his best friend and love interest after they both died due to a love triangle. He remade the world into our world, but when he realized events were about to repeat, he just left, presumably returning to his own world
- The anime and manga Onmyou Taisenki revolves almost completely around onmyodo.
- Ask Dr. Rin! features an onmyoji named Tokiwa Takashi.
- Abe no Seimei himself shows up in New Getter Robo as an antagonist of the Getter Team in the latter half of the series. Apparently, in a straight up battle, Onmyodo > Getter Rays.
- Descendants of Darkness involves a considerable amount of onmyodo-style magic, including extensive use of shikigami and o-fuda.
- Sakura Yamazaki from Blue Seed is an onmyoji (translated to "faith healer" in the English subs).
- Otogi Zoshi includes a lot of onmyodo complete with Abe no Seimei.
- Isumi of Hayate the Combat Butler can do nearly anything related to exorcism via this method.
- Isumi also enchanted Tama via this method to enable him to become a Talking Animal.
- Nakahito in Steel Angel Kurumi is an aspiring onmyoji, hoping to one day be as good as his older brother. His latent power is given as the reason for his being able to activate Kurumi in the first episode.
- Parodied on Sgt. Frog when Highly Visible Ninja Koyuki is suddenly able to use onmyodo to unseal a cursed dungeon. She's not very good at it, though, and by the end of the episode, all of the Keronians have gotten accidentally possessed.
- Yamigumo Nami of Silent Mobius uses Onmyodo as her form of fighting magic as a Miko.
- Rei Hino/Sailor Mars from Sailor Moon can use this whether transformed or not, and in particular chooses ofuda to expel demons with "Evil spirits, disperse!" ("Akuryo Taisan!")
- The Kekkaishi have shades of this; they have Ofuda which they use to summon Shikigami, when they need to do things such as clean up the mess they make when they fight to sustain the Masquerade.
- Tsuchimikado Motoharu of A Certain Magical Index is a highly-skilled onmyoji, and is even descended from a famous clan of them. However, having undergone the Power Development Curriculum, using these abilities causes a backlash in his body, and is potentially fatal for him. Luckily, his ability, Level 0 Auto-Rebirth, allows him to bypass this for a limited number of times.
- Keikain Yura of Nurarihyon No Mago come from a onmyouji family specialising in shikigami and hunting youkai.
- Abe no Seimei himself and ofuda magic (used by the Octobrist Organisation) also appear in Drifters.
- It's a very large part of InuYasha, as pretty much the main form - if not only form - of magic used by humans. Even Big Bad Naraku sends doppelgangers of himself pretty much by the Shikigami method (if you actually manage to beat him, you'll probably be left with a small wooden doll around which the doppelganger was built.)
- This is the form of magic used by Nanami, and by most supernaturally empowered human characters we see, in Kamisama Kiss. Nanami tends to get very creative with her tailsmans, even using one concerning traffic safety to kill a a couple of demonic thugs.
- Ashiya Mutsuki from Donten ni Warau is a practicing onmyoji, complete with shikigami, paper dolls and various techniques. It's a family tradition, and his ancestor Ashiya Mangetsu is shown to have been formidable as well. Descendants of Abe no Seimei also seem to still be practicing onmyodo, and employ the gobosei (pentagram) as their family crest, but the only important character of that line, Abe no Sosei, has chosen the sword instead.
- The films Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis and Tokyo: The Last War are adaptations of the novel Teito Monogatari (see Literature below).
- The films Onmyoji (I & II) are a fictitious account of Abe no Seimei based on the novel series of the same name (which also inspired a manga adaptation, also of the same name).
- In the 1985 bestselling novel Teito Monogatari written by occult specialist Hiroshi Aramata, the protagonist Yasunori Kato is a master onmyoji. The first part of the novel revolves around a battle between his forces and the Tsuchimikado Family. The Tsuchimikado Family is descended from the clan of Abe no Seimei and its leader, Yasumasa Hirai, is the direct descendant of Seimei. Yasunori Kato also claims to be a descendant of Abe no Seimei (his first name, Yasunori, is derived from Seimei's teacher, Kamo no Yasunori) but is branded a heretic and a demon for going against the Japanese Empire. The bestselling, award winning occult novel is widely considered the first modern fantasy work to ignite popular interest in onmyodo mysticism in the Japanese media.
- Baku Yumemakura's Onmyoji novels, first published in 1988 (in the wake of Teito Monogatari's success), brought the popularity of onmyoji to new heights.
- Natsuhiko Kyogoku's Kyogokudo mystery novels, which started being being published in 1994, are also major contributors to the boom. The protagonist of the series, Chuzenji Kyogokudo, is a bookstore owner who functions on the side as a part time onmyoji. The first volume of the series was translated in English as The Summer of Ubume.
- Shōnen Onmyōji chronicles the life of Abe no Seimei's youngest grandson and his journey in becoming an onmyouji. There is also an anime adaptation.
- The villain in the Sandman story The Dream Hunters is an onmyoji.
- Tokyo Ravens is set in a world where Japan reactivated the Onmyo Bureau back in World War 2, with the entire cast being onmyoji, shikigami or both. Apart from featuring just about every traditional depiction of onmyodo, Magitek is available such as mass-produced Ofuda, robotic shikigami, and even ofuda missile pods.
- The Anima: Beyond Fantasy sourcebook Arcana Exxet features several alternate theories of magic, allowing for alternate means of spellcasting. Among such options as Shamanism and Voudon, being an Onmyoji is an option. They create Ofuda in order to store their spells in advance, which allows for faster spellcasting that usual.
- The "Sealmaster Meisei" monster in Yu-Gi-Oh! is an onmyoji.
- Abe no Seimei herself (!) appears, mystical powers intact, as a playable character in Otogi 2: Immortal Warriors. Cue pentagrams and shikigami.
- Keiya Tenpouin from the Evil Zone.
- Final Fantasy Tactics includes a Job called Onmyoji (translated as "Oracle" for the English release of the game).
- Player character Sayo-chan / Pocky from the Kiki Kai Kai / Pocky & Rocky series uses ofuda as ranged weapons.
- Akari Ichijo from The Last Blade is a Bunny-Ears Lawyer example, who uses her gohei as a weapon, can summon a variety of youkai to attack her opponent and uses her shikigami basically to cheat death (whenever she's hit with a finisher, she replaces herself with it). For bonus points, the home port of the first game has also an alternate version of Akari which is actually a tanuki impersonating her.
- Gensokyo is the Clap Your Hands If You Believe mystical setting of the Touhou series, where many forms of magic co-exist. The miko Hakurei Reimu and Kochiya Sanae use ofuda and there are some on Fujiwara no Mokou's pants, probably as flame retardant; Reimu also has her smiting Hakurei Ying-Yang Orbs. Rumia is a Youkai with a sealing ofuda in her hair which she can't touch. Patchouli Knowledge prominently uses elemental magic based on Eastern elements (wood, metal, etc.). Yakumo Yukari has a kitsune shikigami named Ran; Ran has her own nekomata shikigami in the form of Chen.
- Many of Sanae's spellcards are also based off of onmyodo, most notably her pentagram-filled cards in Mountain of Faith and her "Nine Syllable Stabs" card in Subterranean Animism.
- The Tanuki-woman, Mamizou Futatsuiwa, has a huge number of spells involving paper doll shikigami. They come in human-shaped, dog-shaped, bird-shaped, and frog-shaped varieties. She uses them as bullets, as familiars that shoot bullets themselves, or as both at once. She also has an attack where she summons copies of herself, presumably more shikigami familiiars.
- Several characters, including Abe no Seimei, her rival Ashiga Doman and his disciples from Kuon are identified as onmyouji and can use various kinds of magic.
- Some of this makes appearances in Ōkami; notably, ofuda "prayer slips" are used by Rao in the Ghost Ship to dispel powerful curses and destroy ghosts.
- Chinnen's stage in Power Instinct Matrimelee has onmyoji Yabeno Hikomaro, shrine maiden Kotohime, and three backup monks (referred to only as the Bouzu Dancers) dancing in the background to a surprisingly catchy tune. The song, and the unlockable music video for it, became something of a meme.
- Kanetsugu Naoe uses onmyodo in Samurai Warriors. His Ofuda shoot Frickin' Laser Beams.
- Onmyodo is the magic system in Girls Love Visual Novel Akai Ito and its sequel Aoi Shiro. Pretty much anyone capable of supernatural feat use Onmyodo to some degree, but Sakuya tops everyone by using it to kill an evil god.
- Onmyodo, amongst other magic systems, consistently appears throughout Shin Megami Tensei franchise. It's usually in the form of the One-Hit Kill Holy Hand Grenade Hama spell. Notable users include Abe no Seimei (a descendant with the same name) in Raidou Kuzunoha Vs. The Lonely Marebito and Raidou himself to an extent.
- The Kanna class in MapleStory identifies herself as an onmyoji.
- In the first Fatal Frame, talismans can often be founding sealing doors. Getting rid of them requires going to a certain place and photographing a spirit, causing the talisman to burn and the door to be unlocked. A similar mechanic is found with voodoo dolls in the third game. (The second game just went ahead and had invisible "ghostly power" sealing the doors.)
- In Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten, Onmyo Monk is an unlockable class.
- Onmyoji appear as recruitable leaders of Jomon (a Fantasy Counterpart Culture for Japan) in the Dominions series. They are typically strong in Astral magic and always appear with one summoned shikigami in battle.
- In Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines, Abe No Seimei is the Big Bad.