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Anime / Kyousogiga

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Life; what is it but a dream?
Lewis Carroll, "A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky"

Hidden in an old ink painting is the "Looking-Glass City" of Kyoto, where demons and humans live together and anything broken is instantly fixed. Created by Myoue, a Buddhist monk with the power to bring drawings to life, and his lover Koto, a black rabbit given human form by a kindly bodhisattva, the city is now ruled by their three adopted children: the secretive temple priest Kurama, the aristocratic yet childish demon Yase, and Myoue's lazy, womanizing successor Yakushimaru, who have grown estranged and jaded awaiting their parents' return. One day, a schoolgirl from another world, also named Koto, appears in the city with her "brothers", A and Un, to search for the black rabbit—who she believes is also her long-lost mother.

Kyousogiga is an original net animation written by Izumi Todo (a collective pseudonym for the staff of Toei Animation, who are also the minds behind Ojamajo Doremi and the Pretty Cure franchise) and produced by Toei Animation with the collaboration of Banpresto which debuted on December 2011 on Nico Nico Douga. From September to December 2012, five additional shorts were released which expanded the setting and characters. After it garnered sufficient attention, a TV series was greenlit for the Fall 2013 anime season. The original ONA series was adapted as a two-volume manga serialized in Dengeki Maoh from February 2012 to March 2013. Another manga adaptation following the TV series was serialized from November 2013 to March 2014 issues.

The series contains a lot of Buddhist imagery along with Alice Allusion motifs, with sprinkles of Shinto here and there.

It was licensed for North American release by Discotek Media in 2016.

This show contains examples of:

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    ONA (2011-2012) 
  • Alice Allusion: Kyousogiga is supposed to be based on Through the Looking-Glass, though you'd have a hard time knowing it if not for the whole "finding the rabbit" gig, chess imagery, and quotes from the books.
  • Bash Brothers: Ah and Un
  • The Faceless: Inari. He's wearing a fox mask but his hairstyle is similar to Koto's, only shorter, and he also has her red eyes.
  • Follow the White Rabbit: The main objective of Koto and her brothers.
  • Gratuitous English: The poem "A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky" by Lewis Carroll read at the beginning of the original animation.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Yase hits the TV while in Hulk mode and, when it's fixed, she returns back to normal and smiles, calling technology useful.
  • Pun: There are many different kanji with alternate readings that are pronounced "Kyoto" and the characters list them off.
  • Reality Warper: The original Myoe is the creator of the Mirror City, Kyoto.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni/ Polar Opposite Twins: Koto’s brothers, A and Un, literally. They’re yokai and color coded according to their personalities.
  • Serious Business: Shoko barges into Koto's house and wrecks half of the city just to look for her PSP controller. To be fair, it does control Bishamaru.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The residents of Kyoto don’t seem to mind all the damage the characters cause (which immediately heals by itself), or the weird supernatural goings-on like the "floating away festival". One woman even lampshades it by saying it's easier not to ask questions.

    TV Series (2013) 
  • Adaptation Expansion: The first half of the TV series reuses scenes from the original ONA series while adding more content to give more background on the characters and setting.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: The original Myoe was an outcast in his village due to his reality-warping powers. As a result, he lived in the mountains and became a recluse until Lady Koto arrived.
  • Alternate Character Reading: The actual Kyoto is written "capital city" (京都) whereas the Wonderland Kyoto is written "mirror city" (鏡都). One Mind Screwy sequence also has Kurama and Yase rattle off several different spellings of "Kyoto".
  • Alternate Continuity: Relative to the OVA where some important parts were retconned such as Koto's hammer.
  • Apocalypse How: Class Z where it is revealed that Mirror Kyoto is a forbidden thirteenth parallel world which holds the balance of the other 12 parallel worlds. Inari's creation of his family and Koto's entry to Mirror Kyoto both caused a chain reaction that would destroy all worlds.
  • Art Initiates Life: The original Myoe and Lady Koto create not only the Mirror City but also Kurama and Yase. Lady Koto herself was originally a drawing of a black rabbit made by Myoue, which later gained a human form thanks to a bodhisattva.
  • Award-Bait Song: "The Secret of My Life".
  • Become a Real Boy: Lady Koto, in black rabbit form, in love with the original Myoe. The bodhisattva granted her wish by letting her use her body.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Myoe managed to save Koto from being hit by the Shrine-controlled familiars and snapped her back to her senses after she felt guilty for causing the city's destruction.
  • Big Entrance: Koto's arrival in the Mirror City creates a big thunderstorm which causes a lot of panic.
  • Broken Bird:
    • Yase. Among the three siblings, she's the most effected after her parents' departure.
    • Koto, just when Mirror Kyoto and the other 12 parallel worlds are about to be destroyed, she realized the damage that she had caused just to enter the world where she could learn about her past and her family.
  • Bungled Suicide: Young Yakushimaru stabs himself in the gut after his biological parents are killed. The original Myoe finds him bleeding in the snow and somehow manages to save him.
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • Myoe got his chance to call out his adopted dad for his abandonment, along with messing with Koto.
    • In episode 10, Koto calls out and beats up Inari for his selfish reasons of appointing her and Yakushimaru as successors without telling it to them personally.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: This show can be funny and sad, particularly with the backstories of the three siblings.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Those three animals (the monkey, the rabbit and the frog) that kept hanging around with Yakushimaru in the PV? Inari's father inhabits them.
  • The Chessmaster: Inari.
  • Dissonant Serenity: The original Myoe was serene when he came home while covered in blood and carrying Yakushimaru's corpse. When Yakushimaru comes back to life and is angry at this, Myoe cheerfully tells him that he has to get used to it. This is later extended when he returns to Mirror Kyoto as Inari and he doesn't seem to mind how much grief he caused his family.
  • Dysfunction Junction: The three siblings have their own problems after their parents left and each of them have their own reasons for wanting them to return:
    • Kurama wants to see the outside world though he's forbidden by his dad because he's not human. Though he did enjoy Mirror Kyoto, he still wants to see the outside world and this time, his dad decided to help. Sadly, he left and Kurama self-appointed himself as the leader of the Council of Three with the growing desire to go outside.
    • Yase is very close to her mother and keeps a lot of sentimental items from her childhood after she left. Then, Kurama tossed Yase's favorite doll during the station opening which devastated her.
    • Yakushimaru lost his biological parents but somehow was saved by the original Myoe. After the original Myoe and Lady Koto left, he becomes bitter of their departure, particularly his foster dad, and desires to die once Koto finds the black rabbit.
  • Every Episode Ending: The classic "start the ending song during the last few moments of the episode, before starting the actual credits".
  • Evolving Credits: The OP from episode 6 onwards added more distinctive details such as additional cracks on the frames of the three siblings' past.
  • Familiar: Though A and Un refer to Koto as their sister, this is what they actually are to her. Inari has his own familiars, Ne and Ko.
  • Funbag Airbag: Young Koto apologizes and bows to one of the teachers of Shrine but she ends up burying her face in her boobs.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man:
    • Myoe had done this twice to Koto, when the latter blames herself for starting the destruction of Mirror Kyoto and when she got out of control of herself and started destroying the city.
    • When Koto lost control of herself and started destroying Mirror Kyoto, Myoe is about to give up until Kurama slaps him and urges him to live for himself.
  • Happily Adopted: Yakushimaru, after being saved by the original Myoe, seemed to enjoy his new family despite that most of them are not human. But after his foster parents left, he becomes bitter particularly to the original Myoe.
    • Initially, he didn't like it, most especially when the original Myoe resurrected him against his will.
  • Happily Married: The original Myoe and Lady Koto (though probably not legally).
  • Heroic BSoD: Koto suffers this when she blames herself for the destruction of Mirror Kyoto and when Inari controls her and has her destroying much of the city.
  • Kick the Dog: Kurama tossed Yase's favorite doll away just to test if they can reach their mother but this made Yase more devastated. Though it turns out that it worked, as Yase realized that her doll is attached to Koto's hammer meaning it did manage to reach their parents.
  • Kiss of Life: Lady Koto fed the pomegranate to Yakushimaru via mouth-to-mouth. It's not really that intimate, though later on Yase teases Myoe and calls him "Oedipus".
  • Legacy Character: Yakushimaru inherits the original Myoe's name and position after he and Lady Koto leave. He notes that he's just a substitute.
    • It turns out that it's what the original Myoe had planned. Not only he gave Yakushimaru his name and position, but also his abilities.
  • Magic Skirt: In episode 5, Koto's skirt doesn't seem to fall down when Yakushimaru hangs her by the ankle with his beads.
  • Magical Land: The "Mirror City" Kyoto.
  • Miles to Go Before I Sleep: Myoe wants to die, but is stuck waiting for the original Myoe's return.
  • Missing Mom: Though Koto did figured out who her parents are, her main objective is find her mother who is assumed to be the black rabbit.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Koto realized that she used the hammer to enter Mirror Kyoto except it created much damage to the city which results to the slow destruction of the other parallel worlds.
  • Narrator All Along: Inari's father happens to be the one narrating the opening scene.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In episode 7, Koto manages find Lady Koto and bring her back, but literally breaks the dimension holding the Mirror Capital in the process.
  • No Name Given: The girl at the temple who Yakushimaru befriended and the woman who first appeared in the ONA as his girlfriend are not named. In fact, Koto just calls the latter Kanojo-san (or "Miss Girlfriend" in English).
  • Not Blood Siblings: While they treat and refer to each other as siblings, A and Un aren't actually related to Koto. The same goes for Kurama, Yakushimaru, and Yase, who aren't blood-related to each other or Koto, who they believe is their sister.
    • Although it may be that Yakushimaru and Koto are in fact blood-related in a fashion. The original Myoe gave Yakushimaru a strand of green, DNA-shaped power before he left, and after that Yakushimaru grew up to look just like original Myoe even though Yakushimaru was adopted. There's also a green DNA helix background to Koto and Yakushimaru's last scene in the OP.
  • Ojou: Yase has the appearance of one, but she can become very unladylike indeed if she gets too angry.
  • Once More, with Clarity: After airing the notoriously confusing pilot ONA unmodified, the series replays select scenes in a somewhat easier-to-understand context in other episodes.
  • Parental Abandonment: The original Myoe and Lady Koto leave Kurama, Yase and Yakushimaru due to a prophetic dream that Lady Koto will destroy the city. Their children do not take this very well.
  • Prophecy Twist: On the day the original Myoe entrusts young Yakushimaru with his rosary, he reassures him that one day he'll return "along with the beginning and the end". Years later, Koto arrives in Mirror Kyoto with her familiars A and Un, whose names translate to "beginning" and "end".
    • Also, Lady Koto seals herself away because she fears her presence will eventually lead to the destruction of the Mirror Capital. However, it turns out that it's her daughter Koto that sets off the chain of events leading to the Mirror Capital's destruction.
  • Real-Place Background: Mirror Kyoto contains many landmarks of the original Kyoto and its surroundings, including many shrines and temples. They are often at completely different locations though, and twisted in surreal ways or repurposed.
  • Recurring Riff: The melody of the main theme, "City of Eternity", is all over the soundtrack.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Yakushimaru is fed a fruit from Koto that resurrects the dead and makes it impossible for him to die as the wound will simply heal.
  • Shown Their Work: Quite literally. Episode 5.5 is a live-action sequence dedicated to showing off the real-life Kyoto and highlights the inspiration behind the location and characters.
  • Shrines and Temples: As befitting of its Buddhist theme, most of the show takes place in well-known Buddhist temples in and near Kyoto—or at least their surreal counterparts.
  • Tomboy: Koto is called this by several other characters. They're not far off the mark.
  • Unusual Ears: Lady Koto has long, black, vaguely rabbit-like ears (since, well, she originally was a rabbit).
  • Use Your Head: Koto headbutts her own father as a way to call out his selfish actions.
  • Walking Disaster Area: Koto and her familiars tend to create destruction in a city where everything can be fixed instantly. However, when she uses her hammer, the damage becomes permanent, much to Myoe's annoyance.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Though episode 7 is sort of heartwarming, particularly with Lady Koto's return; the last minutes show the city's impending destruction and it's all caused by Koto.
    • Episode 9 just got depressing when it turns out that Inari actually knew that Koto would go to Mirror Kyoto as part of his plan and forced her to destroy the rest of the city by stabbing her with his sword.
  • Wham Line:
    • The end of episode 5:
    Myoe: Once you've found Mom, kill me.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Myoe's dilemma after he was resurrected by his adopted dad. Justified that he lost his family and friends. He managed to get over it thanks to Lady Koto and Myoe. When they leave, he becomes bitter about it and requests Koto to kill him when their parents return.