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Anime / Otogi Zoshi

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Hikaru disguised as her brother (right) and with her hair down (left).
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Otogi Zoshi is an anime produced by Production I.G, which follows the story of Hikaru and a number of people surrounding her. While at first it may look to nothing more than Historical Fiction with fantasy elements mixed in, that's only true of the first half. Halfway through, the series goes through a combination Timeskip / Genre Shift to present day where strange Urban Legends keep coming true. The two plots do overlap.

The first half (episodes 1-13), labeled the Heian Arc, appropriately takes place in the city of Heian (modern day Kyoto) during the Heian Period. Heian is becoming a corrupt and run-down city. Selfish samurai and onmyoji, who care only about gaining political power, are everywhere. To make matters worse the city is suffering from famine and widespread disease. To combat this, the Imperial Court decides to send Minamoto no Raikou, a famous samurai well-known for his archery skills, to recover a legendary gem (a magatama) said to hold mysterious power to save the world. However Raikou falls ill, so his sister, Hikaru, disguises herself to make the journey in his place. Traveling along with her guard, Tsuna—though she's quite combat capable herself—she meets many people and learns that the situation is more complex than it first seemed.

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Most of the story's second half (episodes 14-24) makes up the Tokyo Arc. It follows the same group of characters from before, except they've been reincarnated into modern day Tokyo. There Hikaru lives the life of a mostly Ordinary High-School Student. She also acts as the landlady for the Villa Minamoto apartment complex, where her friends and tenants Tsuna, Sadamitsu, Urabe, and Kintaro live—though timely rent payments are left to be desired. But one night, on the one year anniversary of her brother Raikou's disappearance, Hikaru suddenly gets a lead on where he went. While following Tsuna on an odd job based around an urban legend, Hikaru spots her brother on a phantom train... Though Tsuna saw nothing, she's determined to investigate. The next day she gets an even bigger set of clues in the form of strange photos taken by Raikou. Like clockwork, incidents happen one after another in the photographed places, with Hikaru (and her friends) getting involved each time. At the same time, a mysterious man in a trenchcoat keeps appearing, warning Hikaru to stop.

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The series finishes off with two "Special Arc" episodes that takes place before the start of the Tokyo Arc proper. One follows Urabe, and the other, Mansairaku.

It was later adapted into a two-volume manga.


Tropes:

  • Action Girl: Hikaru, although notably less so in the Tokyo arc. Urabe, also less so in the Tokyo arc.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Hikaru is horribly torn up at Mansairaku's betrayal. In addition to Urabe. She is, as Tsuna points out, an onmyoji through and through.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Not an actual eyepatch, but in the Heian Arc Tsuna always keeps his right eye closed, since he's blind in it.
  • Eye Scream: Hikaru fires an arrow into a Giant Mook's eye.
  • Executive Meddling: The Tokyo arc was made with a tight budget, on a tight schedule. And fourteen different directors.
  • Fortune Teller: Urabe is one post-timeskip, though not the old Gypsy sort.
  • The Four Gods: They even include the fifth one in the form of a yellow kirin.
  • Historical Domain Characters: Lots of characters take names from/are based on real historical figures.
    • Meaningful Name: Or the names are significant in other ways: The kanji in Mansairaku's name are the same as for Manzairaku, an ancient Japanese Bugaku court dance. As presented in the Heian Arc, Mansairaku is a Bugaku dancer. The difference in the translation ("sai" vs. "zai") may simply be a preference of the translator. Manzairaku music and dance is associated with extremely long life, literally 10,000 years, which is also appropriate for this character.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The Tokyo Arc episodes are all named for places.
  • Ill Boy: Raikou in the Heian Arc.
  • In a Single Bound: Shuten Doji can jump quite high, even when badly injured.
  • Invisible to Normals: It varies depending on what's going on, but more than once in the Tokyo Arc, Hikaru sees something supernatural while Tsuna doesn't at all.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Once the Tokyo Arc starts, it dips into this. Luckily it all makes sense in the end.
  • The Mole: Urabe is secretly working for Abe no Seimei, though she doesn't know his goals.
  • Mood Whiplash: After Heian is destroyed in episode 13, and Hikaru and Mansairaku disappear in a pillar of light, the scene suddenly cuts to the oddly cheerful Sadamitsu and Kintaro.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Ivan and his son are both blond with blue eyes, although it makes one wonder what actually drove him that far from his native Russia. Especially before the word "Siberia" was even coined...
  • Pillar of Light: Five of them, Color-Coded for Your Convenience, are part of Abe no Seimei's ritual to destroy Heian.
  • Public Domain Artifact: The magatama (actually more than one in the end) that the group is searching for.
  • Rain of Arrows
  • Redemption Equals Death: Urabe dies after explaining that she only helped Seimei out of the desire to help Heian, but that Seimei's plan will destroy it. Then in the Tokyo Arc, Mansairaku dies after helping Hikaru to prevent the destruction of Tokyo.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Shuten Doji
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: Earthquakes in one episode of the Tokyo Arc make the earth flash red once.
  • Reincarnation
  • The Reveal: What's behind Abe no Seimei's mask? Mansairaku. Then in the Tokyo Arc, though the audience knows it ahead of time, Hikaru's Mysterious Protector turns out to be Mansairaku. Learning that triggers her memories of her past life.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Sadamitsu in the Tokyo Arc.
  • Samurai
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Fairly early on, Hikaru and company manage to find the magatama, but by the time they bring it back, Raikou is dead. And not only that, they need two more for them to be completely useful.
  • Snow Means Death: In episode 26, Mansairaku finds the old man beneath the tree he's been meeting him at before. The old man has passed away, with the snow falling on him.
  • The Speechless: Matsumushi is mute.
  • Story Arc
  • Super Strength: Kintaro in the Heian Arc. Shuten Doji has it too - though fittingly - after transforming to his giant form.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Hikaru, of course.
  • Talking Is a Free Action
  • Time Skip: The Tokyo Arc takes place in modern day. The final chapter of the Heian arc is followed by a whopping 1000 year timeskip.
  • Time Stands Still
  • Together in Death: In the Heian Arc, Shuten Doji and Ibaraki die together, though there is the bump that Ibaraki killed him in order to help Hikaru's group.
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: In the Tokyo Arc, of course. It's because the events at the end of the Heian Arc led to different capitals getting destroyed through the course of history, and Tokyo is the modern day capital.
  • Untranslated Title: Otogizoushi means, according to That Other Wiki, "Companion tales".
  • Urban Legends
  • Weirdness Magnet: Hikaru quickly becomes one in the Tokyo Arc. It turns out that her necklace is the actual Weirdness Magnet.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Abe no Seimei wants to rid the world of suffering, but to do so, he destroys Heiankyo.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 12 in particular.
  • White Mask of Doom: Seimei's Noh mask.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Mansairaku laments living so long, and thanks Hikaru when she frees him from it.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Deep red hair, actually. Mansairaku has two prominent locks of it in the Heian Arc, then in the Tokyo Arc all his hair is red. Everyone else has realistic hair colors.
    • This is a rather broad hint about Mansairaku's true identity and a nod to Abe no Seimei's half-human nature. According to actual Japanese folklore about him, his mother was a kitsune (a supernatural fox). Hence, the red hair.

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