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"I am invincible. My Shadow Skills... perfectly honed. The power of my blow... HAS. NO. EQUAL!"
Mantra said before unleashing some serious ass-kicking. (English dub).

"I am invincible. Nothing can rival my Shadow Skills. My blows cannot be matched!" (Japanese sub).
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Shadow Skill is a Manga by Megumu Okada that ran from 1992 – 1996, with an Anime adaption airing first in Japan in 1998 and released in english by ADV Films in 2005. Booth tells the story of the first-ever female Kuruda Sevaar Elle Ragu and her adopted brother Gau Ban and their adventures as they fight in a world of honor, magic, and fearsome enemies.

Elle Ragu is a Sevalle, one of the elite warriors of the kingdom of Kuruda. She uses her martial arts language, the Kuruda Annihilation Techniques known as "Shadow Skills", in combat in a manner which is legendary. She is the 59th Sevalle and the only female in living history. Elle, however, drinks like a fish and rarely pays rent. The only thing she seems to be good at is fighting, which she does well enough to somewhat overcome these deficiencies. She is also not the most intellectual sort, a fact frequently lampshaded by other characters.

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Her adopted brother, Gau Ban, is another fighter using the Kuruda Annihilation Techniques, and seeks to surpass Elle. Also along for the ride are Faurink Maya, called Folli, a Sui Reme talisman user who acts as a sort of watchdog for Elle, providing the brains to her brawn, and Kyuo Ryu, a Septia (those who catch demon beasts) who has a crush on Gau.

A series of four prequel OVA's that tell a different story than the main series were also made, and released in English by Manga Entertainment.


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Tropes:

  • All-Powerful Bystander: Even though Scar Face and Crimson are the most powerful fighters in Kuruda, the former being next in line to succeed the King and the latter being the Court Mage and Master Swordsman, they mostly do nothing substantial throughout the series to prevent/oppose the Big Bad's plans, with the exception of trying (and failing) to capture Kain.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Elle has a slender though very muscular physique.
  • Anime Theme Song: Surprisingly NOT by Megumi Hayashibara.
    • Megumi Hayashibara actually gets a chance to sing it in episode 13. She's supposed to be singing it as if she isn't a singer but she's obviously failing.
    • Luci Christian sings the translated lyrics in the dub, though her gruffer tone helped mask her singing ability a bit.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Ren Fuuma is the poster boy and fanclub president.
  • Ash Face: In the first episode, Elle gets engulfed in the flames of a fire attack and is left charred black, only to shake it off and complain about her hair being ruined.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The Kurudan monarchy.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Eva Stolla, Scar Face, and Crimson.
  • The Beast Master: The native magic style of Ashliana's rival, Soulfan. Gana Greeg, their champion is a Type 3.
  • Berserk Button: Gau, Elle, and Diaz become filled with Unstoppable Rage whenever someone they care for is threatened or injured.
  • Big Bad: Shere Kahn, Ren Fuuma's boss, who is also He Who Must Not Be Seen.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Somewhat inverted in Elle to Gau, played straight with actual siblings Diaz and Elle.
  • Big Brother Worship: Elle to Diaz, somewhat inverted with Gau to Elle.
    • Played with with Gau towards Scar Face, since he isn't aware that the latter is his older brother.
  • Break the Cutie: Darkness to Gau, at Scar Face's request.
  • Broke Episode: Elle manages to drink away most of her money.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Required for Kuruda Annhilation Techniques.
  • Card Games: Faury's magic style is Yu-Gi-Oh!-style summoning and spell-casting.
  • Colony Drop: The Big Bad's plan to destroy Kuruda in the tv series finale with a magical mountain-size meteorite.
  • Cute Monster Girl: The Holy kingdom of Likitoa is a forest nation of Cat Folk, as exemplified by their champion, Kyla Lu Luka.
  • Dark-Skinned Redhead: Elle, who was a Dark-Skinned Blond in the manga
  • Death Equals Redemption: Kain, who was finally restored to sanity after he was forced to fight Gau in a lucid state, when Gau managed to survive his G's seven-part killing attack, which should have killed him, as Gau managed to evade a single strike, so the technique was not completed on him, but even then, he was already beaten to within an inch of his life.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Virtually every surviving fighter in the series. To be expected since it's a warrior culture after all.
  • Died Standing Up: Diaz.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Diaz's last stand against Darkness, the immortal, beyond-superhuman embodiment of humanity's fear of death, as well as his corresponding posthumous award of the highest honor of the title of Sword of Ashliana which which results in being resurrected and transformed into an unkillable immortal just like Darkness.
  • Elemental Powers: The Holy Kingdom of Likitoa uses this.
  • Fallen Hero: The disgraced 58th Sevalle and Elle's immediate predecessor, Kain Phalanx aka "G". A Child Prodigy who was potentially even more powerful than Scar Face, he gradually degenerated into an braggart who finally went rogue and tried to short-cut the formal process of royal succession by attempting to assassinate Hawk Eyes.
  • Final Battle: The epic 3-part TV series finale.
  • Finishing Move: Also doubles as Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Cannon for the Shadow Skill and Kuga/Krueger for the Yin Style.
  • First Law of Resurrection: G, who came back as a Lich made out of Paper Talismans who was Living on Borrowed Time, so that he could get his revenge on Kuruda.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Elle. It's also the reason why she's in such deep debt.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Virtually every fighter does this, except Gau.
  • Heroic Second Wind: A fair number of Gau’s one-on-one battles seem to involve him getting utterly pummeled by his opponent, only for someone/something to inspire him to get up and end the fight in a single blow.
  • Honor Before Reason: The representative of the Holy Kingdom of Kishiluna, Zel Zakulet forces Elle to kill him in a duel to the death when he seeks to avenge the honor of his father and mentor, the previous representative, who had also forced Elle to face him in a fight to the finish in her younger years.
  • In a Single Bound: Kurudan Sevalles and Valles
  • Incest Is Relative: The inverted Wife Husbandry of Elle to her adopted younger brother Gau when they take a Relationship Upgrade after her real older brother Diaz dies, since they're Not Blood Siblings after all.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Diaz Ragu
  • Informed Ability: Iba Stol (Hawk Eyes) is the king of Kuruda, but the only time we see him in battle he gets winded from one attack from Ren Fuuma.
    • Then again, it was the Ultimate Attack of Ren's style.
  • Kick Chick: Elle Ragu.
  • Ki Manipulation: Elle, Gau, and the other Sevalles all use ki to boost and amplify their attacks and defenses.
  • Klingon Promotion: To become king of Kuruda, a Sevalle must defeat the current king to become the High Sevalle and next in line to the throne. The current king is Hawk Eyes, the 55th Sevalle, with Scar Face (57th) as the current "heir apparent".
  • Love Triangle: Lowe likes Kyuo, who likes Gau, who is more or less oblivious. He's secretly in love with Elle, who loves him back too – at least in the extended anime remake of the OVA.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: In the TV series, Hawk Eyes is actually Kyuo's grand-uncle, being the twin brother of her deceased grandfather. In the manga, it is revealed that Big Bad Shere Kahn is actually the biological father of both Scar Face and Gau, making them either full-brothers or half-brothers.
  • Martial Arts and Crafts: To a degree, with the Martial Arts Language.
  • Meaningful Name: Each Sevalle who wins the Annual Royal Fighting Tournament is priviledged to choose their own codename, which then becomes their title. Scar Face chose his name based on his famous scar that Crimson gave him; egomaniac G chose his name, because it was the 7th letter and thus "strongest" letter of Kuruda's alphabet (which is Latin!); and Black Wing aka Diaz, chose his name as it was also the name of his own personal weapon, the boomerang.
    • Gau Ban chooses the name Black Howling, as a way to emphasize his connection to Black Wing, his adopted older brother.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: The Holy Nation of Ashliana and the four kingdoms within it are very reminiscent of the classic Medieval European Fantasy, with noticeably less bladed weapons.
  • Missed the Call: Subverted with Diaz, who sacrificed his sure-shot at being Sevalle to become a highly-paid mercenary to be able to cure his sister's fatal disease, even if he ended up a diseased cripple.
  • Motion Capture Mecha: Subverted. A magical variant of this – where a Master Swordsman generates a mecha-sized Golem using his sword and manipulates it with said Sword ala Nintendo's Wii – are used by the Holy Kingdoms of Kishiluna and Felisha.
  • My Sibling Will Live Through Me: Elle's motivation for becoming a martial artist in the first place, to repay her brother for his sacrifices on her behalf.
  • Mysterious Protector/Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Scar Face
  • The One Guy: Gau in the central ensemble. Note that there are FAR more males than females in the series overall, but within the band, Gau is the only male.
  • One-Man Army/The War Sequence: The Battle of Blorahan. Subverted in that Everybody Lives.
  • One-Winged Angel: Darkness, who transforms from a short-haired blonde to a long-haired brunette (sort of like a reverse Super Saiyan).
  • Papa Wolf: Diaz to his younger sister Elle and surrogate younger brother Gau.
  • Power Born of Madness: G's Start of Darkness.
  • Promotion to Parent: Diaz to Elle, Elle to the orphaned Gau.
  • Redemption Equals Death: The former general/leader of Ashliana's rival nation, the massive-sized and massively-impoverished nation of Soulfan (who resents Ashliana's good fortune and blames Ashliana for its own tragically low level of Souma), Badass Normal Master Leen, after resigning his position to go on secret fact-finding mission, tragically realizes too late that Ashliana is not really at fault at all for Soulfan's tragic predicament and Soulfan is actually merely being used by the Big Bad in his plan to destroy Ashliana. However, he does manage to reveal vital info about the Soulfan invasion of Kuruda to Gau before he succumbs to greivous injuries from Ren Fuuma.
  • Redhead In Green: Kyuo. All she needed was an Irish accent...
  • Rings of Death: Kyuo's chulinks.
  • The Rival: Low to Gau, they even have corresponding battle names, White Lightning and Black Howling, respectively.
  • Serial Escalation- Gau and Elle both strive for this with varying levels of success.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Faury/Folli/Folly, for just one example. The whole series liberally mixes the pronunciation and spelling of "s" and "l" in both the manga and the anime ova and tv series.
  • Staking the Loved One: Scar Face, when he was forced to stop his best friend G from killing Hawk Eyes.
  • Teach Him Anger: Scar Face's strategy for secretly training Gau. Subverted in that it is revealed that Gau was actually more powerful as a child when he was newly-orphaned and full of Unstoppable Rage over the murder of his parents by bandits. Ironically, being with Elle has thoroughly mellowed him out to be too much of a Nice Guy, to the point where Lowe and even Elle calls him out on it.
  • Terminally Dependent Society: The wealth and prosperity of the Holy Kingdom of Ashliana (composed of the Floating Continent capital city of Juliannes and it's surrounding border city-states of Kuruda, Kishiluna, Felisha, and Likitoa) is due to it's unnaturally-high levels of Souma which is a result of the regular periodic manifestations of Ashliana's patron diety, Lunaris Umbra, Lord of the Moonshadow. However, Souma has a finite supply limit, and should it run low and fail to be replenished (as it was in the TV series when Lunaris Umbra was prevented from returning for a prolonged period of time, as he could only visit the earthly plane during the New Moon), widespread intense famine and heat-drought resulted and there was a general decline in the overall physical and magical abilities of Ashliana's superpowered inhabitants.
  • The Determinator: Even among warriors, the siblings Diaz and Ellie stand out. The former manages to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, becoming a Deity of Human Origin as the reward for being such, while the latter is used as the role model by the other such deities to inspire the main hero to transcend his limits and fulfill his potential.
  • The Dragon: Ren Fuuma
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Subverted in the TV series finale, in as Gau is only able to both overcome his phobia of dying and defeat Ren Fuuma with the moral support and emotional encouragement of the rest of the main cast.
  • This Means Warpaint: Kurudan warriors would often paint a stripe across their cheek in their own blood, reminiscent of Scar Face's iconic scar, before going into battle. As Scar Face is considered the next-in-line for Kuruda's throne, having defeated the current king Hawk Eyes in battle, this gesture is done as a way of dedicating their upcoming fight to him.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Gau, who successively goes from being the weakest fighter at the start of the TV series to arguably the most powerful (via his unprecedented mastery of Cannon) by its end.
  • Trippy Finale Syndrome: The last fight of the TV-series is mostly some kind of bizarre/symbolic flashback including lions and gazelles for some reason. It's all very serious Fauxlosophic discussion about violence. Or something.
    • Actually, it's all about Gau learning to face his fear of death in order to be able to move forward and beat Ren Fuuma, which he does by being inspired through the example of Elle.
      • Foreshadowed by Darkness and expounded by Ren Fuuma. Basically, a beast fights for survival; it needs no other reason and does not fear battle. Its primal instincts are its battle skills; it has no need for fancy combat techniques. But at the same time, even though a beast kills and devours it prey, it does not bear malice or hatred toward it; it is simply fighting for its own survival. Darkness, Kain Phalanx, Scar Face, Elle Ragu, Ren Fuuma, and several others have told Gau he needs to become a beast to survive combat with the opponents he faces. The montage is Gau finally realizing this for himself with the help of The Power of Friendship of the rest of the main cast and becoming a true warrior.
  • Upbringing Makes the Hero: Subverted. Ironically, Gau's happy life with Elle is what's said to have caused Gau to weaken as a warrior. Played straight in later arcs in the manga, where it's revealed the infant Gau was secretly placed with his foster parents, who were simple farmers, to prevent him from becoming evil like his biological father, Shere Kahn.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Kain to Gau, when he comes back as a ghost to help against Ren in the tv series finale.
  • You Leave Him Alone!: Diaz to Scar Face over Gau, as Diaz opposes Scar Face's tough-love shock-therapy approach to Gau's martial education.

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