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Literature / Cerberus High

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Characters clockwise from top right: the human Kazuki Akai, the tanuki Sherbet Summers, and the werewolf Axel Amsel

"...I’m a goner…"
Kazuki Akai, our hopeless protagonist

Cerberus High is a series of novels written by Paige O'Neal-Beedles. The story follows Kazuki Akai, a fifteen-year-old human orphan, who is abruptly transferred to the titular boarding school for canid breeds, people with canine features. Kazuki accepts his fate with zero means of defending himself against the delinquent beasts that run wild in the school. That's until he meets Sherbet Summers, a quirky tanuki that befriends him and becomes his bodyguard, guaranteeing his safety. Kazuki soon becomes hellbent on weeding out all evil that plagues the infamous school  all while trying not to lose his humanity as more and more secrets about the infamous school are revealed.

The books, in order of publication:


The main series also has one spin-off novel:

This book series contains examples of:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower:
    • Kazuki's Cerberus form which was achieved by absorbing the departing souls of Sherbet and Axel.
    • Neo ascending and becoming a god.

  • Academy of Adventure

  • Adults Are Useless: As shown with all the Parental Abandonment and zero adult authority at the school.

  • All There in the Manual: the Cerberus High wiki includes all of the characters' likes and dislikes.

  • Arc Villain:
    • At first, Axel Amsel seems to be this during the A Mere Human Arc of the first book, but later it turns out to be Xiomara Amsel.
    • Neo D. Fowler is this for the Underworld Arc of the first book.

  • Artificial Human: Kazuki was created by Hades to appear human on the outside but was provided with the blood of the demonic entity, giving him abilities, unlike any human or canid breed that has ever existed.

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  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Apparently how the school’s hierarchy works. Who knows.

  • Axes at School: Given the lack of adult authority.

  • Back from the Dead:
    • Vincent brought Rey back after finding him dead and alone as a child.
    • All the Overworld characters who had fallen in the Underworld come back to life after Kazuki defeats Neo.

  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Kazuki's cat Cherish was beaten to death by his three foster brothers.

  • Bare Your Midriff: Sherbet, Xiomara, Rey.

  • Birthday Buddies: Kazuki and Oralee were both born a few minutes apart on the 14th night of September 15 years ago.

  • Blade Lock: Occurs during Neo and Kazuki's fight. The friction of the two blades causing sparks of light and darkness to fly into the air.

  • Boarding School of Horrors: Cerberus High is notorious for being a place you don’t wanna go to.

  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: When Kazuki has a mental breakdown in Chapter 7 after finding out the Awful Truth, Sherbet and Axel visit him to find out what's wrong only for the human to snap at them. Hurt by his words, Sherbet runs off with Axel chasing after her before they are both ensnared by Elliot's Pandora's Box. Kazuki defeats the cryptid all the three make-up just a day later.

  • Cerebus Syndrome: The story takes on a much darker tone in the Underworld Arc as more of Rouge’s hidden past begins to unfold before our heroes’ eyes.

  • City with No Name: The author seems to avoid disclosing the location of where exactly the story takes place. The only thing that is clear is what world our characters live in.

  • Collective Groan: In Chapter 17, When Axel informs everyone about Rouge's disappearance.

  • Color-Coded Characters:
    • Kazuki: Orange
    • Sherbet: Pink
    • Axel: Indigo
    • Xiomara: Purple
    • Blanc: White
    • Ember: Beige

  • Colorful Theme Naming:
    • Kazuki Akai's last name is Japanese for red.
    • Rouge's name is French for red.
    • Blanc's name is French for white.

  • Dark World/The Underworld: Rouge's homeworld.

  • Death by a Thousand Cuts: Axel suggests this as a way for Kazuki to improve his pain resistance. Except, you know, without the death part.

  • Death of a Child: Two examples.
    • Kazuki's three foster brothers being consumed by Kazuki's Zipping Burst.
    • Rey dying from sepsis from having all of his fingers on his left hand cruelly amputated.

  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu??: Kazuki managed to defeat Neo in his immortal god form with the assistance of his friends’ souls.

  • Distant Finale: The epilogue takes place one year later on Kazuki’s 16th birthday.

  • Extranormal Institute: Cerberus High is a boarding school for canid breeds.

  • Family Portrait of Characterization: Kazuki notes the opposing auras between Rouge’s parents Casimir and Blair when he finds a family portrait in the patriarch's journal.

  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Canid breeds are viewed as lesser than compared to their human counterparts.
    • Imps are the Underworld counterpart of canid breeds with how they are treated in their respective world.

  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Underworld resembles Victorian England/France.

  • Ghost Town: Where the final battle in the Underworld Arc took place.
    • In the Alternate Universe spinoff, Cerberus High: Another Story, this town is revealed to be the one inhabited by Eden Blumenthal. It is abandoned in any other universe besides the one where the spinoff is set in, making those who live in it anomalies who aren't supposed to exist.

  • Group Hug: In Chapter 28 after our main characters return to their homeworld from the Underworld.

  • Hellhound: Ember, Cerberus Kazuki, and of course, the original Cerberus.

  • Humans Are Average: Humans in this world possess no kind of supernatural ability.

  • I Am What I Am: Throughout the story, Kazuki has trouble coming to grips that he isn't as human as he previously thought. In his final battle against Neo D. Fowler in the Underworld, Kazuki Akai discards his vow in preserving his humanity by temporarily absorbing the departing souls of his fallen friends to become the Cerberus Beast. It is since then that Kazuki finally accepts who and what he is: not quite human but not quite a canid breed either.

  • The Imp: Imps are a race of lower demons that make up the minority of the Underworld. They are characterized by their unusual skin color, pointed ears, and tail.

  • Inn Between the Worlds/Purgatory and Limbo: The Forever-Still Space can be considered as this since it is used as a rest point for the Overworld characters as they traverse the Underworld.

  • In the End, You Are on Your Own: Subverted. During the final battle of the first novel, Sherbet and Axel follow Kazuki to the decisive showdown against Neo, but when the battle seems hopeless, they give up their souls for Kazuki to transform into Cerberus!Kazuki and fight Neo alone.

  • Kids Are Cruel: Illustrated with a lot of backstories. Namely Rey’s with the imp having all his fingers severed on his left hand as a toddler by a bunch of older kids.

  • Knight of Cerebus: The story took a much darker tone with Neo’s introduction in the Underworld Arc

  • Light/Darkness Juxtaposition:

  • Little Bit Beastly: The story's canid breeds are a distinct species of humanoids that have physical canine characteristics.

  • Mark of the Beast:
    • A marking you get on the left side of your neck when you first set foot in the school as a sign of officially becoming a Cerberus student. This mark fades away as quickly as you receive it; with it only returning whenever one steps foot outside the school.
    • In his Cerberus transformation, Kazuki's Mark of the Beast becomes enlarged and appears on his chest.

  • Mental World: The space within Kazuki’s heart and mind where he communicates face to face with Rouge.

  • Ms. Fanservice: Rouge.

  • The '90s: Although not explicitly stated, since Cerberus High II takes place around 2015, this book is set in 1995.

  • The Nose Knows:
    • Canid breeds have a strong sense of smell which proves how Sherbet was able to instantly tell that Kazuki was human.
    • Rey has a very keen sense of smell and becomes disgusted when he finds out how much Kazuki smells exactly like Rouge.
    • It was implied in Another Story that Eden had inherited his ability to sniff out all of Hades's archdemons and their descendants from his father Vincent.

  • Number of the Beast: These satanic numbers appear on the school's Mark of the Beast brand.

  • Official Couple:
    • Kazuki and Axel
    • Sherbet and Ember

  • Off-Model: The author can't seem to keep her artstyle consistent causing a lot of characters to look radically different.

  • Our Demons Are Different: Demons in this series are just like humans except they have horns. See Humans Are Average.

  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Werewolf-canids don't need the full moon to transform. They are also able to undergo a semi-transformation where only part of their body becomes were-like.

  • Parental Abandonment: Most students attending Cerberus were cast off like trash by their parents to ultimately die in the notorious school.

  • Pilot: The unfinished Prototype Comic that was made in 2018 focusing on the A Mere Human Arc

  • Red Light District: There is one in the Underworld that is brought up twice in the book.
    • Rouge is lured to the middle of the Red Light District by Neo who disguises his presence with Kazuki’s.
    • Neo takes Rey to a Love Hotel in the Red Light District where he kills him.

  • Reincarnate in Another World: Rouge was meant to reincarnate in the Overworld away from the cruelness of the Underworld. Kazuki was created to be that otherworldly body her soul would be put in.

  • Rescued from the Underworld: The initial goal for our characters is to rescue Kazuki from the Underworld. However, this changes when Rouge is kidnapped and a new threat arises.

  • The Reveal: In Chapter 11 it is revealed that there is no school headmaster to begin with.

  • Rule of Seven: Throughout the Underworld's history, there had been only seven archdemons.

  • Rule of Three: This series is dedicated to this rule. So much so that all the chapter titles are three-worded.

  • Say It with Hearts: Dialogue is often punctuated with hearts whenever a character is lovestruck or lecherous.

  • School of No Studying

  • Soul Jar: Kazuki was created to only be just a body for Rouge's soul when she reincarnated. However, the reincarnation was botched and Kazuki was given a will of his own while Rouge's soul slumbered within his heart.
    • During the final battle in the Underworld Arc, Kazuki absorbs the departing souls of Sherbet and Axel to transform into Cerberus Kazuki. As Kazuki is fighting Ascended Neo, his friends' souls are inside the stones of his head.

  • Stranger in a Strange School:
    • Kazuki Akai is the Token Human attending a school meant for delinquent canid breeds.
    • Blanc was the only canid breed when he attended his all-human private school.

  • Trapped in Another World: Kazuki gets thrown into the Underworld after a ritual to exorcise Rouge from his body goes horribly wrong.

  • Whole Episode Flashback: Chapters 24, 25, and 26 are dedicated to showing the backstories of Rey, Rouge, and Neo 15 years ago.

  • World of Ham: The author has a penchant for writing extremely hammy dialogue.