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Literature / Kurozuka

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Kurozuka (黒塚, lit. "Black Tomb") is a 2000 Japanese Historical Fantasy / After the End Vampire novel written by Baku Yumemakura.

Its story opens with the famous 12th-century Japanese historical figure Minamoto no Yoshitsune. After losing to the forces of his brother Minamoto no Yoritomo, who in the wake of his victory would rise to become the first Shogun to rule all of Japan, Yoshitsune discards his name for the pseudonym "Kurou" and flees into the mountains with his retainer Musashibo Benkei. History records that Yoshitsune committed suicide after being cornered by Yoritomo's forces. But in this version of events, Kurou and Benkei instead find a mountain hermitage inhabited by a strange, beautiful priestess with a Christian cross necklace centuries before Christianity should have reached Japan named Kuromitsu. Eventually, Kurou and Kuromitsu fall in love, and Kuromitsu reveals her greatest secret to him: she is an immortal vampire. Soon after Yoritomo's forces catch up with Kurou and Benkei, and in an attempt to save Kurou's life Kuromitsu shares her blood with Kurou. However, before Kurou's vampiric transformation can be completed, someone beheads him.

But instead of dying, Kurou finds himself waking up again and again centuries apart, with he himself seemingly having not aged a day, his memory in shambles, and one all-consuming desire filling his mind: find Kuromitsu. Thus begins Kurou's journey through the ages of Japan, from the 12th-century to Present Day, through an apocalypse, into the post-apocalypse, and beyond, all to find the woman he once loved.

Has a manga adaptation and a 12-Episode Anime adaptation by Madhouse. The anime has some truly outstanding animation and an awesome opening theme if you're willing to deal with its extraordinarily confusing rendition of the plot.

The Anime provides examples of:

  • After the End: Caused by nuclear war and the ensuing nuclear winter.
  • Immortality: One of the main focuses of the story. Kuromitsu is From a Single Cell.
  • Immortality Seeker: The Red Imperial Army. They want Kuromitsu's blood because it can make them immortal, and their pursuit of her underlies the entire story.
  • Mind Screw: The series has a Jigsaw Puzzle Plot full of surrealism, flashbacks, illusions, and lack of explanation makes the plot near incomprehensible until the grand finale.
  • Off with His Head!: Multiple characters get beheaded over the story, including the protagonist, who gets his head cut off at the end of the opening prologue, only to awaken still alive and with his body very much still attached centuries later.
  • One-Winged Angel: Arashiyama takes on a far more monstrous form his fight with Kurou. Kurou still cuts off his head.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Kuromitsu and Kurou possess the desire to drink blood, have increased strength and senses, and seemingly can't die from old age no matter how many centuries pass.
  • Reset Button Ending: Sort of. Despite the original mastermind behind Kurou and Kuromitsu suffering being dealt with in this latest cycle, Kurou himself is still not complete. After Kuromitsu again severs his head to transfer him to a new, potentially better body, Kurou temporarily remembers the endless number of times this same story has repeated itself, and then wakes up again in a new age, his memory in shambles once more, and with the same overwhelming desire to find Kuromitsu. And as he encounters new versions of the characters he met before, and a new version of the story plays out, it is unclear if anything will ever truly change, and if he and Kuromitsu will ever be able to truly be together.
  • La Résistance: The Haniwa movement. Kurou helps them fight the Red Imperial Army. Too bad they all get killed...
  • Love Makes You Evil: Benkei and Kuon both betray Kurou in an attempt to have Kuromitsu love them instead.
  • Scenery Porn: the apocalypse and post apocalypse are filled with equally gorgeous and tragic destroyed city-scapes bursting with detail.
  • Super Serum: Kuromitsu's blood has this effect on a few of the people who are injected with it. The rest don't survive.
  • Super-Soldier: The field generals of the Red Imperial Army, thanks to Kuromitsu's blood. One reason the RIA is chasing Kuromitsu is so they can use her blood to make more.
  • Time Skip: The show skips thousands of years early on.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Kuromitsu's immortality makes her a continual target of the Red Imperial Army.

The Manga provides examples of:

  • After the End: A meteorite hits the planet while nuclear missiles are either being fired to decrease its mass or get one last potshot at an old enemy. Then, nuclear winter hits after the meteorite and the nukes destroy most civilization.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Humans will continue to chase after Kurou and Kuromitsu for their immortal blood. As will clones like Izana and Shera, driven by the shared obsessions from a partial Genetic Memory to be with Kurou or Kuromitsu themselves. And Kurou or Kuromitsu will continue to flee. But at least now Kurou has regained his full memories thanks to gaining a perfect cloned vampire body, and Kuromitsu and Kuro will at last truly be together for the first time in centuries.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Benkei's death does not stop Kurou and Kuromitsu from being hunted by humans who want their immortal blood, nor those who want to Murder the Hypotenuse and have Kurou or Kuromitsu's love for themselves. The two will be forced to flee forever. But at least now Kurou has regained his full memories and personality after having his head transplanted onto a perfect copy of his original body, and Kurou and Kuromitsu will be able to truly be together from now till the end of their days.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: A trio of nameless bounty hunters are sent after Kurou in volume 3 but despite the build up, Kurou easily kills one with Razor Floss and the other two are slaughtered by Kuon offscreen.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous:
    • The female bounty hunter sent after the protagonists in volume 3 is Killed Offscreen by Kuon and her corpse is later prominently shown slumped against a wall with spread legs and an exposed breast.
    • In chapter 22, a female guard is brutally beaten to death offscreen by an imprisoned Kuromitsu, stripped of her clothes and left nude inside the cell.
  • Katanas Are Better: Kurou uses the same one from 12th century Japan into the present. And it's still sharp.
  • Genetic Memory: There are a number of clones in the story who seem to have pieces of the personalities and obsessions of the people they're cloned from. A clone of Benkei even reveals in the finale that he can sometimes see decades upon decades of memories of the man he was cloned from.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Played with. On top of Minamoto no Yoshitsune becoming an immortal vampire instead of dying in the 12th-century, and Kuromitsu being the Yao Bikuni myth as a vampire, the source of Kuromitsu's vampirism is revealed in the finale to be Judas Iscariot, who was cursed for betraying Jesus and attempting to take Jesus's divine abitilies by consuming his "immortal" blood.
  • Off with His Head!: To Kurou, this is a normal occurrence. By the end of the story, he's lost his head eleven or twelve times. Other characters lose their heads as well, such as Izana, Kuon, and Rai. Only Rai is still without a body in the finale.
  • Time Skip: From 12th century Japan to somewhere in the Meiji era to modern day Japan to just After the End to a century after the end when society has rebuilt itself.
  • World of Badass: Where even the mooks have machine guns for hands... in modern day Tokyo. In the future, they have lasers, chainguns, and rockets.