A lesser known manga by Kei Kusunoki, the author of Bitter Virgin and Ogre Slayer. It takes place in Feudal Japan and revolves around two fellow ninja from the Takeda clan, who have also been best friends since childhood. One of the two, Marou, begins acting strangely and just ups and disappears one night. That same night, the clan's leader is brutally murdered by demon from Hell; a yōma. Fearing the worst, Marou's friend, Hikage, is ordered to track down the former and kill him before he can spread word about the death of their leader to the clan's enemies.
It seems like a simple enough mission, but Hikage worries more for Marou than he lets on, and sinister forces from Hell are about to make themselves known to the blood-soaked land that is Japan.
The manga was later adapted into a two episode OVA, which was aired on Encore's short-lived anime block in the states.
This manga provides examples of:
- Back from the Dead / Back for the Finale: Majuumi is killed by Hikage at the start of the second OVA, and is brought back during the final confrontation in order to fuse with Kikuga; see Fusion Dance.
- Big Bad: Marou/Kikuga no Miko. It may be a Big Bad Ensemble since Kikuga and Majuumi are both demon lords.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Ito
- Canis Major: Marou and Majuumi merge into a variation of this, namely a giant wolf centaur.
- Disney Death / Death Equals Redemption: After his death, Kotone reincarnates Marou as an infant.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Both Hikage and the second Aya wear some bandages as their only footwear.
- Don't Look at Me!: At first, Aya #2 is ashamed to let Hikage see her scar. Hikage, however, is perfectly accepting. It may help that he was also in love with the original Aya, who had a similar looking scar.
- Eye Scream: Hikage wears a bandage over his right eye for most of the first episode, due to Marou almost gorging it with a poisoned shrunken. Subverted as the only consequence is a small scar underneath the socket. He gets even near the end when he gorges out one of Marou's eyes.
- Evil Old Folks: The old bonze who's really a spider yōma.
- Faux Action Girl: The second Aya. The girl tries so hard, but is easily outmatched by her fellow Kõga, gets captured by an evil tree, and has her face stomped on by giant demon horse, leaving Hikage to bail her out most of the time.
- Fusion Dance: Kikuga and Majuumi wish to perform one to revive all the world's monsters. They combine into a wolf centaur, but Hikage kills them, of course.
- Grand Theft Me: Kotone pulls one on Shiratsuyu by possessing him, effectively destroying his consciousness and personality in order to reincarnate her lover, Marou.
- Gorn: Plenty, especially seeing Taichi and one of the hunters dis-embowled.
- I Let You Win: Kazami allows Hikage to kill him since he can't bring himself to kill his friend overr his master's crazy idea to borrow power from the yōma.
- I Lied: Marou to Katsuyori, promising the latter to lend him the yōma's power to win against the Oda clan. To be fair, it may be that the reason he didn't help was because Kazami failed in killing Hikage.
- Or perhaps he did lie deliberately, since at the same time he said that yōma feed off of the hatred of humans, and that is plenty abound in war.
- Kill the Cutie: Aya; the first one.
- A more tragic example happens as part of Marou and Kotone's backstory.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: The old man uses his powers to erase the villagers' memories in order to lure them in so that he and Ito can bring enough sacrifices to have Marou fully become Kikuga. What's worse, the old demon actually thought that the villagers were grateful to him for erasing their bad past.
Bonze: People who are guilty, weak, and at the bottom of their sadness…those who despair and cannot survive the pain in their lives…those who cannot go back to their former lives and are unworthy of continuing their life…What is wrong with eating them?
- Considering they all kill themselves in the end, he may not have been too far off.
- Making a Splash: Majuumi no Miko, as he is the demon lord of the sea.
- Mind Screw: Perhaps at the ending, given Marou's final words to his old friend.Marou: Being a human is so boring, Hikage.
- Mr. Fanservice: Both Hikage and Marou are pretty good looking, but the latter averts this upon his transformation into Kikuga no Miko.
- Obviously Evil: Look at the bonze and Ito and tell yourself that there's no way they're bad guys.
- Orochi: Shiratsuyu
- Name's the Same: In-Universe example; Hikage is surprised to find out that the Kōga girl shares her name with the village woman from the first episode; Aya.
- Nothing Is Scarier: What was wrong with the baby's head that had Aya so freaked out?
- Most likely, it didn't have one.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: According to Aya, all the villagers are these, herself included. No one knows where they came from or what they were doing before they came to live there. Later it's revealed that the old bonze was erasing their memories in order to bring in enough prey for Kikuga no Miko to fully awaken. Upon the yōma's death, Aya and the others regain their memories and all of them die.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: All yōma, except the bonze and Ito, apply for this trope, even Marou after he fully becomes Kikuga and still when he merges with Majuumi.
- Scars Are Forever: Both Hikage and the first Aya play this trope straight. Same thing with the second Aya, who sports a similar looking scar that the first had, courtesy of Majuumi.
- Kotone also has one across her chest/heart after Marou killed her.
- Screw Destiny: Said outright by Hikage during the final battle.
- Hikage: I will stand aloof from destiny, and live life by my own beliefs!
- Second Love: The second Aya to Hikage after the first one drowned.
- Smug Snake: Literally, in Shiratsuyu's case.
- Tragic Monster: Marou, besides betraying his good friend Hikage (who like a brother to him, also killed his lover, Kotone. He told her to run away after he lost control of himself, but ended up slashing her heart, killing her instantly.
- We Can Rule Together: Marou wishes this with Hikage, but of course he refuses.
- When Trees Attack: Yōki, a yōma embedded within a tree, holds Aya and Kotone hostage to trap Hikage.
- Wolverine Claws: Hikage has a gauntlet with these, and it's awesome.
- You Have to Believe Me: Aya the second one to Shiranui, saying that she didn't kill their clan leader. He didn't believe her.
- In the first episode, Hikage tries to get Aya #1 to know that Taichi was killed by the yōma. She laughs it off and states that the man probably just left to go travel again.