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Manga / Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma

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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 ninjas 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 a 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 the 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. It was also the first anime to be dubbed at ADV Films' Austin-based recording studio Monster Island.

This manga provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: One of the villagers from the first episode is pretty eager to guzzle down sake whenever he gets a chance and can barely seem to go five minutes without offing Hikage some. Once the truth of the village is uncovered it might also count as an example of him Drowning His Sorrows as well.
  • Alien Blood: Most of the Yomas bleed red, but some of them have bright green blood.
  • 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.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Very much averted. In fact, the female characters generally suffer much worse scaring than the men do. Hikage got hit in the eye with a poison shuriken and it barely left a mark at all while two of the female characters have some large facial scars and a third woman has a nasty slash mark on her chest as a result of being violently cut down with a sword.
  • 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.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance : A charitable interpretation of how the anime decides to treats it's female characters, particularly in the second half of the OVA. The heroine of the second episode being a Faux Action Girl could be seen as a product of the era for example and even the main protagonist himself displays some casual sexism towards her at a few points:
    Hikage: Just like a woman... stop crying.
    Aya: I'm not just a woman... I'm a ninja!
  • Disney Death / Death Equals Redemption: After his death, Kotone reincarnates Marou as an infant.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Kotone and her entire village were wiped out by Marou and the Yoma. Kotone's spirit comes back and possesses the Yoma Shiratsuyu when it attacks Hikage and Aya.
  • Don't Look At Me: At first, Aya #2 is ashamed to let Hikage see her scar. Hikage, however, is perfectly accepting of her. It may help that he was also in love with the original Aya, who had a similar looking scar.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: A weird sort of gender inversion of the trope happens in the second episode of the OVA. Despite only having met Hikage about a day ago and generally being treated coldly by him Aya #2 is completely willing to die for him and straight up tells him to kill her if he plans on leaving as she can't bear to live without him.
  • 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 priest who's really a spider yōma.
  • Evil Red Head: Marou
  • 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 over 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 that Kazami failed in killing Hikage.
  • 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.
    • Considering they all kill themselves in the end, he may not have been too far off.
      Spider Priest: 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?
  • 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 monk and Ito and tell yourself that there's no way they're bad guys.
  • Orochi: Shiratsuyu
  • Nothing Is Scarier: What was wrong with the baby's head that had Aya so freaked out?
  • 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.
  • Raise Him Right This Time: After Hikage defeats Marou/Kikuga, Kotone's spirit enables Marou to be reborn as an ordinary human baby, which is found by Hikage and Aya.
  • 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.
  • The Reveal: After the final battle, it is revealed that Kotone's lover was Marou, who killed her after losing control of himself, similar to how he without warning did to Hikage in the opening scene.
  • 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.
  • Stock Ninja Weaponry: Hikage likes to throw...not shurikens, but explosive nageteppo. These grenades are unusually powerful and Hikage once easily blew up a possessed tree using this weapon.
  • Tragic Monster: Marou, besides betraying his good friend Hikage, who was 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.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Marou, despite having been born a demon, was raised lovingly by the Takeda clan beside Hikage and the two grew to be like brothers. Eventually, his true nature as Kikuga no Miko came to the forefront and caused him to attack his friend and eventually lost control after slaying the woman he loved. When he finally regains some of his humanity after losing the final battle, he falls into hell before his hand can reach Hikage. Thankfully, Kotone, his dead lover, sacrifices her existence so he can be reborn as a human, giving him a second chance.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Blood Reign Curse Of The Yoma