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Manga / Innocents Shounen Juujigun

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Volume 1 cover art, drawn by Usamaru Furuya
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Innocents Shounen Juujigun (インノサン少年十字軍 , The Crusade of the Innocent Boys) is a manga written by Usamaru Furuya. It ran in Manga F Erotics from 2005 to 2011, and consists of three volumes.

The story takes place in Northern France in the year 1212, when the Crusades were in full swing. A 12 year old Shepherd boy named Etienne suddenly claims to be God's chosen child, destined to reclaim the Holy Land of Jerusalem. Thanks to a blood red horn and a letter in Latin, his story is believed, and he and 11 other young boys are sent out on a "Children's Crusade" meant to accomplish what the adults so far had failed at.

Along the way, the Children's Crusade gains strength, including a strange boy named Michael with something to hide, hundreds of loyal, young followers sent by their families for glory, and a knight named Hugo who backs the crusade with the power of the Knights Templar. However, things are not quite as they seem, and very soon, the Children's Crusade runs into trouble beyond their wildest imaginings.

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This show provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Nicolas has an abusive parental stand in in the form of his uncle, who beats him and puts him down at every turn. Justified in that this was rather normal parenting for a time before children had many rights.
    • Michel's father, who sells his son into slavery in order to get rid of a potential stain on his reputation also counts.
  • Aggressive Categorism: Many of the boys display this when it comes to the "infidels" (aka anyone who isn't the exact right kind of Catholic), assuming that anyone who doesn't share their religion is going to be a literal demon. Many of them even express shock that people from other religions don't have horns and other animal features. Nicolas and Michael are the worst offenders.
  • All-Loving Hero: Etienne is the sweetest, most loving boy you will ever meet. In just the first couple chapters, he hugs and comforts a leper, accepts a shunned pair of twins, and saves a hated bandit boy from being executed, all for no reason other than being kind.
  • Always Identical Twins: Laurent and Lillian, the twins of the series, are very nearly identical (the only difference is that Lillian has a birthmark on his neck).
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  • Ambiguous Gender Identity: Christian is a young man who's attracted to Etienne, and wants to become a woman in order to be with him. It's unclear if he's actually transgender and wants to be female for more reasons than appealing to his crush, or if he's just using the idea of being a woman as justification for his feelings. It's never revealed which is the truth.
  • Ambiguous Innocence: The kids are so naive that the idea of brutally murdering "heretics" is perfectly moral, if not outright desirable to them. Nicolas is one of the worst offenders, being both horribly naive and shocking violent.
  • Anachronism Stew: While not to an extreme extent, there are enough inaccuracies and blurring of centuries that it borders on this. (Ex: the types of houses shown are from much later than the 13th century)
  • Angsty Surviving Twin: Laurent becomes this when Lillian is killed in Hugo's death match. He doesn't last long after, performing a Heroic Sacrifice to avenge his younger brother
  • Artistic License – History: While more-or-less historically accurate, there are definitely some things that are obviously out of place.
  • Attention Whore: Nicolas and Guillaume both show signs of this, with Nicolas frequently pushing his way into the spotlight for the sake of being seen as a knight, and Guillaume getting himself into trouble in order to be recognized.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Etienne is an ethereal beauty with white hair, stunning blue eyes, and fine features. He's also an All-Loving Hero who is genuinely kinder than most humans are capable of.
  • Beard of Evil: Hugo has a small beard and is debateably the most morally reprehensible character in the series.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Guy decided to give up his bandit life and follow Etienne after the latter saved him from execution and offered what was most likely the first unselfish kindness Guy had ever experienced.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: Michael lies about both being the chosen child of God and bringing miracles to the common folk. While he admits that the latter of those isn't true, he spends an awful lot of time being angry that Etienne (the real chosen child) dares to call himself he chosen one instead of admitting Michael's own superiority.
  • Big Fancy Castle: Although we don't see much of it, Hugo is given one as a reward for betraying the Children's Crusade.
  • Bishōnen: Pretty much every member of the main cast, especially Etienne, Michael, and Henri.
  • Black and White Insanity: Michael has a very black and white outlook on the world, and probably isn't quite in his right mind. From outright murdering anyone he deems a sinner to leading dozens of children into slavery thanks to not stopping to question his father's motives, Michael has committed some of the worse atrocities in the manga.
  • Black and White Morality: The boys' view of the world is very much this.
  • Blind Obedience: A couple examples.
    • Michael towards his father. Michael expresses total faith and trust in his father's decisions (especially because they tend to line up with what he wants), and doesn't hesitate for an instant to lead dozens of children into boarding strange ships that his father told him he summoned. this turns out to be a horrible idea.
    • Nicolas and the rest of the Children's Crusade towards Etienne. By the time Etienne causes an eclipse in front of them, most of the children are past the point of doubting their leader. Even when circumstance get rough, a good portion of the children continue to willingly follow Etienne. Nicolas is a notably loyal example.
  • Bury Your Gays: While possibly not gay, Christian does not get a happy ending. After it's revealed that he despises himself for ever loving Etienne, he's impaled through the midsection by Michael and kicked into a river to die, with his textbook, his most precious belonging, shredded and thrown in after him.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Typical of Furuya, nearly every character is an attractive young man. The Children's Crusade is literally made up of hundreds of (mostly) pretty young boys.
  • Child Soldiers: Nearly all of the main cast apply. While not a lot of actual fighting was shown, it was apparently perfectly normal and acceptable to send 8-14 year old children on a Crusade with full knowledge that at least some of them would die. The kids themselves also seem at peace with this, with most of them being excited to have a chance to fight the "infidels". . . . at least until some of their number actually start dying. Guy is a notable example, as his bandit life suggests that he's been desensitized to violence and killing from a very young age.
  • The Church: The Catholic Church has a remarkable amount of influence.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Appropriate, considering that modern Christianity didn't exist yet when the story takes place.
  • City with No Name: The village in the beginning of the story is never named, just referred to as somewhere in "Northern France".
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Etienne's powers seem to be something like this. From the very beginning, he is shown to be of immense faith, and most of his miracles activate along with his mood/if he's threatened.
    • In the very first appearance of his powers, a bandit is trying to cut Etienne down. He stands completely still, claiming that the Lord will protect him. . . and a lightening bolt drops out of the sky to fry his attacker.
    • He places his full faith in his divine horn to accomplish miracles, and his first, and arguably most genuine, healing happened mere seconds after he decided to believe in the power he'd been given.
    • When the Children's Crusade is on the verge of turning against him, an eclipse suddenly hits, terrifying the children into begging Etienne to bring back the sun. The moment he snaps out of his miserable mood and blows the horn again, the eclipse fades.
    • While tied to a stake and wandering the wilderness, water is purified, plants are parted, and a baby is brought back to life just from being near him. Notably, Etienne still believes in his own powers at this point, possibly more so after losing faith in the church.
    • At the scene of his execution, Etienne was most likely about to part the seas, purely through rage, despair, and faith in the Lord to lead him to the Holy Land.
    • Even before his powers, just kissing Nicolas's forehead was enough to completely heal pain. Etienne even acknowledges that his faith is the source of this effect.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Guy, thanks to his childhood spent living as a bandit, is much more adjusted to the horrors of the Crusade than his teammates, all of whom are entirely unaccustomed to violence. Despite being a kind person at heart Guy has seen some things, and his experience winds up being a great asset when the Children's Crusade actually has to fight.
  • Corrupt Church: The Catholic Church definitely turns out to be one. The Church deems anyone who disagrees with them to be deserving of death, and indoctrinates its members to believe that they can do wrong while simultaneously allowing them to get away with things like harems, twisted initiation rituals, and a focus on material wealth that displays exactly what they claim to be evil. Hugo and Michael are the worst offenders, but numerous other characters qualify.
  • Crapsack World: Considering that this is the 13th Century, it's very much this, especially for children. From being whipped for talking back to the wrong child, to beingabused, killed, and sold as slaves with no consequences, this world is a scary place for kids.
  • Creepy Catholicism: The Catholic Church is extremely corrupt, and its adult representatives commit what are by far the worst atrocities in the story. Hugo is a notable example, as are Michael and his father.
  • Crisis of Faith: Etienne has a massive one when he sees how the Catholic Church treats people, realizes that he doesn't agree with it, and falls in love with Isabelle. He eventually takes his own approach towards the matter, and carries on loving and following God in a way that he can believe is right.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Many throughout the story, but especially Etienne's and Henri's.
  • The Dandy: Guillaume is from an upper class family (well, as upper class as 13th century peasants get), canonly is more well dressed than his pauper companions, and is definitely more than a bit fixated on his appearance and status. He has quite the love for the pleasures in life too. . . but that one gets him in trouble later
  • Depraved Homosexual: Christian is very interested in Etienne, and goes to some extremely disturbed methods to get to him. The first and most telling sign is when after seeing Etienne with Isabelle, he crawls over Etienne's sleeping body and kisses him, all while muttering about how Etienne belongs to only him.
  • Determinator: Nicolas shows incredible amounts of determination towards being a knight. While it doesn't always go well for him, he sticks to his goal no matter what happens, and actually winds up with a fairly good end to show for it all.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Most of the cast are rather feminine, but Michael actually gets mistaken for a girl in his introduction, Etienne is most likely mistaken for one by the reader, and Henri is notably girly (to be fair, he's only 10).
  • The Ditz: Michael appears to be this. He's actually faking.
  • During the War: The story takes place during The Crusades.
  • Egocentrically Religious: Michael firmly believes that he's God's chosen child. . . and that Etienne is not. He's convinced that he's the one sent to lead the Children's Crusade, and that his righteousness exceeds that of most sinful humans. He also believes that God will guide and grant miracles to only him, and that so much as loving another human being makes a person sinful and worthy of death. Semi-justified in that he's a priest's son in 13th Century France, and has been told his whole life that he is exactly this.
  • Entitled Bastard: Guillaume and Pierre are both the cruel, bratty, selfish sons of manor lords, and believe that they deserve whatever they want because of it. Somewhat understandable, as both of them have been raised in a situation where they do get exactly what they want at all time. This attitude quickly comes back to bite them once they're out in the real world.
  • Entitled to Have You: Christian seems to think this about Etienne, even going so far as to try to kill him when the other rejects his feelings.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Michael is a beautiful, earnest church boy who appears to not be the sharpest tool in the shed. He also kills two of the main cast members, betrays the Children's Crusade, leads hundreds of innocent boys into being sold as slaves, is possibly the most self-centered and bitter character in the story, and favors impalement with a large, wooden stake through the midsection for killing people.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Anything to do with Hugo's sexual escapades is this. Any shown on screen are vaguely creepy at best, and nauseating at worst. It's entirely intentional to show him as an absolute monster, though, especially when it comes to his plans for the Children's Crusade. The worst one takes place when he forces Guillaume, Pierre and Lillian into a Deadly Game while they're naked, finishing with their very graphic cruel and unusual deaths.
    • Etienne is very a pretty young man and at times he's seen shirtless... but not only is he 12/13 tops, but towards the end he's half-nude during his own Cruel and Unusual Death, which includes: being beaten, nearly burned at the stake, having letters carved into his chest, being tied to a massive wooden stake and left to wander the wilderness for days, and finally being impaled through the midsection. Plus at this point his body is horribly bloody and emaciated...
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Etienne, Nicolas, and Guy from make up one. Etienne is a chosen child with the power of making miracles through Godly force, Nicolas is a would be knight with a lot of brute power, but little finesse or brains, and Guy is a literal former thief with underhanded tactics and less morals than Nicolas.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: Eitienne, Nicolas, Guy, and Michael make up one.
    • Guy is The Cynic. World-wise, snarky, and used to fending for himself, Guy has the most negative outlook of the bunch, and by far the most callous way of handling things (mostly due to his unpleasant history).
    • Etienne is The Optimist. Gentle, optimistic, and loving to anyone and everyone Etienne doesn't have anywhere near as negative an outlook as his friends. He perpetually sees the best in everyone, and is much more willing to accept change.
    • Nicolas is The Realist. Somewhere in between Guy's negativity and Eitienne's boundless empathy, Nicolas is a stickler for the rules, and determined to be the kind of knight his society demands.
    • Micheal is The Apathetic. Strange, seemingly ditzy, and definitely playing by his own rules, Michael's bizarre sense of morality doesn't even resemble that shared by the rest of the group. His outsider status cements him as this.
  • Fragile Flower: Henri is gentle, sweet crybaby with a tendency to burst into tears at the slight provocation or conflict. Justified, considering that he's only 10. He gains some bravery towards the end of the story, but by that point, it's more horrifying than admirable.
  • The Fundamentalist: Michael practically embodies this, even going so far as to murder anyone who doesn't believe exactly what he does. This kind of behavior is his main motivation, and he seems to be completely ruled by the desire to make everyone agree with him. . . or suffer the consequences.
  • Glory Seeker: Nicolas's main motivation is being recognized as a real knight, and he'll do almost anything to get that. He's determined to be a knight no matter what the cost, and tries multiple times to throw himself in the way of death just to prove that he's brave. He's confirmed to be weak to appearances, and focuses heavily on how people see him.
  • Heroic Wannabe: Nicolas absolutely embodies this. His primary goal in life is to be a knight, and despite everything in his life trying to stop him, does not give up on his dream. This determination and willingness to do anything leads to the death and enslavement of countless children, all because of his plot to become a knight.
  • Hiding Behind Religion: Hugo may very well be this. While we don't actually know much about his motivations, harems of young men and women, fabricating supposedly Godly miracles, sleeping with four of the main cast (who are all male), and arranging demon-worshiping death matches are all far from what 13th Century Catholicism preaches, especially considering that his status as one of the well-respected Knights Templar allows him to get away with most of it.
  • High Hopes, Zero Talent: Nicolas is determined to be a knight at any cost. . . completely discounting the fact that he's a 12 year old from the middle of nowhere with no one and nothing to support his dream. He's not particularly good at combat, either, and seems to be running mostly on dreams and high hopes.
  • Historical Fiction: Takes place in 13th Century France, and while it is mostly accurate Very Loosely Based on a True Story comes into play, as does Artistic License – History.
  • Holier Than Thou: Michael is convinced that he's the paragon of Godly behavior, and that his rules are as good as law. . . . and that anyone who rejects the standards his church sets deserves to die. See Egocentrically Religious above.
  • Holy Ground: Jerusalem is thought of as such by the protagonists.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: Laurent and Lillian can be told apart by different hairstyles (although this is never mentioned in-universe), and a birthmark on Lillian's neck that Laurent doesn't share.
  • Keet: Marc is a short, happy-go lucky redhead with strange sense of humor and a permanent role as the cheerful one. Henri even comments that "Surely he would make even God smile in Heaven."
  • Kill ’Em All: All but three main characters are dead by the end of the main story.
  • Knight, Knave and Squire: Nicolas is a would-be knight with an optimistic outlook on combat, strict morals, and a desire to prove himself through battle. Guy is a former thief with a pragmatic approach, few morals, and loyalty only to himself (at first. Etienne has no combat ability outside of his miracles, and has no desire to fight.
  • Light Is Not Good: Michael is an innocent looking young man from the church who wears all white, believes himself to be chosen by God, and preaches forgiveness and obedience to the Lord. He's also a self-centered, arrogant, vicious little monster who likes to kill "heretics" by impaling them through the midsection, and is single-handedly responsible for the death of the actual chosen child.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Guy has upper back length, immensely floofy black hair. While he's not the prettiest member of the cast, he's certainly an attractive young man.
  • Lovable Jock: Luc is a head taller than the other boys and much more physically gifted. He's also an utter sweetheart who spends his time in the Children's Crusade taking care of the younger boys and keeping a near permanent smile.
  • Man in White: Michael wears all white church boy robes, which is very notable next to the black capes and earthy tones most of the Children's Crusade don. Hugo also qualifies, at least in the first volume, where he stays perpetually dressed in the mostly white uniform of the Knights Templar.
  • Messianic Archetype: Etienne is designed to be this. The whole story is about his adventure as God's chosen child, and he goes on said adventure with an intentionally chosen twelve "disciples". Later, he is betrayed by one of said disciples, decreed a heretic by the church, captured and executed (after many failed attempts at killing him), and has his body mounted on a stake and displayed as an example. He also reincarnates as his own son, and goes on to play a major part in ending The Crusades.
  • Momma's Boy: Etienne is shown to live with a single mother, and is extremely close to her. She's every bit as loving and faithful as he is, and is possibly the kindest adult shown in the series.
  • Mystical White Hair: Etienne has stunning white hair and has "powers" as a blessing from God including lightening bolts from the sky, healing the sick, bringing the dead back to life, causing an eclipse, and having supernatural luck that makes him almost impossible to kill.
  • Nice Mean And Inbetween: Etienne, a sweet All-Loving Hero, Guy, a former thief with few morals, and Nicolas, a would-be knight with rough edges and a desire to be good.
    • Lillian (Nice), Pierre (In-Between), and Guillaume (Mean) also make up a villainous one.
  • Noble Male, Roguish Male: Nicolas and Guy make up this trope, with Nicolas as the noble (albeit hot headed and a bit immature) young knight seeking glory and honor by Etienne's side, and Guy as the roguish, uncultured bandit with a crass demeanor and a propensity for violence. The two of them are Etienne's most loyal followers and the only two to survive the main story.
  • Non-Action Guy: Henri, Remy, Christian, and Michael all qualify.
    • Henri is a 10 year old crybaby with a shy personality and a small body. He's afraid of violence and combat, and fails spectacularly at every battle in the series.
    • Remy is a weak Ill Boy, with a frail body and a gentle demeanor. He in-universe acknowledges that he's too weak to be of much use in battle, and is kept away from anything too physical for his health to handle.
    • Christian is the strategist and treasurer of the Children's Crusade, and relies on brains to survive the harsh environment he's in. He's no use in actual combat, and proves his worth in strategy and intuition instead of skill.
    • Michael only joins the Crusade as a stand-in priest, and is openly acknowledged to be otherwise useless. He doesn't seem to be very smart or very strong, and doesn't do much of anything but sing. at least until his Face–Heel Turn when he's shown to be capable of impaling people with large, wooden spikes.
  • Non-Action Snarker: Christian is one of the least physical of the boys, and is an intelligent, snarky boy with no shortage of cutting remarks and cynicism. Some of this is because he's so much smarter than the rest of the Crusade, and some of it is just him being a jerk.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Michael was told by his father to pretend to be a fool so the members of the Children's Crusade would spill their secrets. He plays an idiot for most of the manga, while all the while sending coded messages back to the church in the form of Latin songs. It's not until chapter 20 that his true personality is revealed.
  • Power Trio: Etienne, Nicolas, and Guy make up one.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Michael is extremely pale with black hair, and is mistaken for a girl by the Children's Crusade. Isabelle, Etienne's "pure" love interest also applies.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: A couple examples:
    • Nicolas (Red) and Etienne (Blue)
    • Nicolas (Red) and Guy (Blue)
    • Etienne (Red) and Michael (Blue)
    • Lillian (Red) and Laurent (Blue)
    • Nicolas (Red) and Christian (Blue)
    • Pierre (Red) and Guillaume (Blue)
  • Religion Is Right: Etienne's powers are very, very real. If his first couple miracles weren't enough, some of the things he survives in the late story prove this without a doubt.
  • Runaway Hideaway: Isabelle finds one in the form of Colette's church cave.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Etienne and Nicolas are the main duo of the series, with Etienne being a gentle, feminine boy with endless compassion and a soft heart, and Nicolas being a hotheaded, aggressive young knight who'd rather cut down the infidels than show them kindness. The two are best friends and extremely close, with Nicolas willing to die and kill for Etienne's sake.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: Guillaume and Pierre are both examples of this, being semi-nobility (as much so as peasants can be), and extremely naive when it comes to how much respect they deserve and staying safe in the world. . The both of them are so set on keeping their power and status that they turn to the Knight Hugo, which turns out to be a TERRIBLE idea.
  • Sibling Seniority Squabble: Laurent and Lillian frequently fuss over things, with Laurent using his status as the older twin to try to push his way. Lillian, who knows that the two are mere minutes apart, is less than amused by it. It's these kinds of squabbles that are a large part of what leads to Lillian's tragic downfall and eventual death.
  • Small Town Boredom: Many of the protagonists, especially Nicolas, express a desire to get away from their small village.
  • Spoiled Brat: Guillaume and Pierre are both rich kids whose families are so important to the town that just talking back to them earns Nicolas a whipping. Guillaume is self-centered, arrogant, and places his own happiness above anything and anyone else, as well as being actively cruel to anyone who doesn't agree with that. Pierre is more quiet and seems to be little more than a lackey to Guillaume, but he's also quite spoiled and self absorbed, as shown in his snarkier moments.
  • Terrible Trio: Guillaume, Pierre, and Lillian form one, with Guillaume as the leader, and Pierre and Lillian as his henchmen.
  • Three Plus Two: Etienne, Nicolas, and Guy make up the core of the Children's Crusade, with Christian and Michael joining on as additional vital members.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Laurent and Lillian are a pair of twins with alliterative names.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Guy is forced to take a huge one when he shifts sides from bandit to Crusader. He's not great at it, but his inner kindess certainly shines through after Etienne takes him in.
  • Twin Telepathy: Laurent and Lillian have the ability to communicate through thoughts. This is initially very helpful in keeping the Crusade organized, but, when Lillian cuts off the link due to anger over being confused with his brother, things get complicated. Lillian brings the link back during his death scene in a desperate bid for someone to save him. Thanks to that, Laurent gets to personally witness and feel his little brother's last moments.
  • Uncanny Atmosphere: The Forest of Demons very quickly becomes this. Extremely justified
  • Upper-Class Twit: Guillaume is the most well off of the boys, and displays a remarkable lack of anything resembling common sense. Whether it's stupidity, being blinded by pride, or just plain idiocy, Guillaume makes what are probably the worst choices among the boys.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: While Furuya very much took the story in his own direction, Etienne, the shepherd boy who claimed to be God's chosen child actually existed. According to author's notes at the end of the manga, though, most of what's known about said story was likely heavily exaggerated to begin with.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Averted with Etienne, who gains beautiful white hair after being visited by God, but remains the absolute sweetest, most pure person imaginable.
  • With a Friend and a Stranger: Etienne is the protagonist of the story, and his two closest allies are his childhood friend Nicolas, and the newcomer Guy. Can also apply to any of the original Children's Crusade (all of whom Etienne has known his whole life) and Micheal (who is assigned to travel with them by the church.
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