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Manga / Karakurizoushi Ayatsuri Sakon

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"The masters of puppets are the masters of humans. Ventriloquism is also mind-reading. Not only the voice itself is mimicked, but the voice of the soul as well."

Karakurizoushi Ayatsuri Sakon (""Doll Puppeteer Sakon") is a shonen manga written by Masaru Miyazaki and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump from 1995 to 1996. It received a 26-episode anime adaptation that aired from 1999 to 2000.

Sakon is the grandson of the famous Bunraku master, Tachibana Zaemon. He is incredibly shy and lacks confidence in himself. However, when he is with his puppet, Ukon, he is able to focus himself and his crime-solving abilities. As a contrast to traditional Bunraku puppeteering, Sakon is an expert ventriloquist.

Ukon is a beautiful red-haired Bunraku puppet created in 1870, supposedly by the Master puppet-builder Unosuke Koizumi III. But Ukon doesn't act as a good Bunraku puppet should. When he is with Sakon, he is loud-mouthed, obnoxious, flirtatious, coarse, and very egocentric. Together, Sakon and Ukon travel around Japan, solving mysteries, murders, and horrific crimes. In the meantime, Sakon's aunt Kaoruko, a young and pretty police detective, helps him out and keeps an eye on him.

Karakurizoushi Ayatsuri Sakon provides examples of:

  • Amateur Sleuth: Sakon, who is also a Mystery Magnet.
  • Anyone Can Die: Several of the characters seems to be in the story just to become victims.
  • Arranged Marriage: Kaoruko receives a formal proposal (omiai), in the Noh Arc.
  • Asshole Victim: Takamura, the TV director in the second arc.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Overused, like a storm that starts just to cause a blackout or to make the roads become blocked.
  • Curse: The main theme of the final arc.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Several characters, including Sakon and his family.
  • Double Consciousness: Ukon is just a puppet but he have very strong opinions. Sakon, who gives him life, is the opposite type, being sweet, gentle and shy. It's like Sakon uses Ukon to voices the opinions that he is uncapable to. This is specially evident on episode 24, when Ukon respond "he can't even says what he wants without me around" to a person who questions Ukon's presence in an important meeting.
  • Driven to Suicide: Osamu, in the first arc.
  • Empathic Environment: And how! Almost all examples in this trope happens in the series.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Sakon. He melts the girls around him and he seems to be a little bit aware of this fact but he is too shy to do something about. His friend Fujita says that "Although I'm a guy, I think he is hot stuff".
  • Evil Gloating: The villain of the Noh Arc just had to explain the entire plot.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Shiho had to shaken Sakon a little bit in the last episode.
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: Sakon, the black-haired puppetteer, and Ukon, the red-haired puppet he brought into life are polar opposites of one another. The former is a quiet Shrinking Violet, the latter is loud, egocentric and flirtatious.
  • Hidden Villain: Used in the Museum Arc and in the Cursed Sword Arc.
  • I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Poor Numata and his bad choices. He would never had guessed that Tsukiko wasn't dead.
  • I See Dead People: Sakon have the ability to talk to the dead - or at least, he makes people believe on this.
  • Kabuki Sounds: And Noh elements, in the Noh Arc.
  • "On the Next Episode of..." Catch-Phrase: "People can not live in grief."
  • Reunion Revenge: The series had one of these involving a school's puppetry club. Subverted in that it's actually the victim's older brother who's the murderer, though it's set up to make the bullies think it's the victim's ghost that's doing it.
  • The Reveal: Always in the end of each arc with Sakon explaining how and why the culprit committed the crime.
  • Riddle of the Sphinx: In one episode, Sakon corrects a man who tells him about the Egyptian riddle of the sphinx.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The main character is a puppeteer who walks around talking to his puppet all hours of the day, and makes it talk back, even arguing with it at times. No character treats him as mentally unbalanced or untrustworthy in any way, to the point where he can question people while trying to solve mysteries, and the people he questions don't say a word about the puppet.