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Manga / Kasei Yakyoku

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Tokyo, 1923. The Roaring '20s are at their peak, and specially in the twelfth year of the Taisho Era. At this moment in time, the city is a mixture of extremes: past and present, rich and poor, good and bad. This is a city where we see both horsecarts and motorcars, swords and pistols, lords and businessmen...

Two of the persons involved in this Crapsaccharine World are Akiko Hashou, a young and beautiful noblewoman, and her equally pretty maidservant Sara Uchida. The girls's lives seem to be going on relatively smoothly until both Akiko and Sara meet Takao Itou alias Taka, a handsome man from a low-class setting, who also has ties to the Yakuza; this sets off a turbulent Love Triangle that totally changes the three's lives. For worse, a fateful date is nearing...

Kasei Yakyoku is a josei manga written by Makiko Hirata, which was serialized from 1984 to 1988. In 1989, director Osamu Dezaki would release it as a 4-episode OAV series, which now is almost impossible to find.

Kasei Yakyoku has examples of. . .

  • Animal Motifs: "Taka" means "falcon", and Takao/Taka the man is associated with them. Specially in the end of the third episode, when Sara finds herself in the streets as the earthquake starts, sees a falcon in the sky and screams Taka's name.
  • Arranged Marriage: Akiko and Saionji.
  • Beach Episode: The third OAV has Taka and Sara finding each other in a small beach town. And then they have sex.
  • Betty and Veronica: Sara (Betty) and Akiko (Veronica), for Taka. Saionji (Betty) and Taka himself (Veronica), to Akiko.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Taka, to Sara's younger brother Junichirou. He even refers to Taka as "Aniki" ("big brother").
  • Big Damn Heroes: Taka saves Sara, Akiko and Junichirou from some thugs via whacking them with a pool cue.
  • Big Fancy House: The Hashou clan's mansion. Which is severely damaged and almost destroyed in the Earthquake.
  • Bittersweet Ending: It has Great Kanto Earthquake, what are you expecting. Surprisingly, it's not as bleak as one would expect: Akiko leaves Tokyo alone but determined to get her own life, Taka and Junichirou manage to escape from the Yakuza chasing them (but at the cost of leaving Sara), and after a heart-to-heart Sara gets together with Akiko's ex-boyfriend Saionji.
  • Break the Cutie: And how. Specially Sara, who gets forcibly stripped and almost gangraped by yakuza in the second OAV, but the worst comes in the fourth, when she barely survives the Kanto Earthquake, loses her and Junichirou's mother, witnesses Saburo's death after barely escaping from more thugs, and learns that Taka and Junichirou have left.
  • But Now I Must Go: Akiko, who decides to leave her old life behind and build one of her own after the Earthquake. Taka and Junichirou, who leave on a boat after a talk with Saionji.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Tokyo is portrayed as such, a city full of contrasts where the wealthy have lavish parties while the poor barely scrap by, and the Yakuza have quite the stronghold on some slums.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Averted. When an older woman tries to force herself on a teenaged Taka, it is played for drama. It then results in her husband killing her with his katana right there.
  • Fan Disservice: Seeing the beautiful Sara naked in the second OAV should be a reason to squee, but not when this happens after she's stripped and pinned down to the floor by rapist Yakuza.
    • That same OAV gives us Taka and his boss speaking when the second is in a sauna, remembering the day when he caught his beautiful wife trying to seduce a teenaged Taka. Not only teen!Taka is almost completely listless as she strips both of them (complete with Dull Eyes of Unhappiness), but the Yakuza's reaction is to grab his katana and murder his wife right there.
  • Festival Episode: There's a summer festival featured in OVA 2.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: Doubles as Their First Time. Akiko and Saionji do the deed in the fourth OAV, the night after the earthquake. In a subversion, it does not help them fix their relationship issues.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Taka's brother Saburou saves Sara from thugs, but gets knifed to death for his troubles. In his last words he tells her that Taka has left Tokyo.
  • Historical Fiction: It describes the Tokyo of The Roaring '20s with all its splendor and darkness.
  • Hot-Blooded: Junichirou is very impulsive, and that gets him in trouble more often than not.
  • Josei: With Melodrama, steamy scenes and violence to match.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Taka is a kind-hearted man deep down, but cynical as fuck after all the shit he's either witnessed or witnessed.
  • Love Hurts: It's a love story set right before one of the worst days in modern Japanese history. Of course it won't have a good ending. It's still not as horrible as one would think.
  • Maid and Maiden: Sara is the Maid to her mistress Akiko's maiden.
  • Meaningful Name: The title. As explained by The Technogirls's fansub group:
    The word "yakyoku" translates in a straightforward way as night music, evensong, nocturne, etc. (...) However, the word "kasei" is less easy to render. As spoken, "kasei" could mean "Mars" which would be written as a combination of the usual kanji "fire"+"star". However, the "ka" from the combination "ka-rei" meaning "splendor, magnificence" is used instead of the Mars "fire" kanji, implying that the meaning is not literally "Mars."
  • Mrs. Robinson: Nami's mother. Played for massive drama since she attempts to rape a teenage!Taka — and her almost-cuckolded husband kills her right there.
  • Ojou: Akiko
  • Near-Rape Experience: Sara, in the second OAV, gets forcibly undressed by some Yakuza. When they're about to gangrape her, she manages to steal the knife that one of them had in his sarashi and keep them at bay, and then she manages to escape.
  • Rescue Romance: Akiko and Sara meet Taka when he saves them both from thugs. Predictably, the girls fall for him.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Genderflipped with Akiko (Rich) and Sara (Poor). Neither wins, though Sara gets closer to Taka than Akiko does. (At least for one night).
    • Also played straight with Taka (Poor) and Saionji (Rich). Neither wins, again. Then the female Poor Suitor gets together with the Rich Romantic False Lead.
  • Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame: It's a Dezaki-directe OAV. It's bound to have these.
  • Princely Young Man: Saionji.
  • Say My Name: Sara screams Taka's name in the third OAV, as the Kanto Earthquake is unleashed. In the fourth, she yells out loud "SABURO-SAAAAAAAAN!" when said person pulls an Heroic Sacrifice for her.
  • Shameful Strip: Poor Sara
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Sara sometimes shows up in really pretty dresses. Somewhat justified as she works for a really rich Ojou, and Akiko treats her pretty decently compared to others.
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Taka, after one of his one-night stands. Though not after having sex with Sara.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Taka and both of the two girls that love him.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Taka
  • Their First Time: Akiko and Saionji in the fourth OAV, the night after the earthquake.
  • Tomboy: Nami
  • The Worf Effect: Junichirou attempts to rescue his older sister and Akiko from thugs, but gets beaten up. Then Taka pulls his Big Damn Heroes. He gets beaten up again and his hand is broken, and the Earthquake begins when Taka is taking him to an hospital.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Akiko changes her Pimped Out Dresses in pretty much every scene she's in. Sara often changes clothes too.
  • Wham Episode: The end of the third OAV, featuring the Great Kanto Earthquake.
  • Yakuza: The Itou brothers and Junichirou are allied with them, though not exactly by choice.
  • Yakuza Princess: Nami, the daughter of Taka's boss.