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Manga / RG Veda

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RG Veda is a shoujo manga series by CLAMP, notable for being their professional debut work (as they had previously been a Doujinshi group), and named after the ancient Hindu hymn collection the Rigveda (specifically, the Buddhist version of the same, developed at a time when Buddhism and Hinduism were in conflict. Naturally, gods became demons and vice versa). The series borrows elements of Hindu and Buddhist mythology for its setting and characters.

300 years ago, the general Taishakuten rebelled against the Heavenly Emperor, killing both him and the guardian god Ashura-ou and installing himself as the king. The Ashura clan was thought to be destroyed until the god Yasha-ou found the remaining child sealed in a forest and began to gather the Six Stars, a group of individuals said to be the prophecied bringers of a celestial revolution.

The manga ran from 1989 to 1996 in the shoujo magazine Wings, and was compiled into 10 volumes. It was adapted into one non-serial OVA in 1991. Several characters from RG Veda have made appearances in other CLAMP works, mostly in Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- as alternate universe counterparts.

RG Veda contains examples of:

  • Action Mom: In the volume 5's bonus chapter "Memories", we get to see that Ryuu-oh's mother, the former Ryuu-oh was an amicable woman who talked about killing monsters like it was plaything, would show off her tecniques to her son and was considered Tenkai's strongest guardian before Yasha took the spot.
  • Ancestral Weapon: The Shura sword, Ryuuga sword, Yama sword... each tribe seems to have its own.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Sohma and Kara. Yasha is a downplayed exampled as he's more light colored than them.
  • Arc Words: "The wheel of fate has started to move"; "That's our/my promise".
  • Art Evolution: As this was CLAMP's debut in the industry. The first 2 volumes were rather simply shaded, volume 3 introduced more screentones and screentone shading, and after volume 5 Mokona's drawing started to take her signature style.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Yasha and Ashura.
  • Batman Gambit: As early as the first chapter, Kujaku helped Yasha and Ashura bond by antagonizing Ashura, knowing that Yasha's instinct would be protecting them. Thanks to this, Ashura would feel themself loved by Yasha and their bond would be strong enough to defy destiny.
  • Because Destiny Says So: One of the motifs of the series is the power of Fate, as seen in the constant repetition of the Six Stars' prophecy and Yasha's attempts to fullfil it.
  • Big "NO!": A few. For example, Kisshoten, when Bishamoten is killed.
  • Bittersweet Ending: All of the Six Stars save Yasha die, but at least he gets to be with Ashura.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Sohma to Kendappa, reciprocated.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Whenever Kujaku and Ryu-oh are together.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: With Kujaku as the product.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Sure Shashi, be as smart as to badmouth an already angry Ashura who just happens to be under the influence of his Superpowered Evil Side; like nothing bad would result out of it.
  • Calling Your Attacks
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Kujaku, who shows up out of nowhere near the beginning and becomes very important later on.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Shashi.
  • The Cutie: Ryu-o, thanks to being the only person among Yasha's group without angst over a tragic past.
  • Clothing Damage: When Sohma is stabbed through the chest and dragged around while bleeding to death, her top barely covers her breasts. The situation makes it rather unappealing, and the fact that the manga is supposed to be aimed for girls makes it even more disconcerting. Well, Mokona has never tried to hide how much she enjoys drawing half-naked ladies.
  • Darkerand Edgier:
  • Death Glare: Could you believe Kendappa-oh has one? Used to foreshadow [ she's more than a mere musician.
  • Doomed Hometown: The Yasha tribe's village. Souma's clan has obliviated too, but we only got to see Souma's parents dying.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The mazoku.
  • Enemy Within: The "true Ashura," though it acts as more of a Superpowered Evil Side in the OVA and the earlier parts of the manga.
  • Evil Matriarch: Shashi, who's probably the closest thing to a total bitch that CLAMP's ever written.
  • The Fake Cutie: After getting caught in between Yasha's group and Koumokuten's army, Kendappa had to play on Tenou's feelings for her in order to force him to get out of there since he was shocked over seeing his twin for the first time. She shed some fake tears and played scared damsel with the comic lampshading what a big fat lie the whole thing is.
  • Faking the Dead: Karura.
  • Four Is Death: Taishakuten's Four Generals.
  • Freak Out: Ashura freaks out twice in the story, and in both opportunities, their powers go out of control turning everything in a sea of flames.
  • Go Out with a Smile Ryu.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Several, including Ashura killing themself to avoid killing Yasha and finally, Kujaku kills himself to free Ashura so they and Yasha can be together.
  • Honorifics: Several characters are referred to as "-ou" (literally, "King") to designate their importance as the leader of their clan. The English manga uses "Lord" and "Lady" in place of these. The Spanish manga went with "King" and "Queen". And yes, Naga's mother is always referred to as King Dragon/King Ryuu.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Besides the (canon) relationship between Yasha and Ashura, the Taishakuten/Ashura-ou relationship is just dripping with subtext. Two words: Hair stroking. Also Kendappa and Souma, which crosses the line from subtext and keeps going.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Yasha desperately screaming Ashura's name when The True Ashura began their rampage. Obviously didn't work. It was only after he stops fighting that Ashura wakes up.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Taishakuten eating Ashura-ou's dead body. On-screen.
  • Is That Cute Kid Yours?: No, Yasha isn't Ashura's father, but that seems to be the automatic assumption on meeting the two of them.
    Kandappa-oh: Who is this child? Another one you got on some woman!? [Hits Yasha with her harp] YASHA'S SO LECHEROUS!
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: The funeral of Yasha's mother. Subverted in Karura-oh's funeral, the sky was sunny and clear to highlight that Karura-oh was not dead.
  • It's All My Fault: Ashura blames themself for the death of a lot of people in this series. Yasha is a straighter example, since as leader of his clan, he thought of Ashura's safety before his own clan's and lost time sparring with Kujaku over Kuyoh's death instead of running to aid his people.
  • Just a Kid: Played with Ashura. They look and act like a kid but chronologically they're already old enough to be considered an adult by gods' standards. When Yasha was worried over them being able to escape Kumaraten and get Shurato on their own as they were just a kid, Kujaku remind him that Ashura was already 300 years old.
  • Keet: Ryu is a a softer version of this. Since the series is dark though however, his happy personality stands out.
  • Kick the Dog: Taishakuten abducts Karura-oh's chronically ill little sister from her home, which is enchanted to maintain the perfect environment for maintaining her health, and orders her to sing for him at a party. The exertion, her poor health, and being in an unhealthy environment combine to kill her. And then, instead of returning her body to her family for a funeral, he feeds her corpse to his pets. After committing such a savage act of cruelty towards one of his most important subordinates for no reason beyond his own pleasure, is it any wonder that Karura-oh switched sides?
  • Kill the Cutie: Ryu is the first one to die of the six stars.
  • Lady of War: Karura, and Kendappa after revealing her Mole status.
  • Last of His Kind: Ashura is the last of their clan, Sohma is the only survivor of her ninja clan, and Yasha ends up as the last member of his clan after they are slaughtered early on.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Thanks to practically being all they have, Yasha and Ashura co-depend in each other for emotional support.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Kuyo and Taishakuten are in love with Ashura-ou. Hanranya is in love with Taishakuten. Gigei and Kendappa's mother are/were in love with Yasha who only care about Ashura. Tamara loves Tenou who loves Kendappa who loves Sohma.
  • Mindlink Mates: Thanks to their swords, Shurato and Yamato, being connected, Ashura and Yasha share a special psychic link between them, but it only started to manifest after Shuratou was stored into Ashura, effectively making Ashura a part of the sword in someway. This was useful to found Yasha in the ice fortress when Aizen-myoh kidnapped him and to know that Yasha was in danger when Rasetsu returned.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Lighter and Softer Omakes (including the ones with CLAMP in them) seriously contrast against the dark, violent tone of the story. Also happens in-story with Lord Ryuu's and Kujaku's moments of comedy.
  • No Biological Sex: Ashura, as the result of a curse that will keep the Ashura clan from continuing. To a certain extent they're actually treated as both male and female in that they're shown up in group illustrations that otherwise exclusively only have either male or female characters.
  • Parental Favoritism: As seen with Shashi's favoritism on Tenou over Ashura, as the latter was no longer useful to her. Or Tentei's favoritism on Kisshouten over Kujaku, as Kisshouten had a "pure" birth unlike Kujaku, who was concieved out of incest.
  • Perpetual Molt: Whenever Karura-ou attacks.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: The Ashura clan were essentially just this.
  • The Plan: Taishakuten's revolt was part of Ashura-ou plan in order to have an Emperor who would look over his child and prevent the gathering of the six stars. He also thought ahead and got a Plan B: empowering Taishakuten, enough to be even stronger than the true Ashura in order to kill them if Plan A failed.
  • Please Kill Me if It Satisfies You: Ashura offers their life to Rasetsu to spare Yasha's because they believe themself the cause of the Yasha clan's genocide.
  • The Power of Love: Destiny, at the end, is defied thanks to the strong affinity between two characters.
  • The Promise: Used between Yasha and Ashura, Yasha and Ashura-ou, and Taishakuten and Ashura-ou, among others.
  • Pronoun Trouble: Talking about Ashura is difficult since the English language lacks a good gender-neutral pronoun apart from 'they'.
  • Prophecy Twist: The Six Stars are actually meant to destroy heaven, not liberate it as thought. The first red flag about something wrong with the prophecy is Ryuu-oh dying first.
  • Psychic Link: After enough six stars gathered together, they were linked together via Synchronization, and when the last member was found, she was joined to the link too. This link was only useful to know when one of them has been killed and the real purpose behind it was connecting them all to Ashura so they would gain their strength after they all died in order to destroy the world.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Five Gods of the West. Lampshaded constantly by Ryou-oh.
    Ryu-oh: Grrr...Why all of The Five Gods of the West are weirdos!?
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Ashura, Kendappa, Shashi, and Kissho-ten.
  • Rip Van Winkle: Twice over.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something
  • Rule of Three: The three stargazers die stabbed in the chest with their staff.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Gigei, Karyoubinga, Shara.
  • Say My Name: Ashura and Yasha will call for each other a lot in this series.
  • Scary Impractical Armor: Often complete with Shoulders of Doom and Spikes of Villainy. A good example of these three tropes is the armor Lady Kendappa wears when she's revealed as the fourth General.
  • Screw Destiny: The series' theme at its core. While there's some fatalists in the cast and the main characters try to fulfill an ancient prophecy, the characters' decision and convictions are seem as more important than following Fate. The whole plot is revealed to be the result of Ashura-ou trying to defy Fate in order to continue his bloodline and Taishakuten's motivation is avoiding the fulfillment of the prophecy. Kujaku's motivation is seeing if destiny can be defied, but he doesn't do much that to push things to the right direction and at the end it's Ashura's love for Yasha what changed the course of Fate.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Ashura-ou gets Taishakuten to take over Tenkai in order to prevent the fulfillment of the prophecy, but it is Taishakuten's tyrannical rule which gives Yasha the motivation to rebel and try to fulfill the second version of the prophecy.
  • Shoot the Dog: Taishakuten took over Heaven to keep his promise to Ashura-ou and prevent Ashura from awakening.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Kendappa is a beautiful, graceful noble lady who is also one of the Four Generals.
  • Social Darwinist: Kendappa's belief in the superiority and inevitable triumph of strength so defines her that she sides with a man she considers a monster against her friends and her beloved, merely because he is the strongest.
  • Spell My Name With An S: It is Ryu-oh, Ryuu-oh or Ryou-oh? All them are valid.
  • Spoiled Brat: Tamara, daughter of West General Koumokuten, who demeans Kendappa-oh as a "mere musician" despite Kendappa being lord of her own clan and also the daughter of a General.
  • The Stoic: Yasha and Karura to a lesser degree.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: Ashura, as a distinguishing trait of their people, along with Pointy Ears.
  • That Man Is Dead: Yasha returned to the destroyed Yasha village to do two things: give to his people a decent burial as his last act as ruler of the clan and to turn all his sorrow into determination to protect Ashura. When confronting Rasetsu, Yasha says that a ruler must live for his clan, but now that the Yashas are gone, "Yasha-oh" died too.
    Yasha: Right now, the man standing here is a stranger that lives and fights for Ashura. I only live for Ashura!
  • Together in Death: This actually goes for pretty much every couple except Yasha and Ashura.
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub: In the English dub of the OVA, Ashura is referred to as "Princess", since they decided to simply leave out the genderless bit completely.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Kendappa didn't wanted Souma to die in a land far away in order to kill her herself.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Poor Yasha, who gets suckered no less than twice.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Taishakuten is revealed as this by the end of the manga, having ruled like a tyrant so the Six Stars would not gather and Ashura would not awake.
  • Winged Humanoid: Kujaku, the one who gave Yamato to the Yasha's.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Most characters are fatalists and believe destiny cannot be defied. Even those that elaborated a plan in order to do so, ended pushing destiny to move even faster.