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Manga / The Laughing Target

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One of the more obscure works from Rumiko Takahashi of Ranma ½ fame, the Laughing Target is a 1983 horror one shot that was later adapted into an OVA in 1987. While using some popular tropes from Takahashi, it takes a darker turn by playing them for drama. It also features one of the first examples of a modern Yandere.

The story goes as follows: Yusaruu Shiga is the last descendant of a branch of the Shiga family. As the family is an ancient clan that is about to disappear, the parents agree that the best course of action for the clan is to get him married with his cousin, Asuza. Time marches on, and Asuza's parents die, while Yuusaru is now living a normal life as the lead of the school's archery team not paying much attention to the arrangement, and also has a girlfriend called Satomi. And then Asuza comes back to seal the deal, and chaos ensues due to Asuza trying to murder Satomi and having demonic powers out of the clan being cursed


Laughing Target provides examples of:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: After being fatally wounded by an arrow, Asuza admits that she could never hurt Yuuzaru and dies from her wound with a peaceful smile on her face.
  • Attempted Rape: It's revealed that back in her childhood, Asuza killed a group of boys in self defense after they tried to gang-rape her. It turns out this is where her demonic powers first manifested. She ends up killing a group of delinquents that corner her in the present as well.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: One of the main reasons even after many years, Asuza is still devoted to Yuuzaru. He promised he would always be there for her.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: Between Yuzuru and Asuza, and is what drives the conflict in the present. Yuzuru never quite took said promise seriously and would wind up finding a girlfriend in Satomi a few years into his move to Tokyo. Asuza, however, took the promise to heart and intends to see it fulfilled.
Yuzuru: Dear God, Asuza! That was how long ago?? We were only children then!
Asuza: So? Is there anything wrong with promises made by children? Are they any less sacred?
  • Game Face: Asuza, to the point that it's the image provided as the OVA's box art.
  • Kissing Cousins: One-sided. Asuza is committed to her cousin Yuusaru, but he's devoted to Satomi.
  • Mood Whiplash: The one-shot starts innocently enough and you could miss it as another romcom out of Takahashi. Then Asuza reveals her demonic powers and killing intent towards Satomi
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Asuza wants to murder Satomi to have Yuuzaru to herself.
  • Never Found the Body: Azusa's demonic pets are able to dispose of anyone she kills by feasting on their carcasses.
  • Offing the Offspring: Asuza's mother tries to strangle her daughter to death realizing their clan's curse has to end with the clan itself. Asuza's demon pets end up overwhelming Mrs. Shiga to her death instead.


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