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A story of ghosts and gunpowder

Beneath The Clouds is a webcomic set in Heian Japan. It is part of the Spider Forest webcomic collective

Genza has walked many paths in life: nobleman, outcast, father, exorcist, and monk. He's offered a chance to to redeem himself by undertaking a perilous journey to Heian Kyo. Will Genza be prepared to confront his own demons in order to save the life of the man who exiled him, will his daughter Masako make a new life for herself in the city, and does a stranger met on the road offer a chance for a new way forward?

Beneath The Clouds updates Mondays and Wednesdays. The first page can be found here and the author's website here.


Tropes:

  • All Monks Know Kung-Fu: Subverted.
  • Anachronistic Clue: The comic's tagline is "A story of ghosts and gunpowder".
  • As You Know: A character on an Exposition Diagram page remarks:
    Don't you know that illness is caused by wandering spirits of the dead?
  • Bandit Clan: The party runs into a bandit ambush on the road.
  • Coming of Age: Masako starts out as a rather naive teenager unsure of her place in the world.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Juro and Eiji kick and distract each other while sword training. Bushido wasn't invented until the 1600s.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: The Heian Imperial Court.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Eiji.
  • Due to the Dead: Genza's duties as a Buddhist exorcist include performing cremations.
  • Everything's Better with Samurai: Proto-samurai Satake no Juro features prominently in artwork. He doesn't appear until several chapters in, and the two main characters are a teenage girl and an elderly monk.
  • Good Parents: Masako and Genza work together happily and they've travelled together since she could walk.
  • Historical Webcomics
  • Horse Archer: The Satake samurai.
  • Honor Before Reason: Played straight by Genza, who holds a funeral for murder victims even though this puts his companions, including his teenage daughter, at risk of bandit ambush. Subverted by Juro and Eiji, who ambush and shoot attackers from a distance rather than fighting them with swords.
  • I See Dead People: The two main characters can see ghosts, but only during their exorcism rituals. However the ghosts can possess Masako during the ceremony, giving them the ability to interact with others.
  • Jidai Geki: Heian Period (794-1185).
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Juro's name means "tenth son".
  • Milking the Giant Cow: The court messenger Masahiro is quite fond of this. It ends badly for him.
  • Missing Mom: Masako's mother died in a house fire when she was very young.
  • Powers via Possession: When Masako is possessed by a spirit, her eyes glow and she is capable of inhumanly fast reactions. As the ghosts are often angry, bitter and disorientated, it's more of a liability than a help, and the effect only lasts for a short time anyway.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Juro is impulsive, enthusiastic, and blunt , Eiji is reserved, calm, and sarcastic, though they both have their moments.
  • Road Trip Plot
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Eiji
  • Scenery Porn: Parts of the journey along the Tokaido Road, especially Mount Fuji.
  • The Dreaded: Ikiryo, rare spirits caused by the bitterness and jealousy of living people. Genza says that "a thousand armed men are no protection" against them.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: Genza agrees to try to save the Emperor who sent him into exile. However he does admit to himself that he'd like to refuse "just to see the look in his eyes", before admitting the thought isn't worthy of him as a monk.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Juro, apparently.

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