Mania Grade: C+
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- Art Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: B-
- Text/Translatin Rating: B-
- Age Rating: All
- Released By: Viz Media
- MSRP: 15.95
- Pages: 200
- ISBN: 1-56931-696-1
- Size: A5
- Orientation: Left to Right
Ceres, Celestial Legend Vol. #01
By Mike Dungan
May 23, 2004
Release Date: March 01, 2002
Ceres, Celestial Legend Vol.#01
© Viz Media
Translated by:Lillian Olson/Gary Leach
Adapted by:What They Say
Horror, Comedy and Romance Made in Heaven. Yu Watase, the immensely popular writer/artist of the shoujo (girls') fantasy smash Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play, had tuned her creativity and wry sense of humor to the horro genre with her anime/manga hit Ceres: Celestial Legend! Aya thought she was a normal high-school girl until she discovered that she can transform into a vastly powerful "heavenly maiden" named Ceres... but Ceres is furious and out for revenge! Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Killed. Aya and her twin brother Aki thought they were going to a celebration of their sixteenth birthday at their grandfather's home, but the funeral-like atmosphere tips them off that something's not right. Their "birthday present" turns out to be a mummified hand - The power of which forces an awakening within Aya, and painful wounds all over Aki's body! Grandfather Mikage announces that Aki will be heir to the Mikage fortune, and Aya must die! But Aya has allies in the athletic cook and martial artist Yuhi, and attractive, mysterious Toya. But can even two handsome and resourceful guys save Aya when it's her own power that is out of control?The Review
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Aya Mikage is a 15 year old kogal to the extreme. Singing karaoke, hanging out with friends and living everyday to it's fullest. On her 16th birthday, she gets her fortune read to her. The fortune teller talks about destruction and devastation beginning on her 16th birthday. Later, she stops a purse-snatcher, but falls from a pedestrian overpass in the process. Instead of falling, she floats to the ground. Unfortunately, there's a car coming right at her. A handsome young man leaps to her rescue then disappears. Later that night, Aya and her twin brother, Aki, go the family estate to have their birthday celebration, but the atmosphere is not one of a party. A present is brought out and the two of them open it up. It's a mummified hand. The hand awakens powers in Aya. The hand explodes just from her looking at it. Meanwhile, wounds open up all over Aki's body, nearly killing him. The Mikages declare Aki heir to the family, and decree Aya must die. Everyone is escorted away except Aya and some thugs who are going to kill her, even as her parents scream for her to run away. The power that was dormant in Aya kicks in again, and she manages to escape into the grounds of the mansion.
Elsewhere, a beautiful woman gets her brother, the 16 year old master chef and martial artist Yuhi, to head over to the Mikage estate to rescue Aya. She's hiding in a tree when the mysterious man who rescued her from her bridge fall earlier shows up and kisses her to stop her hysterics. Yuhi takes her away to his house, where Aya meets Oba-Q, the bizarre maid/handywoman/driver for the family. Aya also meet Yuhi's sister. Suzumi Aogiri is a Japanese dance instructor who shares something with Aya. They are both descended from a celestial legend. There is a legend that a maiden of heaven descended to earth to bathe in a beautiful lake. A man spied her bathing, and captivated by her beauty, stole her hagoromo, or celestial robe. Without it, she couldn't return to heaven. He married her and she bore him children. Those children inherited many of her powers and the line continues down to this day. The power has become diluted in many over time, with some like Suzumi who can practice a little psychokinesis, but Aya is a direct decendent of the heavenly maiden. The Mikage family are the descendents of the man who married her. They are wealthy and powerful now. The only thing they fear is the revenge of Ceres, the celestial maiden. Her anger at being forced to stay on earth and becoming an unwilling bride is passed down the family. When Mikage children turn 16, they are shown the mummified hand of the maiden. If they show signs of Ceres, they are killed on the spot to protect the family.
Aya, still concerned with her brother, leaves them to Tokyo to find out what's happened to Aki. But waiting for her is her grandfather and father, some men with guns, and the handsome young man who saved her twice before. It turns out he works for the Mikage family. The men fire on Aya, but her father steps in the way to take the bullets and dies. Toya, the young man, pulls a gun and puts it to Aya's head. Everything that's happened to Aya in the last few minutes cause the power she displayed earlier to manifest itself again, but to a much greater degree. She's transformed into Ceres, and she wants revenge. She nearly destroys the house and everyone in it, but Suzumi, Yuhi and Oba-Q make it there in time. Yuhi saves Aya/Ceres and they leave.
Back home, Aya slowly recovers from her ordeal. Her father's sacrifice weighs heavily on her and she vows to save Aki, who is basically a prisoner of the Mikage family. Aki does have an ally, though. Kagami is second-in-command of the Mikage Corporation and he wants to spare both Aki and Aya. His motives are not pure, though. He covets the power of Ceres and wants it for himself. Toya works for him and he puts him in charge of Aki's well-being.
Aya is transferred to Yuhi's school, and Yuhi is forced to be her bodyguard. Aya meets Toya after school, where she learns he has no memory of his past. The only things he knew were the names Toya and Mikage. The Mikage's told him they could restore his memory, but that he'd have to work for them. Toya has a choker with the crest of the Mikage family on it. He warns Aya that when he wears it, he is her enemy. It's clear that there are feelings on his part for Aya, which is why he's come to see her without the choker. Yuhi sees all of this, and he starts feeling jealous, even though he doesn't want to admit it.
Aya once again returns to Tokyo, this time to see her mother. Her mother acts normal, but it's soon clear things aren't right. She finally snaps and comes after Aya with a kitchen knife, believing Aya killed her husband. Aya manages to escape to her room, but her mother tries to break it down. Yuhi manages to make it there in time and subdue Aya's mother, but it's Toya who saves Aya. The only problem is that Aya has become Ceres again, and this time, she doesn't appear to want to go back.Comments
Yu Watase is the popular mangaka behind the phenomenally successful Fushigi Yugi and Alice 19th. She takes a famous Japanese myth, blends horror and romance and comes up with something unique. At first the characters are difficult to sympathize with, but the events, as they unfold, allow the reader to learn about them and begin to care what happens to them. Her art is light and expressive, with a fine touch. She has good comedic timing which she wields carefully, lightening the mood just when it needs it. Oba-Q is one of the more bizarre and hilarious side characters in a long time.
In this first printing of the book, it collects the monthly comics that Viz started the series out with. The art is flipped to read left-to-right and all sound effects are translated and retouched into English. Some fans were upset by the title change which is Ayashi no Ceres in Japanese, but it's a fairly accurate translation. Some Japanese pop culture references were changed in the English adaptation, but interestingly, they explained which changes were made and what page they were on. It would have been simpler to have simply left the references as they were and explain them in the sidebar instead. Otherwise, Gary Leach's adaptation is very good, with smooth dialogue. Characters all have very individual ways of speaking that brings out their personalities well.
The cover has a picture of Aya and Ceres back to back in diaphanous wisps of clothing, with smaller images of Yuhi, Toya and Aki arranged along the bottom. The image is set against a brown parchment-like background, with the Ceres logo at the top. The back cover is more of the parchment look with a lot of text and a small chibi image of Aya in the bottom right corner. As is to be expected of a Viz release, the art reproduction is good, with only a few instances of screen tones losing their definition.
Yu Watase has created an interesting mix of gothic horror and teen romance, with honest drama that draws the reader in, and humor that keeps you interested. Recommended.