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by Jenny Williams

"On the day the 16th star and moon come together, this fated time will come to pass."

This is what Aya Mikage is told when she gets her fortune on the day before her sixteenth birthday. Thus, the beginning of Yuu Watase's popular series, Ayashi no Ceres. How did it come to be so popular? Perhaps you'll find out if you read on.

Meet Aya, a not-so-typical Japanese high school student, therefore, not-so-quiet. She has an older twin brother named Aki, who shares the same friends with her. Things get stranger after hearing her fortune: when she falls off a bridge, she ends up floating to the ground, without gaining a single scratch.

But that's just the beginning of strange. Aki and Aya find that their parents have plans to visit their grandfather for their birthday, and the twins end up canceling the plans they had with their friends. When Aki and Aya arrive at their grandfather's, it is not a celebration they find. Instead, all of their relatives are found sitting around a conference table dressed for a funeral.

Then their "gift" is brought out. To their surprise and fright, they open a box to find a mummified hand inside. Aya gets visions of blood and reacts with her hair erect as if a force was placed on her, whereas Aki screams in pain whilst blood shoots out from new scars on his body. Aya, like most of you right now, becomes confused and frightened. But she is placed into even more shock when her grandfather tells her to distance herself from Aki, and that she must be killed.

It appears to be that once Aya turned sixteen, a power awoke within her that would bring misfortune to the Mikage family and kill them all. Aki, on the other hand, is the exact opposite; his power would help protect the family. This proves to be a problem for Aya, and she is forced to stay with a brother and sister who understand her situation, surprisingly enough, by the names of Yuuhi and Suzumi Aogiri.

As you have read, the plot is not at all like any other manga series out there. But what is even better than the storyline happens to be the art. Fans of Fushigi Yuugi already know that Watase's art is exceptional from reading that series. Watase's skills have improved since then, and believe me, there are some scenes in Ayashi no Ceres that can blow you away. The eyes are more intense and full of emotion; the character fashion more up to date. Plus, the backrounds are greatly detailed. If you truely like what you see from this article, do not miss the chance of picking up the artbook, which has a release date of March 25, 2000.

Age-wise, AnC is directed toward high school students and older. Junior high students might even read it. But before you happily pick up a volume and dig into it, I would like to warn you about the content about it. There is a bit of nudity in the series, and it also contains some violence. I would hate to see this affect whether or not someone would like the series, but if you are against such things, now you know.

Ayashi no Ceres just ended in a recent volume of Sho-Comi, with volume 14 yet to come out as the final in the series. This might only be the temporary ending, though, as the anime is scheduled to start airing in Japan on April 20th. If the anime is shown to be popular, then Watase might continue the series, such as the case with Fushigi Yuugi.





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