This is for all you shounen-ai fans out there!
Yami no Matsuei is the story of Asato Tsuzuki and his new partner Hisoka Kurosaki. Set in contemporary Japan, the two work for the Ministry of Hades, an organization whose
purpose is to oversee the registration of people as they die, pass judgment on them and send them wherever they belong. Asato and Hisoka are employed in the Judgment Department, Summons Section, a.k.a. “Guardians of the Dead”, whose job is to keep dead people dead and bring back those who slip thru the cracks.
Yama was adapted from a manga and first released in October 2000. Yoko Matsushita was the creator and Hiroko Tokita, the director. Some may find the older art style and lower resolution off-putting and it is not a masterwork of art, even for 2000. However, I find it endearing. (I also watch movies from the early 1900s in their original B&W and find colorization to be aesthetically disgusting.)
You don’t get to be a Guardian of the Dead unless you are dead. One has to apply and be accepted. Once you are accepted, they give you your human body back but you are also endowed with tremendous resilience and great power. All the Guardians can perform basic spells like “track” and “barrier” and returning people to Hades but it also appears each has their own special abilities.
Other members of the team at this time.
Asato, a man who died at 26, has been at this for 70 years. He is known as a slacker and has quite a sweet tooth. Bad guys appear to summon various dragons but Asato
summons a phoenix instead of a standard dragon (Suzaka) that when it explodes, incinerates its target. Hisoka died when he was 16 and applied to the Guardians of Death department hoping to find out about the supernatural being who murdered him. His ability is to completely read a persons mindset and emotions when physical contact is made.
Asato and Hisoka get assigned together to the Nagasaki beat because neither one has ever gotten along with previous partners. Asato is idiosyncratic and lazy. Hisoka is moody and doesn’t listen
Our show is set up with a young adult wielding a massive & destructive power while the almost adult wields a subtle, more “touchy-feely” power. Ah! Just feel the subtext wafting
over you. That’s okay because while they obviously develop feelings for each other, neither one (consciously) thinks of any sexual component. You could almost think of it as shounen ai. Technically, Hisoka really is 19 since he died 3 years earlier. He gets to keep that lovely 16-year-old body forever.
The Guardians also have weird bird things as helpers. Asato often works with one. They are called Gushoshin.
Enter the big bad. Nagasaki appears to be under attack from a vampire. Asato recognized it as being Maria Wong, a popular Chinese singer. A bit of digging in the Hades records reveals she is registered as one of the dead, a suicide. Her fans don’t know this. As it turns out she was resurrected by her wicked stepmother who wanted the singing money to keep rolling in thru some kind of deal with…
The many faces of Maria Wong – and finally the wicked stepmother.
Dr. Kazutaka Muraki, a vampire and a devout Christian. He is a strange creature. He
works as a doctor in a hospital but doesn’t have the slightest compunction against murder if it makes his life more convenient. He has a powerful sadistic streak and is at least bisexual if not completely gay. In one reveal it turns out he had raped Hisoka before he sent him off to a hospital to die slowly over years. Kazutaka seems enamored with attractive males and finds Asato even more desirable than Hisoka.
I can understand this. While a 16-year-old maiden might be beautiful beyond words to describe, that same girl would be immensely more desirable in every way to me a decade or two older.
Kazutaka keeps Maria under his spell, otherwise, she would eschew the vampire life and return to Hades where she belongs. She is being used as a tool for both her stepmother and her vampire master. Throw away the garlic and don’t imagine crosses and daylight will help. This guy is a blonde who prays to God before a church altar, talks about how badly early Christians were persecuted in Japan, dresses in white and has pale blue “cat eyes”.
The show has 13 episodes arranged in 4 arcs. I am only talking about the first arc here, the Nagasaki arc. I figure if you like the first arc, you’ll enjoy the later ones as well. I don’t want to throw too many spoilers your way. There are hints all along that the main characters are going to way get more complex in future arcs and other important characters introduced. There is also a fair amount of humor along the way, much of it having to do with bureaucracy and quirky fellow Guardians.
See if you can catch a reference to this in episode 2:
I held a Jewel in my fingers—
And went to sleep—
The day was warm, and winds were prosy—
I said ”Twill keep’—
I woke—and chid my honest fingers,
The Gem was gone—
And now, an Amethyst remembrance
Is all I own—