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"Utsunomiko" is an 83 minute movie from 1989, followed by a 71 minute movie, "Utsunomiko: Tenjou-hen" (Chronicle of Heaven) from 1990. The second movie’s release was then followed by a 13 volume OVA, also titled "Utsunomiko: Tenjou-hen", released from 1990 through 1992. All of which is based on the first two story arcs of the multi-volume novel written by Keisuke Fujikawa and illustrated by Mutsumi Inomata (also given credit for the anime’s character design, and who was the character designer for "Windaria"). To my knowledge, none of "Utsunomiko" has been released outside of Japan.

Taking place in 8th Century Japan, the story follows the exploits of the castoff half-breed son of a human and a god, Utsunomiko. Shunned by the world as an Ogre because of the horn on his head, he becomes a Shugenja monk, and fights for those who are powerless and downtrodden under Japan’s ruling class. He is aided in this task by his group of fellow monk friends, Kagami (a girl monk?), Kushuri, Tsuri, and Takara, as well as the small, mystic, sprite-like being, Kijimuna.

Utsunomiko and friends travel on a golden phoenix ship to the Heavenly Plain of Existence, to try to understand mankind’s suffering under the gods’ selfish, impulsive, and capricious nature. Along the way they are stopped by Asura, and (Utsuno)Miko decides to plead with Tashakuten (Indra), commander of the Shitenno (Four Kings of Heaven) and head of the Thirty-Three Gods of Heaven, on behalf of Asura’s clan, banished after seeking retribution for his daughter, who was kidnapped by Tashakuten. However, this mission quickly turns personal when, on a whim, Tashakuten abducts Kagami for his own pleasures! Will Miko be able to save Kagami, or will he fall to the might of the Thirty-Three Gods of Heaven?

“Rin, Pyo, Tou, Sha, Kai, Jin, Retsu, Zai, Zen…”

The show relies heavily on the viewer having some knowledge of Hindu-Buddhist mythology, and then swaps the gods’ usual roles of good and evil. It takes the fanciful nature of a mythos, and turns it into a socio-political commentary on the age-old conflict between the “haves and have-nots”, and the role of religion, and societal class stratification, in oppressing the masses. The correlation and juxtaposition of ideas seems silly and overreaching at times, but this anime is just… just… just so dang pretty to look at, that I have to say I really enjoy it.

 Utsunomiko 01

 Utsunomiko 02

 Utsunomiko 03

 Utsunomiko 04
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Curator: guyvariii
Gallery Created: 1/21/2004

Presentation 8.65/10   Collection 9.12/10   Overall 8.70/10   Votes 65 votes
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