|Medium:||novel, film, manga, television|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
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Onmyouji (also sometimes romanized as Onmyoji) is a historical novel series by Baku Yumemakura. It is set in Heian period Japan and stars the semi-historical figures Abe no Seimei and Minamoto no Hiromasa.
English-language fandom is mostly based on a few specific adaptations of the novel series and often features Seimei/Hiromasa. Examples of adaptations with an English language fandom include the Japanese film duology from 2001 and 2003 (often translated as "The Yin-Yang Master"), the phone game, and the Chinese 2020 film The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity.
- 安倍晴明 - Abe no Seimei (Anbei Qingming in Mandarin)
- 源博雅 - Minamoto no Hiromasa (Yuan Boya in Mandarin)
Immortal women who've eaten mermaid's flesh:
- Yao Bikuni
Shikigami and other magical creatures:
- 蜜虫 - Mitsumushi (Michong in Mandarin) - aka Honeybug
Onmyouji fandom, at least on AO3, tends to be heavily m/m. As of June 3, 2021:
- Novels - 79/84 - 94%
- Dream of Eternity - 130/147 - 88%
- Mobile game - 2054/2571 - 80%
- Japanese films - 145/197 - 74%
A pairing that is common in fandoms of multiple versions is Seimei/Hiromasa. As of June 2021, it makes up this amount of the following AO3 fandoms:
- Dream of Eternity - 117/147 - 80%
- Novels - 64/84 - 76%
- Japanese films - 125/197 - 63%
- Mobile game - 183/2571 - 7%
The mobile game features far more important, recurring characters than other versions. Other ships for this fandom include:
- Minamoto no Yorimitsu/Onikiri
- Ibaraki Douji/Shuten Douji
- Ichimoku Ren/Susabi
- Minamoto no Hiromasa/Otengu
History and Folklore
The protagonists of the series and many of the plots, locations, and secondary characters come straight from Japanese history or folklore.
Both Abe no Seimei and Minamoto no Hiromasa are real historical figures. The main sources we have about them are the two tale collections Konjaku Monogatari Shuu ("Anthology of Tales from the Past") and Uji Shui Monogatari ("gleanings from Uji Dainagon Monogatari"). These two works, which also feature a number of overlapping stories, are the source of many of the specific episodes recounted in the novels and the manga adaptation. Both fall into the 'setsuwa' genre, a type of Japanese literature described on Wikipedia as:
Although there are no formal rules regarding what constitutes setsuwa as a genre, stories in the setsuwa style "have in common brevity; an uncomplicated plot unfolded in plain, direct language; character delineation through dialogue and action rather than through description and psychological analysis; and a predilection for amusing, startling, dramatic, or marvelous subject matter."
Other inspiration for the novels and adaptations comes from the Nihon Shoki and Kojiki, specifically elements of the Shinto creation myth and the unification of Japan. The Japanese mermaid (ningyo) is used in some stories, specifically the belief that eating a mermaid's flesh can make one immortal. Yao Bikuni, one such immortal, appears in some versions.
Seimei was an onmyouji, an astrologer and magician employed by the Onmyouryou (the state Bureau of Divination). He was rumored to be the son of the fox Kuzu no Ha (Arrowroot Leaf).
Hiromasa was a nobleman known for his superb flute playing. There is a tale about an embarrassing faux pas he made at one point, but historically, he was generally portrayed as elegant and accomplished rather than bumbling.
Seimei and Hiromasa do not appear in the same tales, and there is no evidence they knew each other historically, though they were contemporaries and both lived in the capital.
Onmyouji started as a series of novels by popular Japanese sf/f author Yumemakura Baku. He is responsible for the idea of pairing up the two leads.
Some partial translations are available online, but these tend to be in the form of translation class homework rather than being fandom-related. However, there are rumors that someone may be trying to secure the English-language rights.
Movie adaptations include:
- Onmyouji (2001), Onmyouji II (2003); Japan; directed by Yōjirō Takita; starring Mansai Nomura and Hideaki Ito
- The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity (2020); China; directed by Guo Jingming; starring Deng Lun and Mark Chao
- The Yinyang Master (2021); China; directed by Li Weiran; starring Chen Kun and Zhou Xun
Both Chinese movies are set in Japan. The 2021 movie was based off of the mobile game, which is in turn based off of the novels. The 2021 movie and the older Japanese movies are based directly on the novels.
Reiko Okano adapted the novels into a 13-volume manga series. Okano is a self-described Heian period fangirl, and the Japanese she uses in the manga is notoriously difficult--much moreso than that of the original novels. She also added significant amounts of nitty-gritty historical detail. (The novels have a vaguer, more dreamlike quality.)
The manga has been commercially translated into French. A partial English text translation exists, but there are no scanlations.
NHK tv series
There is also a 2002 tv adaptation of the novels. It has not been professionally translated into Western languages.
Fan favorite Yoshitaka Amano did an Onmyouji artbook.
Seimei in Modern Japanese Culture
At the same time that Baku Yumemakura kicked off the Onmyouji franchise, he also kicked off what has come to be called the "Seimei Boom". Throughout the 1990s and to some extent the 2000s, Japanese popular culture was inundated with works featuring Abe no Seimei. From X to Shounen Onmyouji works inspired by Yumemakura or by the sudden new Seimei interest have been springing up in all types of Japanese media. Most of these don't have a strong similarity to the novels, but fans do often get into the movies through a previous interest in these other works.
Most of the fandom consists of the pairing of Seimei and Hiromasa. Seimei's highly suggestive "exorcism" techniques are also a frequent feature, whether with Hiromasa or the women he practices them on in canon.
AO3 fandom tags for related fandoms include:
- 陰陽師 - 夢枕獏 | Onmyouji Series - Yumemakura Baku
- Onmyouji | The Yin-Yang Master (Movies 2001 2003)
- 侍神令 | Shì Shén Lìng | The Yin-yang Master (2021)
- 阴阳师 | Yīn Yáng Shī | The Yin-yang Master (Movies - Guo Jingming)
- 陰陽師 | Onmyoji (Video Games)
Fic for the novel series and the video game on AO3 is mostly in Mandarin.