|Medium:||novel, film, manga, television|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
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. Most English-language fandom is based on the two movie adaptations of the novels and usually features Seimei/Hiromasa.
History and Folklore
The protagonists of the series and many of the plots, locations, and secondary characters come straight from Japanese history or folklore.
The main sources we have about both Abe no Seimei and Minamoto no Hiromasa are the two tale collections Konjaku Monogatari Shuu and Uji Shui Monogatari (Tales from Uji). 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.
The second movie also features a number of references to the Shinto creation myth and the unification of Japan.
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.
The novels were adapted into two movies starring Mansai Nomura and Hideaki Ito.
The movies are widely available in English (and other languages?).
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.