The "Seimei Boom" is a period when depictions of historical figure Abe no Seimei became common in Japanese popular culture. This trend has affected English-speaking fans (among others) primarily through media franchises like Tokyo Babylon, Shounen Onmyouji, and Onmyouji, but its effects in Japan were much more widespread.
The Historical Abe no Seimei
Information about Seimei comes from the two tale collections Konjaku Monogatari Shuu and Uji Shui Monogatari (Tales from Uji). These two works feature a number of overlapping stories and are often a source of plots for recent works about Seimei.
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).
'Seimei' is his given name. 'Abe' is his family name. 'No' was used historically and is similar to 'of', 'von', and other such name elements. In some cases, 'Abe no' is instead romanized as 'Abeno', but a modern Japanese person would simply have the family name of 'Abe'.
Tales in which Seimei appears
Konjaku Monogatari Shuu:
Uji Shui Monogatari:
Timeline of the Seimei Boom
It began in the mid-90s.
Seimei appears in anime, manga, novels, video games, live action movies, tv shows, and just about every other sort of media. The following are particularly notable from a fandom perspective:
- Onmyouji - Originally a novel series by Yumemakura Baku. The live action movie is the focus of most English-speaking Seimei fandom.
- Shounen Onmyouji - Originally a light novel series. The anime adaptation has become popular in the West.
- Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi
- Otogi Zoshi
- Tokyo Babylon/X/1999 - Seimei is said to have mentored a main character's family. The anime of X introduced many Western fans to the concept of onmyouji.
Notes and References
"Extreme Makeover for a Heian-Era Wizard", Laura Miller. Originally published in Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga and the Fan Arts. Issue #3: Limits of the Human, pp. 30-45. University of Minnesota Press. Available through the author's professional webpage.