Yami no Matsuei

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Name: Yami no Matsuei (Descendants of Darkness, 闇の末裔)
Abbreviation(s): YnM
Creator: Yoko Matsushita
Date(s): 1995 – 2003 (manga, on hiatus), October 2, 2000 – December 18, 2000 (anime)
Medium: manga, anime
Country of Origin: Japan
External Links: Official J.C.Staff Site/JP
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Yami no Matsuei (officially translated in English as "Descendants of Darkness," though even English-speaking fans tend to refer to it by the original name) is an unfinished manga series created by mangaka Matsushita Yoko which ran in serialized format in Hana to Yume from 1995 to 2003. Most of the serialized chapters were collected in eleven tankoubon, though the last several chapters remain uncollected and only officially available in back issues of Hana to Yume.

A thirteen-episode anime series based on four of the manga's story arcs was released in late 2000. Shortly thereafter, both the manga and the anime began to be released in an English-language format. Currently, all eleven tankoubon are available in English translation, and the anime is available in an official subbed-and-dubbed format.

The premise of Yami no Matsuei is that certain humans with spiritual ability are offered the chance to become Shinigami, or "death gods," after they die. It's strongly implied, however, that the main protagonist, Tsuzuki Asato, is not entirely human and did not become Shinigami of his own choice, but rather as punishment for some unspecified crime. The main function of Shinigami is to collect the souls of people who have not died at their appointed time, and Tsuzuki views this duty as akin to murder. Though immensely powerful, Tsuzuki is very kind-hearted and reluctant to use his powers. He died by suicide, which he attempts again a few times during the course of the series, hoping to escape his existence as a Shinigami. Tsuzuki died at age twenty six, roughly seventy five years before the start of the series.

In the anime and for the bulk of the manga, Tsuzuki's Shinigami partner is newly-dead Kurosaki Hisoka. Hisoka is an empath who died at sixteen of a mysterious illness. In both series, it's revealed that Hisoka was actually murdered by Dr. Muraki Kazutaka, whom he witnessed stabbing a woman to death when he was thirteen. Muraki raped and cursed Hisoka, then caused him to forget what he saw and what was done to him. Hisoka agreed to become Shinigami in order to learn how and why he died, and wants revenge on Muraki for assaulting and killing him.

Muraki Kazutaka is the main villain of Yami no Matsuei. Not only did he kill Hisoka, but he obsessively pursues Tsuzuki. At first, his interest seems primarily sexual, but it comes out both that Tsuzuki was under his grandfather's care before committing suicide, and that Muraki would like to use Tsuzuki's regenerative powers to bring his own stepbrother back to life in order to kill the boy multiple times for murdering their father and Muraki's mother.

Other significant characters in the anime and manga are: Tatsumi Seiichirou, Secretary of the department of the underworld for which Tsuzuki and Hisoka work and Tsuzuki's former partner, Watari Yutaka, the Shinigami's resident mad scientist, Mibu Oriya, Muraki's best friend and the owner of a Kyoto brothel that fronts as an exclusive restaurant, the Gushoushin, two non-human brothers who run the library in Meifu (the afterlife), Konoe-kachou, the Shinigami's supervisor, and Hakushaku, the invisible noble also obsessed with Tsuzuki and in charge of the Hall of Candles, where the candles of the living burn and the book of the dead is kept. The manga has several other recurring Shinigami, as well as more face time for Tsuzuki's twelve Shikigami, animalistic gods he can summon to aid him in his duties.

Fandom

Yami no Matsuei is primarily an m/m slash fandom. The canon skirts the line of Boys Love, though it was not marketed as such in Japan. There's a strong "everybody wants Tsuzuki" vibe in the canon, and the popular pairings in the fandom reflect that, with the bulk of fanworks devoted to Tsuzuki/Hisoka, Tsuzuki/Tatsumi, and Tsuzuki/Muraki. Muraki/Oriya also has a strong, if small, following, and the two primary threesomes in fanworks are Tsuzuki/Tatsumi/Hisoka and Muraki/Tsuzuki/Hisoka. Rarer pairings include Tatsumi/Hisoka, Oriya/Hisoka, Tatsumi/Watari, Muraki/Hisoka, and Tsuzuki/Tohda (one of his male Shikigami). Pairings involving other of Tsuzuki's Shikigami and male characters from various story arcs are also very rare.

F/f slash and het are practically non-existent in the fandom, which seemed to be most active from 2003 to about 2007, but has grown quiet as the likelihood of new canon decreases. Despite the apparent conflict of the three major pairings, Yami no Matsuei has not experienced the sort of acrimonious shipper wars that are common in many fandoms. This may in part be because of the fragmentation of the fandom, where fans of different pairings have separate fora on which to focus. There's been more debate about anime characterization versus manga characterization, and of course some conflict between fans of antagonistic characters, particularly Muraki and Hisoka, but overall, the fandom seems more given to canon analysis and attempting to make sense of story arcs than arguing over character and pairing preferences.

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