Kannazuki no Miko - Actual history of the Kusanagi sword
Kannazuki no Miko - The Myth of the Kusanagi Sword
Kannazuki no Miko - Presentation of the Kusanagi Sword to
Naruhito (徳仁; born 23 February 1960) is the Emperor of Japan.
He acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne on 1 May 2019
Kannazuki no Miko(2004) 12EP aka: Destiny of the Shrine Maiden
lit: The Shrine Maiden of the Godless Month
Manga(2004 - 2005)) 2 VOLS
Anime(2004) 12 EP
D: Tetsuya Yanagisawa
W: Sumio Uetake after manga by Kaishaku
M: Mina Kubota
Himeko Kurusugawa (来栖川 姫子 Kurusugawa Himeko)Himeko Kurusugawa (来栖川 姫子 Kurusugawa Himeko)
Chikane Himemiya (姫宮 千歌音 Himemiya Chikane)Chikane Himemiya (姫宮 千歌音 Himemiya Chikane)
Sōma Ōgami (大神 ソウマ Ōgami Sōma)Sōma Ōgami (大神 ソウマ Ōgami Sōma)
Orochi, the 8 headed dragon of all evil
Head 1 : Tsubasa (ツバサ)
Head 2 : Sister Miyako (ミヤコ)
Head 3 : Girochi (ギロチ)
Head 4 : Corona (コロナ Korona)
Head 5 : Reiko Ōta (大田 レーコ Ōta Reiko)
Head 6 : Nekoko (ネココ)
Head 7 : Sōma Ōgami (大神 ソウマ Ōgami Sōma)
Head 8 : Chikane Himemiya (姫宮 千歌音 Himemiya Chikane)
Kannazuki no Miko is a very difficult anime to place on any best/top 10 lists because it is a deeply flawed masterpiece of the Yuri genre.
The very first problem and its most obvious is that while Kannazuki is most definitely a full out Yuri love story between two girls, Himeko Kurusugawa and Chikane Himemiya, it is at the very same time a Mecha battle shonen with giant robots beating on each other interminably.
One wonders what the artists behind the manga and anime were thinking. Who was your target audience? Giant robots appeal to young boys, while romance appeals to a much older demographic, and even within that group, a Yuri romance is even more selective.
The fans that will like the robots are in all likelihood not the same fans who would like the romance and the other way around. In my reading of the Yuri fan base comments around the net, there appears to be a majority opinion among the fans against the mechas in “Kannazuki no Miko”.
So that aspect of this anime is just obvious and out front hanging there. This fan of Yuri Romance found the constant clashing of metal monsters to be annoying and very uninteresting. And what makes that aspect of this anime, extremely difficult, is the artists set this romance into a very deep mythological background so that in order to know why certain characters are doing what they are doing a significant amount of the story has to be background narrative of some very complex interrelationships. They only have 12 Eps to work with, and yet whenever the robots are battling each other, no story is being told. All that shonen time is totally wasted, and this work becomes very difficult to follow or understand.
This reviewer had to read the manga, and do a good sized amount of study in Japanese and world mythology in order to come up to speed in understanding the story involved. There is no complete narrative which explains all of this background of myth and legend.
Another problem is that the art work is of very poor quality. Now this is not an impediment to a great story, but beautiful art certainly enhances the mood and pleasure of watching the anime.
A third significant problem is that the antagonists, the Orochi, an 8 headed dragon of ultimate evil, is personified by 8 individual characters or necks like kawaii loli cat girls, or funny guys with big chains
who are more humorous than they are frightening. If you wanted monsters of ultimate evil, they should more resemble the 7 deadly sins of “Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood”, seriously frightening characters of pure evil.
So Kannazuki no Miko has some serious problems, and yet it still qualifies as a masterpiece of the Yuri genre. Many Yuri fans and blogs place Kannazuki no Miko at number 1, best Yuri anime of all time, and that is difficult to argue against.
For despite all it’s deficiencies which are many, the Romance between
(Chikane Himemiya X Himeko Kurusugawa), is stunning and very moving. We at Pywackett, found the last two Eps, EP 11 and 12, extremely moving, and virtually without peer either in Yuri or in Gay or in Het. And this is because the romance is set deep into its background of Japanese and World mythology, and also its own self-created mythological tropes.
One may wonder why Chikane and Himeko do what they do which in some sections is highly objectionable, evil, and horrific, but none of that is gratuitous. It is not thrown in to titillate, or to sensationalize, but is based in the total mythological setting of this story’s background.
Most stories have a background of people, and events, and movements that surround the MC’s but sometimes this makes no real difference. In Kannazuki no Miko, the background is everything. Romeo and Juliet would be just as much in love in 2019 LA, as they are in Italy with much the same outcome. But remove Chikane and Himeko from their mythology, and they disappear. In some sense,
(Chikane X Himeko) is the background.
In the spoiler section which follows, we will attempt to deconstruct the mythology driving the characters and the plot. We are faced with a destiny of cosmic proportions here. Ultimate forces which Chikane and Himeko must follow and obey. The forces which the girls face together cannot be avoided but must be fully faced and accepted. Duty overrides freedom, and the girls are locked and loaded.
So if you are considering trying the 12 Eps of this series, you must proceed all the way to the end because any return of feels will require the entire season. Do not drop this series prematurely, as we did until some wiser heads at yurireviews.com, forced us to return.
What follows is a complete SPOILER REVIEW in which we will go into some very detailed matters with regard to the background, but in one sense this is necessary material to understand the what and whys of the story. So it is your choice whether to continue and have the story spoiled, or return after you have seen all 12 Eps.
THIS IS A SPOILER REVIEW!
DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER UNLESS YOU HAVE SEEN ALL 12 EP’S OF KANNAZUKI NO MIKO
Kannazuki no Miko(2004) 12EP lit: The Shrine Maiden of the Godless Month
EP 11 and 12 just about blew a hole right through our hearts, and reduced us to tears which was totally unexpected. One of the most moving and beautiful endings in all story telling, extremely tragic while at the same time extremely intimate. When Himeko holds the dying Chikane in her arms whom she has just killed, and then kisses her, we almost lost it all in a direct shot right to the feels.
That was so emotional, moving, beautiful, and heart rending. Even writing this is emotional just thinking about that scene.
We have been doing quite a bit of research into Japanese and even world mythology, visiting many fan sites, and reading the manga; and all of this has been quite a revelation. When you have to do a considerable amount of independent study to understand the world of a story, then the story tellers in charge have failed. And both the Anime and Manga versions of “Kannazuki no Miko” fail in various different ways.
This is far more than a simple Romance. The romantic relationship is deeply embedded in a fantastical world of created mythology, Japanese cultural mythology, Shinto religion, and even world mythology with regard to total solar eclipses.
KANNAZUKI - THE GODLESS MONTH
Kannazuki means “the godless month”, i.e. the 10th month, October in the current calendar but this is somewhat misleading. In Izumo, the word means “The month with all the gods” and in the rest of Japan it means, “The month with no gods”
On Oct 1, all the gods leave their shrines and head to the Izumo-taisha shrine, officially Izumo Ōyashiro in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture. This is a major meeting of the gods of Japan to discuss Japanese social life, welfare and future, and this meeting lasts for the entire month of October. But this causes a substantial danger and problem, for without the gods in their shrines, there is no protection against evil spirits.
When at the same time, should a total eclipse of the Sun happen in Japan in either the month of October, or even just on October 1 (stories differ), then the source of all evil, the Orochi, come alive, and are able to attack Earth from the Moon through the shadow of the eclipse which acts as a portal into this world. The Orochi present as 8 Heads who when merged together, become the 8 headed Dragon of all evil, the Yamata no Orochi.
But the gods were not negligent because they set up a safety net should this happen while they were away. They leave one god sealed on the Moon who is the sacred sword of truth and goodness, Kusanagi no Tsurugi; and they select two souls to eternally reincarnate as two young maiden girls who then become the Miko’s of the sword, Shrine Maidens, Priestesses of the Sun and the Moon who have the power to perform the Ame no Murakumo ceremony, to bring forth the Sword God who can defeat the Orochi.
THE KUSANAGI SWORD
Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (草薙の剣) is a legendary Japanese sword and one of three Imperial Regalia of Japan. It was originally called Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (天叢雲剣, "Heavenly Sword of Gathering Clouds"), but its name was later changed to the more popular Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi ("Grass-Cutting Sword"). In folklore, the sword represents the virtue of valor.
The legendary sword Kusanagi is said to actually exist in Japan at the Atsuta shrine in Atsuta-ku, Nagoya and was recently presented to the new Emperor Naruhito installed in 2019. But as to the god Ame no Murakumo or to the Miko’s of the god and sword, or to the sword’s shrine on the moon, this appears to be a free invention of the Manga. There does not appear to be a real Shinto ceremony in Japan called Ame no Murakumo nor can I find Miko’s who are priestesses of the sword.
Also if you watch the youtube video above, you will see the actual Japanese mythology where it is Susanoo, the indolent brother of Amaterasu, who is thrown out of heaven, comes to Earth, falls in love with a human girl who is the eighth girl child of a family, and learns that the Orochi, the dragon, Yamata no Orochi, has eaten all 7 of the other girls.
Sasunoo devises a plan, uses Saki to trap the dragon and then kills it, and finds the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi sword in the monster’s tail. So Kannazuki no Miko is not strictly following the traditional story but is freely inventing new material.
Even though a Samurai sword is physically single edged, the Kusanagi sword is believed to be double edged. In the anime story, the Ame no Murakumo ceremony has two edges Edge 1 is to bring the sword from the Moon to Earth.
But there is an Edge 2 in which the sword must be activated, and it turns out to be rather horrific and tragic. The sword must first taste the blood of one of the Miko’s who is to be killed with the sword by the other Miko as a human sacrifice! The two innocent girls are locked for all eternity in this cycle.
In the manga and the anime, the Kusanagi sword is shown to be a single edged Samurai sword, but this appears to be an error or oversight, because the real Kusanagi sword is double edged so that it can cut both ways like a broadsword, where a Samurai sword being lighter and single edged, cuts only one way.
THE MIKO - SHRINE MAIDENS/PRIESTESSES
Himeko Kurusgawa X Chikane Himemiya meet at school and there is an immediate attraction and when Himiko has no place to live, Chikane invites her to live at her mansion.
Both girls who are born on Oct 1, bear the seals of these Miko’s on their bodies, Himeko Kurusgawa bears the seal of the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, on her chest; and Chikane Himemiya bears the seal of the Moon God, Tsukuyomi-no-mikoto, on her back. On this date, the seals are activated.
The Shinto priest, Kazuki Ōgami, begins to inform the girls that they are Miko’s and that they have special duties to perform in the Ame no Murakumo ritual, but he does not tell them everything, especially about the human sacrifice. But Chikane remembers her past life, that the last time the Miko’s performed this ceremony, she killed Himeko, and she hates the sword and the sword god as a result. This hatred of the sword and god, prevents the Miko’s from successfully completing EDGE 1, the first part of the ceremony.
This then leads to a most shocking, and unexpected story trope. While Himeko brings Chikane a locket pair as proof of their love, Chikane viciously turns on Himeko, and violates her.
There is a great deal of controversy on the web about this act with many raising serious objections. I was in this camp when I first saw EP8. It played to me like gratuitous sensationalism, a bit of Hentai thrown in designed to sensationalize. But the scene is not particularly graphic, mostly suggestive and as outrageous and horrible as this act is, it makes sense in the larger scope of the mythological story context. The manga is very clear about why Chikane should do this to the one person in all the universe whom she desperately loves.
To be a human sacrifice, the Miko must be a virgin, and Chikane intentionally violates Himeko to make her ineligible as the sacrifice, and to ensure that she, Chikane, will be the sacrifice in place of Himeko.
A second reason is that, in order to ensure that Himeko succeeds, Chikane will become the 8th Head Orochi and to do this she must become evil, not just pretend to be evil, and no more evil act could suffice than to violate the one person whom you love more than life itself. Once she becomes evil, she joins the Orochi, and destroys them all, leaving only herself as the last Orochi.
So then Himeko need only kill Chikane, and all the Orochi will have then been defeated.
TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN
In world mythology, a total eclipse of the Sun is almost always an evil omen. Many stories involve the moon devouring the sun.
In Japanese mythology, the effects are rather benign, in that the story goes that Amaterasu, the Goddess of the Sun, flees to a cave until the Moon passes.
The story in Kannazuki no Miko freely invents a new mythology about what is happening between the Sun and the Moon.
A third reason for the rape is an archtype transposition of the total eclipse of the Sun by the Moon onto the grotesque violation of innocent Himeko by Chikane. The Moon violates the Sun by devouring the Sun’s light during a total eclipse casting a giant shadow on the Earth, and this becomes the portal of darkness through which the Orochi can leave the Moon and travel to Earth. Himeko’s seal is on her front while Chikane’s seal is on her back. When the Sun is in full eclipse, we see only the back of the Moon which is on top of the Sun because the Moon is facing the Sun. Chikane(Moon), violating Himeko(Sun) and devouring her light is Chikane eclipsing Himeko.
To be a danger, this shadow must cast onto Japan during October when the gods of Japan are away at their meeting.
A fourth reason for the scene is to harden Hemiko against Chikane, forcing her hatred so that she can kill Chikane. This only partially works because Hemiko always loves Chikane although she does not come to understand the violation until the very end.
The anime does some rather poor storytelling about all this, but its ending is so much better than the manga which is itself, confused and disjointed as it attempts to wrap-up.
And rather than a sad or tragic fate awaiting these two girls, the anime provides hope. A total eclipse of the sun in October or even on October 1 in Japan is rather rare; hundreds, even thousands of years pass before that will happen. Whole lifetimes pass before this horrific human sacrifice of a Miko will be necessary.
Also the two girls on each reincarnation, in each lifetime are fated to find each other, to fall in love all over again, and to presumably live happily together in most of their lives over and over again until the end of time. Only on those rare lifetimes when the total eclipse takes place in Japan during October do the girls need to remain celibate. Since this event is easily predicted in advance, during all other lifetimes together, they will be intensely romantic with each other and life will be bliss.
Talk about a romance which transcends time and space!
Chikane’s love for Himeko is so transcendent, it even surpasses good and evil. And since ancient times the trope of one lover giving their very lives to save the life of their beloved, has persisted even to this day. And its more than a trope. Such self-sacrifice for love, is real and throughout history, lovers have died to save their beloved. When one thinks of the reality of this, the soul chills.
But Kannazuki no Miko while its ending is sublime, is a very flawed masterpiece and this makes it difficult to place on any list without an asterisk notation of some sort. The general rating puts it somewhere between a 6 and 7 and that is probably appropriate for a general anime audience.
As a result of the constant mecha combat, there is an egregious waste of narrative screen time, and the world building and character development suffer severely. We have a lot of complex mythological story that needs to be told, and yet the anime wastes tons of time on pointless robot battles.
But even bringing yourself up to speed by independent study, we still would not want to watch this again, because of all the boring robot fights. The only way we would, is to fast forward through the mechas.
We fully understand why so many love this work. We too here at Pywackett Productions fell under the spell of this eternally loving pair who pass through time and space together in each others arms like the Sun and the Moon! But there was just not enough that in the anime.
But still, EP 11 and 12, are just so wonderful and heart rending, and sublime and (Chikane X Himeko) has to be the greatest Yuri pair of all time, they are now number 1 in our book!
And they lived happily ever after!
Recommended with an *
Make no mistake, this is a beautiful romance
but the anime has serious defects. If you can
let those slide, or fast-forward through,
then you might be able to very much enjoy
the story of two lovers falling in love
throughout time and space and for all eternity!
Pretty heady stuff, this be!
Folcwine P. Pywackett