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"Soon you will have to choose. Will you destroy this world, and return to your own? Or will you protect this world, and become its master?"
Tokidoki Rikugou is an Ordinary High School Student who, after failing history class, is forced to visit an incredibly high-tech virtual reality museum modelling the Edo Period with some of his classmates, including notorious class-cutting delinquent, Kon Shinonome. As he explores the building, Toki comes face-to-face with a masked figure whose monstrous companion, the Nue, inexplicably attacks him, destroying his VR goggles and leaving him blind in one eye. But then a beautiful young swordswoman named Kuchiha shows up just in time to save the day, before Toki drops off into unconsciousness.
He later wakes up in a room with none other than Kon, although the latter appears very different than before. Kon and Kuchiha explain to Toki that the masked figure is a demon known as Yakou, that he is now trapped in the simulation of Edo Period Japan, and that Kon was also attacked and transported there two years earlier - despite the fact that Toki recalls having last seen him only ten minutes ago. There is no known way to return home, so the pair of them elect to take care of Toki and teach him how to fit in.
This all plays out like a fairly typical Trapped in Another World story, until Toki eventually discovers that he has a special power. In this world called Amatsuki, where everyone's destiny is pre-determined by the reigning Powers That Be , Toki is unique in that, as a newcomer to the world, he is the only one whose destiny has not already been decided - thus giving him the power to change the fates of others through his actions and decisions. His status grants him the title of "The Unwritten Page", and as a war between humans and demons rages on in Amatsuki, both sides want to use his power to their own advantage. This soon leads him to encounters with members of the different factions, including Bonten, a powerful demon and agent of Heaven; Ginshu, a priestess who is head of demon extermination; and Tadajiro Sasaki, a manipulative government official.
While it's often passed up or overlooked for its extremely complicated and often confusing storyline, Amatsuki, a manga by Shinobu Takayama, has a very strong story with Awesome Art, an intricate plot, accurate and detailed references to Japanese history and folklore, and a fleshed-out cast of characters.
- Adaptation Distillation: Probably in an attempt to make it less confusing and more generally appealing, the anime removed (in its first season) all the things going on in the real world. This effectively deals with the massive Mind Screw that shows up later in the manga, but may cause problems if the anime intends to closely follow the manga's plot.
- All Just a Dream: It's implied that the events in Amatsuki could just be Toki and Kon experiencing lucid dreams at the hands of a crazy scientist and some mysterious mind-control device.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: Toki to Kuchiha.
- Anti-Hero: Pretty much anyone can qualify for this, but mostly Bonten.
- Art Evolution: The artwork has become steadily more and more fluid and softer. The early stuff is almost unrecognisable compared what was drawn recently.
- Author Appeal: Takayama Shinobu really loves drawing her characters in fashionable modern Japanese street clothes on cover pages, with plenty of hair accessories (especially on boys). Most artwork also seems to depict the characters stuffing their faces with food. Toki has worn fox-masks on a number of occasions. And then there's Kon and his Oral Fixation Fixation...
- Backstory: Everyone, especially when it comes to a Dark and Troubled Past.
- Badass Biker: Suoh, being a courier.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Happens occasionally in the manga. In the Omake and drama CDs, there is No Fourth Wall. Period.
- Break the Cutie: Tsuruume after the reset. This trope also applies to Toki himself after he loses Kuchiha and Kon as a consequence of his own decisions, and if we get to count the past, Hiwa/Bonten, Shinshu, and Ginshu. Though one might argue that Ginshu was broken from the start.
- Brother-Sister Incest: It would seem that Kurotobi is straight... if only, apparently, for his sister...
- Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Plenty of good-looking male characters for the fans to enjoy, both human and non-human.
- Chekhov's Gun: Toki's eyepatch, which he gave to Kon before the latter lost his memories, and which Kon finds by accident, causing him to question whether or not Toki was telling the truth about them being friends.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Kon, who turns up right at the beginning of the manga and later is revealed to be a major character. Also Ainezu, briefly introduced as a nameless doctor and then forgotten, only to turn up much later as a member of the infamous Onmyou Bureau.
- Cool Mask: Benitobi and Suzume's demon masks.
- Cosmic Retcon: Teiten makes it so that Ginshu never existed and many human characters never met Toki either, including Kon.
- Crash Into Hello: Heihachi and Tsuyukusa... in an odd way.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: More than half the cast, most notably Kuchiha, and to a certain extent, Tsuyukusa.
- Dynamic Entry: Lucky Kuchiha gets to make lots of these.
- Elegant Gothic Lolita: Lily. Since Shiraai really loves those sorts of clothes.
- Enemy Mine: Various degrees of this occur between the main characters, the demons and the Onmyou Bureau. Then everyone teams up to take on the Yakou and Heaven itself.
- Fake Memories: Oh, boy. Where do we even start on this one?
- Fan Service: Kuchiha at one point pulls her shirt away, revealing her chest... it was meant to scare off some drunk samurai, but not the point.
- First-Name Basis: After they hang out together for awhile, Toki eventually drops the honorific on Tsuyukusa's name. Tsuyukusa, however, is very taken aback by this and deliberately avoids calling Toki by his first name until chapter 58.
- Flash Back: About one third of the story... and just about half of the plot.
- Genre Savvy: Kon is so genre savvy he knows the world he and Toki are trapped in is fictional.
- Which makes sense, because he was hacking into Amatsuki prior to the start.
Kon: Kinda sounds like a really well-done historical video game, huh?
- Grey and Gray Morality: Everyone is fighting for unique and what they believe to be legitimate reasons.
- Hair Colors: Amatsuki mostly has realistic hair colors even for demons. All Japanese have black hair, unless (and we're looking at you, Toki and Kon) they've colored it. Even some demons have realistic hair... until Tsuyukusa decided to break the mold by going green.
- Hilarity Ensues: Even the most depressing situations can turn hilarious at a moment's notice.
- Hostile Show Takeover: In the Omake comics and drama CDs.
- Homoerotic Subtext: Numerous instances. Including but not limited to Kon/Toki, Ginshu/Bonten (if you consider it Ho Yay), and Toki/Tsuyukusa.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: While they may not be evil, none of the humans introduced so far are above manipulating everyone around them for their own benefit. But the Demons have their bad points too.
- Inside a Computer System: Maybe.
- Interspecies Romance: Ginshu and Bonten, if you like that sort of thing. Also Imayou and her master, possibly.
- Ironic Nursery Rhyme: "Toryanse", a traditional Japanese children's song which is used to incredibly creepy effect, especially when the Yakou is involved.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Just continues to get more and more confusing as time goes by. Even well over 50 chapters in, we still know very little about the main characters or the connection between Amatsuki and the real world. While there have been various hints, these are few and far between, and hard to fit together.
- Josei: Although it gets mistaken rather often for Shonen.
- Kidanova: Despite appearances, Toki has proved to be awfully good when it comes to the lady types.
Bonten: "He's got a way with women..."
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Pretty much the whole cast, except Toki and the demons as of now.
- Not the demons as well. The whole world, including the demons, forgets everything after the reset. It's just that Bonten believes that absolutely everything Toki says is the truth, well, because he's the Blank Page.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Sure, Toki noticed sword calluses on Beni's hands... but it's a different thing when she's suddenly moving at super speed...
- Loads and Loads of Characters
- Love Triangle: Toki-Kuchiha-Kanzou. Sort of.
- Also Kon-Toki-Kuchiha. Sort of.
- Mad Scientist: Urushibara is a truly terrifying example.
- Meaningful Name: Practically everyone.
- Amatsuki is an abbreviation of the term 'Amayo no Tsuki', which means 'moon on a rainy night', i.e. something that cannot really exist. Bonten believes that the world of Amatsuki is an illusion.
- Midori's name is brought attention to in-story. Shiraai links the 'thousand year green' colour to a hypnotic, dreamlike state.
- Merged Reality: The demons aim to make this... by devouring all humans and destroying Amatsuki altogether.
- Miko: There are many traditional examples at the Sakagami shrine.
- Mind Screw: The anime is for the most part fairly straightforward. The manga, on the other hand...
- Mismatched Eyes: Toki. One of his eyes is red to signify that its vision was stolen by the Nue.
- Monochromatic Eyes: Whenever Sasaki actually does open his eyes, they are completely white. This also applies to Kurotobi and Benitobi, whose eyes are almost completely black.
- Mood Whiplash: The series likes to yoyo back and forth between heart-rending tragedy, ridiculous comedy, bursts of action, lengthy plot explanations, and friendship.
- Motor Mouth: Toki in the drama CDs fits this trope to a T. Calm down, Jun Fukuyama!
- Mr. Exposition: Kon mostly. Ginshu, Bonten, Kurotobi, and Tsuruume tend to fit into this role as well. In fact, this trope applies to pretty much everyone in Amatsuki except Toki.
- Mysterious Past: All the main characters, though Kuchiha, Ginshu and Bonten have all had theirs explained somewhat. Toki's is still fragmented and downright confusing, whilst Kon has virtually no backstory whatsoever.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Happens again and again and again.
- Ninja: Sasaki commands a whole group of them, two specific examples being Kurotobi and Benitobi.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Ginshu is fairly effective with this in his/her entrance, but really peaks in the flashback The Butterfly's Dream when he/she first interacts with Bonten. Also apparently, Kon
- Only One Name: Multiple, including anyone not human and generally the people associated with the supernatural.
- Orphean Rescue: The heroes must travel into an illusion of the Spirit World (which is also a gateway to the past) to try and rescue Kuchiha.
- Our Souls Are Different: Amongst other things... butterflies?
- Parental Abandonment: Toki's parents didn't want him. Kuchiha is an orphan, as was Ginshu, and Tsuyukusa lost his only parental figure when he was young.
- Parental Substitute: Suoh and Chitose, who took care of Toki after he was sent away from home.
- Posthumous Character: Suoh, who died under mysterious circumstances sometime before the start of the story. There's also Byakuroku, although technically his soul lived on in Ginshu. Until Ginshu dies that is...
- Powers That Be: The god Teiten, and to a certain extent the other members of Heaven's Seat.
- Pronoun Trouble: It's tough talking about the genderless Ginshu in English.
- Purely Aesthetic Glasses: Kon, and Toki in the colour spreads.
- Rage Against the Heavens: Bonten wants to overthrow Teiten and put Toki in his place to stop the world being destroyed.
- Samaritan Syndrome: Toki is becoming prone to this. And it's already gotten him in trouble...
- Scenery Porn
- Screw Destiny: The entire plot is driven by people trying to use Toki's power in order to change the fate that has been assigned to them.
- Sexy Backless Outfit: Bonten regularly wears one. Kon joins in on the second volume cover (see above picture).
- Shotacon: Both Sasaki and Kurotobi seem to have a thing for young Toki, Kurotobi being in the habit of calling Toki cute and at one point apologizing for staring. Sasaki, on the other hand, just seems to enjoy being creepy.
- Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness: Amazingly so far the manga has managed to stay firmly in the middle, never having too much of one without the other to balance it out. The anime however was planted firmly on the Serious side of things.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Bonten's group have appeared on almost every cover since volume 7, meaning aside from Toki few other characters show up.
- Sprouting Ears: Particularly Kuchiha and Susutake.
- Super-Deformed: Happens all the time in the manga, when characters tend to go chibi for absolutely no reason, other than comic relief.
- Teen Genius: Midori Sensai. Also, according to later chapters, Kon.
- Theme Naming
- Colorful Theme Naming: Very nearly all the characters are named after traditional Japanese colours used in fabric dyeing and artwork.
- Floral Theme Naming: As can be expected, several characters are named after flowers, like Ayame (iris), Kanzou (orange lily) and Tsuyukusa (dayflower). The chapters are also frequently given floral titles.
- Animal Theme Naming: Many character names also have a double meaning as birds, such as Toki (ibis), Kurotobi (black kite) and Suzume (sparrow).
- The Rival: Toki to Kanzou and Kanzou to Toki. Played for Laughs more often than not.
- Trapped in Another World
- Three Amigos: Toki, Kon and Kuchiha had this dynamic down to a T. Also Bonten, Utsubushi and Tsuyukusa since they're not quite a Terrible Trio.
- True Companions: Toki, Kuchiha, and Kon... and later, Toki, Tsuyukusa, and Bonten. Kinda.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Momiji and possibly Kanzou.
- Wild Card: A lot of the characters work for this, but possibly Toki as the best example.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Subverted because although Kon has no qualms assisting in the smackdown of Tsuruume, he doesn't actually hit her at any point, and Toki scolds him for fighting with girls.
- Year Inside, Hour Outside: When Toki is transported to Amatsuki, Kon has apparently been there two years already, despite Toki having seen him in the present time just minutes beforehand.
- Youkai: Called 'ayakashi' in this case.
- 90% of Your Brain: The "ten percent" myth is used in Chapter 48 by a crazy doctor trying to push the limits of the human body. It remains to be seen if Lily develops any special abilities related to this, or if the other unusable 90% has any part to play in the two-worlds plot.