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Taikoubou is a young Sennin (a class of supernatural beings) charged by his mentor to seal up all of the rogue Sennin causing trouble in the human world, the chief of whom is Dakki, who has brainwashed the current emperor and causing all sorts of grief for the citizens of the Yin Dynasty...

...or so he thinks. The plot thickens when Taikoubou discovers his mentor to have ulterior motives.

Houshin Engi, the Japanese rendering of Fengshen Yanyi (which means The Treatise of The Gods, itself already Very Loosely Based on a True Story) took the same direction as Saiyuki. Whereas Saiyuki revolves around four guys riding a dragon jeep to the west, Houshin Engi revolves around the gods (who are also mostly Bishonen) altering the course of history and helping the Chinese Dynasty transfer from Yin to Zhou in the 11th Century BC.

This series shows examples of:

  • Zero-Percent Approval Rating - Dakki keeps upping the ante with worse and worse atrocities.
  • Affectionate Nickname - Fugen to Taikoubou: "Bou-chan"
  • Anachronism Stew - Includes lightsabers, rocket punch, and Precision-Guided Boomerang, ON FIRE!
  • Animate Inanimate Object - Some of the sennin's original forms.
  • Arc Words - "The Signpost of History". See Xanatos Roulette entry below.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence - Dakki.
  • Asexuality - Taikoubou and, later, Fukki.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed - Bunchuu. Although by that point, it's hard to imagine anything could kill him except himself.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Dakki acts like an innocent and fun-loving young woman in front of the Emperor and her minions.
  • Bittersweet Ending - At least, for Bukichi and Suupuushan.
  • Bloody Murder - Outenkun. Just Outenkun.
  • Boisterous Bruiser - Ki Hatsu.
    • Kou Hiko.
  • Break the Cutie - Tenshou. I mean, his mom and aunt both kill themselves, he watches his dad die by acid rain right in front of him, and his older brother kicks it soon after. It is seriously no wonder the kid developed an abandonment complex.
    • Possibly Ou Eki too, although we never see what specifically broke him.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall - Taiitsu is so camera-savvy he always poses facing the panel. Other characters lampshade this endlessly.
    • And there are dozens of references to the readers and the publisher made by the characters.
    • During his duel with Taikoubou, Raishinshi is aghast to discover the format of the page has changed into a four panel gag manga.
  • Captain Ersatz - Look no further than Fugen Shinjin: doesn't he look like Kaworu to you? Well, maybe with the sweetness and Technical Pacifist tendency cranked up to eleven.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys - All the main characters are dashing young-looking males. Explains all the yaoi doujinshis out there. It doesn't help that the only females are either evil, Clingy Jealous Girl (see below), or otherwise make no impact on the story.
  • Cast Herd - The sennin at Konron, Taikoubou's team, Shuu (which Taikoubou joins), and In, just to name a few.
  • Celibate Hero - Taikoubou and, later, Fukki.
  • The Chessmaster - Taikoubou, much to the surprise of those around him, who usually see him in his default "lazy" mode.
  • Chivalrous Pervert - Chuu Ou, until Dakki got to him. Same with Ki Hatsu. He reforms fast enough to lead his armies, however.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl - Sengyoku, thanks to some Love At First Punch to the mole man Dokouson.
  • Combat Pragmatist - Even his friends have said they're embarrassed to be on his side.
  • Combined Energy Attack - The true purpose of the Houshin project was to collect enough souls to fight the Big Bad.
  • Cooking Duel - Taikoubou arranges one in an attempt to get Ki Shou eating again, but it backfires in his face when the combatants turn it into an all-out brawl.
  • Cool Horse - Variation, Taikoubou rides Suupuushan, which looks more like a flying hippo. Later, after Suupuu's Heroic Sacrifice, he gets temporarily upgraded to a dragon. Even later, Suupuu gets a permanent upgrade that allows him to transform indefinitely.
  • Crapsack World - At least inside the Imperial Capital, where lavish parties are held at the expense of the poor people.
    • Not to mention all of the worlds before the current one are completely destroyed just because they didn't match up to Jyoka's standards.
  • Cross Dresser - At some point, genius Sennin Youzen copies Dakki, which Taikoubou can spot. For the next chapters, he somehow gets obsessed in "perfecting" his techniques.
  • Defeat Means Friendship - Taikoubou attempts this on various people with inconsistent results.
  • Demoted to Extra - Raishinshi. Lampshaded when he shows up at the end of the war demanding to know why no one waited for him to get there; his mentor blankly asks, "Who are you?" (The anime never caught on to this.)
  • Distant Finale - The final epilogue chapter.
  • Deadpan Snarker - Unfortunately, Suupuushan cannot do the Face Palm.
  • Doomed Hometown - Taikoubou became a sennin because members of his clan had been press-ganged into being buried with an emperor; later, almost all of anyone who's even remotely related to him perish to a pit of poisonous snakes under Dakki's orders.
  • Driven to Suicide: Kashi, Koushi and Kyouhi.
  • Dub Name Change - A slightful inversion in the Mexican Spanish dub of the series: Instead of using the "original Japanese" names, the Spanish dub uses the original Chinese names from the original novel the manga and the anime is based from (or translations to English and minstranslations of some ones) of many of the characters. Per example, the main hero Taikobou becomes "Tai Kung" in Spanish (a minstranslation of Jiang Taigong from the original Chinese classic), Nataku becomes "Nazha" (his original name in the classsic) and the villainess Dakki uses her original Chinese name "Daji", plus many others.
  • Dumb Blonde: Despite being more than a thousand years old and ridiculously powerful, Kibi's intellect is equal to a nine year old's. Even her older sister Dakki jokingly remarks that she is stupid.
  • Eccentric Mentor - Genshitenson.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas - Nataku, while he isn't bad per se, is ruthlessly violent, and the only person he cares about is his mother. This gets positively Freudian when it's revealed that he has especially murderous intentions towards his father.
    • Outenkun : counts right?
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor
  • Fingerless Gloves: In the anime, Dakki wears a purple pair.
  • Foe Yay - Dakki attempts to use her body, her charm, and her paopei magic to seduce Taikoubou. It doesn't work.
  • For the Evulz - Dakki looks like this on the outside, but the it turns out she's running her own Xanatos Roulette.
  • For Science! - Unchuushi.
  • Funny Afro - The result of Taikoubou getting hit with Raishinshi's thunder attack. Supushan, more ridiculously, had Funny Princess Curls instead. It was ridiculous enough that Raishinshi stopped the battle so that the two could fix their hair.
  • Gambit Pileup - First, the Yin dynasty must be overthrown by Zhou dynasty. Before that, the sennins must engage on a slugfest to severely reduce their number, and hence do not alert Jyoka. Then, the remaining Sennin goes on a hunt for Jyoka. What for? Jyoka, with the help of Dakki herself, is reshaping the world over and over again for her own convenience while Dakki herself, after learning from Jyoka's former crewmates that fused themselves with Earth, wanted Jyoka's powers so that she can become Mother Earth herself.
  • Giant Waist Ribbon: Kashi, especially in the anime.
  • Gonk - The Unshou Three Sisters.
  • Grand Theft Me - Dakki pulls one on one of Jyoka's spare bodies.
  • The Grays - Fukki and Jyoka.
  • Gotta Catch Them All - The Houshin Project.
  • Heavy Sleeper - Taijyouroukun (Roushi), who is so lazy he gets his paopei to breathe for him. He basically sleeps for years at a time.
  • Heroic BSOD - Taikoubou gets one early in the series when Dakki destroys his clan in retribution for hurting her sister. He gets over it.
    • He gets this again when Chou Koumei kills Suupuushan, and in fact, blue screens so hard the rest of the cast thinks he's dead as well and Chou Koumei declares victory and runs the end credits.
  • Heroic Sacrifice - Taikoubou was falling apart (literally) from the effort to fight the last Big Bad and would have died if not for some timely intervention.
  • He's Just Hiding - In-Universe, Taikoubou in the epilogue chapter. In fact, most of it consists of showing him playing hide-and-seek with everyone else who's looking for him. He's such a tease.
    • He did this before, when his entire army and most of his friends were buried alive by Chou Kei, but he only intervenes after getting called out on it.
  • How Dare You Die on Me! - Tenshou to Nataku.
  • Hey, It's That Voice! - Akira Ishida as Shinkouhyou.
  • Human Alien - Taikoubou who is later known as Fukki.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Most of the sennin wear them. Dakki's clothes take the cake, though - several of them are actually paopei.
  • Improbable Weapon User - Given that the paopei are magical items, you end up with people fighting with shoulder throws and genie-style lamps, among other things.
    • This is true in the original Fengshen Yanyi as well. One of the most improbable attacks makes a flaming pagoda appear and drop on an opponent's head, but there are so many other examples that it almost seems like it's normal weapons that should be considered unusual.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain - For being a sister of Dakki, Ou Kijin has the unflattering distinction of being defeated by Taikoubou first, and after resurrected, she gets blown apart again, this time by Nataku. She recovers in the end, though somewhat pissed off.
  • Karma Houdini - Great Mother Dakki, enough said.
  • King of All Cosmos - Just about all of the sennin are Bunny Ears Lawyers
  • Konami Code - Called out as instructions to perform a complex aerial maneuver (at which point Suupuushan simply throws his head in despair). Later, after Suupuushan gets an upgrade, he is able to perform the maneuver flawlessly.
  • La Résistance - The Duke of the West (i.e. Shuu), his sons, and an ever increasing roster of Sennin and disgruntled former In citizens.
  • Laser Blade
  • Last of His Kind - Fukki and Jyoka.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters - The Houshin list alone is 365 names long. The main character list is even moreso improbably long that this troper who did the wiki magic had to look up most of them.
  • Mad Scientist - Lots, including Taiitsu "please call me 'Science Otaku' instead" Shinjin, to Raishinshi's "father" Unchuushi, and that Sennin that develops biological weapon, in middle-ages China!
  • Man Behind the Man - Dakki, the woman behind Chuu Ou. Jyoka is later revealed to be the alien behind Dakki.
    • Much more noticeable in the case of the Houshin Project, whose executors and masterminds seem to change with every revelation. Played for all it's worth in the end when it's revealed that the man at the top of the long chain of command manipulating Taikoubou is... Taikoubou, or rather Fukki, Taikoubou's true self.
  • Memory Gambit - Fukki plans the whole Houshin project, hands it over to Genshitenson, splits himself into Taikoubou and Outenkun, while simultaneously sealing his memories. Genshitenson then commands Taikoubou to begin the Houshin Project.. Which kicks off the manga.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard - Don't tell me you didn't tear up a little when Gyokutei Shinjin dies.
  • Non-Action Guy - Taikoubou is borderline useless at direct combat, until he gets his upgrade.
  • Muggle Foster Parents - Youzen's a youkai.
  • No Sense of Humor: In the manga, Jyoka has absolutely no sense of humor.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity - Taikoubou.
  • Oedipus Rex - Nataku, definitely. His main soft spot is his mommy, and he hates his father to the point where he makes it his life's mission to kill him.
  • Poisoned Weapons - Kijin uses mostly this as her primary weapon.
  • Quirky but Competent - Most obviously Taikoubou, but everybody else is this to some degree.
  • Rapunzel Hair - Plenty of characters, especially the males.
  • Really Seven Hundred Years Old - Most of the sennin in general; specifically, Taikoubou, and even moreso, Fukki.
  • Say It with Hearts - Dakki. Her sister says it with stars.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can - Jyoka.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: A Complete Monster takes over the world in a massive Karma Houdini. The end.
  • Shock and Awe - Taikoubou's first on the list is The Trickster Shinkouhyou. Fitting his trickster type, Shinkouhyou's Raikouben is styled as an ice cream with long ribbons. Taikoubou learned the hard way not to challenge someone that can wield a super paopei.
  • Shout-Out - One of the sennins training in Konron Island is shown using an A.T. Field. Fujisaki Ryu has said himself to be a fan of Evangelion.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal - Taikoubou, as Fukki, replies to Jyoka's Motive Rant with a flat: "No, you're wrong idiot, die."
  • Sibling Team - The three sisters.
  • Sidekick Ex Machina - Youzen. He's not shy about it.
  • Spell My Name with an "S" - In general, the official translation transliterates names as shortly as possible. For example, Taikobo instead of Taikoubou, or paope instead of paopei. For that matter, Hoshin Engi instead of Houshin Engi. Doubled consonants are the only exception; Dakki is the same in all regions.
  • Split Personality Merge
  • The Stoic - Shuukoutan, so stoic he barely expresses anything except mild annoyance/amusement at Taikoubou's and his brother's hijinks.
  • Talking Weapon - Hitou.
  • The Three Faces of Eve - Dakki as the seductress, Kibi as the woman-child, Kijin as the sensible one.
  • Tell Me About My Father - Youzen's real father is actually Tsuutenkyoushu.
  • Throw It In - At least one character was "imported" from an unrelated video game that the mangaka was working on because he liked the design so much.
  • Tomato in the Mirror - Taikoubou and Rival Ou Eki are revealed to be two halves of Fukki.
  • Took a Level In Badass - Chou Kei, the generally competent paperwork-wise right hand man to Bunchuu, in the later stages of the manga, saw fit to wield Bunchuu's Kinben, after he died. Of course, he needs a lot of finesse wielding it, but he still comes as really helpful.
  • Tournament Arc - The party faces off Dakki's selected fighter in Jyoka's artificial planet.
  • Tyke Bomb - Nataku, the living Paopei.
  • Unwanted Revival - Taikoubou (now known as Fukki) at the end, who is an example of "not wanting to be found by the people looking for him." The reason? He just likes to mess with them.
  • Was Once a Man - Bagen.
  • Xanatos Roulette - The entire Project Houshin which involves subtly altering the history so that the Big Bad Jyoka, who had been shaping and reshaping the earth every time history does not suit her liking, does not notice, while at the same time collecting enough souls to aid the main protagonist into battle. To this end, Taikoubou must ensure that The Zhou dynasty must rise to challenge Yin, and that capturing Dakki is never to be attempted, and the move must be regarded as human progress as opposed to sennin interference.
    • Incidentally, the plan itself starts with Genshitenson manipulating Taikoubou into executing a soul hunt, which later turns out to be a more complex, secret plan to create a separate world to store the rebel souls to be hunted, which later turns out to actually be a large scale prediction of causalities in the upcoming war which is to an extent triggered by Taikoubou's actions, a prediction which is secretly meant to be the gathering of souls to execute a Combined Energy Attack. Taikoubou's nemesis, Outenkun, is revealed to actually seem to be cooperating in a roundabout manner suggesting they may be being manipulated by Genshitenson all along, only to find out he was just following instructions from the real mastermind, who ends up being? Taikoubou and Outenkun's merged self. And this is just THEIR plan.
  • What Could Have Been - An Omake chapter showed a version of Houshin Engi with completely different designs and characterizations--Taikoubou as a female Cloudcuckoolander whose inept bumbling end up causing the atrocities attributed to Dakki, for example.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome? - The aforementioned Cooking Duel involves bringing out woks larger than the competitors and absurdly large fires, with massive amounts of noodles being tossed... only for both sides to prepare cold dishes, causing Taikoubou to point out that the cooking was just for showing off and was completely useless.
  • Whip It Good - Bunchuu, which has the Paopei Kinben, an Infinity Plus One Whip, which is one of the strongest paopeis in the entire earth.
  • Weapons Kitchen Sink - The Paopei.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy - Taikoubou flits between this and Dangerously Genre Savvy: he finds out, painfully, why it's not a good idea to challenge the Big Bad head-on without some serious Level Grinding, and he keeps trying to invoke Defeat Means Friendship on opponents that would otherwise happily slaughter him, but he plays Xanatos Speed Chess with the best of them, and some of his plots lean very, very heavily on the fact that he's in a Shonen series.