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It is a.d. 972. With the capital Kyoto falling into a mire of corruption and sleaze, and both samurai and priests only looking after their own interests, the imperial court sends champion archer samurai Minamoto no Raiko on a mission to find the Magatama, a legendary gem (see Blue Seed) reputed to contain the power to bring peace. When he succumbs to disease, his 17-year-old sister Hikaru has to step in to save the family honor and the capital, much as other girls took on men's roles in Kai Doh Maru and Yotoden.

The story and characters of the first half of the series are loosely based on actual events-Minamoto really was a famous hero of old Kyoto, who slew the demon Shutendoji. His four real-life retainers, known as the Shitenno or Four Kings after the heavenly guardians of Buddhist mythology, all turn up in the anime to help Hikaru on her quest, and Abe no Seimei, one of Hikaru's advisers, really was a renowned priest and scholar and appears in numerous other anime and manga, as well as the Onmyoji movie series (seeDE, as The Yin-Yang Master).

The link to reality gets stronger from episode 14 when the action moves to present-day Tokyo for a series of stand-alone episodes, linked to local history and mythology in the style of Doomed Megalopolis. In a bizarre mythic retelling of the boardinghouse stories of Maison Ikkoku, Hikaru is recast as a teenage landlady, while many other cast members are reincarnated as some of her strange tenants, most notably Tsuna, a writer on occult subjects. Many anime feature modern incarnations of ancient warriors, but none spend several hours beforehand explaining who was who. Consequently OZ has the ancient resonances of Suikoden, Karas, or Ikki Tousen, but much less of the confusion of those shows. We have already grown to love these characters in the opening half, making our emotional investment in them considerably stronger. If it is remembered for nothing else, OZ will go down in history as a story with a truly unexpected change in direction (compare to Fullmetal Alchemist), which puts the rehashes and more-of-the-sames of lesser shows to shame. In uniting ancient and modern so firmly and inextricably, it also plays into the urban mythologies made more famous by Spirited Away and Pompoko.

OZ is based on a real story scroll, a 17th-century collection of myths and folktales, some of which predate their written versions by several hundred years. The Comic Blade manga spin-off series is not the first modern version; novelist Osamu Dazai rewrote some of the stories for his 1945 compilation released in English as Crackling Mountain and Other Stories.

Series Credits
Person Name Episode Count
Midori Goto

To edit the cast, go to an episode page.

Original US Poster Art

General Information Edit
Name Otogi Zoshi
Name: お伽草子
Romaji: Otogizoushi
Publisher Production I.G, Inc
Start Year 2004
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Aliases Story Scroll Otogi Zoshi-Legend of Magatama
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