Right now I’m in the process of collecting and reading the last few volumes of Ayashi no Ceres or Ceres: Celestial Legend. I finished reading Volume 9 of the manga entitled Progenitor. If you aren’t familiar with Ceres, read the Wikipedia page here to find out more. As you get further into the series, it gets difficult to stomach a lot of the stuff that goes on in this manga series. Fushigi Yugi also had its own uncomfortable scenes to read too, but I feel that FY hasn’t made me squirm half as much as Ceres has.
Like Sailor Moon, I watched the anime of Ceres first before getting my hands on the manga volumes. It has been too long since I’ve seen the anime and I’m dying to rewatch it again once I finish reading the series. Volume 9 is a disturbing novel to get through and Volume 10 is already promising more unpleasantness to put it mildly.
Since Aki’s body has been taken over fully by his ancestor Mikage, Aki as Mikage proves just how despicable, violent, and creepy he can get. Mikage is obsessed with getting “his woman back” since the spirit of Ceres also resides in Aya. The difference between the twin siblings in this case is Ceres allows Aya control over her body and lets out Ceres when she sees fit. Mikage, on the other hand, manages to keep Aki from ever taking back control over his own body which makes Mikage free to do whatever he likes in his new form. To have the spirits of their ancestors who were also once lovers possessing twins who are brother and sister is hard to get past. The teetering over the edge incestuous relationship in this story is always in your face and even more so in Volume 9.
Aya steps up her search for the hagoromo, or celestial robes that Ceres is looking for. Her search brings them to a place called Tango in Japan. Aya and Yuhi have to transfer to yet another school to allow them to stick around town until they can find more leads about the hagoromo. Of course the search isn’t simple. The search for Ceres’s celestial robes is put on hold when a threat in the form of Aki also becomes a transfer student at the same school Aya and Yuhi are attending in Tango.
Aya has every reason to not trust Aki while Mikage is in control. Ceres is also concerned about Aki being in the same room as Aya, but Aya says she will stay on her guard. This obviously doesn’t last too long. Aki appeals to Aya about meeting him in the library and acts as Aki usually used to act when things were normal between the two of them. Back when there was no progenitor or hagoromo to be concerned about.
Aya, still hoping for the real Aki to still be in there somewhere, falls for the act and Mikage lands Aya right where he wants her. Aya realizes the deception too late and makes an attempt to get away from Aki in a secluded part of the school library. His grip on Aya proves to be too strong for her and he goes as far as to grope Aya shamelessly in the library. Ceres pleads with Aya to let her out, but Aya doesn’t want to risk Ceres turning the entire high school into a battleground. There is also an agreement Ceres made to Aya about not hurting her brother at all costs no matter how evil of a monster residing in Aki’s body is.
The panels in these scenes where Mikage in Aki’s body is touching Aya’s breasts and inching closer to her private area is squirm inducing. Yes, it may be Mikage doing these terrible things to Aya, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that at surface value Aya’s own brother is lusting after his own sister. It’s images like these in the volume that makes the incestuous nature of Ceres force the reader to confront the troubling nature Aya’s and Aki’s relationship has become. Gone are those days when they are able to just look at each other as simple brother and sister. Mikage changes the dynamic between them and their relationship isn’t the same again. Mikage doesn’t care about Aya’s and Aki’s relationship as brother and sister. In fact, he completely destroys that boundary by going after Aya and making it clear that he will get what he wants, and it’s to dominate her body and soul. He knows Ceres is inside Aya’s body and he wants to repossess her again. To show her who is the man in this relationship again.
Watase does a good job of evoking these feelings of disgust, horror, and shame in this part of Volume 9 with the incident at the library. She doesn’t hold back when it comes to putting her characters through hell and back. It goes to show that Watase wants to create characters like Aya who despite all the crap that is thrown at her, she will rise better and stronger than who she was before.
I love the cover art for Volume 10 of Ceres. You have a picture of Aya with her eyes blindfolded and red strings bound her arms. Aki is standing behind Aya with this psychotic looking smile on his face, his head resting on top of Aya’s. The cover art is significant. Mikage is the puppeteer pulling the strings that bind Aya to him. She is forced to do what he says in order to protect the people she loves and cares about from getting hurt by him. In Volume 9, Aya is forced to make Yuhi believe that he is annoying and a burden to her. She tells him to beat it, but not without making him feel small and inadequate as she is doing it. It pains Aya to tell him all these hurtful things, but she already knows what Mikage is capable of if his patience is tested.
Mikage is no Nakago, but he is also a pretty chilling villain in Watase’s library of villains. Nakago uses manipulation to get devastating results while Mikage uses force and violence to get what he wants. I still think Nakago is a much craftier and tactful villain while Mikage is more obvious and flashy about how he obtains what he wants. At the very least, Mikage has managed to leave me shuddering at the end of Volume 9. Volume 10 has more Mikage being a horrendous fiend, and reading the entire Volume 10 will not be a cakewalk to get through after finishing 9.