Nearing the end of reading and collecting the manga for Ceres: Celestial Legend, I realized how much I have come to enjoy getting to know Ceres. Most of the time I find myself eager to learn more about the person sharing Aya Mikage’s body rather than Aya herself. Ceres is the type of woman who is mysterious and complicated. The reader is introduced to a woman who is angry and dangerous enough to destroy anyone who decides to get in her way from taking back what is rightfully hers which is the hagoromo or the celestial robes. But what the reader later learns is there is more to her story than just getting back her robes.
The thing that’s really striking about Ceres is how determined and strong-willed she is. She’s a woman on a mission and a vengeful one at that. She hates the Mikages, and claims that their ancestor had forced her to stay on Earth after he hid her robes from her as the legend states. She not only wants her robes back, but she wants to take revenge on the Mikages for keeping the robes from her for so long and to prevent her reawakening in her present reincarnation. Each Mikage has managed to suppress the awakening of Ceres by killing the daughter who inhabits her. This time, Ceres successfully comes back when Aya manages to escape her family alive.
Ceres can be seen as cold and ruthless. You may even consider her a man-hater the way she carries out bloody executions with her otherworldly powers. She doesn’t trust men and she scrutinizes them with suspicion. The exception to her man-hating attitude is Yuhi. In Yuhi, she detects a man with a pure and genuine heart. Every time Aya transforms into Ceres in the beginning, it takes Yuhi’s kiss to bring back Aya herself. Considering Yuhi has to manage to get close enough to Ceres to be able to do this, she is quite capable of ripping Yuhi apart if he dares lay one finger on her. However, she doesn’t. This is one man who she doesn’t see as a threat to herself or someone who has an ulterior motive up his sleeve like Aya’s cousin Kagami does.
Although Aki is Aya’s twin brother, Ceres doesn’t feel any remorse or hesitation in wanting to kill him. Ceres just sees Aki as a boy who inhabits the man she loathes more than anything, the progenitor Mikage. If it isn’t for Aya’s love for her brother to stop Ceres from killing him, Ceres would have taken her chance long before Mikage had awoken in Aki.
Ceres may seem to know only anger, vengeance, and pure hate but she also knows great pain and anguish. In later volumes, the true story about the hagoromo and how her relationship with Mikage really went is revealed. She admits to Aya that the true purpose of a celestial maiden is to procreate and select the best male to impregnate them. Except things change for Ceres once she finds out what falling in love is like.
Mikage finds Ceres bathing at a nearby river. Being a quiet and gentle type of guy, it’s shown in Ceres’s flashback that Mikage was once a good man. This Mikage is nothing like the Mikage the readers know in the present time––possessive, violent, and depraved. As the flashback of Ceres’s first meeting with Mikage continues, he is shown as trying to hand Ceres her robe without staring at her nude form. After she tells him she has no where to go or stay, Mikage offers a place to stay in his village. Ceres finds herself interested in Mikage because he isn’t as bold or aggressive as the other men in his village. Mikage’s courting of Ceres is slow, patient, and respectful. His gentle and kind nature are what makes Ceres fall for him, makes her want to marry him, and ultimately makes her decide to stay and raise a family with him.
Ceres’s recollection of her time with Mikage is full of love, joy, and peace. It takes an ambush against Ceres and Mikage to alter their relationship forever. While Mikage is brutally beaten by these men, Ceres is able to throw off the men holding her down and scare off the men beating up her husband by using her celestial power. Wounded and his male pride equally beaten, Mikage laments to Ceres how he should have been able to protect her and his family. He feels weak and helpless next to Ceres. Wanting to help her husband who she loves dearly, she decides to give him a little of her power to grant his wish for wanting to be strong enough to protect them. What Ceres thought was a gift ends up being a curse.
Mikage who is filled with Ceres’s power finds himself corrupted and abusive of his new abilities. Giving Mikage some of her power turns out to be a grave mistake, and one Ceres and the villagers pay dearly for. She’s horrified by the monster she has created with her powers. Mikage terrorizes the villagers and becomes insanely possessive of Ceres and goes as far as to kill his own child to see to it that no one comes between him and “his woman.”
It’s in these flashback moments where we see how Ceres ended up being the woman she is in the present day. The reader finds out Ceres has been through a huge ordeal. I truly believe her anger and hatred comes from the fact that she really hates herself for what happens to Mikage and what sets the cycle of reincarnation and the long and bloody battle for the hagoromo to be set into motion. Ceres admits to Aya, after telling her story, that she had hoped the man she fell in love with would come back to her. She is proven wrong and gets set up for disappointment time and again. The final straw and the brutal reality that the Mikage she once knew is gone forever comes when he kills his own child and declares that he would kill all his children if it meant he can have Ceres all to himself. She makes the decision right then and there to kill the monster she has created.
Ceres may be considered a celestial being, but she is one who experiences what it means to be human. She knows what it is to have loved and lost so much. I think her experience with Mikage has made her bitter, angry, and consumed with so much pain. She really doesn’t admit anything is her fault concerning her relationship with Mikage in the beginning until she reveals the truth behind her relationship with him to Aya. It’s in that moment where she can honestly say she is also to blame for what happens to Mikage. Her denial of what happened to him and their once happy marriage has kept her from being honest with herself and seeing herself as equally responsible for the destruction of everything she once held dear. To be harboring the type of emotions she has, it’s easier to place blame on someone else rather than have to admit you are wrong as well.
In a lot of ways, Ceres undergoes a change like Aya does in the manga and anime. Ceres starts off as this bitter and angry woman who will stop at nothing to get her hagoromo and isn’t above killing people to get results, but she slowly sees that her way and views are wrong. She also starts to let go of her anger and her blame against Mikage and their descendents by realizing she is no victim in this either. The only way to truly end the vicious cycle set into motion ages ago is confronting the problem head on.