The final volume of Ceres had the right amount of drama, action, and romance to wrap up this grand and blood soaked manga. This post may be littered with spoilers so please read at your own risk.
There appears to be a number of recurring themes going on in this manga. Among the themes most prevalent are power corrupts, revenge, death, sacrifice, love, and forgiveness. To be honest, these themes are the same ones you find in Watase’s other series, Fushigi Yugi. I do find Ceres to be a much darker series than Fushigi Yugi, as I have mentioned before in previous posts about this series.
Dark vs. light. Revenge vs. forgiveness. Power vs. love. All of these themes have two sides, are in conflict with each other, and are yin and yang in their own ways. These contrasts are embodied by the characters in some shape or form.
Every story will have its own form of light vs. dark. Plots are infinitely better when we have a fight between good and evil. We want the hero/heroine to prevail and the bad guys to get what is coming to them. In Ceres, the good is Aya/Ceres vs. Mikage/Kagami/C-Project. Aya wants to help Ceres get her hagoromo back while Mikage/Kagami/C-Project will do everything in their power to take the hagoromo as their own. This also gives us the constant power struggle we see between these groups. Whoever has the hagoromo would presumably wield the most power.
There is also a power struggle for full control over one’s body. If my memory serves me right, Ceres wants to take over Aya’s body so she can exact revenge on the Mikages and to take back her hagoromo, but eventually lets Aya keep control of her body. Aya only lets Ceres out when she sees fit. The rest of the series, Ceres does not force her control over Aya’s body. She waits for permission to gain full control. The opposite side of this dynamic is Mikage (The Progenitor) and Aki. As an aggressive being, Mikage asserts full domination over Aki’s body as soon as he awakens inside of him. Aki being too weak to fight him off, Mikage is able to take Aki’s body as his own temporarily. The only time Aki is able to finally fight Mikage off is toward the very end of the manga, which brings us to the next themes we see in Ceres, sacrifice and love.
When Mikage’s true form finally manifests itself toward the end of the manga, he has taken the lab created hagoromo done by the C-Project and is able to get a replica of the powers Ceres naturally possesses. I say replica because the hagoromo Mikage gets his hands on is not the true hagoromo. Toya is in fact the keeper and holder of the real hagoromo. It also pretty much keeps him alive. I won’t get into the inner complexities of the how and why. If you want to know how Toya has the hagoromo and why it keeps him alive, you’ll have to read the entire manga yourself. Or watch the anime. Anyway, Mikage gets out of control and out of hand. To finally put an end to Mikage’s reign of terror, Aki, who is still very much a part of Mikage’s body, is able to appear and grab a hold of Mikage to let Ceres land the killing blow on him. Of course if Ceres kills Mikage, then that means Aki dies too. This realization is painful for Aya, but Aki is okay with this. He loves his sister and is willing to sacrifice himself in order for her to live, have her child, and be happy with Toya. Speaking of Toya, he also makes a sacrifice for love.
When Aya is near death after being stabbed by a crazed Progenitor, Toya makes the decision right then and there to give the hagoromo back to Aya/Ceres. He gives up the only life force keeping him alive to ensure that his beloved and their child will live. This along with Aki’s sacrifice are both beautifully portrayed in the manga. Love proves to be the most powerful thing in the world. It lights the way even in the darkest of nights. There is a lot of darkness, death, and destruction in this manga, but love ultimately pushes its way through no matter how much it gets stifled along the way.
Revenge is another theme we see in the manga through Ceres and the Progenitor. Both feel betrayed by the ones they love, and they both want to do everything they can to hurt or destroy the other. Their revenge brings about death and destruction in their wake, and affects those who have no involvement in their personal history. As a reader, we see what revenge can do. It doesn’t bring satisfaction, only more pain. Revenge leaves one feeling empty. Ceres eventually drops her desire for revenge after witnessing how Aya tries to forgive those who have hurt her. The same goes for Toya. Ceres also watches how Aya and Toya love each other. Their love makes them stronger, and by not taking the road to revenge, Aya and Toya win against the evil with love. I also think that the scene between Ceres and Mikage, after he is killed and it shows them in some kind of limbo moment, Mikage is healed of his crazed obsession for power and to control Ceres. Mikage admits to Ceres that he has always loved her to the point that he was scared she would someday leave him. His fear of losing her combined with the bit of power Ceres gives him all those centuries ago, ended up warping his love into something darker. Mikage wasn’t strong enough to fight the darkness at the time, and I think it’s something he deeply regrets. This moment, in my opinion, gives Ceres and Mikage a chance to forgive and find a way back to each other in death.
There are other examples of the themes I have mentioned in play throughout this entire manga series, and it’s fun to think about how all these characters have grown and developed until the very end. Watase also makes it a point not to make any villain in Ceres come off as “strictly evil” and nothing else. There are gray areas at work with characters like Kagami and even the Progenitor. For a time, these two particular characters think what they are doing is right and don’t see what is absolutely wrong with their ideas and goals. It takes tragedy and pushing things much further than they intended to finally realize the error of their ways. The series ends on a positive note full of hope, redemption, life, and above all else––love.