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Kurohime (魔砲使い黒姫 Mahōtsukai Kurohime?, literally meaning "Magic User Kurohime") is a manga series authored by Masanori Ookamigumi Katakura (片倉・狼組・政憲 Katakura Ōkamigumi Masanori?). The manga began its run in 2002, and had been serialized in Monthly Shōnen Jump. It will be one of the pilot manga in the new monthly shōnen book's website, Jump Square.[1] An English-language version of the manga is published by Viz Media.[2]. However, only volumes 1-14 were translated with the 15th cancelled and no plans to continue the series have been announced.

Summary of Released Chapters

Part 1

A young boy, Zero, is saved by a mysterious gunslinger who uses magical bullets. Later revealed to be Kurohime, she is the greatest magician in the world; however, she disappears shortly after saving him. Having fallen in love with her, he trains to become a gunslinger and ten years later, his search comes to an end, and both of them team up as fugitives running away from an angry warlord wanting to take his revenge on Kurohime for what she did to him 10 years ago. He finds that she has now been cursed by the gods, and now walks the Earth as a child by the name of Himeko. Her magic powers were greatly hindered as a consequence. The only way to revert the curse is for Kurohime to fall in love with somebody, a task that Kurohime is incapable of doing. However, experiencing crushes or infatuation causes the spell to be broken momentarily, allowing for the couple to get out of bad situations.

Later in the manga, Kurohime realizes at last that she is in love with Zero. With Kurohime now being able to love, the curse is finally broken, but the gods sent the God of Death together with the goddess of benevolence, Shirohime, to defeat and kill Kurohime because of her crime of having killed a minor god. At the God of Death's command, Shirohime seals Kurohime back into her child form again, using a spell that can never be broken, and the God of Death starts trying to kill Kurohime and Zero. During this battle, Kurohime's past is revealed through a flashback. It is revealed that Kurohime is only half of herself as she was split into 2 when she challenged the gods years ago. This is because the world was split apart with warring, as everyone was trying to prove themselves worthy of the promise of divinity given to the strongest human in the world. 10 years ago, Kurohime decided to end all the wars by pretending to be interested in becoming a god, but her real intent was to be able to ascend into heaven and start killing the gods instead.

Because Kurohime operates on a mentality of "ends justify the means," she was willing to sacrifice as many lives in order to end the war, such that the rest of the world and humanity might have absolute peace. Therefore, when the gods were deciding what to do with her, they decided to cut her into half and cleave her into "love" and "hate" which became Shirohime and Kurohime respectively. Shirohime then became a goddess, and in order to protect her other half (or, as this half would have tremendous power but only negative emotions such as hate, to protect the rest of the world from her,) she sealed her with the curse that could only be broken with love, and sent her down to earth in her child form. During the climatic battle between the God of Death and Kurohime, Shirohime realizes that she has lost sight of the point of her existence, which only Kurohime can now fulfil, so she willing sacrifices herself to save Zero and Kurohime. With the death of her goddess counterpart, Kurohime regains her full power and defeats the God of Death. However, the latter had summoned the 'River of the Dead' in a last-ditch effort to defeat Kurohime. Anyone living being caught in the river will be dissolved. The only way across is to use the "Boatman of the River"'s boat, but it can only carry one person.

Part 2

Zero sacrifices his life to push the boat, with the unconscious Kurohime inside, across the river. Witnessing Zero's death causes Kurohime to develop a trauma which seals her power, turning her back into Himeko, but this time with the appearance of an early to mid teen. However, she is capable of reverting back to her adult form and power, but every time she does, she loses some of her memories of Zero.

In a cruel twist, Yasha-hime later resurrects Zero as the new God of Death, to try and kill Kurohime. Having been stripped of his free will, Zero battles Kurohime, who cannot bring herself to fight the man she loves. As a consequence, Kurohime loses most of her memories of Zero. The released memories free Zero's mind, right before he completely becomes the new God of Death. However, Zero now possesses a significant amount of darkness in his heart. It is revealed that this is his "true self."

Part 3

To understand his darkness and past, Kurohime travels 10 years into the past, before the war against the gods, and begins to witness what happened to Zero and his little brother Rei. They, along with many others, are part of a gang of hired fighters known as the Wolf Brigade, led by the greedy Doc, who is later revealed to have killed their mother. Himeko, forced to keep her true identity as Kurohime secret, accompanies them as they aid the Onimaru Gang and the military in an assault on a magical Lion Castle, controlled by Marion, a member of a group of death-worshiping witches known as the Materen. After an attack, Zero, along with all of the injured in the Wolf Brigade, are left as sacrificial lambs while Doc, Rei, and fellow Brigade member and close companion Raida, join other forces in a flank attack. Himeko, Zero and the others get swallowed by the castle. Zero and his comrades get possessed by Swords of Vengeance, cursed weapons that drain life, while Himeko faces the Kurohime Punishment Squad, who are allied with Marion. Himeko's greater experience with magic turns the tides of the first battle, in which Barahime is killed, freeing Yuka.

They make their way to the center of the castle, which holds a magic reactor driven by the power of hundreds of dead witches. Marion reveals her intention to use Saika to make a pseudo-Shinigami. While this is going on, Sword seizes the chance to kill Himeko, unleashing her vampiric-werewolf form. Able to tear through even metal, Sword's sheer speed, power, and ferocity put Himeko in a corner. Himeko turns herself into Dark Rei to stop Sword, then gets the spiteful Punishment Squad to give her the magic power to resume her true form, where she uses Byakko's power to demolish the reactor, but Saika's transformation is complete. Killing Marion, the raging shinigami beast attacks the weakened protagonists. With no strength to fight a battle of force, Himeko uses Aika's memories and voice to enter the shinigami, and manages to root out Saika's soul from the other amalgamated ghouls in the beast. With the beast destroyed, the exhausted Punishment Squad members leave, and Raida, Doc, Yuka, Himeko, Zero, and Rei head off, but unbeknownst to anyone, a fragment of the fake shinigami attacked and fused into Rei.

When Doc steals a large sum of money from the military, the group gets sent to a cruel prison where the prisoners are slaughtered. While Himeko engineers an escape, things go from bad to worse when the vengeful souls of deceased prisoners haunting the prison respond to the shinigami held within Rei. Hordes of undead swarm the prison, including a dual wielding skeleton gunslinger who seems to have her sights set on Rei. As chaos ensues, it is revealed, through Rei's memories, that Rei saw Doc kill his and Zero's mother, and his attachment to Doc is not out of affection, but a thirst for vengeance, which the shinigami both fuels and feeds upon. Himeko is reluctant to let Doc live in light of his crimes, but knowing the Shinigami in Rei will awaken if Rei sates his desire for revenge, Himeko saves Doc, stating she will protect Rei's heart, and if she cannot forgive Doc, Rei won't either. The gunslinger asks Himeko to revive her, knowing what will happen to her soul afterward, and Himeko does so. The skeleton gunslinger is revealed to be Zero and Rei's mother. She comforts the boys, stopping the shinigami and Rei's vengeance, though only momentarily.

Afterward, they go to a fortunetelling town to meet a young witch fortuneteller who is used by her mother the same way Rei and Zero were used by Doc. This prompts Rei to attempt to kill her and free the girl. After some mishaps, thanks in no small part to Doc, yet again, the girl's mother changes her ways. The girl predicts, as the group leaves, that Himeko will have to ultimately choose between the lives of Zero and Rei, despite having already bonded with both.

Part 4

Then the manga switches to Oka's point of view for a while of when she was a little girl. Now back from the future, Oka tries to kill Kurohime before Kurohime can kill her father, but instead kills him herself. After the fight Kurohime transforms Oka into a robe for her to wear and shoots Sword with a magic bullet that makes her think she really is a wolf. Thus begins Kurohime's saga. She arrives at a town in the sea that has a goddess living there and makes her way over to slaughter them all, but instead the goddess does it herself. Miraculously Kurohime survives and then reveals the secrets to her power. For her to get power she must absorb wraiths (spirits of the dead with much hate in them), at which time her magic is weakened, and Oka and Sword are released from her magic. At which time, the goddess Venus (the one living in the town) attacks and Kurohime, Oka and Sword all fuse together so that they can have enough power to kill the goddess. In one kick they kill the goddess and split back into their normal bodies once more.

Back to Himeko, when Doc betrayed the group in order to allow the Shinigami within Rei to awaken, and Zero was killed, Himeko was heavily devastated. When she persuaded Rei that his mother and brother died for him, and that Zero did not beg for help, but was instead telling Rei a safe way out, Rei was so distraught that he committed suicide. Zero's spirit then came, and stating that Rei is still alive due to the Shinigami fragment preventing his body from dying. At Zero's request, Himeko resurrected him to revive Rei. Zero's soul was then torn to pieces by the Death Angel Squad, but Rei was revived, with his hair turning to blue with a black forelock. When Kandata, the boatman of the River Styx, pulled Himeko back out of the past, as she had fulfilled her role, he allowed her to continue to watch on the sidelines, in which revealed that the Zero that she fell in love with in fact Rei, taking Zero's name as a tribute to his late brother. Kandata also revealed that he is Doc, who was killed by Raida after Rei left, but due to Rei sparing Doc's life back then, the Wolf Fang leader was so obsessed with finding why Rei did so that he was unable to settle down in hell, instead becoming the ferryman. Himeko then swore that she would save Rei in the present from the darkness, as she failed so in the past, and that her love for Zero (Rei) has further strengthened due to understanding his past.

Himeko and the Kurohime Punishment Squad, who had followed her into the past, eventually get out. When they do, though, they discover that the world has been turned into hell, and Ashura has gone mad. Kurohime was then challenged by Yashahime. Kairyu then revealed himself to be Seiryu, the Spirit King of the Wind, and infused himself in Kurohime's blade, and revealed that Asura is the replacement sacrifice for Yamatohime. Unable to bring herself to kill Asura, Kurohime was left open for Yashahime, and was killed.

Asura, regaining her sanity after her mother came to apologize for turning her into a sacrifice and dying in repentance, learned of what happened. She then begged Seiryu to use his powers to turn back time to give Kurohime one more chance. Through Oka, she shot Asura with Seiryu's powers through the Yamato Senryu to send her back just before Kurohime died, and Asura then took the strike that was meant to miss her from Kurohime, thus infusing herself into the blade, and Kurohime was able to complete the Ultimate Sword, and killing Yashahime. Meanwhile, the refugees from Big Edo city and the Punishment Squad reach Mount Fuji, finding that Yamatohime has been near completely consumed by the gods, reveritng into an infantile state. Dark Zero then appears, fighting and easily defeating the Punishment Squad. However, Kurohime arrives and attacked Zero. The fight was interrupted by a revived Yashahime. Unfortunately, Yashahime revealed her ability to create a new body from the Earth itself any time she wished, thus allowing her to survive almost any destruction while earth is nearby. Zero then reveals that High Gods are born from consuming the energy of planets, and that the Gods created humans to weaken the Spirit Kings of Earth through pollution and other destructive acts, including inciting the war ten years ago, so that the gods could consume the planet's energies whole.

However, Dark Zero suddenly surprises Yashahime by saying that he was never on her side. After the two women try and decide whom Dark Zero is fated to be with, Kurohime notices that Marco has a scarf identical to Dark Zero's. When she asks him if she was the one fated to be with him, Yashahime attempts to crush her. When she lifts her fist up, however, Kurohime is gone. She is then seen in the past, reuniting with the child Rei. She barely have enough time to give him the scarf before returning to the present time to face off with Dark Zero and Yashahime.

Magic

Magic in this world is different from most depiction of magic in popular culture. It is manipulated by gifted humans who are attuned to magic, called witches (whether they be men or women). It is also a naturally occurring phenomenon that governs living things as well as the dead. Depending on those manipulating these powers, one can achieve feats of great power, rivaling a god's power. One can perform miracles or summon great creatures and manipulate the shape, form and wellbeing of others through magic. It seems all witches are also gunslingers and how effective their magic powers are depends on their ability to create powerful "magical" bullets. A witch must channel her powers into the bullet through a casting duration that imbues her bullets with various magical powers, each having different function, such as summoning powerful beasts to aid in the caster's combat, to heal wounds, manipulate one's shape, and even to bring the dead back to life. The strength of these bullets depends on the ritual as well as the ability of the caster himself/herself. Other magical elements include land deities, such as a mountain god, or the god of death. Other supernatural being exist, such as Shinigami Angels, or Reaper Angels, and demons, who possess astounding magical and destructive powers. Most of these supernatural beings look down on humans as nothing more than pawns in their games, and see none to little value in the lives of those who cross their paths. Also, resurrection is saved for the gods alone, and any human who tried that (unless assisted by the spirits) would face divine punishment, as well as the resurrected soul torn to pieces.

Protagonists

Kurohime

Kurohime (黒姫 Kurohime?) is the most powerful witch-gunslinger in the world; capable of amazing feats such as the ability to summon and control a wide variety of dragons. Ten years prior to the manga's beginning, Kurohime brought an end to a massive war fought to own and rebuild the Tower of the Gods, which once completed would allow the builder to become a god themselves. Willing to take the hatred and sorrow of the world unto herself, Kurohime forcefully subjugated those who fought over the tower into her own army, killing any who resisted and cause deaths and massacres around the world to absorb their hatred-filled souls into magic power. Upon completion, Kurohime destroyed the tower and entered the realm of the gods to slaughter them, as they were the ones who started the war in the first place. Through a combination of deception and brutality, the gods captured her and then split Kurohime into two beings, one representing her rage, and the other representing her compassion. The compassionate half of Kurohime accepted the gods' offer to become one of them and was reborn as Shirohime, the goddess of compassion, before sealing her dark half, who retained the name of Kurohime, into the form of a child. Throughout the course of the manga, Kurohime is able to regain her ability to love through her relationship with Zero, causing her to evolve into different incarnations throughout the various story arcs.

Himeko

Himeko (姫子 Himeko?) is Kurohime's child like form, apparently between the ages of 8 and 10. With her ability to feel love stripped following her split at the gods' hands, Shirohime forced Kurohime into a more harmless form under the condition that she can only change back when she feels love. Greedy and self-centered, Himeko also lacks the power of Kurohime and originally considers Zero to be her "lap-dog." After spending time with Zero however, Himeko slowly began to regain the ability to love and feel compassion, allowing her to randomly regain the form of Kurohime for a few brief moments and then permanently during the battle with Darkray.

Momohime

Momohime (桃姫 Momohime?) is Kurohime's second alternate form, between the ages of 13 and 15. With Shirohime slain by Dark Rei, the original curse on Kurohime was broken. Unfortunately, the trauma of losing Zero resulted in Kurohime unable to access her full powers and limiting the recovery of her proper form. Informed by Yamatohime that reviving Zero will enable her to fully regain her power and form, Kurohime received a magical Lotus which when plucked, will cause her to briefly transform at the cost of losing a memory of Zero. She also receives a sword blade called Yamato-Dachi, which once empowered with the magic of the four spirit kings will be able to resurrect Zero. Upon reception, Yamoto-Dachi promptly fuses with Senryu, changing it into Yamato Senryu which can assume the form of either a gun or a katana. Kurohime was then launched from Yamatohime's prison inside of a giant peach which was found by an old couple, who upon finding her inside gave her the name Momohime (peach princess), a name which Kurohime finds exceedingly annoying. As Momohime, Kurohime's magic is slightly stronger than Himeko but still heavily inferior to that of her true form. She also is a bit more mature than Himeko, willingly repaying kindness and helping those in need, but still has quite a temper to those who irritate her.

Himekojo

Himekojo (姫子嬢 Himekojo?) is Kurohime's third alternate form. After having most of her memories of Zero stripped away from her by Dark Zero, Kurohime reverts to an age between 16 and 18. In this form, the majority of Kurohime's powers have been restored, allowing her to fight her enemies on a more or less equal level without sacrificing her final two memories of Zero. Sent back in time by Kairyu to learn the truth about Zero's past, Kurohime adopted a third alias to prevent Zero from learning her identity and thereby altering the past. As Himekojo, Kurohime is slightly more "girly" than her other incarnations (her first thought upon arriving in the past is how cute the child version of Zero must be) but is also prone to vanity, taking furious offense at Ray's comments about her being ugly. Upon learning that the Zero she fell in love with is in fact Ray, Himekojo's love for him grew even stronger, and is intend to save Ray from the darkness in the present, as she failed to do so in the past. She still refers him as "Zero", despite knowing his true name.

Shirohime

Shirohime (白姫 Shirohime?) is Kurohime's other half who was split into two persona by Sword. While Kurohime was banished back to earth, Shirohime became the Goddess of Benevolence. Unlike the other "younger" incarnations of Kurohime, Shirohime is calm and collected, even to death. She was killed by Darkray when defending her other half.

Zero

Zero ( Zero?) is a young boy saved by Kurohime in his childhood. Over ten years, he trained and became a gunslinger. He uses four guns and is known for his incredible speed. He is very loyal to Kurohime, and although he finds her difficult to handle as a child, he is still very much in love with her. Kurohime often berates him for his naivety and open kindness, but it is also what she fell in love with. His personal morals and sense of justice stems from his past: after witnessing Kurohime's power when she saved him, he vowed only to use his guns to protect and save the innocent. In order not to kill anyone, he aims mostly to disarm his aggressors with his shots. Throughout the story, he suffers great - and almost fatal - physical damage in order to save his beloved Kurohime, despite her often insensitive and ungrateful behavior. His love for Kurohime was so strong that he willingly sacrificed his own life to save her from the River of Death.

One of his more prominent attacks is "Lightning Draw," which enables him to fire multiple shots with blinding speed and deadly accuracy. He is shown to be able to fire off at least two dozen consecutive shots with blinding reload speeds, and break off a cliff with his shots.

Near the end of the time traveling arc it is revealed that the true Zero was killed after a situation forced Zero to resurrect. His soul was destroyed by the Shinigami Angels and that in reality the Zero Kurohime knows is actually Zero's brother Ray posing as Zero in penance.

Dark Zero

Zero's soul is taken to the underworld by Yashahime and there he is resurrected as "Dark Zero" (堕悪“零” Dāku Zero?) the new God of Death. The two later confront Kurohime at the prison of the Spirit King Byako and attack her, even though she isn't willing to fight him. After taking back his signature blue scarf from Kurohime, he tears out most of the petals that comprise her soul lotus, leaving one behind. This single lotus petal contains the memories of the love Kurohime has for Zero, and the pain of losing him. This act causes Zero to remember his true memories and he transforms into his full Death God form. It is revealed that Zero holds much darkness in his heart, as the "Good Zero" is told to be just "an image created by an idealistic youth". Zero continues the fight but later retreats with Yashahime after she was severely injured by Kurohime. While Kurohime was gone into Zero's past, Dark Zero declared that he would wipe out humanity, and would ask the Supreme God, Igudo, to commence with the apocalypse.

After Kurohime nearly killed Yashahime, Dark Zero himself goes to Earth to face Kurohime. After Kurohime revealed her identity as Himekojo from 10 years ago, Dark Zero became embittered with hatred that she abandoned him when she was forced to leave the past.

Ray

Despite being so small, Ray (レイ Rei?) is actually Zero's older twin brother, a quiet young boy that keeps to himself. After seeing his mother murdered by Doc, he loses the will to speak, as well as stopped growing, and follows Doc around looking for a chance to kill him. He will not allow anyone else to kill Doc but himself, therefore protecting him from other attempts at his life. He is fated to become the God of Death as the skeletal hand of the Materen's artificial death angel fuses itself into his body following the destruction of Lion Castle. In chapter 63, Kurohime resurrects Zero as an angel but he is killed a short time later by the Shinigama angels from the past. Ray committed suicide in guilt of betraying his mother and brother's sacrifices, causing the shinigami inside him to go into a frenzy. Zero's spirit speaks to Kurohime revealing that Ray's soul is still bound to his body and can be saved. Kurohime makes the choice to save Ray by using Zero's soul as a catalyst to resurrect him. This in turn causes Ray's hair to turn blue with a black forelock. Kurohime then comes to the realization that the 'Zero' she knew and fell in love with is actually Ray, who would took up his brother's name in honor of his ideals and sacrifice. After his mother's and brother's temporary revivals, and then their souls being torn apart by the Death Angel Squad for breaking the law, Ray regained his ability to speak and grow, respective to each sacrifice. Unlike his younger brother Zero, or his later persona of Zero, the original Ray is rude and somewhat violent, calling Kurohime a "hag" and assaulting her when he considered her annoying.

Zero

The original Zero (ゼロ Zero?) was the younger twin brother of Ray. As this Zero did not witness their mother's death at the hands of Doc, he continued to grow and was not rendered mute. His skills at quick drawing has earned him the moniker "Quick Draw Zero". He was killed by the Vengeance Knights when Doc betrayed the group. When Ray committed suicide after being awakened as a Shinigami and then returned to human by Himekojo, Zero's spirit spoke to Himekojo, requesting her to resurrect him with the forbidden spell as an angel, and returning Ray's soul to his body. After much painful decision, Himekojo agreed, and shortly after saving Ray, Zero's soul was torn apart by Sword and her comrades.

Onimaru

Onimaru (鬼丸 Onimaru?) is a heavyset gunslinger in pursuit of Kurohime. He was once her most loyal soldier and his back bears a large tattoo of the kanji for "dog", with the kanji for "Kurohime" branded near it. Feeling betrayed by the apparently selfish witch, he swore revenge on her, and intends to take it now that she has been stripped of her magical powers. Ironically enough, he is still attracted to her.

Tsucchi

Tsucchi (ツチノコ Tsucchi?) is an alternate form of Onimaru. In a bid to take down Kurohime, the leader of the "Death Angel" squad, Sword, seduces Onimaru and compels him to kiss her leg, and he nearly became a hideously grotesque man-snake. However, his sheer willpower prevents the transformation from fully occurring, and he becomes a mute miniature lizard; his personality and intelligence also survive this change. After learning of Kurohime's true motivations from Shirohime, he convinces her to break the curse placed on Kurohime and afterward tags along with Himeko and Asura in their quest to Yamato.

Yuka

Yuka (優花 Yūka?) is a beautiful girl who first ran into Barahime, a once seductive witch who has been drained of her magical powers by Kurohime. Barahime possessed Yuka and used the girl to help drain men of their life force to continue to be young and beautiful. However, this possession can only happen at night, as by day time, Yuka is in control of her own body. With the help of Zero and Kurohime, Barahime was extracted from Yuka. This possession has left Yuka with some magical powers, and she started to develop them.

After Zero's demise, Barahime, who was set ablaze in hellfire by Kurohime to burn forever, was saved by Sword. Barahime then possesses Yuka again, this time completely, and follows Kurohime into the past in attempt for revenge. However, Kurohime completely kills Barahime, saving Yuka. Since then, Yuka follows her savior.

Asura

Asura (阿修羅 Ashura?) is a beautiful looking woman. The people of that land call her and her kind, demons. She is extremely powerful, possessing incredible magical powers, whose destructive properties rivals a god. She is first introduced as a mysterious character who plays a subtle hand in aiding Kurohime and Zero defeat a witch. She is next seen fighting a Mountain God and is severely wounded while protecting Zero and Kurohime. Shortly after being tended to by Zero, they are attacked again by the Mountain God, and Kurohime and Asura team up together to destroy their enemy.

She is attuned to the element of fire, and much of her magic revolves around flames. She also has a demonic form that allows her to use her powers more efficiently. However, as a demon of fire, she is vulnerable to water and cannot swim. She was initially reluctant in having anything to do with Zero and Kurohime, but after being saved by Zero and witnessing the power of a vengeful Kurohime, she has a change of heart, and tells Kurohime about her master who seems intent on helping Kurohime regain her full power.

In the second arc, she reveals that her master is Yamatohime, who will resurrect Zero if Himeko can find the Four Great Spirit Kings. After the fight with Saiyuki and then Yashahime, she expresses her belief that humans and gods are both enemies of the spirits. She also has a firm resolve to protect Kurohime so as to make sure to free Yamatohime, shown by her continually stopping Ji from telling Himeko about Yashahime having taken Zero. She cries when Ji tells her that he and Ba will be waiting for both her and Himeko to come back alive. She later helps in the next several battles with the gods, until Kurohime and the gang reach Big Edo city on Yamato. There, they are ambushed by the Kurohime Punishment Squad, with Asura facing a revived Barahime.

Eventually, Asura and the others outmatch their witch-gunslinger opponents, so Barahime and the others signal their sniper aboard Kairyu, who fires giant crocodile bullets at the protagonists. While Kurohime and Yukiotoko/Yukionna manage to dodge the initial sniper shots, Asura was trying to get a little girl who had stumbled onto the battlefield to safety and was snapped by the jaws of the witch beast, causing her to revert to her human form.

When Kurohime returned from the past, Asura had already been healed, but she has by then turned into a pure spirit due to remaining in that form for too long. As such, she became a mindless killing machine, attacking indiscriminately. When Kurohime arrived at Asura's home village, the priestess who raised the fire spirit revealed that Asura was created as a human with a spirit's soul, and that she was to serve to replace Yamatohime in terms of being absorbed into the Yamato blade as the Spirit King of Fire, since Yamatohime herself was the life of Earth itself, and cannot be taken into the blade. Kurohime took this hard and struggled to kill Asura, and ultimately failed.

However, upon meeting her mother, who apologized for offering her to the Spirits as a sacrifice, Asura managed to regain her sanity, and learned that Kurohime died in refusal to assimilate Asura into the blade. Touched by this gesture of friendship, Asura begged Seiryu to turn back time to allow Asura to sacrifice herself for the blade. Upon returning, Asura took the blow that Kurohime initially missed, thus infusing herself into the blade. Upon this, it became the completed Ultimate Sword, and looks similar to Raida's gun hammer, except the barrels are pointed downwards rather than sideways, and energy coming out of the chambers to form a blade.

Tokugawa Kazuma

Tokugawa Kazuma (徳河一真 Tokugawa Kazuma?) is the prince of the Big Edo City. He is a powerful swordsman, being able to strike with lightning speed. Later, he was given a necklace that has stones imbued with the power of the three out of four Spirit Kings by his father. This grants him great powers, but using it would require him to provide his life force to Yamatohime as an exchange; this led his hair to turn white and his health to deteriorate. Kurohime noted that Kazuma's personality is exactly the same to that of Zero's, and has developed some feelings for him. Kazuma, in return, has seemingly to fallen in love with Kurohime.

Kazuma first met Kurohime (at the time known in her Momohime form) when he tried to catch a merfolk, under the belief that its flesh will grant eternal life, in the hopes of using that to cure his sick younger sister Kazushi (和糸 Kazushi?). However, he later see that to killing merfolks, even for his sister, is greedy, and changed his heart. With Momohime and Asura's help, Kazuma was able to stop other hunters from poaching merfolks any further. He the helped them into Yamato. Kazuma later reappeared when Kurohime and Asura were being attacked by Saiyuki, the goddess of ogres, and helped them against her, as her minions were attacking his comrades. After that, he took the girls and Tsucchi to Big Edo City to rest, only to be attacked by the Kurohime Punishment Squad shortly after arriving. When Kurohime returned from Kairyu's time travel journey, Kazuma has been defending what's left of the planet from the Gods.

Yukionna and Yukiotoko

Yukionna (雪女 Yukionna?, meaning "Snow Woman", Yuki for short) and Yukiotoko (雪男 Yukiotoko?, meaning "Snow Man", Yukio for short) are the goddess and god of snow, respectively. They are childhood friends, and Yukio has fallen in love with Yuki, but Yuki was determined to fill her heart with more than one man, which led her to capture many men and freeze them solid, keeping them in her vault. Despite this, Yukio is still deeply in love with her, and is willing to do anything for her. The two of them has been assigned to guard the Spirit King Byakko, but were ultimately defeated by Kurohime. During this clash, in which Yukio has taken a formed a friendship to Kurohime, Yuki was able to realize her mistake, and showed that she truly loves Yukio, and the two reconciled. The two, indebted to Kurohime, defied Yashahime and helped Kurohime, Asura, Kazuma, and Tsucchi all the way throughout the battle against the Kurohime Punishment Squad in Big Edo City, and against the Gods when Yashahime tried to devour the planet.

In combat, Yuki has command of the element of snow and ice, while Yukio can into a sleek and combat-adept abominable snowman form. Their weakness is fire, which Kurohime took advantage of. After being defeated by Kurohime, the two were reduced to their childhood forms, but can unite into one single body to become an adult during combat.

Rider

Rider (雷堕 Raida?) was a member of the Wolf Brigade first mentioned in the first volume, with the nickname "Lightning Bolt". He fights alongside Zero when Kurohime returns to the past. He accompanies the gang when the Wolf Brigade defects to the Onimaru Gang, citing his reason as feeling he still owes Doc something. This is revealed when Zero was killed and Ray left: Rider stayed only for the twins' sake, due to Rei refusing to leave Doc's side. However, as Ray finally left, Rider then killed Doc in the hospital, and then left to find Ray, all the while becoming a wanted man for murder. Ten years later, Kandata (Doc) finds Rider and eventually brings him to Dark Zero, where the two reunite, while seemingly to have lost his left eye. His weapon is a gun hammer, similar to a Monster Hunter weapon, which makes explosions with each impact. He also is a very quick shot with a pistol.

Doc

Doc (毒狗 Dokku?) is the greedy and nefarious leader of the Wolf Brigade. He keeps Ray close by his side in order to have Zero to fight for him, and cares nothing about his men as long as he gets money. To this end, he sacrifices the wounded of the Wolf Brigade to the Lion Castle in order to launch a flank attack. After the battle ends, most of the Wolf Brigade beats him up then defects to the Onimaru Gang. He travels with the group, but it is discovered that he stole an obscene amount of money from the military, which lands the group in prison. When Ray's Shinigami brings a swarm of undead, Ray appears to protect him. However, images of Ray's memories show that Doc killed Ray and Zero's mother, that Ray witnessed it, and the only reason Ray stays near Doc is to someday take his revenge with his own hands. When Kurohime and Ray and Zero's undead mother save him (for Ray's sake), the battle ends and he continues to travel with the group. He still schemes and, wanting the power of the shinigami, plays on Ray's hatred for him. When the battle between the military and the Materen reaches a climax, Doc and the group are trapped in the city where the Materen are attacking. Doc betrays the group by helping the Materen create a portal allowing their Vengeance Knights to enter the city. When Zero is killed by them, Ray turns into a true shinigami, and pins him to the wall with bone spears. After Ray is reverted to normal, he points his gun at Doc. Ray seems ready to kill him, but simply frees him and leaves, causing him to wonder why Ray spared him after all he had done. While recuperating at a hospital, Doc is killed by Rider.

Kandata

Kandata (犍陀多 Kandata?) is the ferryman of the River Styx. He first appeared in Volume 1, when Zero is talking about Kurohime. Later, he appeared to offer the Onimaru Gang a boat to cross the River Styx that Darkray conjured, and then again to lead Himeko to the past to learn about Zero's past. When Kurohime manages to revert Ray to his human self and put back the shinigami's influence, Kandata pulls Kurohime out of the time stream before she disappears, and lets her watch as Ray free Doc, who was later killed by Rider. As Kurohime travels back to the future, the ferryman removes his hood to reveal that he is actually Doc. He tells Kurohime that he had initially consigned himself to hell, but wanted to know why Ray had spared his life. This desire for answers caused Doc's spirit to wander until eventually he became the ferryman for the River Styx. The reason he helped Kurohime travel to the past was in an effort for him to learn why Ray spared him, which he eventually found out that deep down, Ray considered Doc to be a father figure, despite causing Ray's mother and brother's deaths.

Antagonists

Darkray

Darkray (堕悪霊 Dāku Rei?) was the former God of Death, and one of the six High Gods. He fought Kurohime when she first challenged the gods. Using the soul of an infant murdered by an attack on Kurohime as a shield, he defeated her with Sword, slicing her in half. He was also the one who suggested splitting Kurohime into two beings: one consisting of pure hate, the other, of love and compassion. This resulted in the birth of Shirohime (White Princess), the Goddess of Mercy. He later appears in the fourth volume, not long after Kurohime killed the mountain god Moai. He orders Shirohime to seal Kurohime's powers so that he and his death angels could kill her.

During the battle with Himeko and Zero, he kills Shirohime when she, after some goading by Onimaru, broke the curse and gave Kurohime her powers back. He managed to extract Zero's soul and used it as a shield, much like the fight ten years prior, to force Kurohime to leave herself open, and going as far as to kill most of his Death Angel subordinates. Eventually, with Zero's aid, as well as a heartbroken Sword, Kurohime killed Darkray, blowing his head to pieces with one last shot. His soul is seen later when Yashahime returns to the land of death. He begs her to revive him, but she finds him pathetic at this juncture and destroys his soul, vanquishing him for good.

Yashahime

Yashahime (夜叉姫 Yashahime?) is the Mother Goddess of Earth, one of the six high gods, and lover of Darkray. She swears to kill Kurohime to avenge the fallen God of Death, and first appears when Kurohime killed Gandhara on Yamato. She is very powerful, with a beauteous appearance masking a fearsome treelike form. Yashahime appears after Saiyuki is turned into a human by Kurohime. Killing Saiyuki, she attempts to kill Kurohime. Even with Asura and Genbu's aid, Yashahime knocked Kurohime unconscious and then tried to kill Zero's soul. The soul, though encased in magic stone, managed to grasp Kurohime's hand, and withstood her blade. Enraged, she retreats to the underworld and smashes Darkray's soul, whom she now finds pathetic. She then realizes she is actually jealous of the love Zero and Kurohime share, and uses Darkray's skull to turn Zero into Dark Rei, the new god of death, so as to make Kurohime experience hell on earth forever. After Dark Rei confronts Kurohime and the darkness in his heart emerges, Yashahime decides to take him as her new lover, smitten with the 'beauty of his darkness'. She had been seriously injured in her battle with Kurohime (presumably due to there being no earth to regenerate from in the Icy Mountains) in the mountains and was taken back to the underworld by Dark Zero. When Kurohime finally returns from Zero's past, Yashahime greets her greatest enemy and wages another fight. Though she successfully killed Kurohime for failing to assimilate Asura into the Yamato Senryu Sword, Upon Asura's request, time was returned by Seiryu, and Kurohime managed to complete the Ultimate Sword before Yashahime was able to kill her, thus turning the tables and Kurohime apparently killed Yashahime. However, she later appears beside Dark Zero, revealing that what Kurohime killed was a replica, as her soul is deeply rooted in the Earth, making it theoretically possibly for her to create a new body as many times as she wishes. She then reveals her intention of consuming the entire planet in order to grow stronger, which was why the Gods created planets in the first place; the humans and other lifeforms were placed there only to weaken the planets in order to make them easier for Gods to consume.

During confrontations between the two, Yashahime shows not only extreme sadism, but a dual personality of sorts: being polite and calm in one moment, but revealing her cruel and true form when angered. Aside from her command over the earth and trees, Yashahime also wields the Hakushinboku (White God Tree), which is said to be a symbol of divine power, and the opposite of Kurohime's Kokushinboku (Black God Tree). Her twisted personality and extreme power makes even Darkray to fear her in the past. Also, while Sword loved Darkray with all her heart, Yashahime's love was only admiring his power and status, and when seeing him in such a pitiful state, she crushed him and instead fell in love with Dark Zero for the darkness in his heart.

Kurohime Punishment Squad

Shortly after Kurohime and Zero killing the God of Death Darkray, Sword, the only surviving Death Angel of the battle, gathered a crew of powerful magical witch gunslingers, all of whom have a grudge against Kurohime, in order to avenge themselves by killing her, thus forming the Kurohime Punishment Squad (黒姫討伐団 Kurohime Tōbatsudan?). Although Barahime was killed during the time-traveling in Kairyu, the rest of them worked together with their enemy to overcome the Materan to prevent the creation of an artificial Death Angel, and renounced their hatred against Kurohime, and fought on her side when they returned to the present time against the gods, who were trying to turn the planet to hell.

Sword

Also known as Reikahime, Sword (争怒 Sōdo?) is the leader of the Death Angel Squad (死神天使団 Shinigami Tenshidan?, meaning "Grim Reaper Angel Squad") sent after Kurohime and Zero in the fourth volume. She and her comrades (Axe (悪子 Akusu?), Lance (乱子 Ransu?), Mace (冥子 Meisu?), Hammer (犯魔 Hanmā?), and Dagger (蛇牙 Dagā?)) are sent to reap a group of vengeful souls from a ghost wagon who were revived courtesy of Kurohime. Sword seems to have a personal vendetta against Kurohime, leading her and her fellow death angels in an attempt to kill her by turning members of the Onimaru Gang into large demonic snakes. This stems from Sword being jealous against Shirohime for attracting Darkray's affections, but can only take it out on the Goddess' human half.

Later, they aid Darkray, the God of Death, in the battle with Kurohime by transforming into their namesake weapons for Darkray's use. Kurohime shoots them with bullets that turn them into copies of her, and Darkray simplifies things by killing them all in an attempt to get the real Kurohime. The mortally injured angels give their power to Sword so that she will live. Despite being betrayed, Sword still loves Darkray enough to wanting to avenge him.

Sword (and former enemies of Kurohime) reappear in the second arc as part of the Kurohime Punishment Squad. She displays several new abilities, notably the ability to manipulate blood and suck her victim's veins dry of it, and a new outfit that makes her appear more human (compared to her initial appearance). She and her comrades kidnap Kairyu and use it to assault Kurohime and her compatriots at Big Edo City.

The Kurohime Punishment Squad follows Kurohime ten years into the past, and Sword fights against Kurohime in Lion Castle. There she reveals that her new form and abilities are the result of becoming a Vampire-Werewolf-Angel hybrid, the result of a long and painful transformation process. Her eye patch acts as a seal to lock away her "true form", and when she removes it she becomes a monstrous vampiric werewolf but also loses all control of her actions. Kurohime tricked Sword into transforming back by transforming herself into Darkray. After they defeated the false death god, Sword took the Kurohime Punishment Squad and left, delaying their revenge for the time being.

While facing the Kurohime of the past she is defeated and cursed into taking a wolf form but reverts when the curse is weakened. Soudo then left for the time being, seemingly unwilling to fight Kurohime anymore.

Upon returning to the present time, the Kurohime Punishment Squad finds the earth being converted into a hellish place by the Gods, and Sword reveals that she lost her authority as a Death Angel, and has no place to go. As Kurohime and Yashahime fought, Sword at first refused to help Kurohime due to her past experience with the Mother Goddess, knowing that even the fearsome Darkray feared her. However, upon hearing about how Yashahime crushed Darkray's soul, Sword cast aside her fear and caution, and in a hatred against Yashahime, fought beside Kurohime with absolutely everything.

Barahime

Barahime (薔薇姫 Barahime?) is a witch who used to steal the lives of men in order to maintain her youth. She was defeated by Kurohime before the start of the series, and subsequently lost her youth. Barahime then went on to possess Yuka, a young girl. Her possession was incomplete, only allowing her to take complete control at night, but she was able to use Yuuka's beauty to once again kill men and keep her youthful appearance. Once again defeated by Kurohime, she was separated from Yuuka, and cursed to burn. The flame was extinguished by Sword, leader of the Death Angel Squad, who invited her to join the Kurohime Punishment Squad. She once again possessed Yuuka, this time completely, and with the rest of the squad was sent back in time with Kurohime after their battle in Edo city. Kurohime killed Barahime, freeing Yuuka and in return she is helping Kurohime.

Oka

Oka (桜花 Ōka?) is another member of the Kurohime Punishment Squad. She has abilities that are similar to Kurohime's, such as summoning dragons as well as amazing skill as a sniper. In fact, her ability to fire witch bullets through sniping and retain high levels of control surpasses Kurohime's capabilities. As a child, Oka was the princess of one of the kingdoms that was destroyed by Kurohime during her attempt to increase her magic in preparation for her assault on the gods. Later, at the Tower of the Gods, Oka attempted and failed to murder Kurohime who spared Oka and gave her a sword like witch-gun, telling her that if she really wanted revenge then she should learn to use magic. Unlike the other members of the Kurohime Punishment Squad, Oka dislikes involving innocent bystanders but is willing to use any methods she deems necessary to kill Kurohime.

In act 4, after following Kurohime into the past and failing to kill her at the Lion's Gate castle, Oka returns her homeland with Sword in an attempt to stop her father's death at the hands of the past Kurohime. As she opened fire, Oka's father mistook her as an enemy and attacked her, causing her summoned beast to instinctively attack and kill him instead. Kurohime then transformed her into a kimono which she wore until the curse was finally broken.

Aika

Aika (愛花 Aika?) is Saika's lover and a magic gun user of the Kurohime punishment squad, she's nearly blind from birth but can concentrate her magic to sense her surroundings. She temporarily took his "Most sacred" thing in return for him cheating on her, but she loves him to the extent of risking her life for him.

Saika

Saika (穿花 Saika?) is a pretty boy who sought to make Kurohime his in chapter 3, but was spurned after she realized he was only interested in her power. He returns as part of the Kurohime punishment squad to get revenge since Aika, his lover found out he cheated on her and removed his "Most sacred" thing. In spite of this he truly loves Aika, becoming her eyes in exchange for her love, since she will love him after his beauty fades. Siding with the Materen in an attempt to kill Kurohime, Saika was betrayed and captured by the Materen's leader who intended to use their magic to transform him into an artificial death angel who would then exterminate all humanity. Fortunately, Kurohime was able to drain off enough of the Materen's power to assume her full power and allowing her to free him before the transformation could be completed. Afterwards, Saika retreated alongside Aika to reconsider their position on Kurohime.

Spirit Kings

The four Spirit Kings are the only spirits who has their own free wills by each possessing a soul, while other spirits, also known as demons or devils by humans, do not. They are the life forces of the world, a power which the gods covet. Along with this, when the four spirits imbue their life forces into the Yamato Tachi sword, it can become the god-slaying sword. To these ends, the gods captured the Spirit Kings to prevent the sword's completion, as well as slowly drain them of their life forces for their lust of power. Only Seiryu, the Spirit King of the Wind, was able to elude capture. They assist Kurohime in completing the Ultimate Sword, despite their hatred for humans for polluting the world.

Yamatohime

Yamatohime (大和姫 Yamatohime?) is also known as the Phoenix Suzaku (朱雀 Suzaku?), Devil God, and Spirit Queen of Fire. She is Asura's master, and was imprisoned by the gods in the depths of a volcano, under constant watch by the Demon God Gandhara. After Kurohime arrives in Asura and slays Gandara, Yamatohime gives Kurohime a sword hardened by the sun; the Yamato-Dachi, and a lotus flower with seventeen petals, each representing a memory of Zero. A petal from the flower will fall every time Kurohime reverts to her true form. She assigns Asura with the task of guiding Himeko to the four spirit kings, whose power, when added to Yamato-Dachi, will be enough to free herself. Yamatohime says she will revive Zero if Himeko can successfully release her, then sends the group away as Tor, God of War, and Yashahime arrive in response to Gandhara's defeat. As Yamatohime is the very life of the planet, she cannot be taken into the blade, so Asura was instead created to serve as replacement. By the time the Absolute Sword was complete, Yamatohime has already been reduced to a child-like form and her body rusting, her energy greatly drained.

Genbu

Genbu (玄武 Genbu?) is the Spirit King of Water. He was captured by Saiyuki, the goddess of the ogres, and through his imprisonment grants her the abilities of turning to intangible mist and liquid, as well as crafting ice for offense and an impenetrable rock-scaled armor. Disgusted by the ways humans pollute the earth and hunt other creatures to extinction, Genbu was willing to remain imprisoned by the gods. Kurohime convinced him though that humans did have the potential for good and he willingly sacrificed himself to Yamato Senryu. By doing so, he bestowed on Kurohime the ability to summon the same armor Saiyuki wielded as well the ability to transform Yamato Senryu into Genbu Yamato Senryu, a shotgun with a barrel shaped like a Dragon.

Byakko

Byakko (白虎 Byakko?) is the Spirit King of Earth. He was captured by the snow goddess Yuki-onna (Yuki) and her lover abominable snowman Yuki-otoko (Yukio), and was encased completely behind a giant ice wall. Although willing to sacrifice himself in the name of ending the Gods' tyranny, he was hesitant to grant his powers to Kurohime, who by that time had lost almost all her memories of Zero. But after seeing that her love for Zero remained intact, Byakko transferred his power to Yamato Senryu and enabling it to transform into a Gatling gun weapon called Byakko Yamato Senryu, which can fire multiple witch bullets over a short period.

Seiryu

Seiryu (青龍 Seiryū?) is the Spirit King of Wind. As the wind has no solid form, he is the only one of the four Spirit King not to be captured by the Gods, being able to evade them. Also, as space-time also has no solid form, like the wind, Seiryu has control of that as well. He took the form of the ocean dragon, Kairyu, and assisted Kurohime against a group of fishermen hunting for mermaid flesh, and then later led her to Zero's past, as per Kandata's request. When she returned and learned of Zero and Rei's past, and were attacked by Yashahime, Seiryu revealed his true form and deemed Kurohime to be worthy of his power, as her love for Zero is still strong, and let his own soul be transferred into the Yamato Senryu, which allows it to transform into a rifle with the size of a bazooka. This weapon, when used by Oka, had to ability to send the person it shoots back in time, as Asura was sent back to the time just as Kurohime missed her with the initial shot.

Kairyu

Kairyu (海竜 Kairyū?) is the sea dragon, who first appeared to grant Himeko her wish to see Zero again. However, as it was a mere illusion, it didn't satisfy her at the very least. When the Kurohime Punishment Squad took over his body and used him against Kurohime, he manages to escape from their grasp in his smaller medium body and takes Kurohime back to the past, to understand Zero more. When they return to the present, Kairyu reveals his true identity, Seiryu, during the battle against Yashahime.

References

External links

th:ฤทธิ์ปืนมนตรา เทพธิดาทมิฬ

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