Mirage of Blaze (炎の蜃気楼[ミラージュ] Honō no Mirāju?) is a shōnen-ai light novel series by Mizuna Kuwabara, which are published under Shueisha's Cobalt label. It was adapted into a TV anime series directed by Susumu Kudo in 2002 and an OVA in 2004.
Difficult to classify, Mirage of Blaze is equal parts melodrama, historical romance, and supernatural fantasy. Japanese history predominates a heavily structured plot, which mainly involves the continued aggression between magic using guardians, or "possessors," and the denizens of a "feudal underworld," or the restless souls of long-dead samurai attempting to re-ignite ancient war on the modern plane.
Takaya Ohgi, a typical high school student, wants nothing more than to protect his best friend Yuzuru Narita and live a normal life. That is, until Nobutsuna Naoe, an intense and charismatic older man, informs Takaya that he is in fact the reincarnation of Lord Kagetora, the adopted son of a noble samurai lord, Kenshin Uesugi. Naoe, himself a "possessor," or a soul reborn through time, reawakens Takaya's abilities to exorcise evil spirits and fight the Feudal Underworld, a collection of restless warrior spirits bent on modern-day conquest. While most possessors remember their former lives before being reincarnated, Takaya does not, and is often hostile towards any effort for the complete recovery of his memory. As the plot unfolds, the complex history of the characters and their past suggests why this is so, and the true nature of the tempestuous and somewhat ambiguous relationship between the two leads provides the backdrop for a melodrama that spans several generations of Japanese history. Chief among the antagonists of the series are the Hojo and Fuma clans, once at war with and eventually overthrown by Kenshin Uesugi. As they ascend to the living world to renew their ancient war, Naoe, Takaya, and two other possessors gear up to prevent that from happening.
The OVA Rebels of the River Edge (2003) resumes the plot of the TV anime, yet incorporates several new developments, among them the question of unswerving loyalty and personal honor. Takaya is sent to Kyoto to investigate the re-awakening of the Ikko sect and Araki Murashige, a one time member of the Ikko sect who has since deserted the clan. With the help of his vassal and fellow possessor Haruie, the two are successful in tracking him down, only to discover that Murashige is after a 400-year-old mandala (a Buddhist ritualistic artifact and meditative aid) made of the hair of the deceased Araki clansmen. Unfortunately, by the time they meet up with Murashige, Haruie recognizes him as Shintarou, her former lover in a past life. Whether it's true or not, and despite the confusing emotional complication of this development, Takaya orders Haruie to eliminate Murashige once he becomes a true threat to the balance of power. Meanwhile, Takaya finally reunites with Naoe after a prolonged period of estrangement. Unresolved sexual and psychological tension dominates their initial exchange, and it's uncertain whether these two powerful possessors will resolve their differences and work together against this latest threat.
- Takaya Ohgi (仰木 高耶 Ōgi Takaya?)
- Voiced by: Toshihiko Seki (Japanese), Richard Cansino (English)
- A 17-year-old high school delinquent who finds out that he's actually the reincarnation of Kagetora Uesugi, despite having repressed the memories of his prior existence due to a traumatic incident. Abrupt and outspoken in demeanor, he defiantly and exhaustingly denies the fact that he is Kagetora, refusing to believe that he is anyone but Takaya. He nonetheless exhibits a highly moral attitude towards his new found duty as a "possessor" once he accepts the reality of his past. Through the course of the series, he develops a minor split personality, confusing his ancient persona from his current persona (i.e. Takaya Ohgi vs. Kagetora Uesugi). All of the Uesugi possessors, as well as close friends, call him "Takaya" unless he's in his Kagetora persona, save Naoe who always calls him "Lord Kagetora" as a mark of their master/vassal relationship. He's a very powerful magic user, capable of exorcising spirits and demons and constructing an energy barrier against attack.
- Yoshiaki Tachibana (橘 義明 Tachibana Yoshiaki?)
- Voiced by: Shō Hayami (Japanese), Jamieson Price (English)
- The current incarnation of Nobutsuna Naoe. He is the third son of the Tachibana family and is a monk of Shingon-shu Buzan-ha at the Kougenji temple in Utsunomiya. He is about eleven years older than Takaya, and much more methodical and deliberate in his methods. Intense and understated in speech, he nonetheless harbors a passionate and rebellious nature beneath his veneer of docility and allegiance. He is also deeply in love with Kagetora Uesugi and showed on several occasions that he would do anything to make him his. He wields a similar form of energy magic, and is capable of sensing demonic or supernatural auras. Takaya and all other members of the Uesugi clan call him "Naoe." He also has a strong attraction to Takaya.
- Shuhei Chiaki (千秋 修平 Chiaki Shūhei?)
- Voiced by: Yasunori Matsumoto (Japanese), Lex Lang (English)
- The current incarnation of Nagahide Yasuda, two years older than Takaya, and on the surface a typical high school student. He is a possessor and magic user, but apparently also has the ability to alter the perceptions and memories of others. His arrival in the series is accompanied by his sudden and mysterious appearance in Takaya's homeroom as his "best friend." His loyalty to the Uesugi clan is at first questionable, since his whereabouts and intentions were unknown before his abrupt arrival in Takaya's life. He has a laid back personality and is slow to anger, and is concentrated and precise in combat. All the Uesugi clan possessors call him by his ancient name Nagahide, save Takaya who calls him by his current name, Chiaki.
- Ayako Kadowaki (門脇 綾子 Kadowaki Ayako?)
- Voiced by: Sakiko Tamagawa (Japanese), Julie Ann Taylor (English)
- The current incarnation of Haruie Kakizaki, originally male. Somewhere in her past, whether by accident or design, she switched gender. She is a female college student about 21 years of age who rides a Yamaha FZR400 motorcycle called "Ecchan". Despite her decidedly feminine appearance, everyone calls her by "Haruie". She is easy going and friendly with a bit of a competitive streak. When she first meets Takaya, she challenges him to a motorcycle race and beats him easily. She is a powerful exorcist and dependable in combat. In the OVA series, Rebels of the River Edge (2003), her past experiences are developed in greater detail.
- Ill-Fated Destiny
Two high school friends discover they are the reincarnation of ancient warriors who soon realize they are locked in a deadly battle with the spirit of a long-dead evil warlord.
- Possessor From The Darkness
Naoe talks with Takaya about his past, the battle 400 years ago, and the awakening of Takeda Shinken.
- An Imperfect Awakening
Yuzuru goes missing after the binding bracelet Naoe gives him is removed.
- Premonition of a Chain Reaction
Takaya meets a strange woman while riding his motorcycle to school. Afterwards he learns he has a new classmate and best friend he has no memory of. Later Uesugi meets Takaya at his school and senses an ominous presence.
- Endless Conflict
- Golden Emblem
- Memories of Hateful Anguish
For the past 2 months, Takaya and Naoe have been exorcising spirits left and right. For another lovely history lesson, Naoe takes Takaya to a special place where a war rages on.
- At the End of Obsession
Takaya is forced to confront his anger and mixed emotions about himself and Naoe. He must come to grips with these emotions quickly before he injures himself or someone else maliciously.
- Endless Void
Naoe searches for and confronts the evil beast Tsutsuga.
- Sorrowful Betrayal
Unable to accept his alternate identity, Takaya meets with Ujiteru Hojo, Kagetora's brother, and he is forced to remember his past with Naoe.
- Eternal Blaze
The Hojo clan begins a cataclysmic plan to take over Nikko. They've kidnapped Yuzutu and plan to burn him alive to release a burst of spiritual energy.
- Choices of Conflict
An unexpected answer is given to Lord Ujiasu's proposal.
- Twilight of Beyond
Naoe and Takaya search for the Tsutsuga mirrors to destroy them.
OVA Episode List
- Chapter 1 - Dearest Wish
- Chapter 2 - Tiger's Eye
- Chapter 3 - Wind of the River's Edge
- Official website (Japanese)
- Mirage of Blaze (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Mirage of Blaze: Rebels of the River Edge (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Mirage of Blaze (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopediaru:Mirage of Blaze