A 2001 Japanese release that is based on a novel about Japanese folklore which also turned into another manga series.
I had a lot of fun with this, and I only chose to watch because it stars Hideaki Ito, my Japanese idol.
Instead of blogging in the usual style, I will instead do a photo blog that I hope will add to the fun.
There's this guy named Minamoto no Hiromasa who is innocent and kind, and he plays the flute in such a way that everyone admires him all the more.
Minamoto-san works as a court noble, and he befriends a guy named Abe no Seimei (Mansai Nomura), an Onmyoji or Yin-Yang master with amazing powers.
Every night, Minamoto plays his flute for a veiled woman who sits inside her sedan and weeps while listening to the lovely music.
Minamoto-san is in love with the secretive female and asks for at least her name, if not a view of her face.
She tells him a sad tale of unrequited love and refuses his request, insisting that she can't love anyone else and is only there to hear the enchanting flute.
Meanwhile, there's this really bad guy - Doson (Hiroyuki Sanada) - who is plotting to destroy the Mikado by casting an eternal curse upon the Emperor.
We find out a bit later that an eternal curse has already been cast by a court official from a few, hundred years earlier who was beheaded for a crime he did not commit.
Anyway, back to Minamoto-san.
He begs Seimei to help get rid of a nasty curse inflicted upon the Emperor's newborn son, the Prince and heir to the throne.
Seimei and a ghostly figure, Aone (Kyoko Koizumi), go to the palace and Seimei transfers the spell from the baby to the woman (Aone).
The baby is fine, so they leave.
Magic stuff occurs, and then later on, Minamoto again asks Seimei for help since the bad things keep occurring within the palace walls.
Seimei sets up his bag of magic tricks and warns the Emperor not to make a sound during the ceremony.
Hiding behind a shoji screen, Minamoto and the Emperor watch as a freaky woman with 3, lit candles atop her head floats into the room asking where is the emperor and his child cannot live anymore.
Seimei has set up fake straw bodies to look like the emperor and his son, and the woman at first thinks she's talking to them.
She weeps as she explains the same, sad story to the straw emperor that she had confided in Minamoto earlier.
Heartbroken, Minamoto can't believe his ears, and stunned, the Emperor accidentally whispers the woman's name -
- and the spell is broken.
Poor, sweet Minamoto.
He's heartbroken to realize that the woman he loves was in love with his boss.
But, he tries to snap her out of the spell she is cast under by the evil Doson, but she turns into this rather ugly creature instead.
He grabs her, and she bites him -
It hurts, but this is what he tells her -
His love manages to break through the spell, but instead of smiling at the handsome Court Nobel with the sweet talent, she instead commits hari kari.
Minamoto is very sad.
so is Seimei.
Ok, so Minamoto hangs out with Seimei, but Aone warns of impending doom for the city - and before the real fun begins, she explains to Minamoto about her life.
Turns out she's, like, 130 years old - becoming an immortal after being offered the flesh of a merman (giggle).
The then Emperor wanted her to become immortal so she could guard over her lovers tomb and make sure he doesn't cause any trouble in the afterlife.
It turns out her lover was the man beheaded for the crime he didn't commit, and who also cast an eternal curse over the Emperor.
Doson got hold of that curse and wants to see it through to the bitter end.
He wants to become an immortal as well.
Doson enters the tomb, breaks the mold of the dead Prince, and unleashes the spirits of all the disgruntled, dead from an eerie graveyard, ordering them to destroy everyone within the city.
It's actually kind of pretty, watching the spirits float toward the palace -
But, this is what happens when one of the spirits enters a living body -
Seimei and Aone are running (or leaping, rather) toward the palace, wanting to rescue Minamoto before it's too late.
See, there were these two stars in the sky, and Aone realized that it meant Seimei and Minamoto are supposed to be together, and that if Minamoto dies, the world will somehow come to an end.
Anyway, Minamoto isn't happy, especially with Doson, whom he believes killed the woman of his desire.
Using a 'star' symbol Seimei drew for him and asked him to keep on his person, Minamoto affixes the star to the tip of an arrow, draws back his bow, and shoots the arrow right through Doson's head.
Alas - Doson is already immortal, having exchanged spirits with the late Prince, so the fatal shot proves to be anything but.
Doson pushes the arrow through his head, pulls it out of his mouth, and chucks it back at Minamoto, striking him in the heart.
OH NO!Aone appears, and in a whisper-like voice, she begs Seimei to transfer her spirit to Minamoto.
She's tired after 130 years and wants a rest.
Seimei is in a quandry for a time -
does he sacrifice one friend for the sake of another?
Aone is persistent, so Seimei acquiesces and the transformation occurs rather ceremoniously, I might add.
Minamoto is alive again (yay!)
he uses a jingling necklace to snap Doson out of his hellish trance, summoning his inner spirit, the late Prince.
Doson turns into the late Prince -
Minamoto transfers back to Aone -
and the two stare at one another in silence for a time -
but, for an inexplicable reason, Doson stays as he is and butts in on the lover's reunion -
The prince tells Doson he's had enough and wants to go to eternity with his beloved Aone.
The two spirits ascend, hand in hand, in a bluish-white spiral, leaving Doson to curse his bad luck.
Seimei and his butterfly side-kick are amused
He's mad as hell now, and he blames everything on Seimei, so he challenges the fox-like Merlin to a duel.
Wire fu ensues at this point in the show, with Doson using his muscle and Seimei leaping here and there, everywhere, to avoid getting hit.
Seimei ends up at the wrong end of Doson's blade anyhow, though.
it's always a bit scary at the start, but everyone knows by now that the hero won't go out THAT quick, or that way, eh?
Seimei escapes that brush with death only to trip (maybe over the clear wire) and fall at Doson's feet.
Doson sneers as he plunges his sword into Seimei, but our tricky trickster turns into a paper doll.
This causes Doson's blade to embed into the cement ground (cement back in the day? I'm not sure - technicality I suppose)
where he is trapped in Seimei's star of spiritual good
Remember the arrow through the head?
Guess what happens to Doson in this spiritual star trap?
still, he doesn't explode or liquify or anything cool like that.
Instead, he set his neck against the sword blade and - yea - you got it - he grossly slides his way down to the ground, slitting his own throat.
Minamoto is happy, though!
Minamoto and Seimei are living together at Seimei's place, and she is fluttering happily in the garden, pausing to smile when Minamoto begs Seimei not to turn her into a butterfly anymore.