is a Japanese manga series collaborated between Sakura Kinoshita and Kazuko Higashiyama. It is serialized and currently running in Comic Blade Masamune. Sakura Kinoshita supplied the character "Kantarou," and Kazuko Higashiyama supplied the character "Haruka." The manga was first released in North America by ADV Manga in 2004. Afterwards, the US license was transferred to Tokyopop, who have released 5 volumes so far.
The animation studio Studio Deen adapted the Tactics manga into a 25-episode anime series, which ran on Japanese television from October 5 2004 to March 29 2005. The English dub of the anime is distributed by Manga Entertainment in the United States, Canada and the UK.
The Sci Fi Channel (United States) began airing Tactics as part of its Ani-Monday programming block on January 7, 2008 at 23:00 Eastern Standard Time, the final episode aired on April 21, 2008.
Set in fictional Japan
during the Taishō period
is the story of Kantarou Ichinomiya, a young man with the ability to see youkai
and other mythical beasts. When he was a child, this ability resulted in him being ostracized by human company, and he turned to youkai
for friendship instead. The youkai
tell him that in order to be stronger, he must find the oni
, the strongest of all youkai
. The young Kantarou then vows to himself to find this tengu
and name him 'Haruka'. By naming a youkai
, a human becomes its master and the name contract is only broken if the master sets the youkai
free. As Kantarou grows up, his interest in youkai
leads him to a career as a folklorist
and a part-time exorcist
exterminator', with the ultimate goal of helping youkai
The story begins when an assignment leads Kantarou to a rural shrine up in a mountain where he discovers a shrine to a fox god (tenko) which is actually the seal of the oni-eating tengu. By calling upon Haruka's name, Kantarou breaks the seal and finally meets the youkai of his dreams, who turns out to look like a very handsome young man with black wings. Together, Kantarou and Haruka go through many adventures and gradually grow closer to one another.
The story in both the manga and the anime follows a monster of the day format. Both the manga and the anime have been categorized by fans as shōnen ai or boys' love due to Kantarou and Haruka's implied sexual attraction to each other.
As the past Haruka struggles with slowly comes back to him, his relationship with his master starts to crack. The tengu yearns to learn everything he had forgotten, especially the identity of the person who had sealed him within the huge rock boulders. This is the point where Minamoto Raiko and his group of soldiers come in. Together with another formidable demon, Raiko and his attendants plot many plans to try to force Kantarou to cancel the name contract or make Haruka awaken his real powers, so they would be able to capture Haruka and present him to "that person", whose identity is unknown. If the name contract is not canceled or if the master dies, Haruka's power would forever be restrained and he would not be able to be used by the antagonists.
- Kantarou is a young folklorist and part-time exorcist with an ability to see youkai. He is of small build and looks much younger and innocent than he really is. His fair hair and red eyes have led some fans to conclude that he is an albino, although this is never confirmed in either the manga or anime. Kantarou is frequently depicted wearing a white-coloured gi and a hakama, along with a Buddhist rosary around his neck. Kantarou wears a bracelet of bells that jingle when he is approaching an evil presence. He also bears a scar across his chest as a result of a confrontation with an oni that flares when he is in the presence of one. Currently, he lives in Tokyo with his two subservient youkai, Youko and Haruka.
- Kantarou is highly intelligent and is quite sneaky and manipulative. He is able to trick others into doing what he wants them to do and anticipate their reactions. This trait has resulted in him being called a tactician (schemer) by Haruka, hence the title of the series. Apart from that, Kantarou is terrible at meeting deadlines and is always trying to put off work for another day. His writings do not sell well, and as a result he is quite avaricious. He also makes a point of often hitting on rich women such as a corporate president or a wealthy widow, hoping to marry one. Youko encourages this trait, while Haruka considers it ridiculous.
- Despite these unlikeable traits, Kantarou has a very good heart and feels deeply for youkai. Although it is customary for an exorcist to kill youkai, Kantarou chooses to reason with them and sees his line of work as a way to help youkai instead. His determination in caring for youkai has been criticized by both Haruka and Sugino, as not all youkai would take Kantarou's care kindly.
- As a child, Kantarou's ability to see youkai and his fondness for them caused him to be bullied and ostracized from his society. Kantarou vowed to himself to find the oni-eating tengu in hopes of becoming strong so he can protect those that he cares for. He has one friend among the humans whom he was close to, a girl named Yuuko, who stood up for him when he was bullied and who later became a geisha. Kantarou was also bitten by a dog as a child, which is why he hates dogs.
- Haruka is the name given by Kantarou to the legendary oni-eating tengu, the strongest of all youkai. He controls the power of lightning. In appearance he looks like a handsome young man with dark hair, but Haruka has a pair of black wings that he can hide or reveal at will. Occasionally, such as when he is attacking oni, Haruka can transfigure into his more youkai form. His nails will grow sharper and longer, his fangs will grow longer, and his eyes constrict. Most of the time, Haruka looks like a human being who dresses in Western attire.
- During the period of Haruka's bondage to Kantarou, Haruka loses a significant amount of his power. He is unable to recall who sealed him in the first place, and is also unable to eat oni. These incidences are a result of being bonded under the name contract. Haruka's loss of power upsets him and greatly affects his sense of self. The temptation to be set free from the name bond is used by Raikou to turn him against Kantarou. Haruka eventually chooses to remain under the name bond and states that he will accept freedom only when Kantarou wills it as well. This does not stop him from griping when Kantarou has him do menial tasks, like flying his drunken editor home.
- The name "Haruka" has the meaning of "Further ". It was intended to show how the oni-eating tengu was far stronger than any other youkai. Unfortunately, Kantarou decided for a different kanji for Haruka's name, as he thought Haruka was physically lovely, changing his name meaning 'spring flower', which Haruka reckons sounds more like the name of a female combat fighter. Haruka's good looks easily cause women to swoon over him (humorously followed by the sound of gun firing, in most cases). This is a 'talent' that Youko, Kantarou and sometimes even Haruka himself, takes advantage of to gain money, food or even a little extra help.
- Despite using this flirtatious ability to his advantage, Haruka seems cynical about romance (especially with humans), and usually reacts to romantic or sexual overtures with blank confusion or coldness, since he does not think that the person actually likes him. However, he seemed to feel regret at his coldness to the shrine maiden Miyabi when she died thanking him, confirming that she did genuinely care for him.
- Haruka also has a number of comical eccentricities, including an obsession for shiny objects, hatred of water and booze, a refusal to part with his old and dirty chawan, and a deathly fear of mackerel. Like Youko, he constantly harasses Kantarou to finish his manuscripts so they can buy food. In a manga side story, it is revealed that Haruka's mother was a god-tree.
- Haruka's name under his previous master, an onmyodo practitioner, was 'Rin'. As Rin, he did not have a good relationship with his previous master, and it is hinted that she took advantage of his subservient status for sexual purposes.
- Youko is a female kitsune whom Kantarou named. Her name translates to demon fox or bewitching fox. She has short, brown hair and purple eyes, and is often depicted wearing a kimono. When the story begins we see that she has already been living with Kantarou for quite some time. She is loud and impulsive, and she loses her temper frequently at Kantarou, whom she calls a bad master and a lousy breadwinner. Youko is also very economical when it comes to household expenses, and her shrewdness is a running joke in the series.
- Youko can make her fox ears appear and disappear at will, and can turn into her fox form if she so wishes. On occasion, she may lose control, causing her ears to appear, or even turn into her fox form altogether. She is constantly pestering Kantarou to finish his manuscripts so they can have more money for food. Youko also works as a waitress at a local restaurant to help make ends meet. When Haruka joins the household, she decides to make use of his good looks in hopes of gaining extra income for the household.
- In a side-story for the manga, it is revealed that Youko was initially a youkai who had been lonely for hundreds of years, and attempted to soothe this loneliness by deceiving passerbys into thinking that she was part of their family. In Kantarou's case, she pretended to be his wife. After Kantarou 'exorcises' her, he invites her to become part of his family. The ending of this side story implies that Youko may have romantic feelings for Kantarou.
- Rosalie is an orphan that was adopted by Hasumi in London. She is fairly young with long blond hair. Like Kantarou, she too has the ability to see youkai. She is also quite easily possessed by evil spirits which is very ironic since her adoptive father doesn't believe in them. She becomes friends with Kantarou and the group and visits them regularly.
- Sugino is a 'white' tengu and the 'god' of Sugino Village. As such, he is often called Sugino-sama. Unlike a 'black' tengu, such as Haruka, who is born a tengu and has black wings, a 'white' tengu was originally a powerful, overly-proud human priest or monk who turned into a white-winged tengu. It is stated that he, too, tried to break Haruka's seal, but failed. Sugino has a great amount of dislike for the human race, having been a human himself.
- Sugino is married to Muu-chan, a small, green youkai that becomes enormously attached to Kantarou, greatly annoying Sugino. After being asked how "[They] make babies", Sugino states that "[Their] love is purely platonic!". Sugino's dislike for Kantarou mainly stems from his 'wife's' crush on Kantarou, the fact that Kantarou is a human, and because Kantarou was able to unseal Haruka whereas he himself was unable to.
- Prior to meeting Muu-chan, Sugino was a cruel character who earned the nickname of 'violent tengu'. His cruelty caused him to be lonely and he hated his immortality. He suffered alone for a long time until he met Muu-chan, who comforted him.
- Muu-chan is a small green youkai who is married to Sugino and only says 'Muu', hence the name. Muu-chan has a crush on Kantarou because he saved its life, and Muu-chan climbing into his arms is a running joke in the manga. Despite that, Muu-chan is still devoted to Sugino.
- Muu-chan has the ability to vacuum up demons and spells using its mouth. Muu-chan's sex is a debatable issue. However, judging from Muu-chan's crush on Kantarou and since Sugino is the 'husband', it is more likely that Muu-chan is female(?). Sugino states that Muu-chan is very good at interrogating humans.
- Ayame is Raiko's younger sister. She greatly admires her brother. Ayame used to be able to see youkai, but as she got older she lost the ability. She now studies about youkai under Hasumi. Ayame's physical appearance reminds Haruka of his previous master, Fuji.
- She only appeared in one episode in the anime.
- Hasumi was Kantarou's underclassmen during university, but graduated before Kantarou because Kantarou kept on skipping class to exterminate youkai. Both Hasumi and Kantarou are their sensei's brightest pupils, but Hasumi is more financially successful and academically respected.
- Hasumi regularly gets into fights with Kantarou since he claims that youkai do not exist. He adopts Rosalie as his daughter on his visit to London. He writes off Rosalie's ability to see youkai as hallucinations. However, for one who adamantly claims that youkai do not exist, he seems to know an awful lot about said youkai. Kantarou has remarked that, in actuality, Hasumi probably likes youkai a whole lot more than he lets on.
- Raiko is the head of the Minamoto family and leader of the government's Demon Extermination Squad. He wants to make Kantarou cancel the name contract with Haruka so Haruka will get his memories back and become the "real" demon eating tengu he wishes to defeat. It is said that his sole weakness is his younger sister, Ayame. He hates that Kantarou was able to unseal the demon-eating tengu but he himself could not. He wields Minamoto's Legendary sword.
- Watanabe is loyal to Raikou and is one of his retainers. He is a member of Raikou's Demon Extermination Squad and possesses 'Minamoto's arm'.
- Fuji is Haruka's previous master before meeting Kantarou. Haruka's name under Fuji was 'Rin'. Fuji sealed Haruka because she was possessive of him and did not want him to have another owner after her death. She also attempted to find a way so that her soul would be alive forever.
- Fuji practices onmyodo. This explains Haruka's dislike of it.
- Suzu is an anime-only character. She is the younger sister of a wealthy girl, whose fiancé Kantarou helped to exorcise in the first episode. Suzu falls in love with Haruka at first sight. Conversely, she pretty much hates Kantarou at first sight. She becomes good friends with Youko and Rosalie and regularly visits the Ichinomiya household, and ends up accompanying them in their work. Eventually, she warms up to Kantarou too. She passed away on the day Haruka had a fight with Raiko in episode 24, because she had fragile health it was due to just a mild cold. Other than herself, her family, and Kantaro, no one was aware that she was dead as her ghost visited Kantaro's house for six months, eventually passing on to the other side after helping Kantarou and Haruka reconcile.
|| Original airdate
|| English airdate
A CD for season 1 of the Tactics
anime was released on 27 June 2006Opening
- Lyrics by: Yuriko Mori
- Composition by: Kazuya Nishioka
- Arrangement by: Kazuya Nishioka
- Sung by: Miki AkiyamaEnding Theme:
- Lyrics by: Yuriko Mori
- Composition by: Kazuya Nishioka
- Arrangement by: Kazuya Nishioka
- Sung by: Miki Akiyama
Anime production staff
- Director: Hiroshi Watanabe
- Series Composition: Kenichi Kanemaki
- Dubbing Director: Kazuhiko Inoue
- Script: Kanemaki Kenichi
- Screenplay:Hiroyuki Kawasaki, Katsuhiko Takayama, Masashi Kubota, Masashi Suzuki
- Storyboard:Chiaki Ima, Hiroshi Watanabe, Masashi Kojima, Mitsuko Oyake, Shinpei Miyashita
- Episode Director:Chiaki Ima, Hiroshi Watanabe, Shigeru Ueda
- Music: Kei Haneoka
- Character Design: Mariko Oka
- Art Director: Michiyo Akutsu
- Chief Animation Director: Mariko Oka
- Animation Director:Minefumi Harada, Miyako Tsuji, Youichi Ishikawa, Yukiko Ban
- Director of Photography: Akio Abe
and Kazuko Higashiyama
form a dōjinshi
circle called Mad Cookie Monster
. They individually go by the pseudonyms
Wasabi Katsuo and Wasabi Maguro, respectively. This circle has released many dōjinshi for their own series, including Tactics
, some of them containing explicit yaoi
pornography. One of the rarest and best known of these titles is Love Sick
, a 72-page dōjinshi containing an illustrated short novel and an explicit yaoi
comic, featuring the pairing Haruka x Kantarou. Other dōjinshi based on Tactics
are El Principe
, which features mild Haruka x Kantarou, and Lil' Crazy
, which features Raikou x Haruka.