, also known as Yamibou for short, is both a Japanese adult visual novel published in late 2002 by Root, and a non-adult, thirteen episode anime series released by Root and Studio Deen in 2003. Although the characters and their relationships remain basically the same in the game and anime, the storyline is quite different.
The story follows the travels of Hazuki Azuma, a tall, brooding high-school girl, as she searches for her adopted older sister and love interest, Hatsumi, in many different "book worlds". Her search is rather more of a focus in the anime series, in which Hazuki is the main character, than in the game. The main character of the game, the player, is nameless and occupies a different body in different "book worlds", including Hazuki's at some points. After the disappearance of her sister in the anime, a talking parakeet nicknamed Ken-chan introduces Hazuki to another major character of the series; Lilith, the caretaker of the Great Library. Each book in the library contains a different world, and the guardian of the library takes on the title Yami. As Yami, Lilith wears an enormous single-eyed hat. In the game, the main character's constant companion is Ken-chan. The anime is an attempt to bridge the gap between shōjo
anime; without the fan service
, the series could be considered a shōjo anime, since it is mostly character-driven and focused upon developing relationships. For this reason, as well as the fact that most of the female characters seem to be attracted to Hazuki, the anime series is popular among yuri
The anime is sometimes criticized as being difficult to follow, due to its non-linear plot and self-referential nature. For example, the first episode of the anime jumps ahead to after Hazuki has met Lilith, however their actual meeting and explanation of how they get to each book is not shown until later. The anime is narrated by Arya, and the common visual aid to understanding the jumps is to imagine him sitting in a messy pile of books picking one at random to read to you.
- Voiced by: Yuki Iwata (game), Mamiko Noto (anime)
- Hazuki is an obvious example of the "tall, dark bishōjo" archetype. She is quiet and serious, with long dark blue hair and sharp blue eyes. Hazuki appears cold and unfriendly and is fiercely protective of Hatsumi. She is actually very vulnerable and romantic, even to the point of being submissive, but refuses to show weakness or depend on anyone but her adoptive sister, Hatsumi — unless she is forced to. One example of this is her first encounter with Lilith, where she initially refuses Lilith's help in looking for Hatsumi/Eve. Only when Lilith notes she won't be able to travel from world to world without her, does Hazuki agree to travel with her and even then, only tacitly. As soon as she no longer has any need for Lilith's help, she shows no regard for her or her wishes with regards to Eve. Hazuki idolizes Hatsumi extremely and, as such, considers her sexual attraction to Hatsumi vulgar and shameful.
- Voiced by: Anna Akashi (game), Ai Shimizu (anime)
- Hatsumi is Hazuki's adopted older sister and love interest. Hatsumi appears to be mute (though it is proven otherwise on several occasions) and communicates mostly through gestures and facial expressions. Despite being older, Hatsumi is much shorter and thinner than Hazuki. Childhood memory flash-backs show Hazuki as a small, sickly child who might not have lived if not for Hatsumi's care. Although it seems that Hazuki's love is one-sided, episode seven shows that Hatsumi does have feelings for Hazuki and was trying to express herself as best as she could with the knowledge that she cannot stay beyond her sixteenth birthday (suggestions of this were shown along the way by her sending Hazuki anonymous love letters — later expressed in full and in words toward the end of the anime). In the first episode, Hatsumi disappears in a burst of green light ("sōma") at midnight on her sixteenth birthday, as Hazuki tries to steal a kiss in her sleep. The events that follow lead Hazuki to a mysterious library in another dimension, in which all the worlds are kept in books. Hazuki learns from the Library guardian, Lilith, that Hatsumi is only one of the forms of the previous guardian (Eve), and that Eve stays in different books for fun until she turns sixteen.
- Voiced by: Misaki Asamiya (game), Sanae Kobayashi (anime)
- Lilith is the guardian of the library. She is the third Yami, after Adam, the creator of all the worlds, and Eve. In the anime, Lilith is attracted to Hazuki and flirts relentlessly, though she is always turned down. Lilith appears to dislike Eve and have interest only in her own ends, but her kind and vulnerable sides are sometimes shown, especially when she encounters children in trouble; adults do not seem to move her to compassion as much. Her more childish mannerisms are fairly constant, but Lilith sometimes shows considerable wisdom and knowledge. She claims that Eve left the duty of being Yami and went off to play in the book worlds, and so she wants to find Eve and return her to the library.
- Towards the end of the game, it is shown that Lilith misses the past, when she was close with Eve and Adam, or "Yami Yama". In the game, Lilith uses the main character's love for the wayward guardian to find Eve, and in the anime she uses Hazuki. At the end of the game, Lilith may either fall in love with the main character, or continue to pine for Yami Yama. In the anime, Lilith is attracted by (and flirts with) both men and women, though she never develops any deep romantic relationships. At the end of the anime, it may be suggested that Lilith and Eve share a sexual relationship from time to time.
- Ken is a yellow cockatiel who can talk. In the anime, he accompanies Lilith in her travels, while in the game he accompanies the nameless main character. He speaks in very heavy kansai-ben. Ken is loud, obnoxious, lecherous and perverted, as well as overly confident and a bit too slow to stay out of trouble. He usually ends up punched, squashed, beaten or otherwise violated, either as a result of tasks given to him by Lilith, or because of his big mouth and perverted tendencies. In the game, his true form is a kendappa and he is working for Arya.
- Voiced by: Jun Fukuyama (anime)
- Arya is a mysterious silver-haired boy who appears in every episode of the anime and during certain times in the game. In the anime he claims to be cleaning up after Hazuki and Lilith. Also, he offers to perform repairs on Tamamonomae's Space Hall. He is always cosplaying as some type of character or animal. At the end of the anime series, he is shown closing a book that seems to contain the world of the Book Keepers. He is the main narrator of the story, and his short exits and introductions are often the only transition between stories.
- Voiced by: Ai Shimizu (anime)
- Kogechibi lives in the library, and looks like a four-inch (102 mm) -tall Eve, though with different colored eyes. "Koge" refers to the one-eyed cloak that covers all of her but the eyes. In the game, when the main character is occupying "Koge", the girl is referred to as "O-chibi-chan" ("o" being an honorific and "chan" an endearment). Kogechibi's vocabulary is composed of unintellible sounds akin to baby talk. In the anime, she has a disturbing love of fireworks and can say a few words if they have something to do with explosives; she builds miniature catapults and launch platforms, and fills hollow fountain pens with gunpowder and uses them as bottle rockets. She plays a small part in the plot, but is mostly comic relief in the anime. In the game, it is revealed that the guardians "fragment" when they overexert themselves, and that the fragments take on a life of their own. Kogechibi is a fragment of Eve.
- Voiced by: Shinichiro Miki (anime)
- Gargantua appears in episode two of the anime as a madman, with three bumbling demonic henchmen and a servant named Seiren (derived from the Hellenic Siren). His main goal is to find Eve who is present as the mute, magic-using Jill, assistant caretaker of the orphanage. Gargantua is fiercely attached to her, and accidentally stabs her fatally with a knife when he jealously tries to dislodge a fellow orphan, Ritsuko, from Jill's arms. Jill's body disappears in an explosion of souma, drenching the two children in her life force. In the game, Gargantua and the main character both hold and try to acquire more fragments of Eve. For a while, Gargantua takes over Joe Harry and the command of the "hunters" (smaller, one-eyed hat-looking creatures). At the end of the anime, thanks to Eve and Tamamonomae, Gargantua has a change of heart and returns to the realm Lilith gave him for the sacrifice of princess Mariel, taking Ritsuko with him.
- Voiced by: Tomomi Misaki (game), Kikuko Inoue (anime)
- Ritsuko first appears along with Gargantua in episode three, though she plays a greater role in episode four. Set approximately 100 years after episode 3, she is an immortal magic user and appears no older than 25, despite being over a century old. Ritsuko travels the countryside performing healing miracles. She has never forgotten Jill or Gargantua, and carries small portraits of them in her locket. When she comes to the castle to heal Princess Mariel, she is taken in as the court alchemist. One day, while escorting the princess around the village, Ritsuko meets Gargantua, who is also immortal because of Jill's souma and has learned dark magic. He kidnaps Princess Mariel and tries to sacrifice her to Lilith, in order to be shown where Eve is. Ritsuko stops him only too late and is framed for the kidnapping and thrown into a dungeon. Ritsuko is a user of sexual magic in the game, and one of the bodies occupied by the player is under her spell. She is also seen travelling through the books with two children. Her true name, the name she uses as a character in another ero-game, is revealed towards the end of the game. At the end of the anime, thanks to some interference by Eve and Tamamonomae, Gargantua returns for Ritsuko, freeing her from her cell and taking her back with him to his own realm.
- Voiced by: Maria Yamamoto (anime)
- Quill is a relatively minor character who appears in episode five, in an early Stone Age world. She leads Hazuki and Lilith to her cave-village, where they notice an evil presence. A giant monster breaks out of the people's primitive shrine and Hazuki enters her first swordfight. The monster shrinks and disappears after its defeat. Quill loses the ability to communicate with Hazuki and Lilith after the defeat of the monster. It is suggested that Arya may have used magic to enable Quill to communicate with Lilith and Hazuki, possibly in a bid to make the two defeat the beast, which had been worshipped as a god. Quill does not appear in the game.
- Voiced by: Miyu Matsuki (anime)
- Milka appears in episode six under the care of Seiren. She is a girl with a cruel past who is trapped in her five-year-old body. Milka lives on an island, and has no one to befriend but Seiren and her white tiger, Rascaless. Her initial caretaker was an older woman who used to whip the child as a punishment for such trivial offences as talking back to her. Eventually, the old woman is killed by Rascaless when Milka isn't watching. Initially afraid of Hazuki and Lilith, she warms up to them and has Seiren take them to the villa at the center of the island.
- Milka's world is subject to periodic reality shifts she calls "rip-rip", during which the sky and the ground rip open as if in an earthquake, only to close without a trace. These drive Milka wild with pain, and she collapses at times. At one point, a "rip-rip" splits the sea, and Milka wanders into the gap, mumbling about crossing the ocean. The rip closes and she is nearly drowned. Hazuki attempts a rescue, but it is Rascaless who saves Milka. Afterwards, Milka realizes Rascaless killed the old woman for her; she thanks him, but asks him never to do such a thing again. Back at the villa, it is revealed that Seiren was grooming Milka to use her magic against Lilith, as revenge for abandoning her. However, Milka apparently has no magical powers even though she does not age. Lilith shrugs it off and tries to reconcile with Seiren, and then sends Milka across the ocean on a ship, at her right age.
- In the game, Milka is sent to live on the island by her older brother, for whom she has romantic feelings, because of her poor health. Seiren sings on the cliffs everyday to keep all of Milka's brother's soldiers under her spell, and Milka on the island. She also tries to manipulate Milka through her dreams. After Seiren and Lilith's reconciliation, Milka goes back to her brother with Rascaless.
- Voiced by: Anna Akashi (game), Ai Shimizu (anime)
- Fujihime appears in a book-world that corresponds to the samurai era of Japan. Fujihime looks like Hatsumi, but has purple eyes instead of red. She can talk, and possesses the comb with which Hatsumi was using, in modern-day Japan.
- Voiced by: Ayaka Kimura (game), Kyoko Hikami (anime)
- Meirin is a cheerful, wily kitsune girl with two tails who is trying to "raise her rank" by getting close to the princess. The player of the game meets Meirin after he enters a body, the previous owner of which she unintentionally kills. To make up for it, she takes him to Fujihime, who is another form of Eve. Fujihime lives deep in the mountains, but the humans are cutting down the bamboo forest dangerously close to her hut. She is good friends with both Meirin and the god of the mountain, who is in love with her.
- Voiced by: Yukana (anime)
- Lala is the monolithic AI controlling the spaceship upon which Hazuki and the others find themselves in episode ten. The ship is an "emigration spaceship" taking the former inhabitants of Earth on a search for a new home planet. None of the passengers appear over ten years old, yet they have been drifting for over two hundred years. Hazuki and Lilith discover that all the adults died in a plague nine years ago. In one scene, Hazuki's young guide (Layla) talks to her mother, gets a response, and then leaves the room. Hazuki looks at the mother's bed and sees a decaying corpse. Lala was the one who answered, and was likely doing so for all the children. Eve appeared in this world as Lular over a hundred years ago, and had vanished on her sixteenth birthday while fixing a malfunctioning part. Not even the spacesuit was ever found. This futuristic world and its characters do not appear in the game.
- Voiced by: Ayaka Kimura (game), Kyoko Hikami (anime)
- Tamaonomae appears to be Meirin's future form as a kitsune woman with nine tails, though she exists in a different book-world. Possibly, she and Meirin may simply be alternative versions of one another; she described Meirin as her 'other self', which in context may mean that Meirin is her creation or an independent creature which fissioned off from Tamamonomae, as Seiren from Lilith and Kogechibi from Eve. In the anime, she is more sexually voracious than Lilith, and flirts with and gropes Gargantua when he stumbles into her floating "Space Hall" with his henchmen. She keeps a tiny fire dragon as a pet. Tamamonomae appears to be well familiar but not very respectful of Lilith and has a great love of saké. Her powers apparently surpass Lilith's and possibly Yamiyama's, as she is capable of removing the Hat from Lilith's head without suffering any ill effects, greatly weakening Lilith in the process.
- Tamamonomae, despite her sexual and alcoholic tendencies, is not an unsympathetic character; she has considerable insight into people and does some fairly altruistic things for some of the other characters; she restores Mariel to human form, helps Gargantua to acknowledge the truth, returns the Hat to Eve and finally seems to have taken Gargantua's henchmen in as permanent guests. The Space Hall seems to be a place like the library of worlds, and is beyond the flow of time of the book-worlds. All three parties (Gargantua and his servants, Hazuki and Lilith, and Eve in her "raw" form) appear here at the beginning of the end. In both the game and the anime, Tamamonomae lives in her Space Hall with a servant who is in fact the reincarnation of Princess Mariel. In the game it is later revealed that Tamamonomae is an SD (super deformed), nine-tailed kitsune girl named , and is wearing the Tamamonomae body as a zippered suit. She is apparently named after the legendary Tamamo-no-mae, but although the two apparently share the quality of wisdom, they are otherwise quite different.
- Voiced by: Terrier (game), Rie Kanda (anime)
- Seiren is a beautiful, blue-haired woman who initially appears as Gargantua's ally in the anime. He describes her as a devil, but apparently trusts her, using her aid in his search for Eve. Seiren holds a grudge against Lilith, claiming that she was abandoned by her. She is most upset when they meet again on Milka's island and Lilith doesn't even remember her. It is possible that Seiren is an aspect of Lilith that split off, just as Kogechibi split off from Eve. If this is so, Seiren has certainly developed better than Kogechibi. Seiren's plan to use Milka against Lilith fails, but Lilith makes an attempt at reconciliation which may or may not have succeeded.
- Voiced by: Pomeranian (game), Sayaka Ohara (anime)
- A woman who appears in a book-world that corresponds to the Russo-Japan War era. She is an intelligence agent and an expert martial artist noted for sending three colleagues into hospital during training. Yōko arrives on a train somewhere corresponding to contemporary Russian Siberia, cross-dressing as a male diplomat and attempting to link up with fellow agent Kohtaro Nanbu, codenamed "Adam", for a film containing radio codes. Due to her inexperience, however, she quickly becomes the subject of suspicion and is only rescued by Kazuo Saiga, another fellow agent known as "Tiger of Siberia". Although Kazuo turns out to be a double-agent whose henchmen end up killing Kohtaro, Yōko is able to defeat him and complete her mission with Hazuki's help.
- Voiced by: Hina Kamimura (game), Hiroko Kasahara (anime)
- A princess in Ritsuko and Gargantua's world. One day, when she is placed under Ritsuko's care, she meets Gargantua and eventually develops a crush on him. She is later kidnapped and sacrificed to Lilith by Gargantua, committing suicide by poison, but is reincarnated and employed as a maid by Tamamonomae. Toward the end of the anime, the incarnated Mariel accepts proposal from one of Gargantua's henchmen, who falls in love with her after she tends to his injury in a gentle and caring manner unlike his neglective master.
- Voiced by: Aiko Kayo (anime)
There is a one-book manga
adaptation, Yami to Bōshi to Hon no Tabibito ~Romance
, illustrated by Aya Sakurai. It is a compressed version of the game's events, following the storyline that leads to a romantic relationship between the nameless main character and Lilith.
A spin-off game exists known as intended to teach typing skills. This is based on the anime and even uses screencaps from it.
The four main characters of Yamibou make a brief single episode cameo appearance in the animated series Tōka Gettan, which was also originally a visual novel game developed by Root and adapted to animation by Studio Deen.
Opening theme: "Hitomi no Naka no Meikyū" by Aiko KayōEnding
theme: "Eien no Inori o Sasagete" by Sanae Kobayashi