Ayashi no Ceres / Ceres, Celestial Legend

Ceres, Celestial Legend , is a 14-volume shōjo manga series by Yūu Watase, the creator of the popular manga/anime series Fushigi Yūgi and Alice 19th. There is also the anime with the same title, which runs in 24 episodes in length. The manga is published in English by VIZ Media.

Ayashi no Ceres was serialized from 1996 to 2000 in the bi-weekly Japanese manga magazine Shōjo Comic. The original Japanese title is Ayashi no Ceres - Tenkū Otogizūshi, which the literal translation is "Bewitching Ceres - Heavenly Fairy Tale". The original title was changed for North American release.

The story revolves around a teenage girl named Aya and her twin brother Aki, members of the wealthy and powerful Mikage family.

On their sixteenth birthday, they are called to gather in their family home to be given a special present. The present was actually some sort of test -- which Aya failed. She is proven to be a reincarnation of a tennyō (celestial maiden), and when her hidden memory is jogged, she will transform into Ceres, the tennyō. According to the legend, if left to live, the reincarnation of Ceres will bring ruin upon the Mikage family. Aya quickly finds she is being hunted by her own family who plans to kill her. She is saved by Suzumi Aogiri, another tennyo descendant, Yūhi, a very energetic teenager and Suzumi's brother-in-law, and Tōya, a mysterious man with whom Aya soon falls in love.

Events escalate as Aya struggles to control Ceres and her brother gains the ability to manifest as the "Progenitor", the ancestor of the Mikage family who happen to have stolen Ceres' hagoromo (celestial robe) that will help her open the gate of heaven.

As Aya's allies increase, which include two tennyo like herself and the Aogiri family, and Tōya, she manages to reach a compromise with Ceres such that Ceres will not manifest herself without Aya's approval so long as Aya manages to recover Ceres' lost hagoromo.

Aya's quest to find Ceres' hagoromo wavers as she attempts to avoid her family, the advances of the Progenitor, and forces that threaten to tear her apart from Tōya, whose lost memory may be the key to finding Ceres' hagoromo. Toya soon learns that he was the organism that was created from the "hagoromo" or mana and his purpose was to return the mana back to Ceres. His love for Aya set him apart from everyone else.

The name of the goddess comes from Ceres in Roman mythology. However, this story is completely unrelated to the grecoroman mythologies concerning Ceres and has nothing to do with the duties, powers, and rank of that goddess.

Ceres: Celestial Legend is based on a famous folktale that has appeared in various versions in the world, from Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, and China, all the way to Scotland and Ireland and among the Plains Indians of North America.

The story always remains consistent in that a man (a fisherman, farmer, or woodcutter) will find an item belonging to an unearthly maiden (a tennyo, fairy, star fisher, merrow, selkie, etc.) and keeps it. The maiden is not able to return to her world because the man possesses the item (usually a garment) she needs (a celestial robe, a feathered cloak, a hat, a seal-skin... etc) and reluctantly marries him. However, she always recovers the item (often as a result of her children discovering it) and she returns to her world. Sometimes her children from earth will be taken with her and sometimes her husband will join her. Once the maiden returns to her world, she never returns to the earth.

This folktale is referenced in both manga and anime. Ceres is one such example. Others include the Korean Manhwa Faeries' Landing and the Inuyasha the Movie 2: Castle Through the Looking Glass.

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