Netflix Reveals New Historical Fantasy Anime Series Based On Best-Selling Book Series

By Kevin C. Neece | Published

Netflix has just unveiled the first trailer for the new anime series Onymoji. The anime comes from animation studio Marvy Jack, which is marking its first standalone project with the series. The series of historical novels of the same name has been popular for some time in Japan, but this marks its first animated adaptation, which will drop on Netflix on November 28, 2023.

Netflix is adapting the popular Onmyoji novels into a new anime series set to arrive on November 28.

The Onmyoji series of novels by Baku Yumemakura is ripe for an animated adaptation, as is generally the custom in Japan, though international audiences will notice a number of similarities between this new anime and an existing but unrelated video game that shares the same title. Still, the anime boasts an unusual setting—Japan’s Heian era, which is uncommon for Japanese animation.  The last period in classical Japanese history, the Heian era, lasted from 794 to 1185.

Taking place in ancient Kyoto, Onmyoji follows Minamoto Hiromasa, grandson of Emperor Daigo and court musician, who visits the home of the yin-yang diviners, known as onmyoji, to discover why demons are plaguing the city. There, he meets Abe Seimei, a great onmyoji who is just the right person to unravel the mystery of the rise of demonic activity in Kyoto. Though Seimei seems somewhat unconcerned with the mundane world, he nonetheless teams up with Hiromasa to confront the demons head-on and seek an answer to the puzzle of their persistence.

The Onmyoji mobile game, which follows a similar storyline, has no connection to the new anime.

The onmyoji Abe Seimei is a well-known figure in Japanese culture, having long appeared in historical fiction as a kind of sorcerer based on a historical figure. Baku Yumemakura’s Onmyoji short stories, which began in 1986, have continued to feature the character, which was carried forward into the three novels written by Yumemakura from 2000 to 2008. Though this is not the first adaptation of his work, with several live-action adaptations and a manga based on the short stories and novels, this is the first time Onmyoji has been adapted into an anime. 

That seems a little strange, considering the popularity of the series and the frequency with which such adaptations are made in Japan. However, there is also the very real possibility that viewers will be confused by this new Onmyoji as there is already a mobile game that was made in 2016 and follows very much the same storyline. Since the word onmyoji is part of Japanese culture, the title similarity is not entirely surprising, but the mobile game even features Abe Seimei and has spawned its own franchise. 

Just as there have been several adaptations of characters like Sherlock Holmes in the West, surely there is room for multiple stories across media about Abe Seimei.

Still, the animation quality of the new anime appears from the trailer to be quite high, meaning the series will hopefully be able to find its own distinctive audience. Netflix is certainly betting that Onmyoji will be able to distinguish itself despite these similarities and will find a broader appeal in the international market. Marvy Jack also has a lot riding on the series as their first major production, meaning they are sure to put a lot of effort into helping it find its audience. 

Just as there have been several adaptations of characters like Sherlock Holmes in the West, surely there is room for multiple stories across media about Abe Seimei. The trailer does look exciting and unique, but audiences will be able to judge for themselves when Onmyoji premieres on Netflix on November 28th.