Shobu Samurai: Project Aryoku
by Shinry

"It won't be long now until the lunar eclipse, and then God will return, and we will bring salvation to everyone in the Ark."

In the Ark world, there are six different realms devoted to specializations: members of the Wind Civilization are technocrats; the Fire comprises the offensive military; the Water is made up of healers and gardeners; the Earth members serve as defense; the Light Realm governs; those in the Dark are scientists who dabble in the forbidden. In fact, it was the Dark Civilization that started "Project Aryoku," wherein humans become fused with "blood beasts," super-powered animal forms that feed on the human's blood then soul until finally killing them. But things in the Ark are not peaceful. Members of the Fire and Dark are combining to overthrow the Light's government. They are driven by resentments and hatred driven by the initial experiments with Aryoku. They enlist with the guardian known as Blood Wrath—a shadow creature created to guard the blood beast realm and summon a black dragon and fox spirit. Hoping to become infused by the dragon "Annoishi" and the fox "Akuma," they are surprised when, instead, the spirits enter into a very young boy, Shobo Samurai.

Shobo is the main character in a very large cast of characters whom the author says are based on anime and the comic books he grew up reading. There is a lot of action driven by the quest for the power given by the blood beast enhancements. Time travel, telekinesis, telepathy, and androids are all present, with the main action being an almost ceaseless battle between super-powered heroes or antiheroes. There is some nuance, with enemies being recognized as misguided or controlled. Themes of societal decadence, sibling rivalry, loyalty, and the destructive effects of revenge are covered well. The plot is intricate, with time travel and intergenerational relationships being constantly juggled with a deft hand.

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