Inside Zero are many different elements make up the form of the world trapped in darkness, which if you can understand you can touch Zero's darkness.
= Zero ~zero~
= Zero ~Akai Chou~
A symbolic entity in Zero ~Akai Chou~. When the older sister wraps her hands around the younger's neck in the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual the mark left there forms the shape of a crimson butterfly which comes out of it. In Minakami Village, it has been believed since ancient times that it is the transformed soul of the Twin Shrine Maiden (or Altar Twin) who is sacrificed in the ritual.
Crimson Sacrifice Ritual
A secret ritual performed in Minakami Village once every few decades. In order to suppress the Darkness spilling from the Hellish Abyss that lay underneath the village, Twin Shrine Maidens (or Altar Twins) who had undergone the purification rituals were offered up in a ritual as a human sacrifice. Just before the ritual was to take place, Yae Kurosawa escaped from the village, leaving Sae to be sacrificed alone, but the ritual failed and brought about the Repentance. All of the villagers were wiped out by Sae, who had turned into a vengeful ghost, and from then on Minakami Village became the "Lost Village" of legend.
The inventor of the Camera Obscura, a camera with the power to photograph ghosts, and the Spirit Stone Radio, a radio capable to replaying the voices contained inside Spirit Stones. Because he conducted research into the spirit world, he was shunned as a heretic by the scientific community. He was friends with the folklorist Seijiro Makabe, to whom he lent a prototype Camera Obscura and the Spirit Stone Radio. He also went travelling in order to try to complete the Camera Obscura, but later met with a mysterious death.
Mio and Mayu's mother. She takes them along with her to visit her hometown, which will be submerged by a dam. Since Shizu had heard rumours about the "Lost Village" being near her hometown, she sternly cautioned her daughters, "If you stay out too late at night playing, you'll get lost in the village."
Mio's older sister. As one of the protagonists of Zero ~Akai Chou, she is possessed by Sae, a Twin Shrine Maiden, who leads her to Minakami Village. Given the role of being the shrine maiden and again performing the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual, she gradually begins to accept her fate. At the end, Mayu realises her desire of being killed by Mio. Whether it's because she's possessed by Sae... Or whether it was a latent desire to be killed... You should play the game to make sure. The important key is the voices you hear during the climax of the ritual during the ending - Mayu (Sae)'s voice.
Mayu's younger sister. As one of the protagonists of Zero ~Akai Chou~, she explores Minakami Village trying to save her sister, who is possessed by Sae, a Twin Shrine Maiden. When they were young Mayu was injured, and Mio continues to blame herself for it. As she does so Mayu becomes trapped inside Minakami Village, and vowing within her heart not to make the same error again Mio uses the Camera Obscura to repel ghosts. She, too, is possessed - by Sae's older sister, Yae - though she isn't too aware of it.
Mio and Mayu's father. He was a former inhabitant of the area near Minakami Village. Misao, as a mukoyoushi (adopted son-in-law) of the Amakura family, took on their surname - his former name was "Asou", and he was a blood relation of Kunihiko Asou, inventor of the Camera Obscura.
People who performed the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual at the Hellish Abyss. The Mourners are blind. Since in the villge it is strictly forbidden to look at the Hellish Abyss, generation after generation members of the family burdened with the role of Mourner would have their eyes sewn shut so they couldn't see anything. Since they are blind, they can perform the ritual at the place closest to the Abyss. People who break the village's taboos also have their eyes sewn shut, and are made into Mourners.
A huge hole located in the deepest part of Minakami Village. As the most sacred area in the entire village, only the ceremony master, Ryokan Kurosawa, the priests and Mourners are allowed to get near it. There are also a number of restrictions in place regarding the Hellish Abyss; it was forbidden to speak of it, see it, or write about it at all.
When the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual failed it didn't stop the rumblings of the Hellish Abyss, and Darkness (fear) began to spill from the Abyss, trapping the village in an eternal night - the Repentance. Those swallowed by the Abyss' Darkness died of madness, unable to rest in peace or do anything but continuously wander around during the unending night. Each time the Abyss rumbles more Darkness seeped out, until after a few generations it completely covered Minakami Village. This Darkness apparently gradually spreads across the surrounding area.
An editor in charge of a magazine written by Takamine. He accompanied Takamine on research, and was cursed and killed by Kirie at Himuro Mansion, his ghost then attacking Miku.
A children's game passed down in the Himuro area. The Demon was chosen by a game of "Kagome, Kagome", and they would then chase the other children. The first caught would become the next Demon, and the last remaining was known as the "princess".
A ritual was performed when the Hellish Abyss began to rumble before the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual began, to temporarily calm the Abyss. In the ritual, a human "hitobashira" sacrifice is turned into a "Kusabi" using a visitor to the village. The greater suffering inflicted upon the sacrifice the stronger they will be, and prevent the Abyss' rumblings.
Memento Camera Obscura
katami no shaeiki
The camera left to Miku by Miyuki Hinasaki (Miku's mother). Known as the Camera Obscura, it can photograph things people can't see. When this camera is used by a person with strong spiritual power, it can seal ghosts away. However, when the camera is used to photograph a ghost, in the worst case scenario the person will be drawn into the ghost world, which may cause mental disorders. After Miyuki obtained the camera, she too became mentally ill.
In Minakami Village, after the older Twin Shrine Maiden kills the other in the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual, the remaining sister or brother is known as the "Remaining" and is revered. Those who became Remaining often suffered from mental illness, and they were confined within the village storehouse. After death, the Remaining were buried in the Old Tree.
The final shrine maiden in the Strangling Ritual that was passed down through the Himuro family. Due to the appearance of her lover she became attached to the world of the living when the Laceration Rope was created, and the Ceremony of the Ropes failed. Also, since Mafuyu resembles her lover from long ago, she tries to take him over to the side of darkness.
The older sister of a pair of Twin Shrine Maidens from before Yae and Sae, who became a Remaining when she strangled her younger sister Azami. After the ritual she became mentally ill due to her self-condemnation for having killed her sister, but began to recover when her father created a doll that looked like Azami. However, a soul dwelled within the doll, and at some point it began manipulating Akane. Even after death, Akane continued to be under its control.
As the younger Twin Shrine Maiden in a past Crimson Sacrifice Ritual, she was killed by her older sister Akane. She dearly loved her sister and believed that being killed by her would make them one, points that she shares with Mayu. After her death, her father created a doll that looked like her, which she feared would bring disaster upon them, and became a ghost to warn them.
A human sacrifice used to calm the Hellish Abyss' rumblings temporarily before the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual. Outsiders who weren't from the village were made into Kusabi, rare guests who were trapped and used to perform the Hidden Ceremony, in which their bodies were sliced up during the "cutting". Also amongst the guests were those who couldn't take the suffering and succumbed to death before becoming Kusabi, who were unfit to be used.
It is said that the ceremony master of a Crimson Sacrifice Ritual some generations ago felt sorry for the dead Remaining, and constructed a hokora to soothe their ghosts. However, in reality, long ago a pair of twins tried to escape from the village using the Underground Passageway leading out of Kureha Shrine, and the ceremony master at the time constructed the hokora in order to seal the passage leading outside. Inside the Old Tree are many Twin Deities Statues and crimson pinwheels that are offered up.
The younger sister of the pair of Twin Shrine Maidens at the time of the Repentance. Because her older sister Yae successfully escaped from Minakami Village, she couldn't perform the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual and this induced the Repentance. Caught between her conflicting emotions of wanting to save the village and her anger at her sister's betrayal, she turned into a vengeful ghost. Sae, now an evil spirit, gradually killed the villagers, laughing while standing as though upon a sea of blood.
The older of the Twin Shrine Maidens at the time of the Repentance. She attempted to escape from Minakami Village along with her younger sister Sae, but in the middle of it Sae was captured by the villagers and only Yae successfully escaped. Searching for her sister, who had gone astray, Yae returned to the village, but where it should have been there was nothing, since it had been annihilated by the Repentance. Up to the despairing Yae came Ryozo Munakata, who had kept his promise to Itsuki and returned once more to the village. Later the two married, and moved to Himuro Mansion. Her husband was bewitched by the Gate to Hell, and Yae became mentally ill due to the Camera Obscura, committing suicide by hanging herself by the neck from the cherry tree in the garden.
The ceremony master at the time of the Repentance, and father of that year's Twin Shrine Maidens, Yae and Sae. Though Ryokan loved his daughters as a father would, even stronger than that was his sense of duty as ceremony master to complete the ritual and suppress the Hellish Abyss. He was also a Remaining, having killed his younger brother in a Crimson Sacrifice Ritual in the past.
This special mirror was placed in front of the Hell Gate, reflecting it and repelling the Malice it expelled, weakening its power. It served an important role, required to seal the gate, but it shattered and broke into five pieces due to the impact from the Calamity, the fragments scattered across Himuro Mansion. Until the fragments are gathered up and returned to their original form, the Hell Gate cannot be sealed.
Special rope used to seal the Hell Gate. It was created in the Strangling Ritual.
sakinawa no gishiki
A ritual to create the ropes that were needed to seal the Hell Gate. A shrine maiden chosen from the Himuro family was tied by the neck and four limbs using special rope, called Laceration Rope, which was attached to a special contraption, which then pulled the maiden apart. Using that rope, the Laceration Rope was created and used in the Ceremony of the Ropes. This was the only way to seal the gate, and in order to keep it closed members of the family had to be continuously sacrificed.
A camera invented by Dr. Asou that can photograph things invisible to the eye. Since the Camera Obscura from Zero ~Akai Chou~, in which Mio and Mayu are the protagonists, is only a prototype, it doesn't have the ability to completely seal ghosts. Folklorist Seijiro Makabe took the camera with him to Minakami Village in an attempt to photograph the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual, after which Mio picks it up. In Zero ~zero~, in which Miku is the protagonist, the "memento Camera Obscura" is complete, so it can completely seal away ghosts.
Masumi Makimura's lover. Makimura went missing while surveying the area around Minakami Village for the construction of a dam. She followed after him and became trapped in the village. Even while sucked in by the bizarre atmosphere of the village the two reunite, and try to escape together, but in the end she is strangled by Makimura after he turns into a ghost.
A famous mystery writer. He visited Himuro Mansion to conduct research for his next work, but was cursed and killed by Kirie. When Mafuyu arrives at the mansion to look for Mafuyu, his ghost form attacks her.
The older brother of a pair of Altar Twins who performed the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual the year before the Repentance. The ritual was carried out, but failed. Yae and Sae were due to be Twin Shrine Maidens in the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual the following year, and Itsuki regretted that they would have to be sacrificed because of him, so wrote a letter to his friend, Ryozo Munakata, to ask him to help the two escape from Minakami Village. After they ran away, Itsuki followed his younger brother Mutsuki, committing suicide in the Tsuchihara family storehouse. In the end, Sae was captured alone, the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual was performed and brought about the Repentance.
The younger sister of Itsuki and Mutsuki. At the time of the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual, she was convinced that Itsuki died because Yae and Sae ran away from Minakami Village, and so she was angry at Yae and Sae, an emotion that manifests itself when she attacks Mio. This is also linked to how Mio is possessed by Yae. Chitose, who had a habit of hiding in closets, got scared on the day of the Repentance and hid in the closet, where she was swallowed by the Darkness.
Rope Shrine Maiden
nawa no miko
A shrine maiden who was sacrificed to create the Laceration Rope. Once every decade or so, the maiden was chosen from amongst the 7-year-old girls of the Himuro family bloodline. After that she wasn't allowed to set foot outside Himuro Mansion, and was raised inside a cell. This was one of the methods employed in order to sever all of her attachments to this world. Along with the maiden's growth, both of her hands and feet were bound, until when she reached the age of 17 a rope was put also around her neck and the Strangling Ritual was performed.
Miku's older brother. He is the only one Miku can open up to. He goes to Himuro Mansion chasing after the missing party of the writer Junsei Takamine, whom he knows through his job as an editor.
The protagonist of Zero ~zero~ who has a strong sixth sense, and can sense things not of this world. She visits Himuro Mansion to search for her missing brother.
Miku's mother, and Ryozo and Yae Munakata's grandchild. She became mentally ill due to the Camera Obscura Miku's great-grandmother, Mikoto, owned, and hanged herself.
The family that controlled this area from ancient times. They protected the Hell Gate as its guards, and were burdened with the duty of sealing it. The people of this region both feared and worshipped the Hell Gate.
Takamine's assistant and secretary. Due to her slight sixth sense, she has a strange feeling about Himuro Mansion, and felt uneasy before she headed there for research. Along with Takamine, she is killed by Kirie.
A large cave that stretches out underneath Minakami Village, at the deepest part of which is the location where the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual is performed. It is joined up by an underground path that connects the Kurosawa, Tachibana, Kiryu and other houses. It is also the only way out of the village, through a passage that leads out of Kureha Shrine.
Twin Deities Statues
Jizo statues created with the intention of being a memorial to the twins who are sacrificed in the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual. They can be seen in various places around Minakami Village, including at the village's boundary.
Twin Shrine Maidens/Altar Twins
The twins who were sacrificed in the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual. Since twins were often born in Minakami Village, those twins were burdened with the role of Twin Shrine Maidens (or Altar Twins). Female twins were known as Twin Shrine Maidens, and males were known as Altar Twins.
As per Minakami Village's customs, the first born is the younger sister/brother, and the second born is the older; however, in current times, it is the other way around. When you think about these customs and their connection to Mio and Mayu, it's eventually realised that Mio is the older and Mayu the younger, which has meaning when the ritual resumes.
A folklorist who was researching customs from all over Japan. He dedicated his life to clarifying legends of the "Hell Gate", and on the information he received from his assistant, Ryozo Munakata, he decided to travel to Minakami Village.
Visiting Minakami Village with Munakata, they received a warm welcome. He was given special permission to participate in the secret ritual, due to which he stayed in the village and was able to conduct various investigations. Through the village's historic spots and documents he investigated the secret ritual, and gradually the full picture emerged... Just as he was on the verge of figuring it out, Makabe was confined in the cell in the Kurosawa house. Since he had learned of the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual and Hidden Ceremony, he realised that he would be turned into a Kusabi and used as a human sacrifice. Stronger than his wish not to die was his delight at being able to see the secret ritual with his own eyes, and so Makabe didn't try to escape from the village.
When the Ceremony of the Ropes failed and the Hell Gate opened, letting Malice spill out. At the time of the final Rope Shrine Maiden, Kirie, the Laceration Rope was created while she still had attachments to the world of the living, so the Calamity occurred and the villagers who were engulfed by the Malice died instantly. Then the family master, turned mad by the Malice, stopped those who had been hit by it from leaving the mansion, then escalated and began killing everyone inside. Later, it was circulated as the incident in which the tragedy of that day drove the insane family master to slaughter.
A land surveyor who was dispatched to survey the site of a dam's construction. He became lost in the forest during his investigation and became trapped in Minakami Village, and searched for a way out. He reunited with his lover, Miyako Sudo, who followed after him, but while exploring the Kurosawa house he was attacked and killed by the Kusabi. Makimura, having turned into a vengeful spirit, returned to his lover, killing Miyako.
Ceremony of the Ropes
mishibari no gishiki
Using the Laceration Ropes created by sacrificing a shrine maiden of the Himuro family, this ritual was performed to seal the Hell Gate so that it couldn't open.
Minakami Village/All God's Village
Rumoured to be the Lost Village in neighbouring villages. Mio and Mayu's mother had also heard of this village, and warned them firmly that they mustn't stay out late at night.
Due to the way twins were revered as shrine maidens, the mystique surrounding a bizarre festival, and the disappearance of outsiders who visited it, since those days it has been feared in surrounding villages. However, this village was the only one that could save the area from the fate of being cursed and engulfed by Darkness. The village's legends are mentioned in posterity in the notes of Ryozo Munakata, who left the village just before the Repentance.
Blind Demon Ritual
mekakushi oni no gishiki
The ritual in which the Rope Shrine Maiden was chosen. The 7-year-old girls of the Himuro family were gathered in a room together, and the demon wearing the mask (which blinded her) would try to catch the girls. The girl who managed to escape the demon (and therefore had the highest spiritual power which allowed her to get away) was chosen as the Rope Shrine Maiden. The girl caught first would wear the blinding mask for the next ritual and choose the next maiden.
In Zero ~Akai Chou~, he accompanies the folklorist Seijiro Makabe on his visit to Minakami Village. He originally knew Itsuki Tachibana as a childhood friend, who entrusted him with Yae and Sae after their escape. After saving Yae, who escaped from the village alone, the two married.
Not forgetting his memories of Minakami Village, Munakata was captivated by the Hell Gate, and in Zero ~zero~ he moved to Himuro Mansion. In the end, his wife Yae committed suicide, and Munakata died on his way to the Hell Gate. Incidentally, the two's young daughter, Mikoto, was discovered in the mountains, having escaped from Himuro Mansion and losing her memory. Mikoto's daughter was Miyuki, and her children were Miku, protagonist of Zero ~zero~, and Mafuyu.
yomi no mon
The gate that separates this world from the "other". It is beneath Himuro Mansion, made out of a huge stone. If it was perhaps, long ago, created by somebody, no records at all remain of such a thing. However, it is said that it has been here since ancient times. It is said that when the gate fully opens, the lands of the living and dead will connect, and all of the dead will return.
Spirit Stone Radio
A radio, created by Kunihiko Asou, inventor of the Camera Obscura, which allows people to hear voices from the spirit world. Since it was modified to use crystals as a part of its circuitry, a Spirit Stone in which a person's thoughts and emotions dwell can be used with it to hear their voice.