.Niji-iro Tohgarashi article published in Animerica Extra Vol. 5, No. 3, Feburary 2002
This article was written by and is copyrighted to Patricia Duffield and may not be reproduced in part or whole without permission.
Short Program's author, Mitsuru Adachi, is best known for contemporary sports series like Touch, Nine, and Slow Step. So when Niji-iro Tohgarashi* (Rainbow-colored Peppers) came out in 1990, it was a bit of a surprise. This eleven-volume story takes place in the future on another planet, yet the setting is like Edo Period Japan. Full of mystery, comedy, and martial arts action, Rainbow-colored Peppers is a unique Adachi experience.
Young fireman Shichimi has just buried his mother, leaving him alone in the world... sort of. Shichimi is illegitimate. Although she never revealed the name of his father, on her death bed Shichimi's mother gave him a walnut token and instructed him to seek out a man named Hikoroku at Karakuri Naga-ya.
En route, Shichimi has a strange encounter with a swordsman. While finishing his lunch under the spring cherry blossoms, the wandering samurai notices Shichimi's walnut. Their lunch is interrupted by a robbery. Shichimi charges to the rescue, but the ronin takes care of the situation in the blink of an eye. The ronin's swordsmanship was so swift, the robber doesn't realize he's lost his hand until he's well out of town!
This is nothing compared to what awaits Shichimi at Karakuri Naga-ya. He enters to find a girl chasing a little boy around the yard. Shichimi thinks it shouldn't be so hard to catch a little kid, so the girl challenges him to do it. He makes a grab for the boy and condescendingly holds him out to the girl. The girl is unimpressed; Shichimi is holding a log, not her brother. With a quick pitch of a bucket, the girl hits the side of a building. From under ninja camouflage, her little sibling drops to the ground. Then the wall behind Shichimi explodes! The explosion was due to another sibling's experiment. After fending off a bemused comedian and a monk attempting to perform last rites over him, Shichimi finally meets Hikoroku. Upon seeing the walnut, Hikoroku invites him to stay at Karakuri Naga-ya, explaining that the others are Shichimi's half siblings -all have different mothers but the same father. Hikoroku takes care of their needs; he just won't reveal their father's name. By chapter two, the audience knows their father is the country's shogun, but learning his identity remains a constant desire for our hero.
There's more to Rainbow-colored Peppers than domestic hijinks. After a falling star crashes near an island in the bay, two strange men wash ashore. Intrigued and amused by the strangers and their inventions, the shogun offers them his hospitality despite their abuse of natural resources. The ronin rows out to investigate the crash site only to see a glow in the water then be sucked into a whirlpool. Mysteries abound amongst the comical daily life of Shichimi and his siblings.
Edo Period stories have a lot of appeal, as evidenced by there always being a few new dramas every year. So it's understandable that Adachi would want to use such a setting for a story, even if it's supposed to be in the future. Rainbow-colored Peppers proves he can create enjoyable characters and an entertaining story in any setting he chooses. It also demonstrates he's as skilled at depicting martial arts as he is at baseball. If you like martial arts mixed with comedy or just want to try a shorter Adachi series, Rainbow-colored Peppers is worth a look.
*That's how it's romanized on the cover.