Anime: Mirage of Blaze (2001)
Mirage of Blaze is a 13 episode anime tv series that began airing in 2001. It is based on a series of light novels by Mizuna Kuwabara. The series focuses primarily on Takaya Ohgi, a high school student who discovers that he is a "possessor", a spirit who possesses a new body every time his current one dies. He is in fact Lord Kagetora, a powerful warrior who has been locked in a supernatural battle with various other "possessors" since the 1500's. As he reunites with allies and foes from his previous lives (including the handsome and powerful Nobutsuna Naoe, a former enemy who is both a great threat and a great help), his abilities to exorcise spirits awaken and grow in power. As enemy clans begin raising undead samurai zombie armies and endangering the modern world, those abilities will be put to the test.
You need to be aware that Mirage of Blaze is a shounen ai (boys love) series. If you don't know what that means, well, perhaps this isn't the anime for you. The shounen ai elements are somewhat tame (excluding a rather surprising scene in the separate OVA) and take a backseat to the action and the complex plot. Takaya is an interesting protagonist, mostly because he's sort of a "two for one" deal. Lord Kagetora and Takaya have very different personalities, and despite the fact that, as a "possessor", Kagetora should have effectively killed the real Takaya at the time of possession, it often seems that the two of them are wrestling for control. Naoe is also a highlight. There's something dangerous and, at times, frightening about him as he always seems to be on the verge of snapping. When his past is revealed (including a secret so terrible that it caused Kagetora to seal away his memories), he's even more disturbing. The action sequences are great, with some flashy supernatural powers being thrown around. There's also some rather scary imagery from the samurai zombies and various other creatures. The whole series has a dark, foreboding vibe that permeates every scene.
Mirage of Blaze is available on DVD. The OVA series, Rebels of the River Edge, is also available on DVD. None of the novels have been released in English, but fan translations are easy to find online.