Name: Chiriko (張宿)
Real Name: Ou Doukun
Age: Thirteen
Family: Mother Ryokuu, Father Sontaku (deceased), older brother Gishou, nephew Doukun.
Place of Birth: Jouzen, south Kounan.

Power: Enhanced intelligence and strategising (but only when his character is visible)

Seiyuu (Japanese): Kawakami Tomoko (Anime) Orikasa Ai (Drama CDs)
Voice Artist (English): Sandy Fox


"Anzuru na, akirameru na, mikado to tomo ni kibou no hi o tomose"
Akai Iitsutae

A young boy with ambitions of being in government, Chiriko is a study bug with an older brother and a mother who he wants to make proud of him. Although he does not realise it, his family look on him and his Seishi destiny with pride and honour, and his baby nephew is named after Chiriko's real name in memory of the warrior who gave his life for his cause. Chiriko lives not far from the capital of Kounan, but his own fears prevented him from getting involved earlier!

Chiriko's character waxes and wanes between the episodes - Watase Yuu mentions him as being something of a dual personality, since he changes between the smart, together Seishi when his character appears on his foot, and an average, slightly weepy young boy when it doesn't. This differentiation is really not made that clearly in the television series, where Chiriko's character is severely diluted (at least by my estimation) in the original series. (I'm guessing this is for constraint of time and episode space, but it's a shame because you don't get to see him as he's really meant to be!)

There is never any mention directly made about Chiriko's dual personality in the TV show, although when he is fighting Miboshi, two things are highlighted  - firstly Miboshi says how little defence Chiriko's body has against attack, and so that is why it is easy for him to possess the boy. The other thing is that Tasuki observes with some alarm that he doesn't have his character at the time of Miboshi's attack, which further highlights his weakness. Unless you know, however, that there is a difference between his character showing and not, it really wouldn't make much of an impression why that's important :S

In the manga, Chiriko feels insecure about his weakness and admits to Tasuki at one juncture that he feels to blame for the failure to raise Suzaku and subsequent events because he had known who he was all along, he had just been too afraid to come forward when he knew Miaka had arrived in Kounan. (This is also missing from the TV series). While they are stuck on the matriarchical colony after the shipwrecking of their boat (the basis for the Omake of OVA 1, since it was written out of the anime script, boo hiss), the diversity between Chiriko's personality with and without his character is especially made clear (from knowing exactly what he's talking about to not having a clue where he is, what's going on or anything at all - much to Tasuki's chagrin!) In the TV show, we see him coming to Kounan after having seen a vision of chaos in the stars, and he comes over as a composed, well-ordered young man of great intelligence. He uses his presence of mind to save the Seishi from Amiboshi's chi music by using an improvised leaf flute (he never again uses this in the series, although it is a nice connection between Amiboshi pretending to be Chiriko and the real Chiriko). Although in the TV series, he has very little to do, the principle scenes involving Chiriko are emphatic life or death ones.

The first one is, of course, the aforementioned scene where he prevents the death of all of the Seishi. (As I already said, though, in the manga he feels to blame for that situation because he allowed things to just lie and he didn't attempt to intervene or prove he was the true Chiriko until it was almost too late.). The other moment is his own sacrifice, which (again) holds real resonance when you're aware of the fact when his character isn't appearing, he's not the strong, composed young man he seems to be at most times on the screen. This fight against Miboshi is all built of his own will and his desire to be a Seishi like the others - and in a sense, that's the essence of Chiriko's character. He wants to prove that, despite his youth, his wavering courage and intelligence and his inadequacies, he can still be a true one of them. He apologises to Miaka and the others as he dies, saying that he was pretty useless to them in the end, as if he doesn't completely understand the magnitude of what he has done (he has to be told that he's saved them all by taking Miboshi down with him). Although he doubts himself, in my opinion his strength is rooted more in his own nature than he realises - he just relies on his character too much to really understand how strong he truly is.

Chiriko's strongest bonds are with Tasuki and Mitsukake. It's ironic because I've mentioned Tasuki as being like his brother and Mitsukake like a father - and I just recently realised (it helps to read the column text as well as the story, doh me) that this is exactly the way Watase Yuu intended to depict them (I think it's volume 11, it might be volume 12 where she discusses each of the Seishi in turn). Sadly both bonds are not as strongly made clear in the TV series, but as I already said, it's Tasuki to whom Chiriko confesses his fears, and even on screen, Tasuki's reaction to Chiriko's death is heart-breaking to watch (almost as heartbreaking as watching a thirteen year old boy stab himself!).

When the Seishi are brought back as spirits, Tasuki is concerned for Chiriko's well-being and before Chiriko dies, Tasuki admits that he thinks Chiriko is one of the strongest people he has ever met. Nuriko jokes about Tasuki needing to give up being a bandit in order to follow Chiriko's example more, but I think it's more a two way process. Tasuki's never had a brother, although his bandits are like a brotherhood, and Chiriko looks up to Tasuki's strength and unwavering courage and determination as a fighter. In contrast, Tasuki appreciates Chiriko's intelligent and rational views and they click together a lot more than you might imagine two such different characters would. (Tasuki has a habit of bonding with diametrically different people, however, so I guess we shouldn't be too surprised by it...).

If you watch the TV series carefully, you can see the hints of the bond that is more present in the manga. There are comedic moments like when Miaka and Tamahome are kissing and Tasuki covers Chiriko's eyes just like a protective big brother might. And aside from Tasuki's wild outburst of grief at Chiriko's death, when they are reunited in Episode 51, there is a fair bit of brother hugging going on in the background, behind the main action. When Tasuki and Chichiri face Nakago without their powers, it's Nuriko and Chiriko who Tasuki's mind is immediately drawn to, telling them he's sorry he's let them down and that he'll be joining them soon.

The bond with Mitsukake is, as I said, more paternal. It is no accident that it's Mitsukake and Tasuki who are at Chiriko's side rather than Miaka's as the young boy passes away. Mitsukake has tears in his eyes at this moment (and he does not cry often, the only other significant time he sheds tears is at the death of Shouka). He also assures the kid, "You'll be lonely, if we go. We'll stay a little longer", even though it must be killing him inside to know that he has healing powers that he can't use for risk of reviving Miboshi with his friend. Mitsukake's concern for Chiriko when he's been possessed brings out strong reactions in the Seishi that aren't often seen, and he is desperate to heal Chiriko even despite the risk of Miboshi. It is Mitsukake who conveys Chiriko's body back to Kounan in his arms - clearly he and Tasuki did not leave Chiriko's side even after his death (while Chichiri, Tamahome and Miaka tackle Nakago and try and stop Seiryuu's summoning).

In the OVA, there are some more distinctive Chiriko character moments and maybe the first time we really get to see him in emotional, crying form. Although he does cry a fair bit for the death of Nuriko (comforted, again, I think, by Mitsukake), his reaction to Roukou's refusal to help Tamahome is very close to a full blown kids temper tantrum. Indignant for his friend's suffering, he tries to forcibly possess Roukou to make him do what he wants and when that fails, he is indignant and angry - "You're a disgrace! Why can't I change places with you!". Also, when Taka chooses to leave the book world, not believing he has a right to be there, Chiriko is indignant with him and tells him he's sure he's the real Tamahome - more ghost Chiriko tears. However, even here the characterisation is somewhat skimped from his manga incarnation - where a lot of the Chiriko data has again been overlooked in pursuit of better on screen action. It is Chiriko who intervenes and protects the other Seishi from the false Tamahome using his scroll, and his belief in Taka as the true Tamahome is unwavering. He also manages to help steady Taka's doubts by explaining that he has finally come to terms with the two parts of his own nature, merging them into one and accepting himself for who he really is.

In Eikoden, Chiriko is reborn as a small baby, who has all his Seishi memories. Eikoden makes more reference to the manga, as Tasuki observes that he's "still a crybaby" when occasionally he lapses into baby speak and tears. However, in this case, it's not so much that he's a crybaby but more the influence of the enemy's magic - perhaps suppressing the appearance of his character but also his memories.

Other Observations:
Chiriko is blatantly the youngest Seishi, but not as young as he looks! In fact he's only two years younger than Miaka, just very small for his age!

Chiriko's name is pronounced "Chi-ri-ko". It's probably the most accurately pronounced Seishi name in the English dub, although really that's not saying a lot...

Chiriko is the second of the male Seishi to be voiced by a female voice artist, though in his case it's because of his youth and not his slightly unique gender leanings! (The other of course being Nuriko - nuff said...)

Chiriko's real family name (Ou) means "King" :)