Name: Hotohori (星宿)
Real Name: Seishuku
Also Known As: Saihitei
Family: Mother (deceased), Father (deceased) several half-siblings. (later: Wife Houki, son Boushin)
Place of Birth: The Royal Palace, Eiyou, Kounan
Power: Strength usually transmitted through a blessed sword.
Seiyuu (Japanese): Koyasu Takehito (Anime) Matsumoto Yasunori(Drama CDs)
Voice Artist (English): Kirk Thornton
Hotohori is the survivor of a long and apparently bloody struggle for the throne of Kounan on the death of his father, the previous Emperor. He was given his name "Seishuku" at his birth after the sign of Hotohori appeared on his neck (as Seishuku is compound reading for the characters that make up Hotohori (星 - sei and 宿 - shuku). Aside from in the novel Suzaku Hi Den, he is never referred to by this name - only by his stellar name Hotohori or his Imperial one, Saihitei. (However Watase-sensei does mention in the manga notes that Seishuku is his true name).
His mother - dominating and ambitious for her son's succession seems to have manipulated her way to power, allowing the then fourteen year old Hotohori to become King. To do so, she eliminated many other candidates for the throne. However, Prince Seishuku was not the eldest child - he has at least one elder brother Tendou who challenges his authority and dies in the misguided attempt of ending his younger brother's life, and another half-brother holds power in the West of the country beneath the Imperial throne. Consequently, on the death of his mother (some time between the ages of 14 and the start of the series/manga, when he is 18), Hotohori's existance is very lonely. Surrounded by no family and loyal servants who do not cross the bounds of propriety, he is well versed and somewhat obsessive about the idea of the Priestess of Suzaku and the legends surrounding Kounan.
Hotohori's tragic and lonely life has several very clear impacts on his character as one of the Suzaku Seishi. As Emperor of Kounan, he appears far older than his eighteen years, taking on the responsibility for the well-being of his people and even taking it as a personal criticism whenever he finds something lacking in the world outside the palace. The manner of his upbringing means that he has grown up sheltered, protected and away from the people of his land in many ways, yet he is kind-hearted and anxious to reach out to them without much understanding the true poverty or suffering that goes on away from the palace walls. When he first encounters Tamahome's family and the poverty there, he is horrified that people in his Empire are living in such conditions. Equally, when Miaka is taken ill in Choukou, he is frustrated with himself for not being able to save her - even as an Emperor, he is helpless to change her condition.
Despite his clear loneliness, Hotohori has never made any attempt to branch out from his world and connect with any of the women selected for his consorts - this because of his idealistic wish that when the Priestess of Suzaku arrives in Kounan, he will make her his Empress. It is this naive conviction which causes him to be so affected by Miaka and her presence, which gradually deepens into true affection as he realises she is the first person to treat him as a friend and an ordinary person. And yet, at every turn, Hotohori's overriding loyalty to Kounan and his responsibility as one of the Seishi has a strong hold over him and his free will - even when he is at his angriest at Tamahome, he remains in control of his feelings, saying that he will not hurt another of the Suzaku Seishi. The only time he breaks this is when Tamahome is possessed by kodaku, and yet as soon as he realises the curse has been broken, Hotohori is the first to welcome Tamahome back among them, even though minutes earlier his sword has pierced Tamahome's body.
In some respects, Hotohori's affection for Miaka is simplistic and a challenge to his Imperial status - he is used to giving orders and getting results and it is genuinely a surprise to him when Miaka tells him you can't order someone to think or feel a certain way. (This indicates that his own thoughts and feelings have been instructed, possibly by his dead mother, but also by the requirements of his position as King of Kounan). And yet, when he recognises that Miaka's heart is not going to change, he eventually respects that, and even seems to overcome it when presented with Houki as his wife. In short, it seems that what Hotohori really needs is someone who will love him as himself, regardless of the fact he is Emperor. When Houki chooses him over his brother, even though his brother could potentially claim imperial title by rebellion, Hotohori's insecure self is somewhat healed - and therefore his unreturned affections for Miaka are quieted. When Miaka and Taka return to the book in the OVA, Hotohori is far more concerned with his widow and his family than he is with Miaka's heart. People often say Miaka should end up with Hotohori, but I don't think so - I love Hotohori, but Miaka, though someone who has taught him many things, is not really suitable to be Empress of Kounan. I think even Hotohori realises this at some point - but it doesn't change his fondness for her and it doesn't stop Miaka from breaking down in angry, grief-ridden tears when she discovers Hotohori has died of his injuries.
Jealous he often is of the bond Miaka and Tamahome share, but his long years of isolation have enabled him to master and control his outward emotions so that he can accept their bond and work with it out of necessity. Despite the fact that when he first meets Miaka he is dressed as a woman, Hotohori's sexuality is never in doubt and although he doesn't seem to mind being mistaken for a woman (so long as they recognise him as a beautiful woman!), he is only interested in women himself. However, he does appear to have a strange attraction for male characters, probably on account of his unusually handsome appearance - Mitsukake wryly observes on his natural way with men, which causes him to grimace and sigh in frustration (you can almost imagine him thinking, but it isn't the men I want!). Nuriko is his most fervent admirer, yet he also attracts the attention of one of Tasuki's gang-mates, and is asked innocently by Tamahome's youngest sister Yuiren whether or not he is Tamahome's wife. When Nuriko dies, even though Hotohori is miles from the snow-capped mountain where it happened, he still knows one of his fellow Seishi is dead and he still sheds copious tears over the event. This is significant, since Hotohori does not shed tears often in the series, and certainly does not shed them over his other fallen comrades Chiriko and Mitsukake. Again, he tends to keep his emotions inside - and when he does cry for Nuriko's death, he shuts himself away so that noone can see him do it.
Becoming one of the Suzaku-Seishi is a chance for Hotohori to not only see the country he rules, but also to interact with people on a direct basis. This allows him to encounter many different types of people and situations he would not otherwise have encountered, and also affords him the opportunity to sit and view the landscape without having to consider political implications for the first time. And yet, despite this, he often seems to pull away from his friends, knowing that he is not "free" as they are. His devotion to Suzaku and the shrine of the beast-god is unwavering - whenever his regal duties prevent him from accompanying Miaka and the others, he can generally be found there praying for their safety. When he cannot accompany them to Hokkan, he gives Miaka his shinken to protect her, which in fact it does in a battle against Soi. He has a naive trust in the nature of the Suzaku-Seishi - which maybe belies his youth and his isolation more than anything, since he has no qualms about leaving political control of his country in the hands of a virtual stranger (Chichiri) while he runs off to help protect Miaka. (Fortunately his trust in Chichiri's nature is not misplaced, but even so, it's a fairly big risk to take when they've really only recently met.)
It's been said that Hotohori is a gentle man (both in the anime/manga and outside of it). I'm not sure. I think he's more a man who has been suppressed by his duties and the will of his mother - he says himself that he was a puppet. Yet there are several occasions where he displays hot-blooded emotion, usually when someone he cares about is in danger, or when he feels Miaka's safety/honour is at stake. He draws his sword on Tamahome for entering Miaka's chambers, on Tasuki and on the bandits of Reikaku for kidnapping Miaka, on Tamahome when he is possessed by kodaku, on Nakago when he talks about killing Kounan's people, and on the undead in Chouko. When he comes to Miaka and Nuriko's rescue on the way to Reikaku, he acts rather than speaks - stabbing the bandit threatening them in the back and taking him by surprise. At the end of the TV series, when he is borrowing Nyan-Nyan's body, he is wielding his shinken in defence of Miaka and his friends, and in the OVA he even possesses the body of his son in order to fight off a demon. Gentle...? Not exactly. A mite sword-happy, you might say! Yet his actions are always honour-driven, always within his very firm code of valour, and he is always willing to offer up his own life in defence of Miaka's (particularly when he spills his blood to help her recover from the attack of the shadow girl from Taiitsukun's mirror). If you were to sum up Hotohori in one word, it would probably be "self-sacrificing", and it is that very fact which makes him so tragic. Even devoid of his powers, he still challenges Nakago in a battle that he knows must kill him, in defence of the people of his country. (And what Emperor can be asked to do more for his subjects?) At the end of the day, while Nuriko sacrifices his life in defence of Miaka and his Seishi friends, Hotohori gives his up for the people of Kounan, proving that, at the end of the day, he takes his position as Emperor probably more seriously than anything else in his life.
Hotohori is also known for his (fairly humorous) narcissism, which you can never quite be sure how serious he is and when he's joking. Born, most likely, out of his lonely, isolated upbringing, Hotohori has been starved of affectionate attention for much of his life and so, to compensate, he's developed his own way of eliciting compliments and praise from those around him. As Emperor, he receives a lot of this - although he seems to know that it's not really real and therefore likes to provoke his retainers by making outrageous comments regarding his own beauty. Yet, he does like to be complimented on his good looks, especially by those not in the palace. This tendancy seems to frustrate his fellow Seishi more than anything, but they rarely make a comment about it - probably because they don't want to encourage him! Hotohori's main concern when he discovers Nuriko is a boy is that he's found another man who's as beautiful as he is!
In the Eikouden arc, Hotohori is reincarnated as a young boy whose preoccupation is with praying at the grave of the brother who died in his previous life as Emperor. It seems that his family ties - and his desire to revere his brother - acted over all other things when it came to choosing his reincarnation. It's perhaps logical that the only Seishi he is still in contact with (albeit without either of them truly knowing) is Nuriko, and that "she" (as he is then) has a crush on him.
Hotohori is the last one to regain his memories, and transform into his true self. However, his affection for his son and widow seem to be a driving factor - and his reunion with them as important as resolving the problem at hand (with Mayou's life and Miaka's baby).
Hotohori is practically absent throughout the Seiryu arc of manga (episodes 27-52) except for his death, which is a crying shame as far as I can see. (The series loses a lot with him and Nuriko both mostly absent after episode 33!). Although Hotohori's novel "Suzaku Hi Den" covers the time when the other Seishi are away, it is (in my opinion) one of the weaker Gaiden books and spends more time focusing on Houki and Nuriko than it does Hotohori at times.
It's true to say that Hotohori spends most of his time yelling orders, declaring his love for Miaka and worrying about how beautiful he is - but even so, his absence is noticeable. And quite sad, too.
Hotohori's English voice is really, really irritating after a while. I don't think it's entirely the voice artist that's responsible, either - but Hotohori's dialogue is generally translated into such cliche'd, melodramatic language that really, it makes you want to take that shinken of his and insert it...somewhere...
Hotohori is possibly the most handsome member of the Seishi ^_^, and he does know it, too. However, I think he always looks better without his imperial get-up and fancy hat/hairdo. It's interesting how when he's at his most formal, his hair is tied tightly up beneath his hat. But when he is being Hotohori the man, his hair is in a loose tail down his back. It's almost symbolic of the struggle between position and personality that dogs his entire involvement in the Fushigi Yuugi series.
Hotohori's name is pronounced 'ho-to-ho-ri' as short, concise syllables. The English equivalent tends to lengthen his syllables, however, making him hoe-toe-hoor-i :S