Yuuki Miaka: Suzaku No Miko
Name: Yuuki Miaka(夕城美朱)
Age: Fifteen (at start)
Family: Mother, Father, older brother Keisuke
Place of Birth: Tokyo, Japan
Power: Summoning Suzaku. (And eating. A lot)
Seiyuu (Japanese): Araki Kae (Anime) Hidaka Noriko(Drama CDs)
Voice Artist (English): Bridget Hoffman
The daughter of a divorced couple who lives with her mother and her college age brother Keisuke in Tokyo, there's nothing very remarkable about Yuuki Miaka. She's greedy, sleeps in her classes and is desperate to get into Jonan Academy because it's her mother's wish for her, not because she actually wants to go to school there. Easy going and generous of heart and nature, she has plenty of school friends but lacks a certain confidence in herself and her own ability. In the manga, the relationship between her and her mother is a little harsher than it is in the anime - her mother is very demanding because she wants her daughter to have the best of everything and doesn't totally understand Miaka's point of view. In the anime, though, Mrs Yuuki comes over fairly coldly also - that she's more concerned with Miaka's school success than her friendships or her adventures into the world of the book. (In the manga, there is a big showdown between Miaka and her mother before Miaka goes into the book the second time. In the anime, this is excluded, as Miaka never manages to get back to the real world of her own volition, only with the help of Taiitsukun. In the manga, this marks her third return to the real world instead). In contrast to her relationship with her mother - who Miaka obviously loves very much, despite their troubles - she has an extremely supportive elder brother who, despite his initial scepticism about the book, winds up becoming her strongest support outside the book world as he and his friend Tetsuya attempt to get to the bottom of what's going on. Despite his initial disbelief, Keisuke still looks out for his sister and when he sees Miaka disappear into the book, his only concern from thereon in is his sister's safety. In the OVA continuities he is also a principle person involved in Miaka's adventures. Though Miaka's mother never learns properly about Miaka's other world experiences, Keisuke on the other hand is involved in everything and knows most all of what's gone on.
Miaka's closest friend is Hongou Yui, a highly intelligent girl beside whom Miaka perhaps feels a little inferior in terms of classes.
Your average, slightly greedy, daydreaming teenage girl, Miaka is not the first person you'd think of if you were holding a Priestess competition. Yet there seems no doubt at all that she was meant to be the Suzaku No Miko and through her role as such she learns to believe in herself and her own convictions, giving her the confidence to face and conquer her troubles in the real world. In a sense, this is probably the reason for her selection - that the book somehow reaches out to those who need to learn something about themselves (the same can, after all, also be said for Yui). Loyal, unsuspicious and trusting, Miaka's gullible yet endearing nature gets her both in and out of all kinds of scrapes and inspires at least four of her fellow warriors to declare some form of love for her. (Of course this is probably born out of the fact they exist to serve her, and in some respects the pattern of the story Miaka and Yui both follow reflect something of what's going on in their own heads. Consequently Miaka's bonds with her Seishi are strong, forged from love and trust - and this inspires their devotion, because Miaka is a naturally trusting, loving person. (Yui on the other hand has so much bitterness, her bonds with her Seishi are tainted by dark acts and thoughts). At one point, Yui says that she could have been the Suzaku No Miko, but I think that it's fairly evident that Miaka was the chosen one all along, by dint of the fact she saw Suzaku in the library and was led to the book in the first place. Her connection to Suzaku is strong throughout the series, even after the end of the television episodes, and Suzaku calls on her help again in the OVA. By the time the stories conclude, her understanding of her Suzaku power allows her to connect with the book world a lot more easily.
Unlike Yui, Miaka never treats the Seishi or those around her in Kounan/Hong Nan as simply characters from a book. Even right at the start, she treats Tamahome and Hotohori as people and is as devoted and loyal to the world inside the book as she is the one outside of it. To her, Tamahome is not just a fictional character, but someone she loves with all her heart and he is one of the major reasons she goes back into the book even despite her brother's warnings. Whilst Yui seems to consider the lives of the Seishi on both sides expendable because of their fictional status, Miaka takes the death of any of her warriors very closely to heart, in particular the deaths of Nuriko and Hotohori, to whom she is probably closer. She is slow to judge and quick to forgive, always willing to understand and make allowances and this is both a strength and a weakness, because in looking for the best in people, she often doesn't see the worst. When she firsts meets Nakago, she sees him just as a handsome man who must be all right because he helped Yui. In truth, he is a lot more sinister. When she is abducted by Tasuki and Kouji in their play to retake control of the Reikaku-zan bandits, she is totally unaware of her position as a hostage, instead rallying herself to their cause and helping them to achieve their goal. Despite Nuriko's initial hostility towards her, Miaka perseveres in trying to become her friend, even undergoing mundane and degrading tasks in order to try and win her third Seishi over. Even though Nuriko takes a lot of time and effort making her jealous over Tamahome, when Miaka learns that Nuriko really loves Hotohori, she volunteers to put in a word on Nuriko's behalf.
There is also a darker side to Miaka's nature, or a confusion that lives deep within her consciousness. Taiitsukun brings this out in her when she lures her into the mirror, allowing her shadow-self to take over. The shadow-Miaka declares her desire to stay in the book world, to love Hotohori and she outs Nuriko's gender secret, much to the dismay of all. Yet although Miaka accepts that these things exist inside of herself, she also proves she is stronger than those things by risking her life to save her seishi from shadow-Miaka's spell. And, even though shadow-Miaka's behaviour was cruel and unlike her, the seishi rally to their real Miko, attacking and defeating the demon because they know that she's not real.
Miaka has no malice in her, but she's not always the most perceptive of characters when it comes to her actions and their implications. After Chichiri gives her the advice that her actions can have implications for other people, she dives off into danger, determined to prevent other people from being burdened with her but in fact causing them a lot more hassle. When she and the others try to summon Suzaku the first time, Miaka wishes that "no matter how it's done, I want to be with Tamahome forever." But in reality, she can't be with Tamahome unless one of them gives up their world and their family ties in order to do it. Not long after the failure of this ceremony, Tamahome's family are murdered. Although Miaka's wish was not granted, in effect whilst Tamahome's family were still alive, there is no way he could fully commit to Miaka or leave the book world behind him. So although she doesn't mean them harm, and doesn't think of it as a consequence, wishing for them to be together at all costs could well have made her responsible for their deaths, had Suzaku been summoned. (But of course, this would never have occured to Miaka, because that's just how she is!) She's not deliberately selfish, but sometimes her youth and her naivety makes her act in selfish ways. Her concern for her friendship with Yui over everything is an indication that even though she's willing to stay in the book world, her mind is still drawn back to her real life and the way things were before they found the Universe of the Four Gods book in the library. Although Miaka hates the death of any of her Seishi, at the end of the day she pursues her goal as much to make amends with Yui as she does to save Kounan and fulfil her promise to Hotohori. This is borne out by the fact that Miaka does not actually wish for Kounan to be saved - but she does wish for Yui to be returned.
In that respect, Miaka's youth and naivety means that sometimes she can use, hurt and even sacrifice her fellows without even meaning it to happen - that she sees the immediate consequences but not the deeper lying ones, and that she breaks many hearts without even knowing it is testament to that. (People have wondered in and out of the anime why Miaka is so popular with men in the show - but to me that seems obvious. The book world is crafted around the incoming Miko, and the precedent already exists for strong love affairs between Miko and Seishi, although for both the Genbu and the Byakko Miko, these end unhappily. In short, the Seishi exist to protect the Priestess from harm. This being the case, their destiny and reason for being is tied up in her life, her safety and her well being. No wonder they fall in love with her, when those ties are already formed so strong.
Miaka has also been accused of being a slut, although that amuses me because I'm not quite sure how a virgin can be a slut. That aside, it's true that she does occasionally lead other men on - however, as with all Miaka does, this is guileless and innocent and indicative of how little sometimes she realises the impact she's had on those around her. Her own lack of self confidence at times means she's both dazzled and confused by the attention Hotohori heaps on her, and she never means to break his heart - although she undoubtedly does on a couple of occasions. And when Nuriko tells her that part of his desire to be more masculine stems from the effect she's had on him, she is confused - she tells him she's not done anything, and is unable to read between the lines of his words and realise that really, he's talking about his feelings for her. (Since I'm pretty sure the whole audience can glean this from their little conversation, it just highlights Miaka's innocence once again.
There is, after all, a distinct difference between designed flirtation and innocently friendly actions. In truth, Miaka's heart always belongs to Tamahome and in this regard she never falters.
Miaka's inner strength also becomes apparent towards the end, when she is able to prevent being devoured by Suzaku (in contrast to Yui being devoured by Seiryuu). This is probably also indicative of the close bond between her and her Seishi - and that even in death, her four departed warriors return to help defend and save her life (Nuriko literally, by preventing a falling building from collapsing on her head!). Right to the end, and even with their powers sealed away, Chichiri and Tasuki are willing to sacrifice their lives if need be in defence of their Miko, even entering a strange world to do so, showing how much they respect Miaka and are loyal to her. (In contrast, with the exception of Suboshi, the Seiryuu Seishi are more loyal to Nakago or in Nakago's case, more loyal to his own aims and ends than to Yui's wishes/needs).
Miaka is obviously closest to Tamahome, with whom she falls in love fairly early on. Their affection for one another overcomes many trials, including Nakago's kodoku poisoning of Tamahome and attempt to rape Miaka to prevent her summoning Suzaku. Although Hotohori is very open about his feelings for her, Miaka values him only as a deep friend, although she doesn't always realise how much her actions hurt him (especially when she flits right back to Tamahome as soon as the kodoku is out of his system). Fortunately for her, Hotohori is an understanding man, although the rivalry for her affection and her own nature brings him and Tamahome almost to blows on occasion. Nuriko also confides in Tamahome that he's come to love Miaka as a man, although I think his affection for her is unique and not like that held by Tamahome or Hotohori. Interestingly, Nuriko does not confess his feelings to Miaka himself (although she overhears them) as if he understands that the girl doesn't need more confusion in her head about her connections to the other Seishi. Tamahome loves Miaka the most, but Nuriko probably has the best understanding of her, and because of the femininity of his outlook, he is more like her elder sister than anything. Miaka often turns to him over the others - when she goes looking for Tamahome, she takes Nuriko as her guardian. When Tamahome's family are killed, it's to Nuriko she runs for comfort. When she hears the flute playing, it's Nuriko she's trying to wake to hear it. When they go to Mt Reikaku, it's Nuriko who defends her from the bandits in the inn initially, and as a rule, after their initial friction, they settle down into a close girlish relationship. It's probably safe to say that Nuriko protects Miaka in ways other than physical strength for the most part - although he can and does use his Seishi power to defend her, he only really defines it as being willing to lay down his life for hers in episode 32, right before his death. His role is more of confidant than of warrior where Miaka is concerned, and I'm pretty certain that had Nuriko not died, Miaka would never have fallen for the fake Taiitsukun, putting herself in Nakago's power. Once Nuriko is dead, Miaka lacks anyone who really understands the girl's perspective. Tamahome even comments on their arguments being 'girl arguments' and in some ways Miaka has replaced Yui with Nuriko in terms of a female friend in which to confide and with which she can tease and hang out. When Nuriko dies, it hits Miaka hardest of all the deaths in the series - to the point where she doesn't want to continue on. In some respects, therefore, you could say that in friendship terms Nuriko is closest to Miaka, whilst Tamahome has claim over her heart.
Miaka's bond with Hotohori is not noticeably blocked by his feelings for her, because she's so happy go lucky she can completely ignore that these are there for most of the time. She trusts in him to protect her and even acts as something of a teacher for him in the art of freedom - of all the characters, Miaka probably has a more profound effect on Hotohori in terms of treating him as a real human being instead of a puppet of state. In this respect, he is able to find an element of his own identity beyond being the Emperor of Hong Nan, even to the point where he is able to give his life for his country and the safety of Miaka's world, not simply for his own naive devotions.
On a random note also, Miaka is fairly infamous for her general ditziness within the series. However, there are occasionally things left out of the anime which would make her behaviour make more sense if only they had been left in. A good example of this is when she's infected by the Shikkonki disease/demon. In the anime, she's wandering around the place looking for Shouka, who is right in front of her. Ditzy Miaka? Well, actually, no - though it's never explained in the anime, Shikkonki affects Miaka's vision and more or less makes her blind. According to the manga, the first thing she sees clearly when it's all over is the character on Mitsukake's palm as he heals her - hence her reaction!
Miaka's relationship with Chichiri is also a fairly close one, as she looks to him as advisor. When she needs advice, or even when she doesn't, Chichiri's wise head is usually the one to give it. When she's trying to figure out her conundrum with Tamahome and Yui, it is Chichiri to whom she goes for help, and in turn he confides in her his secret and the reason for his scar - something the others don't learn about until much much later (during the OVA). Miaka is close to all her Seishi, however - and their deaths or pain cause her great pain and grief also.
As regards her family, her father is nonexistant. In the manga it's mentioned that her parents are divorced, but Mr Yuuki never appears in the anime and only sparingly really in the manga. Miaka's relationship with her mother often seems to be more affectionate from Miaka's side than her mother's, although this is largely because of Mrs Yuuki's preoccupation with her daughter's shining future. Keisuke, Miaka's elder brother is someone she's very close to and someone to whom she calls out to and dreams of whilst in the other world (although her convictions to help the Seishi find the Shinzahou causes her to break the connection between them by getting Tasuki to burn the strands of her hair that were allowing them to communicate). Since to contact the real world from the book world, there is a need for both a connecting 'object' that both worlds share and deep, true emotion, this indicates the strength of the link between Miaka and Keisuke. The only other person Miaka has any communication with while in the book world is Yui. A further indication of the seperation between Miaka and her parents is the fact that (in the manga at least) Miaka decides to drop out of school and marry/live with Taka in an apartment in the apartment building lived in/owned by Tetsuya's family, which essentially severs ties between her and her mother for good. This is not apparent in the anime, where it looks like she probably stays at school until she graduates. Either way, it isn't really discussed.
As for Yui, I have to say that Miaka's forebearance where Yui's jealous, brattish behaviour is concerned is quite wearing at times. At first, their bond is that of normal school friends, teasing and messing around, although it is the strength of Yui's emotions for Miaka that help Miaka come back to the real world the first time. It is also Yui whose words convince Miaka to fight back after she is wounded in Taiitsukun's test of character. However, once Yui is pulled into the book world and becomes the Seiryuu No Miko, she does umpteen things to betray Miaka's trust and belief in her. Despite this, Miaka cannot bear a grudge and even holds herself responsible for Yui's bad behaviour. No matter how many times she is rebuffed or how many times her friends get hurt along the way, Miaka's drive to get Yui back to normal is never wavering and she hates the fact that their both being Priestesses has made them become enemies. At the end, Miaka's perseverance pays off, when she is finally able to convince Yui that Nakago has been manipulating her and that they are all in a lot of danger. However, Miaka's good nature in this instance is the cause of suffering for many of both the Suzaku and the Seiryuu Seishi, so whether it can be seen as a positive or not, I don't know. Certainly, it is Yui who first seals Suzaku, meaning that Mitsukake and Hotohori are unable to use their powers and so are killed. And yet, it is Yui who releases Suzaku so that Miaka can save their world. It's also significant that, after all of this, Miaka's first wish is still for the safe return of her friend. Yui's own regrets are even stronger in the manga - so I guess she can probably be forgiven ;)
After the conclusion of the television series, Miaka's faith in Yui is really rewarded, as she does not turn on her friend properly again and is often there as a measure of support for Miaka when other things are going on.
Miaka is the Priestess of Suzaku and the clue to this exists even in her name :) The kanji for Miaka are as follows: 美 (Mi - beauty) and 朱 (Aka - crimson, scarlet, vermillion). So she is the "scarlet beauty" - and Suzaku's holy colour, of course, is red ;)
The other thing of note is the play on meaning of her last name, "Yuuki". This is totally destroyed by the English subtitles, which romanise her name as "Yuki" without the long vowel (it's so frustrating when people ignore long vowels when romanising - there's a big meaning and pronunciation difference between "ゆ き” (yuki) and "ゆうき” (yuuki).) Yuki means (or can mean) snow. Yuuki, on the other hand, can mean courage (although the given Kanji for her last name are not the kanji associated with that meaning, it seems like it's one of those dual meanings that the Japanese are so fond of - a name within a name, much like Tsukino Usagi and her friends of Sailor Moon fame). In fact, you could interpret Miaka's name as "Courageous Scarlet Beauty", if you were so inclined!
Miaka's surname Kanji actually means "evening castle" which I suppose is also a tiny hint towards her connection to the night sky and her role of importance as Suzaku No Miko.
But I like the "courage" option best. ;)
The second observation that must be made is this.
Miaka's English dub is one of the most awful things to listen to, ever. I highly recommend not bothering :S It may put you off the character for life :S
Miaka's name is pronounced "Mi-ya-ka" although in the English dub it's often reduced to "Mi-yah-ka".