Name: Mitsukake (軫 宿)
Real Name: Myou Juan
Age: Twenty Two
Family: Mother, Father (both deceased). Tama the cat.
Place of Birth: A village near the Northern city of Choukou, Kounan
Power: The Great Healing Power (ability to heal wounds and illnesses using the character on his left hand).
Seiyuu (Japanese): Ishii Kouji (Anime) Kosugi Juurouta (Drama CDs)
Voice Artist (English): Richard George
Mitsukake was born in the North of Kounan near the town of Choukou where he later became a doctor. His mother died when he was small and his father, a doctor, was his inspiration. When Juan was sixteen, however, the Shouryuu flooded, killing many people including his father. Despite his grief, Juan turned his efforts to helping those wounded by the flood's devastation. At this point he briefly met Chichiri and used his power to help cleanse Chichiri's injured eye, although Chichiri left before the scar could also be healed completely and neither youngster knew who the other was at that point. Juan was taken in by a local rival doctor who wanted to utilise Juan's ability to help make money from his parents. However, Juan developed a close friendship with Gou's son Kyuushin whose life he once saved with his "Great Healing Power". He also became close to Kaku Shouka, the daughter of the head of the village, and fell in love with her. Eventually it was accepted by her family that Shouka and Juan would one day marry, though Shouka sadly died from the byouma before Juan could save her. After this Juan once more retreated to his hermit's life, taking care of the local animals and pursuing a cure that would save all people from disease. Tama the kitten becomes adopted by him at this point, and it is here that Miaka and her companions first meet him, on the outskirts of Choukou.
Mitsukake is the kind of person who you might refer to as the strong and silent type. He prefers to keep a strong hold on his emotions, and he does not tend to shed tears or raise his voice very often. It's easy to assume because of this fact that Mitsukake is cold or heartless, even distant from his Seishi brethren, but this is actually the opposite of the truth. Mitsukake shows his emotions not through outbursts and temper the way some of his fellows do, but through his words and observations, and sometimes his actions. At twenty two he is the second oldest Seishi, yet it is clear from the start that he is older than most of the others simply from the way he acts. He has been alone a long time, also, which may explain in part why he is so withdrawn from time to time. It's also been suggested (I think in the manga by Yuu Watase) that Mitsukake is simply shy - and perhaps that's so, in terms of expressing how he really feels about something. He is, maybe, a little awkward with people on a superficial level, and yet his understanding of them is probably far deeper than that of most of his companions, due to his vocation as a medic and his experience dealing with other people's suffering. Very rarely does Mitsukake think of himself - usually he is using his power to help someone else, or regretting the fact that he isn't able to do so. It's almost as if, with the loss of Shouka, any desire to follow his own happiness died along with her. Becoming a Seishi is an obligation that he undertakes because someone needs him - but he has no obvious desires or wishes beyond his role as a Celestial Warrior. He is simply one of Miaka's protectors, fighting for Kounan, fighting to bring Suzaku down to save all of them. In all of this he can distract himself from his grief and his loneliness - but equally, in all of this, he risks losing his own self and this is why so many people have likely overlooked him in favour of more demonstrative characters. It's hard to read what's going on inside someone who rarely laughs or cries, after all!
Having said that, Mitsukake is capable of emotional outburst and of physical violence just as much as any of the others are. When he first meets Miaka and the rest, he is still in his withdrawn, resentful state and he fights Miaka fist on fist for a fish dropped by an unwitting passing salesman. That he would dive into battle over something so trivial sits so much at odds with the Mitsukake that we come to know later on that it has to be looked at more closely...and when it becomes apparent that the fish he's fighting for is for Tama, his cat, you begin to realise that although he's turned his back on people at this point, he still will go to any lengths to care for and provide for those he cares about - an initial indication of his good-hearted, generous nature that even Miaka seems able to perceive, despite his initial refusal to help her. (Tama is his loyal companion right up until his death, and in the Eikoden arc Chichiri observes the cat that haunts the reincarnated Mitsukake's side, certain that this is the reborn spirit of the same cat relocating his master even after death). In a sense you can see it this way - that all the people in Mitsukake's life have, one by one, deserted him (through no fault of their own, but still, it's true.) His parents are dead, and so is the love of his life, Shouka. He has noone else to turn to and noone to support him in his grief except Tama - the rest of the town leave him to his own devices and he is so isolated from their life that he does not realise that his dead girlfriend has been infested with a demon and forced to carry out its dark work even beyond death. Tama is, in fact, the only one who has not abandoned him to his grief...you can imagine that, after giving so much and sacrificing so much to treat and heal those around him, he would have been hurt by the fact noone seemed to reach out to him when he needed them - and this seems probable as the reason why he has all but severed ties with Choukou. (When the doctor in the town refers Miaka to "Myou Juan", it's unclear whether he does so because he believes Mitsukake will be able to heal her, or because he'd rather push off a Shikkonki diseased patient onto someone that's outside the town and out of his zone of infection!)
When forced to face the possessed Shouka, Mitsukake sheds copious tears for possibly the only time before his Eikoden resurrection (although he has tears in his eyes at Chiriko's passing, and his voice cracks a little when talking about the grief of losing Nuriko). Shouka is the only person he seems to actually cry so openly for, and part of the tears he sheds are not just for lost love but for the futility of a situation that requires him to destroy the person he loved in order to rescue Miaka and her companions. If he hadn't already suffered enough pain from returning to Choukou to discover her dead a year before, he's now forced to use the power Suzaku instilled in him to end her existance permanently - that kind of thing can really mess a guy's head up, no kidding! Mitsukake is tall, broad and brawny, but he is not naturally a physical fighter - and to do something so at odds with his instinct must have hurt him a whole lot! (The Omake in the OVA 1 makes fun of this fact in some respects - by making him a touch bad tempered and quick to react, completely unlike his TV series counterpart).
Mitsukake does not speak so often as his fellows, but when he does, the things he says are usually both pertinent and worth listening to. He has a wry sense of humour, which surfaces on occasion - he observes Hotohori's ability to attract men with deadpan amusement, much to Hotohori's evident chagrin - but unfortunately the nature of his role means that it is not seen as often as his ability to deal with tragic situations. When Nuriko dies, it is Mitsukake and not Tamahome that manages to bring Miaka comfort and steel her heart towards the journey that they must complete. When Chichiri is faced with his past in the OVA, it is Mitsukake's wise words about his own loss that help to bring Chichiri out of his daze. And when Tasuki turns his tessen on himself in mortification for almost raping Miaka, it is Mitsukake who, with the help of Nyan-Nyan's body, is able to save his life, protecting him from his own flame as he tells him, "You can't die that easily."
Mitsukake's gift for healing does indeed go beyond what he can do with his hand - and this is exemplified in his own final sacrifice, when he gives his life up willingly to heal the injured soldiers and children around him, even though some of them are members of the enemy army. Even stripped of his Suzaku power, he is able to will his life force from his body and this indicates just how powerful Mitsukake's heart really is - his desire to help and heal people goes way beyond his role as one of the Suzaku Seven. Whilst severely injured from Nakago's blast he tends to the war wounded, and despite Chichiri's protestations his reply is simply, "I'm a doctor."
Yet there must be a tremendous amount of regret and frustration wrapped up in this for one who cares as deeply about his fellows as Mitsukake evidently does. He uses his strength to heal Tamahome's father, only for him to be murdered not long later by Suboshi of the Seiryuu Seishi. He arrives too late at Nuriko's death, and though he can remove his companion's wounds and damaged clothing, he cannot bring him back to life. He fails to save Shouka's life on two occasions, and even when he gives up his own existance to save the soldiers, they are ready to begin fighting each other as soon as they are on their feet. He heals Tamahome and brings him back into the Seishi group, but he is unable to do anything against the kodoku that poisoned him and is likewise helpless to rescue Chiriko from his self-inflicted stab wounds because doing so would be to allow Miboshi further control over his companion, endangering them all. Though he does not shed tears at the death of Nuriko, it is evident that he takes the loss very much to heart, and his words to Miaka after Nuriko's passing indicates this better than anything, when he talks about understanding her grief and loneliness, and that he and the rest of them feel it too.
It is this which makes me refer to him as a tragic figure, because although he seeks to help and heal everyone he can, he just can't be everywhere at once. His power is only enough to fully heal one person in a day, and he is unable to mend broken spirits as easily as broken bodies - something which he mentions to Tasuki with some regret after Miaka's kodoku-induced falling out with Tamahome. Although becoming one of the Suzaku Seishi means he is once more integrated with people and one of the band, he still is somehow seperate from them on occasion - maybe still hanging on to the memory of his failures and holding himself more responsible for them than anyone else would. Shouka continues to haunt him right up to his death, as it is a baby by the name of Shouka which initially makes him decide to sacrifice his existance to help preserve hers. Perhaps he even feels he owes Shouka his life, and that's why he does it - that since he failed to save Shouka originally, his entire life is forfeit and there only to be used as other people need it. (When reincarnated as a little boy in Eikoden, he becomes acquainted with and devoted to this same girl, and it is her coming to harm which awakens his Seishi spirit inside of him - although it is unclear whether or not this Shouka is the true reincarnation of his Shouka or not.).
Mitsukake's closest Seishi bond is with Chichiri, probably because like Chichiri, he is older than the rest of the teenage rabble who protect Miaka's life (grins). It is Chichiri who is with him when he passes on, bringing out his companion's tears (and Chichiri, though capable of showing grief, is not often seen to cry). In fact, Mitsukake's sacrifice touches Chichiri so deeply that he is enraged by the actions of the fight-happy soldiers, yelling at them and cowing them all into submission by his rage and indignation. Tama the cat also seems to prefer Chichiri to the others, since after Mitsukake's death, he chooses to tag along with Chichiri instead. However, at the end of the series, when Mitsukake and the others return as spirits, Tama's loyalties are still with his old master. It is also to Chichiri that Mitsukake entrusts his holy water from Taiitsukun, ostensibly to heal Chichiri's scarred face. Since Nuriko's bracelets were kept by Miaka, and Hotohori's sword remained in the palace at Kounan, I find this significant - that these special gifts were held onto by ones who were in some respects most important to the original owner in life. (After all, Hotohori did, in the end, give his life for Kounan).
Mitsukake also has a bond with Chiriko, although unlike Tasuki's brother connection to the youngest Seishi, Mitsukake's is really more paternal. When Chiriko is possessed, it is Mitsukake and Tasuki who are most anxious about him, and Mitsukake wants to heal his wound even though it would sustain Miboshi as well. When it's clear that it's hopeless and noone can do anything to save Chiriko, Mitsukake chooses to stay with Chiriko while he dies rather than going with Miaka and Tamahome to try to stop Yui. There are tears in his eyes at this juncture - and it is Mitsukake who carries Chiriko's body back to Kounan.
In some respects, Mitsukake's personality comes over a lot more strongly in the OVA 2, particularly his empathy and understanding in the scene with Chichiri after the first battle with Hikou. If I am completely honest, it was probably the OVA 2 which made me love Mitsukake as a character! There's an irony that his impact and character strength seems more potent after his death than before it, but then this is Fushigi Yuugi, and not everything has to make logical sense in that respect!
Although Nyan Nyan comments that Mitsukake's life force is weak now - we presume from the energy he gave to resurrect the soldiers and the little girl after the battle in Kounan - I don't agree with her. I think, if anything, it's all the more strong after his death because he was able to help that child live and to use his life to bring good to those around him. (In that respect, he was "in time" to save Shouka the second time around!)
By the time the OVA 2/later manga comes around, he has accepted to some degree that you cannot always save the ones you most care about - and he is therefore able to let go a little more of the things that plague him, allowing him to rescue Tasuki without hesitation, and to share his compassion with Chichiri in order to help mend his spirit. In some respects we can see this as an evolution for Mitsukake - whereas he was unable to mend Miaka's spirit after kodoku-Tamahome's betrayal, and where he was unable to find words on that occasion, he now has no trouble using the wisdom and experience he does have to help fix wounds of the heart as well as wounds of the body.
I've noticed in my Fushigi Yuugi net browsing that of all of the Seishi, Mitsukake seems to be the one who has attracted the least fans overall (not that he has no fans, he's just trailing behind his compadres a little in the popularity stakes!). Heck, Wikipedia doesn't even have a picture of him, that's how much of a forgotten Seishi he is!
Realising this made me really stop and look at his character properly as I tried to work him out. Less flamboyant than Nuriko, less impulsive than Tasuki and less do-or-die than Hotohori, my conclusion was that he gets overlooked simply because he doesn't shout as loudly as some of his fellows. In fact, in the English dub of the OVA omake, they even joke about his monotone voice, and he is definitely, incontrovertably and unarguably male with absolutely no female leanings or cross-dressing urges at all (again, the omake makes fun out of this little fact, forcing his square, six foot six frame into a dress and implying that whilst his companions might manage to get away with looking feminine, he just doesn't understand how to play the part of a woman. This is based on the events in volume 8 of the manga when they are shipwrecked in an Amazon warrior like female colony, and in the same way Mitsukake's 'female' appearance is both seen through (and abhorrant!) to all who regard him!)
And yet in observing him in a focused kind of way, I realised two important things:
Firstly, that I actually like Mitsukake a lot more than I first thought I would. And secondly, that if there is a good guy character who is more tragic in this series than Hotohori, then this guy is it.
Like Tasuki, Mitsukake's name is pronounced with a short middle vowel, and his final syllable is sounded, "Mits'ka-keh". The English dub comes up with some interesting variations on this theme "Mit-kakay" for example, or more often, Mits-kah-kay, with way too much emphasis on the final syllable. It might be geekiness on my part, but his name always makes me think of the Japanese verb mitsukeru (pronounced mits'kehru - to find).
(Yakatta! Mitsukake o mitsuketa!)
Worth noting also that it never fails to amuse me that in the split second between coming to save the Seishi from the living dead and their confrontation in the cottage, Mitsukake has found the time to clean, shave, dress, cut his hair and put on his headbands. Now that's efficiency for you...