Name: Tamahome (鬼宿)
Real Name: Sou Kishuku
Also Known As: Sukunami Taka
Age: Seventeen (at start)
Family: Father, mother (deceased), four younger siblings (Chuuei, Shunkei, Gyokuran, Yuiren)
Place of Birth: Hakukou village in Kusou-ken, Kounan
Power: Martial strength, projection of psychic energy through the strength of his Suzaku power.
Seiyuu (Japanese): Midorikawa Hikaru (Anime) Seki Toshihiko (Drama CDs)
Voice Artist (English): David Hayter
Tamahome is the eldest son of a large family, whose mother died on the birth of the youngest, Yuiren. Tamahome was about twelve when this happened, and wound up more or less raising this youngest sibling himself, developing a strong bond with her over the others. In truth though, Tamahome is devoted to his family, which also includes his sick father and his other siblings Chuuei, Shunkei and Gyokuran. They live in a village in the Kusou prefecture of Kounan and are very poor, so Tamahome takes on any job he can find to support them - explaining his obsession with money. Although his name is Kishuku, he is never referred to by that name by any of his family. His father calls him Tamahome, and his siblings call him oniichan. In fact, the ONLY character who ever refers to him by the name Sou Kishuku aside from Tamahome's own introduction to Miaka is Nuriko after the murder of Tamahome's siblings, reminding him of who he is and what his behaviour is doing to the people around them. (Evidently this means at some point his true name has been made known to Nuriko and probably Hotohori when Tamahome first settled at the palace, but we won't speculate as to how or why...)
Like with Hotohori, Tamahome's real name "Kishuku" comes from his stellar identity - the kanji for "Kishuku" is the same as that for 'Tamahome', only with a different compound reading (鬼- 'ki' and 宿 - 'shuku').
As a child, Tamahome also trained in martial and scholarly things for some time with Tokaki of the Byakko Seishi, after it was made clear he was a warrior of Suzaku. He was teased as a kid and called "Obake-chan" (little ghost) because of the "oni" symbol on his forehead (oni can mean ghost, ogre, something of that nature. In the subtitles it is usually referred to as ogre, except for when talking about Tamahome's nickname, which makes it confusing.). He considers Tokaki his "master" though on one occasion he they refer to one another as father and son - and he takes Tokaki's advice/opinions very seriously. Tamahome's Gaiden indicates that it was Tokaki's training of him which changed the way he was called - since he went from being a weak village boy to a strong fighter under Tokaki's tutelage.
There is no real background given to his alter ego character, Sukunami Taka. He appears to have his own apartment or maybe just a college dorm room...and he meets Miaka in a coffee shop (or just at the end of the TV series with Tetsuya and Keisuke) but that's about it!! He does appear briefly in Tamahome's Gaiden in the National Library 'reading about Chinese' where Miaka almost has an encounter with him. He's painted at this point as being Tamahome's reincarnation although they haven't yet met. (Don't ask me to explain that in any more detail...please).
Tamahome and Sukunami Taka:
One very important thing must be raised here - I've seen people confused about the whole Tamahome/Taka thing and it's really not as muddled as it seems.
Tamahome is Taka.
That's all there is to it :)
To be more specific, Tamahome was reborn into Miaka's world as Taka, and that's why he has vague recollections of his past as a Seishi. (The memories he lost are entrusted to his fellow seishi and enable him to be recreated in Miaka's world after they are seperated). When he fights Tamahome in the book world, he's fighting an imposter whose existance is based upon the stolen memory jewels and not on being Tamahome at all. Miaka is in love with Taka and not the imposter Tamahome because Taka is the true Tamahome and her heart isn't so easily fooled as her eyes. Taka is simply the real world version of Tamahome - a way in which he can exist in her world, because without his own proper world identity and life, he could not properly live there.
It's easy to get confused, however it's also fairly clear cut, since the other Seishi will often refer to him as both Taka or Tamahome...he's both. He's either. And on one occasion he re-introduces himself to Tasuki as "Taka, though you can call me Tamahome if it helps you remember".
So there we have it. Taka is Tamahome. Tamahome is Taka. Phew. And if you're still not convinced, check out the kanji for Taka's surname. The first character is the same as the character that makes up the second part of "Tamahome",(宿 which, in Yuugi world is the character that appears in the characters' names to mean constellation) and the second character means "South" (南 - the region of Ancient China and the section of stellar sky represented/inhabited by the constellations of Suzaku!). How's that for a clanger hint to identity! (Besides, if he wasn't Tamahome, he would not be able to manifest the oni character on his forehead...which he does do when defending Miaka against Miisu/Miiru's blood curse even before he has all of his memory gems AND before the other Tamahome has shown up.)
I rest my case.
Having already gone to the trouble of defining Tamahome and Taka as one person, I'm going to now say that there are subtle differences between the Tamahome we see in the TV series and the one we see in the OVAs. Whether or not this has anything to do with his real world incarnation is difficult to say...it's significant that Tasuki is a somewhat different character in the OVA also (a touch more mature than he was in the TV series, thanks to the passage of time) and you could simply put the same down where Tamahome is concerned.
Tamahome's position as the principle Seishi and the love interest means that we get to see an awful lot of him. (Yeek, I make that sound like a bad thing - I don't mean it as a bad thing! I just find most of the other Seishi more interesting to watch, probably because we're given so much to work with already for Tamahome and his relationships.
In the original series, he is a very single-minded individual for the most part. At first his drive is his family - they are all encompassing to his attitude to life and everything he does is for their benefit, even to the point of making himself appear something of a penny pincher to a confused Miaka and co. to begin with. Despite his altruistic reasons for needing money, Tamahome is also very proud and he doesn't ever divulge why he needs the money or even tell Miaka and the others about his family at all. (In fact, Miaka only finds out that Tamahome has a family by following him in secret when he sneaks away from the main group). Although in some respects he can be quite immature, where his family are concerned he is their lynchpin and their lifeline, and the fact he has raised Yuiren pretty much himself since his mother's death also means that he as a good awareness of parental type responsibilities (which we see again even after his family's passing, when they get to Hokkan and he helps a small local boy to learn to ride his horse).
Tamahome is obviously the principle Seishi, and that means he's in more episodes than the others, as well as explains his sliiight hero complex on occasions.
Tamahome's name is pronounced "Ta-ma-ho-me" but without any particular emphasis on any syllables. The English dub lengthens his third syllable somewhat, but it's probably as close as it can be to the Japanese dub.