Hongou Yui : Seiryuu No Miko

Name: Hongou Yui (本郷唯)

Age: Fifteen (at start)
Family: Mother, Father (?)
Place of Birth: Tokyo, Japan

Power: Summoning Seiryuu

Seiyuu (Japanese): Touma Yumi (Anime) Yamazaki Wakana (Drama CDs)
Voice Artist (English): Wendee Lee

"Uragirareta mune no itami ima omoishireba ii"
Aoi Arashi

Yui lives in Tokyo with her mother, although she doesn't seem to have any other family around (I can't remember her father much, though actually, her parents work...a lot.). Unlike Miaka, her mother is fairly supportive (when she's THERE, ahem) and warm towards her, concerned when her daughter is late or seemingly under the weather. Yui is smart and popular, and her friends consider her the class genius.

There are generally two schools of thought where Yui is concerned - the one being that she suffered so much she was driven to turn against Miaka, and the other being that she's just a really, really brattish person when it comes to the crunch. Personally, I think these are both a bit black and white in their assessment of Yui, although at times she really does make herself hard to like or sympathise with! Watase Yuu has said herself that Yui sees the world in extremes (somewhere in the manga this is mentioned, I think volume 11 or 12), and that is why she reacts how she does to Miaka's perceived betrayal. It's either all or nothing, and she's possessed of a fiery temper and a strong sense of injustice and justice.

The first thing that must be said about Yui is that she doesn't ever take the book world as seriously as Miaka does. When Miaka is brought into Kounan, she from the start considers Tamahome and the rest to be real people, with feelings, needs and troubles of their own. It is partly this which drives her back into the book, and which causes her such grief when one of them dies. In contrast, Yui seems to feel that the characters in the book are just that - although she is adamant that Nakago and the rest are not allowed to kill Miaka, she seems less troubled by the deaths of either the Seiryuu or the Suzaku Seishi during her time as Seiryuu no Miko.

In fact, there are only a few times she shows genuine compassion for any of the book characters. One is for Tamahome - I'll come to that in a minute. The other is Suboshi, who, despite being completely out of control, seems to be the only Seishi with whom Yui genuinely bonds. When Suboshi dies, Yui's reaction seems to be genuinely of grief, and it is Yui who comforts Suboshi when he believes Amiboshi has died. In this, I suppose, is a hint of Yui's compassionate side, for she really seems to understand Suboshi's grief and is glad when he is feeling better. The rapport Yui shares with Suboshi is constant - Nakago sends Suboshi to the real world before going there himself, and Suboshi never resists an opportunity to - as he see it - avenge Yui's betrayal or the 'death' of his brother in Seiryuu's name. What Yui knows of Suboshi's occasionally homicidal tendancies is unclear - though she certainly doesn't seem that bothered that Suboshi kills Tomo (one of his own) because of Tomo's attack on Amiboshi. Surprised, perhaps, but not overly upset. When Suboshi tells her he loves her, Yui pushes him away, and accuses him of being like the men who attacked her on her entrance to the book. But even despite this and Suboshi's many awkward moments, I think that if she does develop genuine affection for any of her Seishi, it's probably Suboshi. (In the manga, Yui even admits to having cried all night for his death, but it isn't till a long time after events happened that she really reflects on the Seiryuu and that they were people who gave up lives because of her and her actions/desires. She even wishes at this point that she could have stopped and saved Nakago, and is somewhat rewarded by his protection in the form of a blue light surrounding her during one of Tenkou's explosion. This is also in the anime, but without so much explanation, so in the anime it appears that the barrier was created by Yui herself, not the earring of Nakago's that she still carries with her.)

As for Tamahome, there seems a level of ridiculousness when you start to think that Yui apparently loves Tamahome after meeting him for ten seconds. However, when you think about this for a little bit, it's clear that whilst Yui is reading the book, wearing the school uniform that connects her to Miaka, she experiences the same sensations as Miaka does. When Miaka stabs herself, Yui feels the pain and blood seeps through her shirt. When Miaka is hurt beneath the falling masonry at the palace, blood also appears on Yui's skirt. When Miaka is submerged in water, Yui becomes drenched too. Then is it such a stretch to assume that the feelings Miaka has for Tamahome are also transferable through the book medium? That being so, it's only natural that, when she arrives in the book world, Yui has as much affection for Tamahome as Miaka does. And yet, even so, she lacks a certain amount of trust and security. She seeks to have and control Tamahome just as much to hurt Miaka as to have him for herself, and she doesn't seem to understand that he loves only Miaka. She makes the comment, "but you met us at the same time", and this is further evidence that Yui doesn't wholly understand Tamahome's identity as a person with independant feelings - he's not just there as a book character to be manipulated by the people who enter that book. At a later point, she yells at him, "Who'd care about you! You're just a character from a book!", which startles and hurts Tamahome quite a lot. All the time Yui is aware of the real world outside the book far more than Miaka is. She even studies English whilst camping in Hokkan, much to Suboshi's confusion!

Yui's personality is difficult to define. She does indeed go to extremes - from total loyalty and protective instinct for Miaka to turning completely against her. At many points she has the opportunity to turn back, or make amends with her friend...yet she doesn't. Even when she knows that Miaka didn't come back to rescue her because she couldn't hear Yui's calling to her, she still refuses to listen or backtrack. It's like she wants to make them enemies, or more likely, she's trying to prove to Miaka that she's still there. Even, maybe, she feels that the further she pushes, at some point Miaka will back down and submit to her again. When they talk about going to Hokkan, Yui is sure to begin with that Miaka won't take up the challenge when she knows it means fighting against Yui. She is genuinely shocked and hurt to find that Miaka has the conviction and desire to go to Hokkan, and so she allows Nakago to manipulate her wounded pride a little more. She is determined not to lose to Miaka.

I also think Yui may know all along that she hasn't been raped. She's not a stupid girl, and she must know that in order to summon Seiryuu, she needs to be a virgin. If she was raped, she can't be a virgin. Yui's too intelligent not to properly absorb that fact, so I think she's conveniently ignored it in light of what's truly driving her hatred of Miaka. This, of course, is Tamahome - the fact that the girl who she has always looked after, and maybe felt superior to has suddenly jumped ahead of her in the life and love stakes. In one of Miaka's memories, Yui teases Miaka, saying she'll be the first one to get a cute boyfriend when they go to High School. Yui has always felt the leader - the one to take care of Miaka, and the one Miaka turns to in times of need or crisis. Now, however, Miaka has Tamahome and more, is in love with Tamahome, and this displacement coupled with her jealous, confused feelings over Tamahome thanks to the early connection with Miaka in the book makes her act the way she does. It is inconceivable to Yui that Miaka might ever best her in anything, and so her desire to prove herself leads her into an estrangement with someone who does truly care about her.

Her connection to Nakago cannot be ignored either, although in a sense it's a game of wits all along the way. Nakago submits to Yui as the Seiryuu no Miko because he knows he can benefit from it. His loyalty to her flatters Yui's bruised ego, and so on several occasions she chooses him over Miaka (maybe because Miaka seems to choose Tamahome, as a sort of retaliatory revenge). Although Nakago tells Yui he loves her, it's pretty clear that neither of them really have that kind of feeling for one another. Both are driven individuals with a goal in mind - vengeance - and Nakago is just better at concealing his true nature than Yui is, allowing her to be more easily manipulated by him than he is by her. It is only right at the end that Yui really appreciates what Nakago is - but even then she holds on to the earring which doesn't disappear at his death. She says it's because she feels she has Nakago inside her somehow, and that despite everything, she can't hate him for what happened. (This is rewarded in the manga by his later protection, see above).This is key to me, because it sums up - in my mind - why the Seiryuu Seishi are so much more disjointed, disloyal and cold than the Suzaku Seishi tend to be. It's all a matter of the Miko's heart - at least as far as I can see. Miaka, with her warm, open nature, embraces and welcomes her Seishi and therefore they are a team, fighting for one another without doubt in their minds. Yui's mind is filled with regret, jealousy, insecurity and hate, and so her Seishi reflect this, the worst of all manifesting itself in Nakago's tragic past and hot desire to destroy Kutou entirely. It takes an entire TV series, but Yui does seem to finally realise this - that in a sense, everything within the book world was of Miaka and her creation. For the first time, she has to accept that Miaka may be as strong or stronger than she is - and that to keep their friendship, she has to grow with Miaka, not try and pull her back.

Yui is devoured by Seiryuu when she summons him and makes her third wish, although at this point she does it for Miaka's benefit, so Miaka can raise Suzaku and save Tokyo from destruction. (Again, Yui's concerns are with the real world, not the book one!). In contrast, Miaka is not devoured by Suzaku, proving that Miaka;s heart is essentially stronger than Yui's is and I think Yui comes to realise this, and take on board the fact that she can learn from her friend's strengths too. At the end, it is Miaka, not Yui, who gets the grades for Jonan - although in the OVA, both are attending Yotsubadai school, so it seems Miaka chose her friendship over academic superiority so that Yui and she could stay together.

By the time the later manga/OVAs run, Yui has grown up considerably and has developed a rapport of her own with Tetsuya, Keisuke's friend. When she refers to her experiences in the book world, she refers to her silliness and jealousy, and her loyalty to Miaka is absolute by this point. Although enemies such as Shigyou Renhou try to manipulate her occasional jealousy of Miaka's relationship with Taka, she still remains loyal to her friend this time around. However, her preoccupation with the real world over the book world is still overriding - she is always cross when Miaka goes into the book world or spends too long focusing on what's going on in there.