This weekend saw the debut of a familiar face on a brand new character in the latest episode of Hanyou no Yashahime. Four episodes in, Twin sisters Towa and Setsuna reunited for the first time in a decade and were subsequently joined by their all-too-happy-to-slay-a-youkai cousin, Moroha.
On their way back to the Sengoku period from 21st Century Japan, the trio were greeted by the seirei (spirit) of the jidaiju (tree of ages) that took on the form of the deceased miko Kikyou. According to the seirei, it took on this form after Kikyou used her fuuin no ya (sealing arrow) to seal Inuyasha to the tree prior to her original death. As such, her residual spiritual power from her arrow allowed the seirei to take on her appearance.
While the explanation for ‘Kikyou’s’ appearance in Yashahime makes perfect sense and stays true to the series’ core mythology regarding kami and youkai, at the same time, I am not convinced that’s all there is to this ‘spiritual Kikyou.’ After all, the real Kikyou has been known to manipulate people in the past and was never beyond using deception as a way of yielding desired results. That was always part of her strategy as a fighter.
The fact that the jidaiju’s seirei uses similar manipulation tactics as the real Kikyou leads me to believe the seirei took on more than just Kikyou’s physical appearance. The seirei appears to have acquired her personality as well, which begs the question: is the seirei really who they say they are, or is the seirei really Kikyou herself who became one with the tree’s spirit? After all, Kikyou does hold special attachment to that particular tree, not to mention she herself became a spirit after she finally found peace in death.
Since Kikyou was a practitioner of Shinto as a miko, nirvana would not likely be the place she’d end up in after achieving a peaceful death as nirvana is a uniquely Buddhist belief. According to Shinto belief, she would actually become a guardian spirit who looks after her family lineage. As such, there is still a strong possibility that the jidaiju’s seirei is really Kikyou herself, once again looking to avert another crisis. (Cause that’s what she does.)
While Kikyou’s Japanese voice actress, Noriko Hidaka, jokingly confirmed on her Twitter this weekend that she’s ‘playing a new character role as the jidaiju’s seirei’, she also stated in an earlier tweet that ‘recording for Yashahime was a very nostalgic experience’ for her and that ‘Kikyou was once again the target as usual.’ Hmmm…kinda makes you think!
Can we expect a future appearance of the real Kikyou at some point? Will there be a future confirmation that the jidaiju seirei was really Kikyou’s spirit the whole time? Will Willow Johnson be returning to her iconic role as Kikyou, or will she in fact be playing a brand new character who looks like Kikyou in Yashahime?
Only time will tell!