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Characters: The Twelve Kingdoms
The following is a list of all the characters in The Twelve Kingdoms. Given that there are twelve kingdoms it's not a shock that over time the cast grows quite large.

Also included below is a short rundown/glossary of the various fantastical creatures found throughout the world that have tropes associated with them but are not named, as well as tropes that apply to specific groups of people.

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     Immortals and creatures 

Nyokai and Shirei

  • Familiar: Especially the nyokai, born just as a Kirin Ranka is formed, and devoted mothers to their kirin until the end. Normal youma act as this to the Kirin who capture them, though they serve completely loyally up to the point of death. Should the Kirin die of any cause their shirei will eat the body.
  • Mons: Kirin can "catch" youma and force them to obey their will, but it's a risky process since it boils down to a contest of wills that can take hours or days and could end with a dead kirin.
  • Monster Lord: Captured youma, known as shirei, tend to be able to lead packs of similar youma on behalf of their kirin.

Sen-nin

  • Translator Microbes: Becoming a Sen-nin removes all language barriers.
  • Immortality: Of the ageless and immune to disease types. It even takes special enchanted weapons and beheading to kill one.
  • Perpetual-Motion Monster: Even if starved or dehydrated, a sen-nin will not die. This becomes demonstrated when Atsuyu imprisons his father in the castle dungeon for decades.

Rulers

  • Can't Live Without You: A ruler can never truly outlive the death of the Kirin who chose them. At most, they will live a year or two before dying.
  • Cool Sword: Some kingdoms have relics for the ruler, Kei has a sword that grants visions.
  • Fisher King: The absence of a ruler causes a World-Wrecking Wave to affect their land, raises the number and severity of natural disasters, and causes a rise in the number of wild nyokai. Just their existence improves all of these and causes a less flashy World-Healing Wave. Insane or evil rulers can be just as bad or worse as the absence of one.
  • Immortality
  • Made of Iron
  • One-Man Army: With their hinman and great physical prowess, rulers can cut their way through many ordinary humans with ease.
  • Super Strength
  • Translator Microbes

Kirin

Named Characters

     The Court of Kei 

Youko Nakajima (Queen Sekishi)

Voiced by: Aya Hisakawa (JP), Dorothy Elias Fahn (EN)

Youko is just your average shy Japanese high-school girl. That abruptly changes when a mysterious golden-haired man drops into her classroom and pledges his loyalty to her as his master, dragging her into the alternate realm of the Twelve Kingdoms.

She is actually the displaced ruler of the Kingdom of Kei, and after reclaiming her throne from a pretender, she seeks to renew it to its former prosperity and glory.

  • Action Girl: Youko may whine a bit when she first drops into the Twelve Kingdoms, but one wouldn't want to be a demon when she gets going with her sword.
  • Adrenaline Makeover: From a mousy Class Representative to a full-on God Empress.
  • Brought Down to Normal: In the anime, Youko gives up her Hinman for one fight with Yuka, to drive in the point that Yuka was never meant to be a part of the Twelve Kingdoms.
  • Class Representative: For several years during her school career, and a part of her initial Stepford Smiler personality.
  • Dark-Skinned Redhead
  • Driven to Madness: Youko starts to lose it after being betrayed repeatedly by anyone she tries to trust, and the torment caused by the monkey spirit isn't helping things. When she hits rock bottom she's convinced she's as much a monster as the youma attacking her.
  • Extreme Doormat --> Action Girl and The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask --> The High Queen
  • God Emperor
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: "I'm such an useless Queen...!"
  • I Choose to Stay: To save Kei, she renounces any plans to return to Japan. It doesn't help that, if she returned, she'd weaken and die in a few years.
  • Impaled Palm: It leaves her defenseless long enough for Rakushun to gain some semblance of trust.
  • Implausible Hair Colour: Youko has red hair, despite supposedly being full Japanese (she's not, of course, but no one knows that). A deconstruction, though – everyone thinks she dyes it, which therefore makes her a Delinquent. This, despite the fact that she has absolutely no other delinquent qualities, and was a spineless wimp until she reached the Kingdoms. Her parents actually want her to dye it, to make it look like she doesn't.
    • Naturally-redheaded Japanese do exist, it's just ridiculously rare (as in, one in a million), and most of them dye their hair black due to the same issues Youko goes through.
  • King Incognito: Travels the lands more than once after being crowned, disguised as a traveling Action Girl named Youshi.
  • Parental Abandonment: We are shown Youko's parents back in Japan worrying about her, but this is played depressingly straight when her stodgily traditional father disowns her after being convinced she ran off with a gang.
    • Done more sympathetically in the novels. Her father is still overbearingly authoritarian towards her, but it is clear that the disownment stems from his own grief and denial at her disappearance. "Don't you know from watching the news?! In such cases [abductions], have you ever heard of one where [the child] was still alive? That's why I say, she's just run away!"
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In the anime, Youko's eyes are green, but when using her Hinman or shirei, her pupils will flash red. In either case, it means she's about to kick your ass.
  • Red Headed Heroine: Amusingly enough, her red hair was the source of trouble for her earlier, since everyone assumed she dyed it as a sign of being a trouble-maker.
  • Refusal of the Call: The Call drags her kicking and screaming toward adventure
  • Shrinking Violet: In the very beginning. She shred her shyness away as the story unfolds.
  • Stepford Smiler: Starts out as a junior version of this in regards to her home and social life; she reveals later the fear that there was truly nothing inside.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: The Girly Girl to Yuka, the tomboy to Rangyoku, Suzu and Shoukei.


Keiki

Voiced by: Takehito Koyasu (JP), Kim Strauss (EN)

The kirin of Kei. He traveled to Japan in his quest to find Kei's new ruler, and found what he was seeking in Youko. He is stern and rather awkward socially, but cares for others deeply, like all kirin.

When Youko is seated on the throne of Kei, he serves as her confidant and tutor.

  • Actual Pacifist: Like all kirin, he is unable to fight directly and gets weak in the presence of blood.
  • The Consigliere
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Like all kirin.
  • Ill Boy: After Joukaku went nuts, he was stricken with shitsudou – the fatal illness that affects kirin when their rulers reign poorly.
  • James Bondage
  • Kuudere: Seems to have a hard time getting close to people, but is a really sweet guy once he opens up.
  • Mr. Exposition: Does a lot of the explaining for Youko when he drags her into his world.
  • Mysterious Protector: ...For exactly one episode.
  • Non-Action Guy: Although he can order his Seirei to fight for him, blood is a lethal poison to him, so he can't fight personally at all.
  • Poor Communication Kills: He's not very good at explaining things properly, which can often lead to needless drama for all involved – his flawed explanation to Taiki about how to choose his king, for one, and also his not bothering to tell Youko anything about why he's there when they first meet. Youko herself teasingly lampshades this quality of his.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Gets stuck in kirin form as part of Joei's usurpation plot. With his horn bound, he's unable to talk or transform back into human form (thus, he can't reveal that Youko is the real queen) until Youko rescues him.
  • The Strategist: Tries to be anyway.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Like all kirin, blood is poisonous to him. He also sickens and, eventually, dies if his ruler rules badly.


Queen Joukaku

Voiced by: Toshiko Fujita (JP), Melodee Spevack (EN)

The timid daughter of a merchant family, and former Queen of Kei. After the stresses of rule drove her to slaughter half Kei's population and bring her beloved Keiki to the brink of death, she relinquishes the crown and is struck down by the Heavens.

  • Achilles in His Tent: She's so terrified of her queenly duties and insecure about her performance that at one point she locks herself in her room, despite Keiki's pleas and attempts to calm her down.
  • Fairest of Them All: In the depths of her madness, Joukaku banished all the other women from her kingdom so that she would be the most beautiful – and there would be no chance of Keiki paying more attention to them than to her. Those that would not or could not leave were executed.
  • Foil: She has a lot in common with Youko, especially the lack of self-confidence. This is most telling when Youko becomes frustrated with Keiki and acts almost the same way Joukaku once did, and Keiki is clearly disturbed by the similarity. Fortunately, Youko gets better.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Jokaku went insane with love for Keiki and slaughtered/exiled most of Kei's female population.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: She gave up the crown and immediately died rather than let Keiki succumb to illness, ultimately saving him and the land and opening the path for choosing a new monarch.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: The eldest daughter of a simple merchant from Kei, Joukaku never really wanted to be the Queen and felt she wasn't up to the task.
  • Love Ruins the Realm: Her insane love for Keiki led Kei to ruin. Given that monarchs are clinically immortal, her edict to banish all women would end Kei in a generation.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When she realizes how her madness has made everything worse and identifies Keiki's illness as shitsudou.
  • Yandere: While normal at first, Jokaku falls madly in love with Keiki. Already unstable from the stresses of an empress job she doesn't feel qualified for, her jealousy makes her snap, prompting her to either exile or execute all other women in Kei in order to remove "competition". Keiki is then struck with shitsudou, making her snap back into sanity. Ultimately, Joukaku is ridden with guilt and decides to sacrifice herself to fix what she had done. And that's when the civil war starts...


Joei

Voiced by: Mami Koyama (JP)

Jokaku's younger sister. She was terribly jealous of her sister having been chosen as the Queen of Kei, believing herself far more capable. This led to her striking a deal with the King of Kou in his schemes, and being installed as a pretender empress.

When Youko allies with the Kingdom of En to retake her rightful throne, Joei is proven a false queen and is killed.


Aozaru

Voiced by: Kosuke Okano (JP), Richard Cansino (EN)

A mysterious monkey-like creature that follows Youko around, taunting her with the hopelessness of her plight.

He is the spirit of Youko's sword, set loose when she lost the sheath in the chaos of her touchdown in the Twelve Kingdoms.

  • Cynical Mentor: Much like Trickster Mentor, it could be seen that his advice for survival is just playing to this trope. In a way he serves as a Foil to Keiki for the ruler of Kei since his cynicism is directly opposed to Keiki's idealism.
  • Trickster: He falls under almost every category — he actively tries to get Youko to kill herself, while also giving her sound advice for survival and tipping her off when someone is going to betray her.
  • Trickster Mentor: While it's unclear whether he's doing it deliberately, by the end of the series it's clear that this is the intended purpose of having him sealed into the sword. He does at least seem bored and irritated whenever it seems like Youko is giving up in the face of his manipulations, while getting excited and laughing gleefully whenever she stands up against him. Enho's reaction when Youko decides not to seal him again implies that this was the purpose of sealing him in a sword in the first place, so his taunting could ensure that a leader would have to confront their flaws and mistakes.
  • Manipulative Bastard
  • Maniac Monkey


Seikyou

Voiced by: Seiji Sasaki (JP), Kirk Thornton (EN)

A high-ranked retainer in the court. Actually, a total asshole.

     The Kingdom of Kei 

Enho (Roushou)

The wise elder of the town Youko has chosen to study and train in. He is actually the legendary sage Roushou.


Rangyoku

Voiced by: Tomoko Kawakami (JP), Mela Lee (EN)

Enho's housekeeper. A young woman determined to provide a good life for her younger brother in the recovering Kingdom of Kei. She is killed by assassins searching for Youko.


Keikei

Voiced by: Chiemi Chiba (JP), Julie Ann Taylor (EN)

Rangyoku's cheerful younger brother.


Gahou

Voiced by: Kazuhiro Nakada (JP), Dave Mallow (EN)

The longtime Governor of Wa province, he takes a back seat while his underlings turn the province into a fascistic hellhole.


Shoukou

Voiced by: Tōru Ōkawa (JP), Tom Wyner (EN)

The magistrate of Shingetsu village and immediate subordinate to Gahou. He gets his jollies from mercilessly abusing the people he's supposed to be protecting.


Koukan

Voiced by: Kenji Nomura (JP), Terrence Stone (EN)

The much-maligned governor of Baku province. He is openly disliked by nearly everyone else in the royal court. May be a traitor after Youko's head. He isn't; in fact it's quite the opposite.

  • Last Episode New Character: Although his deposition has been a major plot point, he doesn't show up until the last episode of the arc. And only for like three minutes.
  • Malicious Slander: He's the victim of it, as he wasn't the traitor that Youko heard he was. In fact, he was the only Kei governor who did NOT support Joei.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Not only he was loyal to Youko's plight, but he was kind to marginalized groups like the hanjyuu.


Kantai

Voiced by: Yasunori Matsumoto (JP), Paul St Peter (EN)

A roguish Kei military leader who is supportive of the resistance effort. He is fiercely loyal to Governor Koukan, who is one of the only non-anti-hanjyuu officials in Kei, and who gave him a chance as his lead officer.


Koshou

Voiced by: Rintaro Nishi (JP), Jamieson Price (EN)

A large, boisterous man who is a member of the resistance and a protective older brother to Sekki.


Sekki

Voiced by: Kenji Nojima (JP), Yuri Lowenthal (EN)

Much more sensible and thoughtful than his older brother Koshou, he is the brains of the resistance.

     The Kingdom of Kou 

King of Kou

Voiced by: Takaya Hashi (JP), Bob Papenbrook (EN)

The ruler of Kou, and the one behind the Kei usurpation plot. His insecurity regarding his own performance as king led him to grow envious of the prosperous, taika-led kingdom of En, and caused him to lash out at Youko.

In the anime, he dies shortly after accidentally killing Kourin in a rage. The novels have him die after Kourin dies of shitsudou.

  • Beta Test Baddie: His feelings of inferiority towards the taika king Shouryuu lead to his attempts on Youko's life, as he fears that another taika-led kingdom would overshadow his.
  • Death Seeker: Dying, knows it, but instead of trying to mend his ways and stave off the oncoming Shitsudou, the regression of his country and his subsequent death, goes on to make life more difficult for his rivals.
  • Fantastic Racism: Hanjyuu and Kaikyaku in Kou tend to have a very bad life as a result of his laws.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Particularly in the anime, where he successfully manipulates Yuka into going after Youko.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After accidentally stabbing Kourin in his berserk rage against Youko, the full weight of his actions throughout the arc seem to settle in.
  • The Extremist Was Right: Spreads rumors around Kou that Kaikyaku bring cause or invite disaster. A lot of the more levelheaded from in Kou disbelieve this. The King and Kirin of En later confirm, that travel via Shoku causes natural disasters and it becomes one of several reasons Youko doesn't return home. The prosecution was needless and from a —practical standpoint: pointless.
  • The Rival: Considers Shouryuu and Youko this.


Kourin

Voiced by: Yuko Sasaki (JP), Wendee Lee (EN)

The kirin of Kou. She can only helplessly carry out the King of Kou's orders, no matter how evil. In the anime, she dies by protecting Youko from her king's sword; preventing him from making such a horrible mistake. In the novels, she dies from shitsudou.


Rakushun

Voiced by: Kenichi Suzumura (JP), Jim Taggert (EN)

A kind, intelligent hanjyuu from Kou. After nursing the half-dead Youko back to health, he accompanies her to En, and eventually manages to get her an audience with Shouryuu and Enki one he pieces out that she was chosen by Keiki.

After Youko is installed as queen, they maintain friendly correspondence while Rakushun attends En's top university.

  • Animorphism: As a hanjyuu, he can turn into a big rat. Or, since he spends nearly all his time in rat form, it might be more precise to say that he's a big rat that can turn into a very bishonen human.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Becomes one to both Youko and Shoukei.
  • Flat Earth Atheist:
  • Mr. Exposition: The audience gets most basic information about the world from him.
  • Nice Guy: His kind nature brings out the best in Youko and later on, in Shoukei.
  • Odd Friendship: With Youko and Shoukei, not to mention Enki.
  • Platonic Life Partners: With Youko, Ship Tease notwithstanding.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: He has a bit of a hick accent, coming from backwater Kou. He's also brilliant.
  • Scholarship Student: Even with his incredible mind, his poor background and hanjyuu birth made it hard for him to seek schooling in Kou. Thankfully, after migrating to En and gaining the friendship and patronage of Youko and Enki, he is able to attend a top school.
  • The Smart Guy

     The Kingdom of En 

Komatsu Saburou Naotaka (Fuukan, King Shoryuu)

Voiced by: Masaki Aizawa (JP), Lex Lang (EN)

The cunning, charming King of En. He is a taika, born in the age of Feudal Japan as the son of a samurai lord. After being spirited away from a losing battle by Enki, he takes the throne of En, and has ruled it ever since.


Enki (Rokuta)

Voiced by: Kappei Yamaguchi (JP), Dave Wittenberg (EN)

The kirin of En. Similar to his king Shouryuu, he was born a taika in Feudal Japan – however, he was born to a desperately poor peasant family, and saw firsthand what the horrors of war can do to the common people. He came to distrust government figures as the ones who start wars, but eventually warmed up to Shouryuu once he proved his devotion to the welfare of En's people.


Atsuyu

Voiced by: Masaaki Ohkura (JP), Joe Cappelletti (EN)

The beloved, accomplished governor of En's most prosperous province. He has little faith in the newly-installed Shouryuu's competence as king, and is concerned for En's future. It's all mostly thanks his massive ego and superiority complex deluding himself into thinking he'd be a better king. After years of manipulation and abuse of everyone in his surroudings (and specially of Kouya and of his own father), he is killed while cheating in a duel against Shouryuu.


Kouya (Genrou Shinkun)

Child Kouya: Emi Motoi (JP), Megan Hollingshead (EN)
Adult Kouya: Akira Ishida (JP), Scott Page-Pagter (EN)

A cunning, manipulative young man in the service of Atsuyu, who saved his life when he was young. After years of psychological abuse from his master, Kouya finally comes to terms with his master's evil ways, and self-exiles himself to Mount Hou to wait for Shouryuu to make a kingdom where both he and his youma friend are welcome. During his stay there, he has become the God of Travelers, Genrou Shinkun.

  • Chekhov's Gunman: He is introduced as a minor character in Taiki's arc, and then he is not even mentioned until his backstory is fleshed out in the last arc.
  • The Dragon: To Atsuyu.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Enki.
  • Karma Houdini: Played with. He did repent of his horrible actions in the end, but Shoryuu and Enki let him go without any punishment. However, he did self-exile himself to the very dangerous Mount Hou, so even if he wasn't punished by others he is seeking for punishment himself.
  • Kid with the Leash: Regarding his demon.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: His reaction after his first kill. Of course, Atsuyu tells him it doesn't matter.
  • Parental Abandonment: Similar to Enki, he was abandoned in the woods as a child during a time of famine. He was raised by a youma and eventually found and taken in by Atsuyu.
  • Poisonous Friend: Kouya appears to be one to his mentor and leader, Atsuyu. He murders dissidents regularly (like Ribi's best friend, the girl who helps Enki escape from Atsuyu's manse) and claims to have "exiled" them when Atsuyu asks. It's subverted, as Atsuyu is actually a Manipulative Bastard who abuses Kouya's extreme loyalty to get away with atrocities while keeping his own hands clean.
  • Psycho Sidekick: Kouya could also be considered this in regard to Atsuyu, if Atsuyu wasn't evil himself.
  • Released to Elsewhere: His favorite method of exiling people is through the digestive system of his demon.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: The sweet boy whom Enki befriended grows into a very cruel teen. He gets better.
  • We Named the Monkey Jack: After befriending Enki, Kouya starts referring to his demon with Enki's human name, "Rokuta", to not forget the name of his first real friend.
  • Wild Child: He was abandoned in the woods during a time of famine and raised by a youma. Before being taken in by Atsuyu, he could only communicate in animal noises.
  • Walking the Earth: After Atsuyu's defeat and death.


Ribi

Voiced by: Masako Katsuki (JP), Melodee Spevack (EN)

A calm, intelligent civil servant, and very loyal to Shouryuu. She is imprisoned as part of Atsuyu's plans, and sacrifices her own life to free Enki.

     The Kingdom of Tai 

Kaname Takasato (Taiki)

Child Taiki: Rie Kugimiya (JP), Terry Sutton (EN)
Adult Taiki: Kousuke Okano (JP), Johnny Yong Bosch (EN)

The kirin of Tai. His dark hair marks him as an incredibly rare black kirin; a herald of prosperity. He is a taika, and was spirited away from his abusive family by the efforts of Enki and the Mount Hou nyosen. He struggles to come to terms with his power and identity as a kirin in an unfamiliar world.

After being attacked by a treacherous general during a usurpation plot, he was flung back to Japan with a damaged kirin horn and amnesia of his time in the Kingdoms. After years of further confusion and abuse, he was finally located by an international search squad organized by Youko and brought back to the kingdoms. Whether or not he will find the missing Gyousou and save Tai is, unfortunately, an ongoing cliffhanger.

  • Abusive Parents
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Terrifyingly powerful youma or not, if you threaten his king, prepare for a showdown.
  • Badass Adorable: See above.
  • Demoted to Extra: In the novels, he and Youko share the mantle of main character, and get roughly the same amount of books. In the anime, he gets a five-episode arc that is never properly concluded.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: When the yet-untamed Gouran threatens Gyousou, Taiki becomes the first kirin to ever conquer and tame a toutetsu.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: He's got shoulder-length hair as a kirin, but when he's trapped in our world, he wears it much shorter.
  • Everything's Better With Sparkles: He puts on quite the light show when transforming into kirin form...
  • Friend to All Living Things: He charms vicious animals, bloodthirsty demons, and socially inept kirin with ease.
  • Kid with the Leash: Regarding his shirei, Gouran.
  • Naďve Newcomer: Since he lived 10 years in Japan, the poor kid was incredibly lost when he was returned to the kingdoms. This causes him lots of angst.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Actually a plot point, as he's one of the very rare dark-haired kirin.
  • Parental Abandonment: With a dash of Abusive Parents. Though he still lives with them for the majority of Demon Child, the Takasatos have all but abandoned him thanks to the jinx that seems to follow him – which is actually his shirei lashing out in insane panic at anything they perceive as a threat. His mother says that she wants nothing to do with him right in front of him, and regrets not having killed him outright in an inner monologue. After Hirose takes Taiki in, though, Gouran and Sanshi settle their business with his parents... bloodily, to say at least.
  • Shrinking Violet
  • Staring Down Cthulhu: Taiki triumphs over Gouran after one hell of a staredown.
  • Trapped in Another World
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: The reason why he can't remember his stay in the Twelve Kingdoms. He was attacked by a treacherous general, resulting in his kirin horn – the source of his power – being cut off. He managed to escape back to Japan before the physical trauma wiped out his memory. Feeding a kirin meat, as his father insists on, doesn't help.
  • Trauma Conga Line


Saku Gyousou

Voiced by: Keiji Fujiwara (JP), Chris Kent (EN)

A highly-respected general in Tai, and the man Taiki chooses to be its ruler. He is a skilled and shrewd leader, though a bit impatient, and is confident in his ability to restore Tai to prosperity.

His hastiness to purge the government of long-standing corruption makes him a lot of enemies, which leads to an usurpation plot led by a rival general. Though he is still alive, his whereabouts are currently unknown.

  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Thanks to being a badass general before being chosen as king of Tai.
  • Cool Sword: Won as a prize from Shoryuu, for being the only person who almost managed to defeat him in a duel.
  • Dark-Skinned Blond
  • Dirty Business: The mass purges of corrupt officials in the Tai court.
  • Four-Star Badass
  • Knight Templar: When he is crowned king, his eagerness to purge the court of Tai of long-standing corruption leads him to order mass dismissals and executions – although it needed doing, Gyousou's hastiness made him lots of enemies, which led to the usurpation...
  • Morality Pet: Taiki serves as his, balancing out his sternness. Gyousou's desire to keep Taiki's adoration leads him to hide the government purges from him by sending him on a diplomatic trip to Ren.
  • Panthera Awesome: Is commonly associated with tiger imagery, especially in the books. In both the books and anime, he is the proud owner of a massive white tiger that serves as his mount in battle.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Though he does tend to go too far at times.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: An utter workaholic. He immediately starts hammering through budget and government reforms when he takes office, and during his first year in office he manages to pray to Heaven to create a new plant, just for Tai, that burns well enough to serve as a superb source of heat in the icy land.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Lampshaded, then averted. Taiki is initially afraid of Gyousou because of the man's red eyes. In reality, Gyousou is a pretty nice guy, and his red eyes are not a mark of anything evil...it's just all part of the Twelve Kingdoms' technicoloring scheme.


Haku Sanshi

Voiced by: Masako Katsuki (JP), Julie Ann Taylor (EN)

Taiki's nyokai and surrogate mother. She is utterly devoted to his care and protection.


Gouran

Voiced by:

A changeling demon known as a toutetsu; horribly powerful by any standards, enough to make even a Physical God think twice about tangling with him. Taiki brings him under his control as his shirei when he threatens Gyousou and Risai in his lair.

  • Hellhound
  • Eldritch Abomination: Several of the forms he enjoys phasing into can be described only as this.
  • Papa Wolf: Very protective of Taiki, whether out of fondness or duty. As in Sanshi's case, this goes horribly, horribly wrong when the amnesiac Taiki gets stranded in Japan.
  • Precious Puppies: Taiki usually wills him into being a Shiba Inu puppy instead of his more impressive form.


Risai

Voiced by: Naomi Shindo (JP), Michelle Ruff (EN)

An up-and-coming military officer in Tai. She is determined to see Tai restored to its former glory, and is loyal to Gyousou and Taiki.

     The Kingdom of Hou 

Shoukei

Voiced by: Houko Kuwashima (JP), Kate Higgins (EN)

As the daughter of its former ruler, she is the deposed princess of the Kingdom of Hou. Spoiled, haughty, and incredibly out of touch with the reality outside the palace, Shoukei must adjust to her new life as a peasant and come to terms with her father's tyrannical reign.

  • The Atoner: Her life after Hou – having realised what a selfish brat she'd once been, she becomes determined to make something of herself and do some good in the world.
  • Break the Haughty: First she loses her parents and princess status, then she's forced to live as a peasant and is almost excuted when discovered, only Shushou's intervention saving her from an horrible death. And that's just the beginning...
  • Brought Down to Normal: Shoukei experiences this, going from a life of luxury to one of poverty, starvation, and near-merciless persecution almost overnight. Not to mention going from being eternally-thirteen (for thirty years, natch) to being mortal again. She'd grown to sixteen (physically) by the time she left Hou. Symbolically, she herself later reflects on the fact that she'd been a "doll", herself. Presumably, she is given her Immortality again when Youko takes her into her service.
  • Daddy's Girl: The apple of Chuutatsu's eye. Boy, did that screw her up in the end though...
  • Damsel in Distress —> Action Survivor: She initially couldn't do anything by herself. Several years of intensive labor and a series of adventures later, she's holding up with the best members of La Résistance.
  • Defiant Stone Throw: A defining mark of her growth, as she does so to save a man from his unfair execution.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all her hardships and all the experiences she went through for good or bad, Youko listens to her plight and takes her in as a lady-in-waiting.
  • Fallen Princess: The spoiled and willfully ignorant princess of Hou had her parents, status, and everything short of her life ripped from her in a violent revolution.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Almost. She was about to be dismembered by angry peasants when Shushou saved her.
  • Immortal Immaturity: She considers herself to be "about the same age as the Queen of Kei" as well as the (chronologically over 100) Suzu, despite the fact the she herself is chronologically in her mid-40s.
  • Ironic Echo: Her peasant caretaker, Gobou, once told her how her son was killed for protesting against an unfair execution by throwing stones at the executioners. Shoukei herself does exactly the same thing later to stop a man's crucifixion, and Youko has to save her.
  • Morality Pet: Is implied to have been her father's. King Chuutatsu kept from her not only his rather brutal policies but also the ugly side of ruling a country. A character notes that the King wanted her to be thirteen forever, a beautiful and pure doll that was the image of his idealized sinless human being.
  • Old Shame: In-Universe, she becomes ashamed of her attitude as the king's daughter and even grows the hate her old favourite song – which she'd previously sung to herself as a form of comfort – because of how unconsciously it paralleled her own life as an unaware "doll". When she hears that Gekkei wanted her to know he liked her old song, she broke down in anguished remorse.
  • Princess in Rags: Even when she's barely saved from a Cruel and Unusual Death and taken in as a retainer of the Queen of Kyou, she doesn't lose her arrogance and entitlement, and it's only after she escapes from Kyou and then travels with Rakushun that she starts straightening up her act.


Sonken (King Chuutatsu)

Voiced by: Takaya Hashi (JP), Michael Forest (EN)

The former King of Hou. His Knight Templar behavior led him to enact incredibly strict laws, which eventually led to his deposition.


Queen Kaka

Voiced by: Rumi Ochiai (JP),

The wife of the former King of Hou. Self-centered and haughty, her actions are among those that bring Sonken's fall.

  • Driven by Envy: Kaka ordered one of Shoukei's ladies-in-waiting and her mother (one of her own court ladies) imprisoned and executed solely because the poor girl was prettier and more talented than Shoukei, falsely accusing the mother of corruption while knowing that both of them would get offed because of that. Gekkei does not forget to call her out on it before he has her killed, and Kaka's Famous Last Words are her denial of such accusations.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: A spiteful woman who had a young girl and her family executed because she was prettier than her daughter. It's implied that she did this all the time.
  • Noblewoman's Laugh: And not the funny kind either. Emphasizes her haughty (and heartless) nature.
  • Off With Her Head: How she was executed. In front of Shoukei. Even more meaningfully, Gekkei did this deliberately, too, in the hopes that it would help Shoukei empathise with those who her parents had previously had killed. Despite the brutality of it though, given what eventually happened with her it might just have been for the best.
  • Unholy Matrimony: With Chuutatsu, see his entry for the shared reason.


Hourin

Voiced by: Miyuki Matsushita (JP),

The former kirin of Hou. She is killed during the deposition of the king, as punishment for having chosen him in the first place.

  • Face Death with Dignity: When Gekkei is about to behead her after killing the royal couple, she accepts it quietly and even seems to be a little relieved, just closing her eyes as he nears to her...
  • Horrible Judge of Character: King Chuutatsu was not the first king she chose that proved to be an utter failure in the worst possible way. Heck, it was the first king's utter corruption that that turned Chuutatsu into the Knight Templar he was. Thanks to completely botching the judgement part of picking a king twice she paid for her horrible judge of character twice, as she was executed right after him for letting the kingdom go to hell.
  • Ill Girl: She already was in the last stages of shitsudou when Chuutatsu died.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Like all Kirin.
  • Misblamed: The people of Hou blame her for giving them a Knight Templar for a king. She actually chooses according to the will of the gods and had no conscious ability to deny King Chuutatsu his throne.
  • Off With Her Head: The for sure way to kill a kirin is how she meets her fate.


Gekkei

Voiced by: Masahiko Tanaka (JP), Michael McConnohie (EN)

The leader of the coup against the former king of Hou, and formerly one of the most high ranked government officers there. He genuinely wishes for what is best for the kingdom, and is not proud of the blood on his hands.

  • Cincinnatus: Hou sighs in relief when he finally lets himself be convinced that he should rule the kingdom until the next king is chosen.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: What he tells to the people who almost executed Shoukei.
  • Jerk Ass Facade: To Shoukei, who he feels needs to be treated firmly if she is ever to break out of her misplaced pride and self-pity.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Very, very bitter in regards to his rebellion and execution of the late king.
  • Manly Tears: When he gets a letter from the Older and Wiser Shoukei, in which she tells him about her adventures in La Résistance.
  • Necessary Evil: His executing of the king, queen and kirin and the subsequent revoking of Shoukei's immortality.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: More just and reasonable than old King Hou ever was. The only genuine complaint (Shoukei's constant criticism don't count) against him is that he isn't more of an authority figure, long believing he doesn't have the right to rule the kingdom as acting king because of his role in the rebellion.
  • Rebel Leader: Sort of. He was a governor in Hou, then led the uprising against the King to save the realm.

     The Kingdom of Kyou 

Shushou

Voiced by: Wakana Yamazaki (JP), Julie Maddalena (EN)

The ruler of Kyou. Physically just barely a teenager, she was the youngest chosen ruler when she came to the throne. Despite her youthful looks, she is a shrewd ruler, and has led Kyou into great prosperity.

  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Despite being eternally thirteen, she is the highly competent queen of Kyou.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Even with her competence, she's still a young girl at heart and sometimes exhibits rather childish behavior, like kicking off her Nice Shoes while discussing things with Kyouki.
  • Corporal Punishment: She sometimes slaps Kyouki around, though only when extremely upset, like when Shoukei steals some of her jewelry and clothes before running away from Kyou, and is soon back to her much gentler self ( she caresses Kyouki's face after hitting him, and immediately forgives both him and the Old Retainer that was in charge of Shoukei).
  • Every Girl Is Cuter with Hair Decs: Especially her crown-hairband-hair tie thing.
  • The High Queen: As said above, she's a great Queen despite her youth.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: She's a good person at heart, but she lectures Kyouki for being too compassionate and kind for his own benefit.
  • Manipulative Bitch: She may have influenced the Hou noblemen to revolt against their unfair king, so refugees wouldn't come to Kyou and overwhelm the country.
  • No Sympathy: To Shoukei, thinking she's just a foolish little girl who did nothing to help the people of Hou and wanting to both punish and toughen her up.
  • The Ojou: As the daughter of the richest merchant in Kyou, Shushou was this before becoming queen.
  • Plucky Girl: Especially in the novels. Let's put it on perspective: she made a very dangerous journey through her beast-ladden country's fields, reaches the spot where sovereigns are chosen, and ultimately passes the tests needed to become queen. At age 13. In her own words:
    "No one shall rule this country but me!"
  • Shadow Archetype: To King Chuutatsu. Like him, Shushou is a proud and stern monarch with a strong lawful bent. However she tempers those traits with wisdom, insight and mercy. She is the first ruler that Shoukei meets after leaving Hou, showing the erstwhile princess that her Knight Templar father was not necessarily wrong in his ideals, but rather his execution (no pun intended). She is also a living example of what Shoukei could have accomplished at thirteen had she not been a Spoiled Brat.
  • Super Strength: Can make Shoukei bow forcibly to her... using only two fingers.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Despite looking thirteen, she is over a hundred years old – rulers stop aging once they're chosen, and Shushou was a thirteen-year-old girl when she became one.
  • Tsundere: A Type A, due to her child-like mood swings. In the novels, at one moment she dumps hot soup on her maid for questioning her repeatedly, then begs for her forgiveness and lets her borrow one of her own dresses to make up for it.


Kyouki

Voiced by: Tōru Ōkawa (JP),

The kirin of Kyou. His quiet, thoughtful demeanor is in great contrast to his Empress' bombastic outbursts.

     The Kingdom of Sai 

Queen Chuukin / Koukou

Voiced by:

The wise and kind ruler of Sai. Despite her elderly look, she's actually one of the youngest rulers in the 12K world (of the currently-sitting royals, only Youko is younger)

  • The High Queen
  • Team Mom: For the whole kingdom – the people of Sai call her Koukou, which means "golden mother-in-law".
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: With emphasis on the subtle will of iron, as she convinces Riyo to let Suzu go with words alone.


Sairin

Voiced by: Ruri Asano (JP), Jessica Stenuis (EN)

The kirin of Sai. She is very calm, cultured, and dainty, even for someone of her kind.


Seishuu

Voiced by: Akiko Hiramatsu (JP), Yuri Lowenthal (EN)

An ill, orphaned young boy that Suzu befriends.

  • Break the Cutie
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Youko's, then Suzu cradles his dead body.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: When Suzu loses herself in angst, he calls her out on how she's not the only one suffering.
  • Ill Boy: Due to an old head injury, he gets severe headaches and later loses his sight.
  • Parental Abandonment: When he was a baby, he and his parents ran away from Kei during Jokaku's chaotic reign. They were good to him and he loved them... but then his father is killed by youma, then his mother gets sick and dies while waiting for the ship to Kei to arrive.
  • Trampled Underfoot: How the poor kid dies. More exactly, he gets trampled by Shoukou's carriage because the Jerk Ass didn't bother to tell the driver to change paths at the sight of a blind boy in their way.


Lady Riyo

Voiced by: Minami Takayama (JP), Juli Grossman (EN)

A vain, tyrannical woman who takes Suzu under her wing to serve as her maid.

     The Kingdom of Han 

Go Ranjou

Voiced by: N/A

The King of Han, who has ruled for three hundred yearsnote  and brought Han great prosperity. He is somewhat difficult to get along with, and butts heads particularly venomously with Shoryuu.

Hanrin

Voiced by: N/A

The kirin of Han, (currently) nicknamed Risetsu by her king. She is a spunky and loyal partner-in-crime to her beloved king.

     Hourai (Japan) 

Yuka Sugimoto

Voiced by: Aya Ishizu (JP), Karen Strassman (EN)

An anime-only character (sort of, see below) who is accidentally dragged into the Kingdoms when Youko is first swept over. She is convinced that she alone was meant to be brought over, and is incredibly jealous of Youko.


Ikuya Asano

Voiced by: Yuji Ueda (JP), Joshua Seth (EN)

An anime-only character who is accidentally dragged into the Kingdoms when his old friend Youko is first swept over. He is terribly out-of-place in the unfamiliar world, and does not adapt as well as Youko and Yuka. After being separated from them, he is gradually driven insane from being isolated from all he's ever known.


Suzu Ooki

Voiced by: Naomi Wakabayashi (JP), Mela Lee (EN)

A kaikyaku from Meiji-era Japan, she was swept over in a shoku while she was leaving home to work for a local nobleman that she was sold to as a maid. Separated from all she's ever known, Suzu seeks her place in this strange new world.

  • Accidental Misnaming: "My name isn't Mokurin! I'm Suzu! SUZU!"
  • Action Survivor
  • Butt Monkey: NOT Played for Laughs.
  • Break the Cutie: Her mistress, the sen-nin Riyo, was an absolute bitch to her for more than 100 years. She left to live with Queen Chuukin of Sai, but when she went to search for Youko, things went to hell.
  • Chekhov's Gunwoman: Suzu gets a short scene in Taiki's arc, is then left alone for a while and reappears with a vengeance.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: She initially latches onto ideals and people with very little provocation, and changes her beliefs very suddenly.
  • Despair Event Horizon: She comes this close to it because of the already mentioned harships. Manages to escape, though barely.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: A woman bound to an abusive person because of fears of being cast out without any resources or ability to make a living. Hmm...
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all her hardships, Youko listens to her plight and takes her in as a lady-in-waiting.
  • Extreme Doormat: A retroactively self-identified flaw. She thought her like would improve if she just became a doormat, but it didn't actually until she learned to take action herself.
  • Face Heel Revolving Door: As a result of her Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life, she switches beliefs and allegiances very often. It's a subtle example because she often doesn't take extreme action, at least until her Character Development.
  • Immortal Immaturity: Considers herself a teenager despite being over a hundred years old, chronologically.
  • Shrinking Violet
  • Translator Microbes: Avoided. Not being a sen-nin means that, when spirited away, Suzu couldn't understand the language of the kingdoms until she was taken in by Riyo. That's actually the reason why she put up with Riyo's abuse; in return for her service, she had Suzu's name added to the heavenly roster. One of her favorite taunts for Suzu was that she was free to quit at any time, but would lose her senninhood and therefore her ability to communicate, which after years of experiencing just that was Suzu's greatest fear.
  • Trapped in Another World: Was a poor farm girl from the Meiji-era Japan, then arrived in the Kingdoms via shoku.
  • Unlucky Everydudette


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