Taira no Chouki

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たいら 蝶鬼ちょうき
Taira no Chouki
ta̠iɾ̠a̠ no̞ t͡ɕo̞ːkʲi
Taira no Chouki
Character Titles
The New Emperor Amidst the Heat Haze
Information
Species Evil spirit
Abilities Making souls conform to them
Location Dragonfly Castle
Music Themes
Appearances

Taira no Chouki (平 蝶鬼) is an evil spirit consumed by revenge who wants to destroy Taira no Fumikado. They used to be a human servant of Fumikado, becoming a spirit as part of their plan to revive Taira no Masakado, but when they were unable to assist in the plan, Fumikado cut ties with them. The Dragonfly Army supports them and wants Chouki to be the new emperor of Mugenri.

General Information[edit]

Personality[edit]

At first, Chouki might seem cordial and proud of being the "new emperor". However, Chouki will explode with rage if Fumikado's name is mentioned, because of their resentment towards them. Most of their actions is to get revenge and kill Fumikado, for abandoning them in the past. However, it seems that they still care about Fumikado and couldn't kill them when they had the chance.

Abilities[edit]

Making souls conform to them

This is more so a description of an inherent trait of their character, rather than a concrete ability.[1] Nevertheless, they do have the direct ability to control souls, although they are apparently unable to control too many souls at once.[2] Additionally, their spells imply that they are capable of inducing curses.

Employing Shikigami

While not specifically stated to be an ability, Chouki was shown to be able to control the burabura that Garaiya gave them as a shikigami.

Backstory[edit]

Originally a child of a Taira branch family, Chouki's parents died during a political conflict, and they were adopted by Taira no Iwakado. They were raised to become Fumik‎ado's servant. When they were older, Chouki assisted Fumikado with the plan to resurrect "the True Emperor", but they needed to control the "Saeda" flute to control the spirits necessary for the plan. Chouki made a deal with a god who controlled the dead, in order to have a body "in the verge of life and death" and gain control over the flute. However, their sacrifice was in vain, since the god of the dead removed Chouki's breath and rendered them unable to play the flute.

Fumikado decided to dismiss Chouki afterwards (possibly out of concern for them), but Chouki felt betrayed that they had been discarded by Fumikado and held a deep grudge against them, becoming an evil spirit. In order to become powerful enough to defeat Fumikado, Chouki trained under the tutelage of Garaiya Ogata.

Background Information[edit]

Origin[edit]

Chouki is based on the historical third daughter of Taira no Masakado who lived around the Heian period (794-1185), or rather, a mythologized version of her known as Takiyasha-hime (滝夜叉姫). Not much is known about this daughter, not even her birth name, but according to the Konjaku Monogatarishū and the Genkō Shakusho, to punish Masakado's family for his crimes, she was exiled to live alone next to Enichi Temple where she eventually died of illness. She fell to hell for her father's sins but was rescued by the Buddha Jizou and came back to life, after which she converted to Buddhism and became a Buddhist nun known as Nyozou-ni (如蔵尼) and Jizou-ni (地蔵尼).

Nyozou-ni's gravestone at Enichi Temple reads that "Takiyasha-hime tried to restore [the clan/her position] after Masakado's death, but failed and became a nun", which is where we get the name "Takiyasha-hime" from. However, her mythologization as Takiyasha-hime didn't happen until the 17th century, in the yomihon novel series "The Tale of Utou Yasutaka's Loyalty" (善知安方忠義伝) by Santō Kyōden, a story that attempts to combine the Noh play "Utoh" (善知鳥, Lit. "Auklets") and the various legends about Masakado.

In the novels, she is instead initially known as Kisaragi-ni (如月尼). A Buddhist nun who lives on Mount Tsukuba with her younger half-brother Taira no Yoshikado (平 良門), Masakado's eldest son whose true identity was hidden from everyone so that he would not be caught and punished in case Masakado's rebellion failed. After Masakado indeed failed and was executed, a powerful toad spirit that lived on the mountain, Nikushi-sen (肉芝仙), revealed himself to the siblings and told them the truth of their origins. He taught them both toad magic, convinced them to restart their father's rebellion, and possessed Kisaragi-ni, transforming her into Takiyasha-hime.

At the climax of the story, Ooya Tarou Mitsukuni (大宅太郎光圀) was sent to seek out any remnants of Masakado's rebellion, and tracked them all the way to the Soma's old imperial palace (相馬の古内裏), an old palace modeled after the Emperor's that used to be Masakado's base of operations, where the siblings have been recruiting people still loyal to Masakado's cause. In a desperate attempt to fight back, the siblings summon and control an army of skeletons to fight back against Mitsukuni and his men but ultimately lose. The end of the story is unknown as the series was never completed, and although attempts have been made, no complete version exists.

Nevertheless, this story serves as the basis of many future versions of the Takiyasha-hime myths. Notable later additions to the myth include:

  • Giving her the birth name Satsuki-hime (五月姫, Lit. "May Princess/Lady").
  • Excluding both Yoshikado and Nikushi-sen from the story, making Takiyasha-hime the only central character of the story.
  • Changing the climax from summoning multiple skeleton warriors to one giant skeleton, which in turn served as the basis for the gashadokuro youkai. This was famously depicted in Utagawa Kuniyoshi's woodblock print Soma's old imperial palace (相馬の古内裏).
  • Changing how she became Takiyasha-hime, from being possessed by Nikushi-sen to performing an ox-hour shrine visit to Kifune Shrine in order to curse her father's enemies after his death, where the rough and violent spirit of the shrine's god, Takaokami-no-Kami, spoke to her and taught her magic, transforming her into Takiyasha-hime.

This character, in her many iterations, likely inspired Chouki in the following ways:

  • The story of Nyozou-ni's fall and return from hell likely inspired Chouki's own trip to and back from the Spirit World.
  • The presence of the toad spirit Nikushi-sen likely inspired Kaisen Azuma being on Chouki's side of the Heaven-Shadow War.
  • Her transformation into Takiyasha-hime through the ox-hour shrine visit likely inspired Chouki's own transformation into a vengeful departed spirit. The ox-hour shrine visit was a popular subject for artists of the time, like in this woodblock print by Utagawa Toyokuni, which was referenced in Chouki's design as well.
  • Takiyasha-hime's initial pairing but eventual separation from Yoshikado in the evolution of her myth likely inspired Chouki's initial support of Fumikado but eventual parting with them.
  • Her failure to restore the clan/her own position, as mentioned on her grave, as well as her failure to continue her father's rebellion in the myths, likely inspired Chouki's own failure in being unable to play the Saeda nor keep the Dragonfly Castle and become New Emperor as well.

In addition, many other minor points are referenced in Chouki's spell card titles as well.

Other Len'en characters draw inspiration from the characters and events in "The Tale of Utou Yasutaka's Loyalty" as well, Ooya Tarou Mitsukuni is the basis behind Kunimitsu Ooya, while the giant skeleton summoned by Takiyasha-hime was the inspiration behind Sese Kitsugai. However, any connections between these characters and Chouki are yet unclear.

Name[edit]

Their full name is Taira no Chouki (平 蝶鬼). Taira () is an old Japanese surname, which they share with Taira no Fumikado. The characters in their given name Chouki (蝶鬼), separately, mean "butterfly" and "oni".

Design[edit]

Chouki has wavy black hair, red eyes, and fangs. They wear golden hairpins and two red headbands, one with a lit candle on top, and the other with two white horns. In their mouth, they hold a torch that is lit on both ends. They wear a beige furisode, seen to be over red and white robes respectively. They wear a maroon sash around their shoulders, holding a mirror along their waistline. The furisode sleeves have long red laces tied in bunny-ears styled knots, then split into two gold tassels. They hold a broken dagger in their right hand and a golden mini-hakkero in their left. Instead of legs, they have a ghostly orange tail. Chouki's burabura shikigami is dark red, with a fiery interior, with a single eye and white horn on top.

Their design is heavily based on Takiyasha-hime (滝夜叉姫), a sorceress in Japanese mythology, and Taira no Masakado's daughter. As seen here, they are seen holding a blade in one hand, with a dual-lit torch held in their mouth.

When enraged, their sclera will turn black, and a dark, flame-like aura surrounds them.

There is an error with Chouki's hands on their portrait: their left hand has their thumb on the wrong side of the hand. There's also a problem with the right hand on whether their right hand has an extra finger or it being the tip of their thumb. When confronted, JynX mentions that it is like J. Geil, who is known to have two left hands.[3]

Appearances[edit]

Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle

While training under the tutelage of Garaiya Ogata, the Dragonfly Castle appeared before Chouki, which they took as an omen acknowledging them as the New Emperor. The idealistic Garaiya wanted for the emperor to be a “hero figure” to Mugenri, but unknown to them, Chouki actually had no interest in ruling. Knowing that Fumikado will eventually come to the castle and fight for the emperor’s title, Chouki waited for them inside the castle, with the intention to kill and have revenge on Fumikado.

In all endings, Chouki is defeated and leaves the castle, not before revealing that they had nothing to do with the sudden appearance of the Dragonfly Castle. In the New Emperor Team, Fumikado and Chouki do reconcile. Fumikado realizes that the reason why Chouki did not succeed in killing them is because Chouki wasn't really trying and still cares about them. They part ways and Fumikado proclaims that they and Chouki will fight to the death for the emperor's title someday in the future.

Relationships[edit]

Gallery[edit]

Additional Information[edit]

  • One of the crests featured on Chouki's spell backgrounds is the Bishamon-Kikko crest (毘沙門亀甲, lit. Bishamon Turtle Shell), said to be the pattern on the war and fortune god Bishamon's chain mail. The Bishamon-Kikko crest is a variation of the Kikko crest (亀甲, lit. Turtle Shell), which represents longevity. The Bishamon-Kikko crest is thus said to represent financial fortune and longevity. However, there seems to be no obvious link between Bishamon and Chouki.

Spell Cards[edit]

Spell Cards
Name Translated Comments Games Stage
Total: 13
恨火「魂の煉獄車」 Grudge Fire "Soul's Purgatory Wheel" BPoHC St. 6: E/N
怨炎「断魂烈刃」 Enmity Flame "Soul-Rending Fierce Blade" BPoHC St. 6: H/U
召喚「餓者髑髏」 Summoning "Gashadokuro" BPoHC St. 6: E/N
「相馬の古内裏」 "Soma's Old Imperial Palace"[a] BPoHC St. 6: H/U
斬牌「裂ける魂」 Slash Card "Souls Torn Asunder" BPoHC St. 6: E/N
裂牌「五月咲き」 Tearing Card "May Flowering"[b] BPoHC St. 6: H/U
捕牌「骨格子」 Capture Card "Skeletal Lattice"[c] BPoHC St. 6: E/N
縛牌「霊牢獄」 Binding Card "Spirit Prison" BPoHC St. 6: H/U
「鬼門の蝶」 "Butterfly from the Demon's Gate"[d] BPoHC St. 6: E/N
「貴船の丑の刻参り」 "Ox-Hour Visit to Kifune Shrine" BPoHC St. 6: H/U
「還る者、帰らぬ者」 "Those Who Return, Those Who Shall Not"[e] BPoHC St. 6: E/N
「善知鳥の声、その応え」 "The Auklet's Cry, and the Response Thereto"[f] BPoHC St. 6: H/U
連鎖怨 Chain-Link Grudge BPoHC Upgrade

Notes[edit]

  1. Original Japanese name of the woodblock print Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre.
  2. Takiyasha-hime (滝夜叉姫), who Chouki is loosely based on, was originally named Satsuki-hime (五月姫), in which "satsuki" is also the name for the flower rhododendron indicum.
  3. Portmanteau of 骨格 (kokkaku, skeletal structure) and 格子 (koushi, lattice).
  4. Possibly a reference to Taira no Onikado (平 鬼門) and Chouki.
  5. Wordplay on two different ways of writing the word kaeru (帰る, to return). "帰る" connotates "returning" in a physical context, such as returning home from one's workplace. "還る" connotates "returning" in the abstract, such as "returning to nature" or "returning to the earth". (Webpage with explanation of difference)
  6. Reference to the noh play Utou, after the bird of the same name. The adult birds cry out (rendered as "utou" in Japanese), followed by a response ("yasukata") from their chicks to inform their parents of their location. The play features the tormented ghost of a hunter who mimicked the parents' cries to hunt the chicks.

Official Profiles[edit]

陽炎の内の新皇

平 蝶鬼
Taira no Chouki
●種族
死霊
●能力
魂を従わせる
    的な能力

蝶鬼は文門の従者として育てられた。

常に文門に従い、傍らにおり、助けとなるように・・・
それが幼い頃、文門の祖父に言いつけられた
蝶鬼の使命だった。

蝶鬼は幼いときの記憶はほとんどなかった。

「お前は分家である両親の間に産まれた者で、
 その両親は都との抗争に巻き込まれ二人とも死に、
 残ったお前を自分が引き取った」

文門の祖父から伝えられたこの言葉だけが
蝶鬼が知る自分の出生であった。


蝶鬼は文門と共に平将門を蘇らせ
"都"を攻め落とそうとしていたのだが、
復活計画には多くの霊魂を一箇所に集める必要があった。

そのために必要だったものが
死霊を操る笛「小枝」だった。

しかし「小枝」を使い霊を操るためには
"より死に近い存在"でなければならなかった。

そこで蝶鬼は自らの命を絶ち、
死霊となって「小枝」を奏でる決意をした。

しかし本来なら死んだ者は霊界に導かれ、
そこの主によって処理されることになっている。

それ故、それに逆らい死霊としてこの世に留まるためには
霊界の主と取引をしなくてはならなかった。

取引の結果、
蝶鬼は死霊として現世に留まることができたが、
「死霊になることが望みなら、
       死霊らしい風体にしてやろう」
という霊界の主の戯れにより、
蝶鬼は"足"と"息"を奪われた。

呼吸法がない以上、蝶鬼に『小枝』を奏でることはできず、
結局のところ蝶鬼は失うだけ失い、
かわりに何も得ることはできなかった。

間もなくして、蝶鬼は文門によって計画から外された。

それが文門からの手向けなのか、
蝶鬼をこれ以上この計画に関わらせたくなかったのか、
それともただ単に蝶鬼を見捨てただけなのか・・・
真実のあるところは文門自身しか知らない。

だが少なくとも蝶鬼自身は、自分は用済みになって
切り捨てられたものだと感じ、
恨みの矛先は文門に向かった。

自らの命を犠牲にしてまで身を尽くしてきたのに、
役立たずになった途端
ボロ雑巾のように使い捨てられた・・・
蝶鬼のその恨みは、いつしか文門に対する
復讐心へと変わっていた。

文門を凌ぐ力を得るため、
同じ組織に属するガライヤとその式神達の下で修行をし、
妖術と剣術の両方をたくみに扱えるようになった。


...それは蝶鬼が文門に並ぶほどの力をつけ始めた時だった

蜻蛉乃城が目の前に現れ、蝶鬼を中に迎え入れたのだった。



ちなみに、呼吸法を失った蝶鬼は
同時に"声"も失ったのだが、
そのために『心の声を灯す』という提灯型式神
【不螺々々(ぶらぶら)】[a]を使用して会話している。

ただ、思ったことをそのまま言葉にしてしまうため、
感情を隠したり嘘を言ったりするのが
難しいという欠点がある。

ちなみにこれの本来の用途は遠距離での会話用。
たまに勝手に違うことを喋ることもある。

The New Emperor Amidst the Heat Haze

Taira no Chouki
●Species:
Dead spirit
●Abilities:
Something like making souls obey

Chouki was raised as a servant of Fumikado.

Always following Fumikado, being by their side and assisting them...
That was Chouki's mission, as instructed to them by Fumikado's
grandfather
since they were young.

Chouki had little memory of their youth.

"You were born to parents of one of the branch families,
but they were both dragged into a conflict in the capital city and passed away,
and I took you in as the only survivor."

Those words from Fumikado's grandfather
were all that Chouki knew of their heritage.


Chouki cooperated with Fumikado to revive
Taira no Masakado and take down the capital city,
but the revival plan required them to gather a mass of spirits in one place.

In order to do this, they needed the flute that could
control dead spirits: the "Saeda".

However, to use the Saeda and control the spirits,
one first had to become "a being closer to death".

Thus, Chouki resolved to take their own life,
become a dead spirit, and play the flute.

However, those who have died are normally supposed to go to the Spirit World,
where they will be processed and dealt with by that world's master.

Therefore, in order to go against that and remain in this world as a spirit,
Chouki was forced to make a deal with the Spirit World's master.

As a result of the deal,
Chouki remained in the present world as a spirit.
However, the Spirit World's master played a trick on Chouki...

"If you want to be a spirit,
I ought to make you look the part!" –

Thus, Chouki's legs and breath were stolen from them.

Since they were unable to inhale and exhale, Chouki couldn't play the flute.
In the end, they only lost,
yet gained nothing in return.

It wasn't long after that Fumikado cut Chouki out of the plan.

Whether that was Fumikado's farewell gift for Chouki,
them not wanting Chouki to be involved in the plan any further,
or them simply abandoning Chouki...
Only Fumikado themself knows where the truth lies.

At the very least, Chouki themself felt like
they had been tossed aside as a useless pawn,
and so their resentment was directed towards Fumikado.

They gave everything they could, even sacrificing their own life,
but as soon as they weren't useful any more,
they were just tossed aside like a worn-out rag...!
That hatred of Chouki's soon turned into a burning desire
for revenge against Fumikado.

In order to gain enough power to subdue Fumikado,
Chouki trained under Garaiya and their shikigami, who were a part of the same organization,
becoming very proficient in both youkai arts and swordfighting.


...It happened right around the time when Chouki began to match Fumikado in power.

The Dragonfly Castle appeared before them, and welcomed Chouki inside.


By the way, since Chouki can't breathe
and lost their "voice" at the same time.
As such, they use a lantern-shaped shikigami called a "Bura-Bura",
said to "light the fire of one's inner voice", to communicate.

However, since the shikigami puts their thoughts directly into words,
it does come with the drawback of making it difficult to hide their
emotions or lie effectively.

Also, it was originally meant for long-distance communication.
Sometimes it acts on its own and says the wrong things, too.

Notes[edit]

  1. A typo of 不落々々.

Official Sources[edit]

Official sources

References[edit]

  1. Interview with JynX (2017)#53: Bosses, Question 53
  2. Interview with JynX (2021): Characters (BPoHC), Haze Route, Question 249
  3. Peing: 22 February 2019