- For Ryoko Balta from Tenchi Muyo! GXP, see Ryoko Balta.
Ryoko Hakubi (白眉 魎呼, Hakubi Ryōko) is a main character in the Tenchi Muyo! metaseries.
Ryoko is a semi-reformed space pirate who is madly in love with Tenchi Masaki, the main protagonist. She is always shown to have a very competitive relationship with Princess Ayeka, who also has a very strong romantic interest in Tenchi. Ryoko has differing abilities between the different continuities (the OVA, Tenchi Universe and so on), but her aggressive, emotional personality tends to remain the same.
Ryoko is a binary clone, the product of combining the DNA from an ova of Washu Hakubi (the greatest scientific genius in the universe)--making Washu her biological mother--with the DNA of a powerful aquatic lifeform, known as Masu.
Ryoko was created to be an entity capable of wielding the power of Washu's three mysterious gems. Washu, who is one of the Choushin--three deities who created the universe--descended to the third dimension and placed her power into the forms of three gems. Washu also created a living spacecraft, the powerful Ryo-Ohki, to be Ryoko's sister/companion and ship.
However, Washu was sealed away on her powerful battleship, Sōja, imprisoned by her assistant, Kagato. Kagato then enslaved a then-infant Ryoko and claimed her as his own subordinate, using her for his own personal gain. Ryoko, under Kagato's control, decimated 28 planets and 69 colonies.
Ryoko, while a slave to Kagato, eventually began to develop an identity of her own. In time, she began to search for sensation when not on a mission for Kagato, indulging in sex, food, booze, and drugs. However, her system made drugs virtually useless to her, she didn't have much of a sense of taste, and men were too terrified of her to be interested in sleeping with her, so she never found much satisfaction in physical relationships.
In order to capture the power of Tsunami (in reality one of Washu's sister-goddesses), Kagato had Ryoko singlehandedly attack the planet Jurai, whose royal family are the only ones to hold the secret of Tsunami. Ryoko, along with Ryo-Ohki, nearly decimated Jurai, as their power was mysteriously equal to that of their extremely powerful Royal Tree ships. In order to defeat her, Jurai's Crown Prince, Yōshō Masaki Jurai chased her all the way to the planet Earth, where he managed to subdue her and trap her in a cave near the Masaki Shrine by stealing the three gems.
Seven centuries later, Yosho's grandson, Tenchi Masaki, incidentally freed her from her imprisonment. For seven hundred years, Ryoko felt trapped within the cold, damp loneliness of the cave, and wanted to have a little "fun" at Tenchi's expense by attacking him, which she considered playtime, destroying his high school in the process. Fortunately, Yosho's Master Key, Sword Tenchi, (which doubles as a light sword) was also in the cave, and it helped Tenchi disable a pseudo-gem fueling Ryoko's abilities.
Afterward, Ryoko begged Tenchi to relinquish one of her gems which Yosho embedded in the palm of his Master Key so she could re-awaken Ryo-Ohki. This happened to be just in time, for she had sensed Yosho's sister, Jurai's Crown Princess, Ayeka Masaki Jurai, approaching Earth in search of her long-lost brother. Ayeka indeed proved threatening in her own search for vengeance. After a battle, both Ryo-Ohki and Ayeka's Royal Treeship, Ryu-Oh, crashed on Earth near Tenchi's home - leading to Ryoko becoming a permanent house guest alongside Ayeka and her little sister Sasami.
Also, fortunately, her ship managed to regenerate in a way - a reconstituted Ryo-Ohki entered the scene, with just as strong a bond with Ryoko as the former body.
As for Ryoko herself, her feelings for Tenchi emerged themselves, and thus she and Ayeka opened a new chapter in their long rivalry - since Ayeka believed Yosho to be dead and was stranded on Earth, she was forced into proximity with Tenchi and Ryoko. She developed her own feelings for Tenchi - leading to a legendary feud between the princess and the former-space pirate.
Technically, Ryoko is a free woman. Her criminal files have been erased due to the statute of limitations. Ironically, being imprisoned for so long helped lead to her overall freedom, since she can no longer be charged, which was all a part of Yosho's plan. Just as well; Ryoko is a free spirit who hates responsibilities or other restraints. When it comes to her relationship with Ayeka, the two of them are polar opposites in personality, as well as archrivals for Tenchi's affections. In regards to prominent character traits, Ryoko is very emotional. She easily gets upset and is incredibly short-tempered. She is also very raunchy and sexual, especially when it comes to Tenchi.
Ryoko is a classical example of a disrupted adolescence: Due to her former life of being used purely for destruction, as well as her long imprisonment, both cutting her off from traditional interactions, Ryoko has little concept of what is and isn't "socially acceptable". This would explain why she has no problems with sexual displays, is persistently either highly volatile when criticized, or passive-aggressive when someone tries to impose authority, and shows few signs of any impulse control. Typically, Ryoko is very mercurial; she's very carefree and laid-back most of the time, but is easily identified by her dangerous temper. However, when Ryoko encounters something that truly scares or saddens her, ranging from insults about her age to seeing someone important to her in danger, Ryoko can be very prone to tears.
Ryoko is also sometimes rather childlike and can be a bit gullible. Since most of her life was spent either working under Kagato or sealed inside a cave, she does not have much experience in "normal" situations. Overall, it seems that many of Ryoko's negative traits - like her unabashed sexual behavior and impulsive, aggressive actions - might not be from actual malice, but perhaps from a lack of social interaction. In the True Tenchi novel "Yosho," it is revealed that while under the control of Kagato, he tried to squash all emotion out of her, and she attempted to receive some sort of emotional interaction from wherever she could get it from; even sex and masturbation didn't cut it for her. Attacking people and the things they cared about was the only way she knew how. Ryoko is also extremely sensitive about her age, being brought to tears when Ayeka called her a mummy - although it should be remembered that Ryoko was quite drunk at the time, her age still seems to be a sore spot.
Ryoko is deeply in love with Tenchi, though not fully admitting how deeply until Episodes 5 & 6, when she tells Ayeka how she first met Tenchi, and later when she offers up her own life in place of his. While she was trapped in the shrine, she was able to create an astral body (a ghostly body piloted by her consciousness) and venture to the entrance of the cave. She watched Tenchi grow up over the years, and she wished more than anything to be with him. In fact, it was Yosho's plan all along for Ryoko to come in contact with Tenchi while sealed away; by experiencing childhood through him, it would change her for the better. However, the way she introduced herself to him was terribly frightening to Tenchi, so he distanced himself from her for a long time. Also, when Washu is first introduced, she tells Ryoko that she knows how she feels about Tenchi and says that Ryoko wants to do "this and that" with him.
Ryoko has a bit of an ambiguous relation with Washu, her mother. When Washu first appears, she critiques her daughter's sex appeal and asks Ryoko to refer to her as "mommy". As the series progresses, she starts to fear Washu, especially when Washu starts doing some of her experiments on an unwilling Ryoko. In fact, Ryoko becomes slightly cautious whenever Washu is looking at her with a mischievous smile and intimidating eyes. Their mother-daughter relationship is played upon several times as Washu shows equal or greater sadism than her daughter such as making degrading comments about Ryoko's physical appearance.
Washu does what many consider to be cruel, harsh things to Ryoko, however, this is the only real way to get through to Ryoko, undo the damage that Kagato did to her, and soften her up so that she'd be a better pairing with Tenchi. The most extreme example of this mother-daughter sadism as well as Washu trying to get Ryoko in touch with her own emotions is when Washu, knowing Ryoko has a fear of being trapped in cold and dark places, leaves Ryoko bound in her lab. After a single night, Ryoko breaks down and begins crying, calling for her "Mommy" over and over while Washu records the incident, commenting on how 'cute' Ryoko is and the "pleasures of motherhood." Despite this, the two do share more parental moments such as when Washu states that she will not force Ryoko to assimilate with Dr. Clay's robot Zero who became Ryoko's complete copy and does not limit her show of the emotions that she incidentally duplicated from Ryoko, but possibly because of a grudging respect for Washu or simply because she wants to, Ryoko agrees and now is more in tune with her feelings and acts more human. Not to mention, her knowledge has been enhanced after fusing with Zero.
Perhaps the most telling sign of a deeper connection is the simple fact they have a mother-daughter relationship. Even though Ryoko is essentially not Washu's daughter by birth, Washu still refuses to consider Ryoko a mere creation for personal uses; always her daughter. This can also be seen in Washu's conversation with Juraian empress Funaho, where she declares she would never create another Ryoko who will always be her only daughter. It remains rather clear that, despite Washu's on and off antagonization of Ryoko, she still loves and respects her as a daughter in the end.
It would also seem that, gradually, Ryoko is mellowing-out over time; it would seem that by weathering Ryoko's behavior out, Tenchi is unknowingly pacifying her through patience and compassion.
In Masaki Kajishima's doujinshi Tenchi Sokuhou, that decades after OVA 3, Ryoko will have a daughter who resembles her and seems to have similar eyes and facial structure to Tenchi. The American fandom has named the girl Tenko, as a portmanteau of their names. In OVA 5, Ryoko finally gives birth to the child, though the name is still unknown.
Powers and Abilities
Ryoko is one of the most powerful beings in the universe due to being the daughter of one of its superior goddesses and her possession of the three gems created by Washu.
Physically, Ryoko has no taste buds, and has no need to eat; she can draw all the energy she needs from the gems; one embedded in her right wrist, one in the left, and one in her throat. When Yosho defeated her, he removed the gems and attached them to the pommel of his Master Key, Tenchi-ken (Sword Tenchi) in order to feed power to his Royal Tree, Funaho, and to also keep her sealed in the cave. When she was resurrected, Tenchi initially returned one of the three gems so as to placate her, providing her with her powers for self-defense in the process. With the power of the gems attached to her, as her nomenclature suggests (Ryoko means "bringer of demons", and is translated as "The Devil Caller" in Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki), Ryoko has the ability to summon malicious spirits with the gem in her left wrist but she needs the gem in her right wrist to control the spirits. As well, her gems, in addition to bestowing abilities, give a significant boost to her strength and endurance. Additionally, Ryoko is able to form inferior gems on her own to replace missing gems - such as her earring. While these inferior gems are exactly that - paling in comparison to the real thing - they are useful for balancing Ryoko's abilities.
Jurai Intelligence came to the conclusion that because the gems have the same quality and power as Jurai's Royal Trees which were created by Washu's sister Tsunami, Ryoko, if possessing all three gems, would be able to generate Light Hawk Wings - the most potent sources of energy in our dimension. Though Ryoko's body cannot handle the complete power of the gems because she is still in the middle stages of development, when her body is completely matured, both she and Ryo-Ohki together can handle the true power of the gems, which is what their initial purpose was. At this time of maturation, the pair would be able to conjure 10 Light Hawk Wings, the same amount as Tsunami.
Even though she doesn't need food, Ryoko eats to be social - however, she's said that she has a "taste" for sake. This is very prevalent for her, as in numerous scenes where she is not fighting, Ryoko can be seen to near-constantly have at least one flask of sake to drink from. Although she can get drunk like normal humans, Ryoko has the ability to nullify the effects of alcohol, which comes in handy if she has to go into battle. This is quite useful, as it seems she spends a large portion of her time intoxicated or nearing such a state from her alcoholism. She can also instantly nullify any other toxic chemicals within her body.
In addition, Ryoko does not need to breathe and can survive unaided in the vacuum of space and underwater. Ryoko has a vast amount of powers but the ones she's displayed are the ability to fire energy blasts from her hands as well as form simple energy swords, fly quite quickly and expertly, summon the aforementioned spirits of varying strengths, teleport an unspecified distance (it seems she can teleport within several meters, perhaps over a hundred; however, an exact distance is never given, and she seems to rarely use it for actual transportation), duplicate herself, shape matter on the molecular level (allowing her to easily fix technology like Mihoshi's watch), has some form of telekinesis that can be focused into powerful bursts, the ability to regenerate lost limbs (regrowing a severed hand within several seconds), along with telepathy shared with Ryo-Ohki and Washu. However, Ryoko is not limited to just these abilities and has a wide range of other supernatural powers.
Ryoko likely gained the ability to shapeshift and copy the abilities of other beings from merging with Zero. However, she has not had the chance to officially showcase this power within the show as of yet.
- Ryoko's tails, seen in many episodes, are actually accessories attached to many of her various outfits. Some fans incorrectly assume that the tails are a part of her body and get confused when it doesn't show up when she's wearing something that lacks a tail, when she's naked, or when she wears a dress with a different colored tail.
- It is hinted in OVA 1 episode 5, "Kagato Attacks!", that Ryoko's clothes are generated by something, part of her shapeshifting/matter control ability, or stored in subspace. When Kagato appears in the onsen, Ryoko leaps out of the bath - totally naked - flies up and off-screen, and lands in her battlesuit a mere second later. If her clothing is thus created by her matter control ability, this would explain why the various-colored tails on her dresses are animated.
- She is the only girl to wear shoes in the house while the others either wear socks or go barefoot, probably to emphasize her "rogue" personality, considering that it's very rude to keep your shoes on inside of a home in Japan.
- However in the Tokyo continuity Ryoko is seen without her shoes in the house a few times.
- Ryoko in the manga exhibits some odd personality quirks, and is openly more violent to anyone around her, even going so far as to hit Sasami a few times.
- A split-second image of Ryoko, complete with a "Ryoko" name tag, appears in the Ranma 1/2 episode A Cold Day in Furinkan when Ranma kicks the snow monster (Blu-ray timestamp: 13:37). This episode aired months before the OVA premiered.
- A concept art shows Ryoko as a proposed genie form in the early making of the Tenchi Muyo OVA.
- In Episode 6 of OVA 5, Ryoko is seen controlling her evil spirits, implying she has finally been given the other gems in the last several years.