|Full Name||Ryuuen Chou|
|Birthdate||March 10 (Pisces)|
|Age||16-17 (Yukiyasha Den)|
18 (Anime and Suzaku Hi Den)
|Eye Color||Yellow (manga)
|Known Relatives||Korin (Little Sister) (Deceased)|
Teishin Cho (Father)
Ryouan Cho (Mother)
Sonjun Cho (Uncle)
Fuyoh (Aunt) Deceased
|Title||Celestial Warrior Suzaku, Nuriko|
|Occupation||Imperial Harem Member (former)
|Created by||Yuu Watase|
|Voiced by||Sakamoto Chika (Anime)|
Takayama Minami (CD Book)
Minagawa Junko (Suzaku Ibun)
Nuriko (柳宿), birth name Ryuuen Chou (迢 柳娟 Chō Ryūen, Tiáo Liǔjuān), is a major character in Fushigi Yuugi, and the protagonist in his light novel Yukiyasha Den. He also makes peripheral appearances in the OVAs. He is the 3rd Celestial Warrior of Suzaku to appear. He is introduced by his sister's name, Korin, and is a member of the Cho family.
- "I know it's hard right now but just try! There will be times like these when you'll just laugh about it later!"
- 1 Appearance
- 2 Personality
- 3 Story
- 4 Family
- 5 Abilities
- 6 Vocal Collection
- 7 Gallery
- 8 Quotes
- 9 Trivia
- 10 References
- 11 Navigation
Nuriko is an attractive individual with an androgynous face, pale skin, and golden eyes, which are light pink in the anime. Despite his colossal super-strength, he has a very nimble, agile body and a slim build for his age. In the anime, his hair is dark purple while, in the official manga art, his hair color varies from black to dark brown. In both adaptations, his hair has a relaxed fringe and its length varies as the series progresses.
Throughout his journeys, Nuriko's hair is a symbol of the development of his character. It is first shown to be waist-length and is curled to evoke a more feminine appearance. As he grows more confident in his role as a Suzaku warrior, he ties his hair back into a braid to present more masculine in order to travel safely around the four empires. He ultimately cuts off his braid when he becomes secure in his personal identity.
The subject of Nuriko's gender is confronted throughout the series, as he claims he is a "man with a heart/soul of a woman" and, in conversation, refers to his identity in two halves, one as his "female-self" and one as his "male-self." Nuriko's pronouns also change in Chapter 48, with Miaka and the rest of the Suzaku Seven using she/her pronouns to address the character. Ultimately, they conclude they were not sure of his gender, but that did not matter, because Nuriko was "simply Nuriko." However, in Yuu Watase's commentary, they address Nuriko with he/him pronouns, as do the rest of the characters after Chapter 48.
Due to his refined fashion tastes and status as a harem member, Nuriko wears a wide variety of clothing throughout the series. When he is first introduced, Nuriko poses severe competition to the other ladies in the imperial harem, wearing elaborate dresses, hairstyles, and a hair ornament or two. He also paints his lips a light pink but is careful not to cover up his natural feminine beauty. When in more masculine clothing, he is partial to either a pink, yellow, or light blue chang pao with decorative patterns and brightly colored sashes that are wrapped around his waist. In Hokkan, he dons a black coat over his usual fashion-forward outfit.
- "Because if you live your life worrying over losing what you have, then you've already lost it. You can't be happy when you're worrying like that--and you can't love to the fullest if you're guarding yourself, either. So, you just have to be strong, love as much as you can...and hope that, when the day comes that you lose something, you're strong enough to get through it."
- —Nuriko to Miaka
Nuriko exhibits a compassionate, brave, theatrical, and kind-hearted character. But when he is first introduced under the alias of Korin, Nuriko appears to be flirty, spoiled, vain, and childish. Such behavior can be expected within the competitive harem, especially when Emperor Hotohori is pre-occupied with another woman. The fight for attention and a secure spot as Empress or Imperial Consort is both physically and mentally demanding.
The prospective position is very important to Nuriko at first, as his grief over his deceased sister fuels his vow to let her spirit live on through him. While he first enters the harem to provide the best life for Korin, that ambition becomes his own. Throughout the series, he deals with this duality and often contemplates what he truly wants in relation to what he believes his sister would have wanted. This conflict is eventually resolved when he decides to live his life for himself and chooses to be a warrior.
When Nuriko cuts his braid, he ceremoniously sets Korin's spirit free and takes back his personal freedom. The liberation from his grief is also a mark of maturity that, unfortunately, is not explored further in the original series before his untimely passing. His honorable death not only increases his bonds with the warriors but also strengthens Miaka's resolve to summon Suzaku at any cost.
Nuriko believes that people who choose hate over compromising are weak and his philosophy of love conquering everything channels into his remarkable source of courage. He has a passionate love for his friends that propels him to live for himself and push past any obstacles that stand in their way. Through his cheerfulness and eagerness to help, protect, and fight, Nuriko lives his own life full of love and sacrifice.
Though he is prone to jealousy and bouts of impulsiveness, Nuriko remains level-headed, playful, and compassionate most of the time. He is openly proud of his immense strength and his good looks. With a vanity that almost rivals Hotohori's, he believes that his beauty will win the Emperor over. Although his love goes unrequited, Nuriko eventually comes to terms with that fact and cements himself as a loyal friend to Hotohori, showing great tenderness and care towards his former-love interest.
Nuriko takes on a mentorship role as well, providing advice and guidance for both Houki and Tamahome, prompting him to insert himself as a self-proclaimed "big brother" figure in Tamahome's life. He is also shown to have a close bond with Tasuki and the two are often seen either goofing off or poking fun at each other.
- "Oh, would you please stop that. I'm only doing this so I can be together with my sister!"
- —Nuriko, after being called a cross-dresser by Tamatama
Nuriko's light novel provides more of his backstory and how he got where he was at the start of the original manga/anime. While visiting family in Yukigase, Nuriko is caught up in a legend about a beast called "Yukiyasha." The demon lives in the surrounding the mountains and demands a virgin sacrifice from the village. After meeting Byakuren, the chosen sacrifice, Nuriko decides to acknowledge his destiny as a warrior and fight the demon. This is his rite of passage, however, he is still young and inexperienced. When he struggles against the demon, Byakuren sacrifices herself to save him.
Although Byakuren and Nuriko (posing as "Korin") have an antagonistic meeting, she falls in love with him. Before her death, she asks Nuriko to deliver her childhood ball to Hotohori, explaining its significance to her obsession with meeting the Emperor. She has such a strong impression on the Celestial Warrior that he fulfills this request and, when he arrives at the palace, he thanks Hotohori on her behalf for a deed done long ago.
At one point in the novel, Nuriko encounters a cross-dresser called Tamatama. He teaches him how to obtain a more traditional feminine appearance, skills that are later applied inside the grounds of the Konan Imperial Palace.
- "Well, I guess it's a miracle I even lasted two months here with no one finding out!"
- —Nuriko to Houki
Nuriko's story in Hotohori's light novel picks up immediately after the events in Yukiyasha Den, when he meets the Emperor in the palace and delivers Byakuren's ball. Hotohori reflects on this encounter and reveals to Prime Minister Haku that he senses a comradery with Nuriko but does not fully understand why.
On his way back to his quarters, Nuriko internally vows to win the Emperor's affection and spots Houki among the other harem members. When the inexperienced future-Empress trips on her skirt, Nuriko helps her up and the two notice their striking physical similarities. They share a light-hearted moment and Nuriko gently criticizes Houki's messy makeup before introducing himself as Korin. When he hears she was sold to the harem by her parents, he offers some words of sympathy before giving her a reassuring pat on the back, revealing his immense strength. But Nuriko plays it off and Houki is none the wiser. When he points out that they are now rivals, Houki tells him she is not interested in the Emperor, much to the warrior's shock. Amused by the newcomer, he declares them friends.
A month passes and Nuriko waits impatiently for Hotohori to visit him in his quarters, expressing his boredom to his chamber maid, Peipei. He goes for a walk to blow off steam and runs into Kinboh, a fellow member of the harem who bribed her way in. She insults him and brags that she got her fortune read by the harem manager, Gentokuin, who predicted the Emperor will come to her quarters soon and she will give birth to a boy, securing her rights to the throne.
With Houki tagging along, Nuriko confronts Gentokuin and berates him for telling false prophesies. However, when the harem manager examines the warrior's palm, he suggests he should be off at war and not in the harem, alluding to either Nuriko's sex or his destiny as a Celestial Warrior. In response, Nuriko slaps him. When Genotkuin reads Houki's palm, he prophesizes that she will become Empress. Nuriko instantly denies this prediction and tells the harem manager that he should focus on doing his job, as the Emperor remains uninterested in the harem. The warrior suggests preparing portraits of each member for the Emperor and his advisors to peruse. Genotkuin agrees.
When Hotohori receives the portraits, he is unimpressed and claims no one can match his beauty. Prime Minister Haku examines the portraits himself and nearly jumps at Nuriko's. As revenge for slapping him, Genotkuin altered Nuriko's portrait to a horrifically unflattering nude sketch. Houki's has also been altered to appear more beautiful than the rest and Haku suspects that the harem manager is pushing a favorite.
Then, Haku visits Genotkuin in the inner court to scold him. The commotion draws a crowd of harem members, including Nuriko. When Haku exits the manager's quarters, he calls for "Korin." Nuriko steps forward and the Prime Minister compares him to the hideous portrait. Seeing his beauty, Haku exposes Genotkuin's alterations before leaving him to be attacked by the crowd. Nuriko demands to know why the Emperor will not step foot in the harem and it is revealed that his affections have already been won by the Priestess of Suzaku, who has yet to appear. This angers the crowd even more and the harem members all leave in protest.
Another month passes and the harem girls have launched various plans to grab the Emperor's attention but all have failed. A disheartened Nuriko visits one of the harem's garden ponds with Houki. He brands her lucky for not having any feelings towards the Emperor and reveals what happened to him in Yukigase.
Houki assures him that she believes he is the best member of the harem and will secure the role of Hotohori's empress, but Nuriko haphazardly reveals his anxieties around the "birthing aspect" of being chosen. But Peipei interrupts and calls Nuriko for his bath time, adding that he has not washed in over a week.
Nuriko rushes off with Houki to his quarters where he begs her to pretend to be him to avoid bathing. Having done this before, Houki agrees. Nuriko steps behind a screen and the two begin to change out of their clothes. When Houki asks why Nuriko always hides himself when changing, he explains that he made a vow that he would never let anyone but the Emperor see him naked. Sensing a lie, Houki peaks over the screen, seeing Nuriko's bare chest and the mark of the "willow" under his collarbone. With Peipei waiting outside, Nuriko quickly discloses that he is a Celestial Warrior of Suzaku before ordering a shocked and flustered Houki out of the room wearing his clothes.
When Houki agrees to keep his secret, Nuriko tells her about the real Korin. As a year passes in the imperial harem, the two develop a sister-like bond. One day, Nuriko escapes the inner court and, trailed by Peipei and a handful of maids, he enters the courtyard where the palace guards are gathered by the Emperor, Tamahome, and the newly arrived Priestess of Suzaku: Miaka.
Search for the Suzaku Seven arc
- "So, that's the Priestess of Suzaku everyone's been talking about?"
- —Nuriko to Pei Pei
Nuriko first appears in the original manga and anime when Tamahome and Miaka are trapped under a collapsed pavilion in the palace courtyard. Noticing the rubble is too heavy for anyone to lift, he offers his services, effortlessly removing debris with his bare hands. He reveals himself as the Celestial Warrior, Nuriko, but introduces himself as Korin. Miaka, in an attempt to be friendly, extends a handshake but Nuriko ignores it. He explains the person he truly wanted to save was Tamahome before kissing him, much to the shock of Miaka and Hotohori.
Later that night, Nuriko chases Tamahome into Miaka’s room, intent on spending more time with him. He ties Tamahome up with a long ribbon and takes him back to his quarters. There, Miaka asks to be Nuriko’s attendant. He agrees on the condition that she not interfere with his relationship with Tamahome.
After abusing his powers over Miaka, Tamahome tries to intervene, but Nuriko dramatically accuses Tamahome of disliking him. When he reassures him that is not the case, Nuriko happily embraces him in front of Miaka.
When he overhears Tamahome explain to Miaka that he has no feelings for him, Nuriko calls for Miaka to find an earring he lost near a pond outside the inner court. In return, he promises to serve Miaka as one of the Suzaku Seven. Then, Tamahome overhears Nuriko bragging to Peipei that he had never lost his earring and that the errand he sent Miaka on was yet another scheme to humiliate her.
Tamahome confronts Nuriko and the warrior explains it is not fair that Miaka has attracted two men, especially the Emperor who, after a year in the harem, has not even looked in Nuriko’s direction. He then confesses that he decided to get revenge by stealing Tamahome from Miaka. When Miaka returns from the pond, she presents Nuriko with a beautiful stone and admits she knew he was lying about his earring, which earns her a slap from Nuriko. But Miaka retaliates and smacks him across the face. The priestess then assures an embarrassed Nuriko that she does not have any feelings for Hotohori.
That night, Nuriko and Tamahome listen in as Miaka talks to Hotohori about neglecting his harem. But before she can recommend Nuriko as a prospective bride, Hotohori confesses his love to her. The Emperor then catches Nuriko and Tamahome eavesdropping and Nuriko witnesses Hotohori vow to make Miaka his Empress.
The next morning, Nuriko confronts Miaka and accuses her of lying about her relationship with Hotohori, adding that he will never forgive her before sauntering off to accompany Tamahome into the city. In the streets of Eiyou, Tamahome attempts to auction off Miaka’s chewing gum, and Nuriko stops a heckler from smearing Tamahome’s name. But Miaka reveals herself and, in the commotion, Nuriko is swept away by the crowd. He manages to catch up to the two just as they are being held up by a small gang of thieves. Instead of intervening, he hides and assigns himself the role of the “witness” to whatever crime is about to take place.
After the thieves are defeated, Nuriko watches Tamahome reject Miaka’s confession of love. But Miaka soon collapses with a fever and all three of them return to the palace. Nuriko proposes Miaka should be sent back to her own world to get better. As preparations for their journey to Mt. Taikyoku are made, Nuriko blames Miaka’s condition on Tamahome’s decision to reject her and labels his jealousy of Hotohori pathetic. Nuriko makes Tamahome promise to “be a man” and apologize to Miaka on their journey.
On their way to Mt. Taikyoku, Nuriko puts his plan in motion. He tells Miaka to go to a hot spring with healing properties nearby. Then, Nuriko brutally wakes Tamahome up by dragging him by the ankle towards the hot spring. When Tamahome protests, Nuriko lies and says that Miaka wants to meet him at the springs, adding that a “real man” would not humiliate a woman by standing her up. Nuriko watches from a tree as the two eventually end up apologizing to each other in the hot spring. As Tamahome leaves, the branch Nuriko is sitting on snaps and he falls to the ground. He briefly comments that he thought Tamahome would try to come on to Miaka, which embarrasses his priestess.
However, Miaka enthusiastically thanks Nuriko for orchestrating their meet-up and goes in for a hug. In the excitement, Nuriko’s robe slips from his shoulder, revealing his flat chest. Miaka questions him about his attraction to Hotohori but Nuriko famously declares that “sex doesn’t matter when it comes to true love.”
As their travels continue, the group loses Miaka in a thick fog. Nuriko tries to take the opportunity to flirt with Hotohori but they are interrupted by Taiitskun’s mirror clone of Miaka. This evil Miaka brazenly flirts with Hotohori, which angers both Nuriko and Tamahome, before shamelessly revealing Nuriko’s true sex. Mortified, Nuriko runs away, knocking a few trees down in the process.
When Miaka’s evil clone transforms into a demon and attacks Hotohori and Tamahome, Nuriko reappears just in time to crush the demon with a boulder. The group finds Miaka severely wounded and Nuriko tears his dress to bandage her chest, directing the others to look away. Tamahome points out that Nuriko is a man as well but the warrior assures him he has a “heart of a woman.” When Miaka regains consciousness, Nuriko rejoices along with the others and gently teases her.
After Taiitsukun and Mt. Taikyoku appear before them, the group is healed by Nyan-Nyan. But when Nuriko explains he is not wounded, Nyan-Nyan offers to heal his “perversion,” which earns her a slap across the face. Taiitskun then orders the group to direct their chi/qi on their priestess and Nuriko bids Miaka farewell before she returns to the Real World.
Three months later, Nuriko reunites with Miaka at the palace. The two decide to travel to Hakuko together and search for Tamahome. Before they leave, Nuriko dresses himself in fashionable men’s clothing, explaining to an excited Miaka that it is safer to travel in.
On horseback, Nuriko reveals to Miaka that, since she left, Tamahome has been depressed and absentminded, adding that he knows Tamahome has feelings for Miaka and he only rejected her because he did not know he was in love. But their conversation is interrupted when their horse trips and sends them plummeting to the ground. Tamahome appears with a mob of villagers and Nuriko impatiently looks on as he emotionally reunites with Miaka.
When Miaka is taken by Chichiri, Nuriko is left alone with the villagers as Kutou spies launch a surprise attack. After narrowly dodging a rain of arrows, Nuriko solemnly looks on at the dead villagers and concludes that the spies were aiming for Miaka.
Early the next morning, Nuriko is awakened by Miaka shining a flashlight in his eye. As the warrior worries he may go blind, the two follow Tamahome to Hakuko. There, Nuriko cannot help but admire Tamahome’s commitment to his family. When he meets Tamahome’s father, Nuriko jokes that Miaka and Tamahome have “gone all the way.”
When Tamahome’s family is attacked by a Kutou spy, Nuriko is tied up with a special paralyzing cord. Chichiri breaks the spell on the ropes and Nuriko quickly restrains the spy in a painful wrist lock. He begins to interrogate him but before he can get any answers, the spy is shot dead with an arrow. That night, Miaka sneaks away to Kutou and Nuriko decides to travel back to Eiyou to inform Hotohori.
Main Article: Tragedies in Mt. Koku
- "Korin...is that you...?"
During the search for Genbu's Shinzaho in Hokkan, Nuriko is one of the first to journey up Mt. Kokureishin where he meets his end fighting Ashitare, one of the Seiryuu seven. When Ashitare lands a fatal hit, Nuriko manages to break his neck, killing his human form in a process and using the last of his own strength to lift the heavy boulder that is blocking the way to the Shinzaho.
After such a feat, he collapses in the snow. The rest of the warriors are just a couple minutes too late to help him. His final moments are spent surrounded by his friends. Mitsukake honorably uses his holy water that Taiitsukun gave him to erase Nuriko's wounds, and he is put to rest within the snow, looking unharmed and at peace.
The ending theme used for this episode is Kaze no Uta, performed by Chika Sakamoto, Nuriko's Japanese voice actor, in honor of his noble death.
When Hotohori and Houki receives word of his passing, they are heartbroken. Their grief, and how Nuriko's spirit brought them together, is elaborated on in Suzaku Hiai Den. Nuriko's death ultimately becomes a new driving force for Miaka and the rest of the warriors to summon Suzaku and save Konan. He later reappears as a spirit during the final battle against Nakago and fights alongside his companions.
Throughout the OVAs, he is featured as a spirit and assists Miaka and Taka on their journey. When Taka, who lost all memory of being Tamahome, is alone in the book, Nuriko is one of the only warriors who does not refer to him as Tamahome and the friendship that develops is rare in the sense that it is between Nuriko and Taka, the normal college student, not the warrior everyone wants/expects him to be. They share multiple conversations about identity, a subject Nuriko is well-versed in, and he gives Taka the courage to live for himself and to protect Miaka in his own way.
It is also in the OVAs where Nuriko encounters his brother, Roku, for the first time since he left for the imperial harem posing as Korin. When the other warriors and Miaka meet him, Roku is still grieving for his deceased brother, much to Nuriko's annoyance.
In the 3rd OVA (Eikoden), Nuriko is reincarnated as a young girl named Ko Reishun, who is revealed to inherit the inhuman super-strength of his previous incarnation. It is also revealed that his reincarnation has taken a liking to Shu Eian, Hotohori's reincarnation. Near end of the OVA, Nuriko returns back to his former form and fights alongside with warriors, including Taka, against the fake Suzaku. He participates during the summoning ceremony with Miaka and Mayo, a poetic gesture as he is finally able to fulfill his duty as a Suzaku warrior.
Main Article: Cho Family
A tragic childhood accident snatched Nuriko's younger sister, Korin, away from him and, never recovering from the trauma and loss, he assumed her identity. They were extremely close, both in looks and behavior, and her memory becomes a plot device throughout Nuriko's character arcs.
In the second OVA, Nuriko was revealed to have an elder brother named Rouko, a recluse in the affluent district in Eiyou. A deeply devout man, he had turned to the teachings of Buddha after the deaths of his siblings. As the last surviving Cho child, he coveted any reminder of his lost loved ones, including a jewel of memory, which he refused to give up for the sake of Taka.
As a Suzaku warrior, Nuriko possesses inhuman super-strength, and this was shown during his anime debut when he lifted up the large pieces of rubble that Miaka and Tamahome were trapped underneath. The primary explanation of his ability is that he can lift objects that are more than several times his size with ease. Nuriko can also break through a wall with a single punch, a move which frequently impresses people. Even the bandit, Kouji, asked about what food Nuriko had eaten that made him become so strong.
By the end of the first season, Nuriko is granted bracelets by Taiitsukun which turn into gauntlets to increase his super-strength. On his journey to Hokkan, he uses the bracelets to save Miaka and Tamahome from being swallowed up by a strong ocean current and struck by Soi's lightening. Then, during his battle with Ashitare, his bracelets aid in his efforts to defeat his adversary and lift a giant boulder blocking the way to the Shinzaho.
- "Stop, people are weak, aren’t they. They fight and hate each other. Stop,But only love will be able to cross the boundaries. Fate is pulling me; maybe it’s pulling me to where you are…"
- —Nuriko in Kaze no Uta
Chika Sakamoto, Minami Takayama, and Konno Yukari lent their voices to Nuriko's Vocal Collection, a compilation of songs sung by the fashionable warrior for the Fushigi Yuugi Soundtrack in both the anime and drama CD.
- (To Tamahome) Tama-baby!
- Miaka, you're stupid as ever!
- So then, I became a woman for the sake of love.
- Idiot, why do you cry so easily?
- (About Rouko) I had a brother. He was much of a coward and always depended on others.
- (Suzaku Hi Den) Call me Korin, not lady Korin.
- (Yukiyasha Den) So these senile old men weren't so dumb, after all...
- (To Eian) Come on! When will you snap out of it? Everyone needs you!
- Next to Chiriko, Nuriko is the second smallest Suzaku warrior, standing only at 5'5.
- Although the subject of Nuriko's gender is widely contested by fans, the character has been interpreted as gender-fluid, a transgender woman, and non-binary, to name a few, making Nuriko one of the first characters in anime/manga to push the conversation around gender and identity.
- An updated confirmation of Nuriko's identity from Yuu Watase has not been announced as of the publishing of this article.
- Nuriko's famous "Shhh" gesture is a notable recurrence; it was shown on a manga back cover, on the cover of Suzaku Ibun, and on numerous trading game cards.
- Nuriko is one of the three male celestial warriors to be voiced by a female voice actor, the other being Chiriko and Miboshi.
- The "Nuriko Special" is the character's signature drink.
- Nuriko's hobbies include fashion and singing.
- Hotohori's comment upon meeting Nuriko for the first time was that he was "almost as beautiful as me."
- For Valentine's Day in 1996, fans of the manga sent gifts to their favorite characters. Nuriko received 62 items, coming in second overall.
- Fushigi Yuugi: Volume 2, Chapter 9
- Fushigi Yuugi: Volume 8, Chapter 47
- Fushigi Yuugi: Volume 8 Chapter 48
- Fushigi Yuugi: Volume 8, Chapter 46
- Fushigi Yuugi: Volume 8, Chapter 47
- Fushigi Yuugi: Volume 1, Chapter 4
- Fushigi Yuugi: Volume 1, Chapter 5
- Fushigi Yuugi: Volume 1, Chapter 6
- Fushigi Yuugi: Volume 2, Chapter 7
- Fushigi Yuugi: Episode 5
- Fushigi Yuugi: Volume 2, Chapter 8
- Fushigi Yuugi: Volume 2, Chapter 9
- Fushigi Yuugi: Volume 2, Chapter 10
- Fushigi Yuugi: Volume 2, Chapter 12
- Fushigi Yuugi: Volume 3, Chapter 13
- Fushigi Yuugi: Volume 3, Chapter 14
- Fushigi Yuugi: Volume 3, Chapter 15
- Fushigi Yuugi: Volume 17, Chapter 96
|Members:||Tamahome· Hotohori · Nuriko· Tasuki · Chichiri · Mitsukake · Chiriko|