Waifu Wednesday: Miyabi

It occurs to me that in previous installments of this column, I have given some time and attention to three of the four main “faction” leaders in Senran KaguraHomura, Asuka and Yumi — so it probably behooves me to devote today to Miyabi.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge her a moment in the spotlight, of course, but of all the Senran Kagura girls, she’s one that doesn’t seem to get a ton of fan attention. Which is a shame, because she’s a fascinating character with some cool backstory. Actual backstory, not… you know what I mean.

So let’s rectify that and give Miyabi some love, shall we?

Miyabi was introduced alongside Yumi in 2013’s Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus, in which she took on the role of the leader of the “new Hebijo” faction — the class of Elite students that took the place of Homura and friends, who had become renegades at the conclusion of their route in Senran Kagura Burst (and, indeed, Burst Re:Newal).

The new Hebijo girls initially provided a notably dark tone to the narrative whenever they showed up. While Homura and her gang were formidable opponents in the Hanzou route of Burst and Burst Re:Newal, it didn’t take long for the clashes between the two schools to come across as good-natured rivalry more than “light versus dark”. When Miyabi and company showed up, however, there was real darkness there… and a significant source of that was Miyabi herself.

Over the course of numerous games, we learn bits and pieces about Miyabi’s background. We learn that her mother was killed by a youma, and that she sought to become a shinobi at all costs in order to exact revenge on these otherworldly beasts that tore her family apart. With revenge not exactly being the sort of motivation that would get “good” shinobi schools on your side, she enrolled in Hebijo — “where good favours few, evil accepts all” and all that — and took aim for the Elite class.

We don’t see exactly how this unfolded — or indeed exactly how she was involved in the death of Ryoubi and Ryouna’s sister Ryouki — until her “Abyssal” DLC campaign for Burst Re:Newal, though we learn a few second-hand details long after the fact throughout the Versus games, which are enough for both Ryoubi and Ryouna to forgive Miyabi.

Her Abyssal campaign reveals that she sought to unleash a particularly powerful Ninja Art known as Blood Riot; this is one of the forbidden Anathematic Ninja Arts that puts the user — and everyone around them — at great risk, but Miyabi saw it as the only way she was ever going to get strong enough quickly enough to be able to take down the youma.

It was during a chance encounter with Ryouki that tragedy struck; a youma attacked, leaving Ryouki injured and vulnerable to “infection”, leaving Miyabi no choice but to strike her down. Miyabi’s actions were ultimately the merciful thing to do; had she left Ryouki be, there would have been nothing left of the girl’s spirit as the youma took over.

The use of Blood Riot carried a heavy price, however; it left Miyabi comatose and vulnerable to the youma’s influence, and much of her story concerns her inner struggle to fight off the primal urges it stirs within her, and her attempts to maintain her humanity while gaining new power.

Elsewhere in the series, Miyabi is used as a means of exploring the concept of gender identity. While obviously feminine — particularly in the way she dresses — she has many more stereotypically masculine characteristics than other members of the cast: most notably short hair, a deep voice and a rather mature, detached personality that seems constantly serious. This leads to many regarding her as “boyish”, and not in a playful, tomboyish way; the behaviour of the “fan club” she gradually amasses (without her doing anything in particular to do so, much to her chagrin) suggests that at least some of the people who fall for her practically believe that she really is a man.

Thus, a number of Miyabi’s personal stories, be they in the Shinobi Girl’s Heart sequences in the Versus games or her overall narrative in Bon Appétit, concern how Miyabi feels about this, and how she responds to the situation. She clearly has a complex miasma of emotions swirling around in her head; we learn in her Abyssal story that she was genuinely in love with her fellow Hebijo student Imu prior to the Blood Riot incident, but that her traumatic ordeal left her with significant gaps in her memory, including this particular aspect of her interpersonal relationships.

Imu, meanwhile, maintains her memories and is absolutely devoted to Miyabi — to a fault at times, as seen in the Hebijo arc of Peach Beach Splashwhere her borderline obsession causes tension between her and her sister Murasaki — as she believes unconditionally that the pair of them will one day rediscover what they once had together.

It’s not just about matters of the heart, though; Miyabi finds herself somewhat torn over her whole identity at times. On occasions where she has the opportunity to be more feminine, she finds herself worrying if doing so is not actually being true to herself — or if it is letting down the people who love her for who she is under normal circumstances — and in Estival Versus, there is a memorable sequence where she is absolutely mortified to accidentally reveal the fact she used to call her mother “mama”.

Although clearly mature and responsible — much more so than many other members of the cast — it’s clear she’s a deeply conflicted character with a lot going on and an occasional desire to enjoy her youth more than she’s had the opportunity to in the past… and a unique, distinctive addition to the complete Senran Kagura ensemble.


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2 thoughts on “Waifu Wednesday: Miyabi”

  1. well going through most of the senran kagura posts you have and they aren’t too bad but there is such a thing as overhyping things since the games do know what they are and don’t exactly hide that fact which is why the faults are also an important factor to note such as PBS can get repetitive especially since it didn’t matter what character was equipped with what water gun which makes things a bit boring in planning who to take and who plays what shooter type for example.

    everyone has their own interpretation of the stories since the first few did have a strong albeit controversial start that tends to happen when people feel offended even way back then. dumb as that is, sadly. I do overall enjoy this series but I’m not really one to say it always does good or even makes the smartest of choices. while your opinion on why you think there’s more to certain parts of the series is fine since like most art everyone has an interpretation but that doesn’t always mean it adds much or even removes the problems the series does have. while estival versus focusing on the concept of loss and acceptance it doesn’t change the fact not everyone had to be in that little adventure and adding in the whole “the coming of shin” in both this and peach beach splash felt pretty unneeded and like in the 2nd season anime there’s not really tension behind it. you get the idea of what they’re going for but it’s not done or set up well.

    while the yumi controversy is overblown i don’t think it’s necessarily correct to brush it off either since it’s understandable people want to see more of someone else and not just who’s popular. I do get with with your mentions of acting like they wanted to do sega like games of the dreamcast was around but I think that’s part of a personal interpretation in how one individually views art. for all the praise the 4 teams we mainly see are fine albeit still flawed since character interactions are fun but like with some people’s issues with yumi’s popularity whether that remains true now or not or in the future since things tend to change when you don’t realize them, it’s understandable people do want to see other characters take a spot light that come from the new wave line up. although that may change later on since bit by bit they are making more appearances. while i can see why you say the developers put attention the 4 main teams we see that’s something I wish can i say I fully agree on when it comes to the others in new wave since even if they’re just to be in that spin off they’re still part of this series universe and need that attention now and then too to help better see who they are and what they’re about aside from just surface level anime girl tropes.

    the games tend to be average to good depending on which title i highly doubt the concept of change was thought out given there have been better stories in games and other media that tell how one goes through seeing and embracing change in their lives by comparison and the series at least not since deep crimson and to some extent shinovi versus have things felt like there’s any emotional stake in them which again could’ve been done better. PBS’ biggest problem is well the story is silly but tries to be something serious to build up 7 and that’s kind of an inconsistent tone there where again the whole “shin” stuff didn’t really need to be there and that also comes from the fact there’s not really much build on the world they live in or even lore for that matter. even the argument of the whole “Good” and “Evil” ninjas you mentioned for skirting shadows and burst aren’t exactly that strong founded and tend to be easily debunked and broken since it’s not really anything that complicated as most make it sound. it’s just the bare bones 2 sides of the same coin story told from other stories that took their time in building that up which for senran kagura managed to be passable cause the original 10 were interesting.

    a lot of recent choices don’t really come off as anything that had much thought put into them. it’s just within expectations which more or less showed in valkyrie drive where it was definitely ambitious of Takaki but it missed the mark on all 3 fronts. as for Jet Girls where unless the game itself does better than the anime in how it presents itself and its characters this does have the potential to fall either way especially considering they’re relying on yumi and asuka to boost the sales and pre-sales right off the bat like how reflexions did with yumi as a DLC when asuka by herself would’ve been enough of an attention grabber but reflexions while added some actual more depth than what we got still was bare bones which is sad considering it had a potentially good idea for itself.

    sorry if this a long one to read but I kind of needed to put my thoughts on this too since while I don’t hate the senran kagura series overall I’m not gonna pretend it does everything perfectly as it does have it share of hiccups(not sure how you feel about people using f bombs so trying to avoid cursing) that don’t necessarily kill the series but it is noticeable in why some can’t get into it or why some may drop it or feel worried and even may not have confidence in Takaki’s ability to make a game(sometimes anime) that can be both entertaining and engaging.

    Like

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