All right, all right, one more Senran Kagura waifu and then we’re done! DONE, I say! For now, anyway.
I wanted to give Yomi a bit of attention because she’s an immensely likeable character who subverts a lot of expectations and has some interesting backstory.
She particularly shines in Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal’s Hebijo arc, but I can’t pretend her disappearance into the toilet for several Peach Beach Splash missions after drinking too much pool water wasn’t memorable…
Yomi, like her peers in Homura’s Crimson Squad (formerly the Elite students of Hebijo Clandestine Girls’ Academy) has been a fixture in the series since the very beginning, and she’s a prime example of the series’ interesting treatment of “evil”.
For the uninitiated, the interpretation of “good” and “evil” in Senran Kagura is less to do with your actual behaviour and more to do with who you work for… and how you got into that position. A core tenet of this dichotomy is that while it is possible to “not be good enough” for “good”, you can never be “too evil” for “evil” or, to put it another way, evil accepts everyone, regardless of their background and regardless of their behaviour.
This means that the ranks of the “evil” shinobi not only consist of those willing to do unconscionable things as most of us think of when we hear the term “evil”, but a significant proportion come from deprived, abusive or otherwise chaotic backgrounds; their turning to “evil” was their sole means of escaping a life of misery.
In Yomi’s case, her enrolment in Hebijo allowed her to escape from poverty. She grew up in the slums with her parents, and never knew anything else; consequently, she learned to appreciate everything she had, and this is reflected in how enthusiastically frugal she is throughout the series.
Her love of beansprouts stems from the fact that they are a cheap but nutritious staple food in Eastern cuisine, and following the events of Burst/Burst Re:Newal, in which Homura and friends are forced to walk the renegade path rather than returning to Hebijo, she proves herself to be highly resourceful when it comes to living off the land.
An interesting thing about Yomi is that although she is from a very deprived background, the way she carries herself does not reflect this at all. She speaks in a refined manner, making use of the “desu wa” sentence-ending particle that is typically associated with “princess” characters, and she is always polite and articulate, even when confronted with a mortal enemy — or someone she thinks is a mortal enemy, anyway.
Some of this may come from the fact that while she grew up in poverty, she is, at least during her time at Hebijo, fairly well off. The school, it seems, provides a generous stipend for its students — though Yomi deliberately donates all of it to help the people of the slums rather than spending it on herself.
Her background means that she initially harbours great resentment towards the affluent, with much of that ire initially directed towards Ikaruga, who hails from a wealthy family. However, the revelation that Ikaruga was adopted gives her pause and makes her reconsider the path she’s walking, demonstrating that while she is firm in her beliefs and values, she’s not so stubborn as to cling to them blindly when they come into question.
The pairing of Yomi and Ikaruga is very much intentional; they are a study in contrasts. While Ikaruga is very much a traditional Japanese beauty with her long, flowing black hair, Yomi’s blonde locks give her something of a “Western” look about her.
And this contrast continues with the way they dress and the weapons they use, too: while Ikaruga fights with a nodachi named Hien and has a number of costume elements associated with Eastern culture, Yomi makes use of a large, Western-style two-handed sword, and her costume is inspired by that of Viking warrior women.
To further add to the Norse theme, too, her sword is called Ragnarok and her Ninja Arts are called Sigmund, Niflheim and depending on the game, either Asgard or, once again, Ragnarok (thank you for the clarification, Giga!) — all of which are terminology from traditional Norse mythology.
As the series progresses, Yomi is able to let go of much of her bitterness, though she still has little time for people in positions of affluent power causing trouble. She follows Homura without question at the end of the Hebijo arc in Burst and Burst Re:Newal, and displays little patience for the way the whole cast is manipulated throughout Peach Beach Splash.
Yomi ends up just being someone that it feels like it would be nice to have around. She’s kind and caring — something she clearly learned from her early life on the streets and having to muck in with the rest of the community — and often acts as something of a “motherly” figure to the rest of the Crimson Squad. She’s also resourceful; while her peers often tire of her “wild grass” soup, it’s fair to say that she always manages to keep them fed, even when times are particularly tough.
One interesting bit of characterisation comes in Peach Ball, of all things, where the majority of Yomi’s narrative arc sees her lying through her teeth in order to try and convince her friends to come back to their “humanity” after being partially transformed into animals. She’s not above completely fabricating surprisingly convincing stories in order to get her friends back on the right track; in some ways, this is reminiscent of the lies that parents tell small children in order to get them to behave.
It’s also something of a reflection of Yomi herself, however; as previously noted, the way she carries herself and her actual background are completely at odds with one another, so one could see this as a form of bending the truth somewhat — albeit in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone. Of course, you could (and probably should) also take it as yet another reason you should not judge anything or anyone by first impressions.
A pretty apt theme on which to wrap up our look at this series in general, hmm?
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