[identity profile] illianaka.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] ship_manifesto
Title: Until Death Do Us Part
Author: D-chan
Fandom: Gensomaden Saiyuki
Pairing: Kougaiji/Yaone
Spoilers: all throughout the dub and sub of the Gensomaden Saiyuki anime and manga.
E-mail: mirai_dchan@yahoo.com
Thanks To: [livejournal.com profile] iapetusneume

"Lord Kougaiji's life takes priority over everything else! If you had to do it, you had to do it." - Yaone (to Dokugakuji)

Finding heterosexual pairings in a fandom like Saiyuki is next to impossible. No matter what the rare pairing, one is likely to have a harder time finding a guy/girl pairing than a guy/guy (though girl/girl is admittedly more difficult). While this may be largely due to the fact there are few note-worthy female roles, by no means does that indicate hints are not there. In fact, all of the canon pairings are heterosexual--Gonou/Kanan, Gojyo/Houran, Nii/Gyokumen, Homura/Rinrei, and so much more.

While Kougaiji/Yaone is not under the term "canon," it is still not so implausible that one can easily overlook the hints. I feel this is one of the deepest, most fragile relationships in the show... and quite possibly one of the most obvious. Kougaiji/Yaone fans may seem rare, but despite the lack of fanfiction, their following isn't as small as some may believe. And there is good reason for this: the relationship is simply there.

But to understand a relationship, one must first understand the characters.

Kougaiji: The Demon Prince
"The people I love are already what I live for." - Kougaiji

Kougaiji is quite the special character in Saiyuki. A lot of emphasis is put on the importance of his character, particularly through the Gensomaden Saiyuki and Saiyuki RELOAD manga. For starters, he is the only son and heir to the powerful youkai king, Gyuumaoh. His status is very high, and he is not only respected, but practically worshipped by other youkai--and not simply because of what he is. It is who Kougaiji is, and the manner in which he conducts himself, that makes him appealing and admirable across the youkai nation.

For starters, Kougaiji is not your typical arrogant brat prince. Nor is he meek and defenseless. Kougaiji can best be described as old-fashioned, but he contradicts even that image often enough. As those below him are loyal to him, so is he loyal to those below him. Kougaiji loathes the concept of senseless death and killing. He values fair battle over cheap play. When a subordinate strays off the path he has set for them, he goes after them to find out why. If it is within his abilities -- and it isn't always -- he will do his best to retrieve them and plan a better strategy.

It is really no wonder his fellow youkai are willing to give their lives for him.

Another unusual thing about Kougaiji is that he is amazingly transparent. He has great difficulty keeping his feelings to himself. On the flipside, this makes him hotheaded, rash, and impulsive. Yet he seems to realize these faults, because he struggles to temper them when one begins to rise. Because Kougaiji is so easy to read, one can easily see who he is and is not closest to.

The first thing most people think of when Kougaiji is brought up is, "Oedipal complex." Kougaiji does, indeed, have a love and respect for his mother, Rasetsunyo, that matches no other. (For a very brief synopsis of her, see below.) The background leading up to this is somewhat complicated.

First off, 500 years ago, the War Prince Nataku subjugated Gyuumaoh in his own castle, along with all his subjects. This included Kougaiji and Rasetsunyo. In the series, a youkai concubine, Gyokumen Koushu, is attempting to revive her lover, Gyuumaoh. For reasons nobody but the creator herself knows, Kougaiji has been released from his binding spell, but Rasetsunyo and Gyuumaoh have not. It can be said whether or not they are unable to release Rasetsunyo, or if nobody knows how. Whatever the case, Gyuumaoh cannot he resurrected so easily. Because Kougaiji has been, and he only cares to have his mother released once more, Gyokumen uses this to her advantage. She twists Kougaiji's arm, all but forcing him to work for her. If he helps her revive Gyuumaoh, she will release his mother to him.

Kougaiji's love for his mother is so deep and intense that he readily agrees. While he hates being used as a tool, he will do so if it means having his mother returned to him. (It may also be noted that he refers to her as hahaue, a Japanese term that, loosely translated, means "honorable mother.")

However, he is not alone in his cause. Three companions aid him: three other youkai named Dokugakuji, Yaone, and Lirin. (Dokugakuji and Lirin's brief bios are below Yaone's.) It is with this strength and constant support that he is able to inch closer to his goal--and because of them that he has people to turn to when his burden begins to crush him. His trust in these three is infinite, and he has proven over and over again that he would do whatever was in his power to protect them. Dokugakuji, Yaone, and Lirin are more than just his subjects. They are his only true friends--and the only people he can afford to trust.

Yaone: Prince's Apothecary
"Why am I hesitating? These men are the enemy. Lord Kougaiji's enemies are my enemies." - Yaone

Not much is given on Yaone's background, but the important details are told from the start. Like only a few other characters, Yaone is one of the only youkai born without a previous incarnation. We know that she lived with her father, who was a medicine man of sorts. One day, she caught the demon king Hyakuganmaoh's eye. Desiring her beauty, he ordered her to be brought to him.

Coincidentally, on the way there, Kougaiji notices her as well. He asks of the demon leading her who she is and where she is going. After being informed, he simply says, "I like her. I'll take her." Before Yaone fully grasps what is going on, she has been taken under Kougaiji's rule as his personal apothecary. But, being the woman she is, she can only be immensely grateful and thanks him.

An interesting quirk of Yaone's is that, despite knowing Kougaiji for quite some time (presumably at least 3 years, which will be explained in Hakkai's brief bio) she still refers to him as "Kougaiji-sama," or "Lord Kougaiji" in the dub. This seems to imply that she feels immensely indebted to her lord. Likewise, she calls Kougaiji's sister "Lirin-sama," or "Lady Lirin." Dokugakuji is the only one of her friends she is on a first-name, no-suffix basis with.

Yaone is polite to a fault, to the point she actually cries out, "Please die!" when fighting an opponent. But despite her manners, she is a very determined, strong woman. Her personality has immense strength, and has been proven when she wants to take on a dangerous mission. Such a scene is one of the few times she persistently defies her lord--an impressive act, when one considers how she reveres him. She is also apt with a spear, and even better when dealing with medicines and poisons. Yaone mixes her own brews, and can make anything from poison to harmless sleeping powder. She is also amazingly level-headed, despite her first impression on the audience.

But more than anything else, Yaone knows where her loyalties rest. And there is only one person in the world she swore to follow anywhere.

"Was Oniichan's mom a nice lady? He loves her a lot, so she's gotta be nice. I know my mom hates me. Maybe Oniichan's mom'll love me instead." - Lirin

In order to explain the relationship with these two, some minimal background information of a few other characters are fairly essential. They are the following:

Kougaiji's beloved mother. He holds her in very high regard, and is willing to plunge the world into destruction for the sake of her resurrection. In the attack on the place over five centuries ago, a seal was placed on her as well as Kougaiji and Gyuumaoh. She is Kougaiji's central focus throughout the series.
Kougaiji's younger half-sister. They are related through their father. Lirin's mother is Gyokumen Koushu, who is the woman manipulating Kougaiji. Lirin has something of a hyper-active nature, and is always getting into trouble. Despite her carefree nature, she also has worries of her own--as proved in the above quote. Lirin is painfully aware of the fact her mother doesn't love her, and seeks love and attention from anyone else she can. She openly adores her older brother, and shows this in part by teasing him. She and Yaone have a sort of big sister/little sister relationship. She calls her brother "Oniichan," meaning "big brother" in Japanese.
Kougaiji's right-hand man and friend. Like Yaone, he is very loyal to Kougaiji, and will stick by him even if it means going against his own blood. He reasons that he follows Kougaiji because the demon prince reminds Dokugakuji of his younger brother. He is the only one who addresses Kougaiji with the casual "Kou."
Cho Hakkai
A member of the Sanzo party, as well as one of the Kougaiji group's opponents. He is a human-turned-youkai. Three years before the main Saiyuki timeline, his name was Cho Gonou and he lived with his sister and lover, Kanan. One day she was kidnapped by Hyakuganmaoh's clan, raped, and impregnated buy the youkai king himself. Hakkai fought his way through the youkai, killing the entire clan before finding her. There, Kanan took his dagger and killed herself to prevent the demon king's child from being born. Because Hakkai was splattered with the blood of a thousand demons, he turned into a youkai as well.

"You made a promise to follow me to the ends of the earth. Do you mean to break it?" - Kougaiji

In most cases, it would be simple to start explaining why and how a pairing works by looking at how they first met. But if one reads Yaone's profile, it's laid out in fairly simple terms: Kougaiji rescued her out of personal gain. Yes, there may have been some sympathy -- I'll even stretch it to physical attraction -- but it's impossible for the basis of their relationship to begin here. Kougaiji said to her, "Don't get me wrong. I didn't do it to save you. From now on, you work for me." Yaone cried out of relief.

Looking at it from a realistic angle, there is simply no way the emotions began here. Trust, perhaps, and a fragment of loyalty. But not love. This was the start of a role played between a prince and his newest subject. Yaone worked for him. To Yaone, he was her lord. For a mere servant to think romantic thoughts about him would be unspeakable to a person like Yaone.

The attraction begins later on. Most likely, it could have truly started between that time and when the main series begins at least three years down the road. But when we first see Kougaiji's group in episode 5, deep trust has already linked the four in an unbreakable bond.

By now, Yaone's loyalty to Kougaiji is unbreakable as well. There is also a strong note of open adoration and admiration. Most viewers watching or reading Saiyuki think that Yaone, at the very least, has something of a crush on Kougaiji. The real debate lies in whether or nor these possible feelings are returned. But before anyone jumps up and tries to say this relationship is one-sided, let's look at a few examples to show the plausibility of Kougaiji's reciprocation.

First of all, Kougaiji is willing to go through great lengths to keep Yaone from doing anything foolish. In episode 5, Yaone is dispatched on a mission to assassinate the Sanzo party. Due to complications, she ends up using sleeping powder to knock everyone unconscious--everyone but Hakkai that is. Hakkai, recognizing the medicinal smell, had held his breath. They fight in a one-sided but very determined battle. When Hakkai first takes her spear, Yaone resorts to explosions. Then when he survives even that, she resorts to even bigger bombs, this time to wipe out the entire inn. When even that figuratively blows up in her face, Yaone feels she has completely and utterly failed her lord--and attempts to stab herself. This is the first and only time the viewer sees her act so recklessly.

However, Kougaiji saves her. Not only does he carry her out of the danger zone of the battlefield, but he prevents her suicide by grasping her dagger by the blade and badly cutting himself. A rational action would have simply been to call out, but Kougaiji knows her better than that--and Kougaiji is prone to prove what he means through actions rather than words. He did not hesitate to injure himself in order to protect Yaone--who, from what the typical viewer has seen so far, is little more than a high-ranking subordinate.

After a brief scuffle, they temporarily retreat. In privacy, Yaone profusely apologizes. Her mission was to kill the Sanzo party and she failed, she said. "For this, please allow me to atone with my life."

Kougaiji's temper snaps. He rebukes her harshly. He doesn't recall having a subordinate who was so eager to throw her life away. Then the quote leading into this portion appears, as well as the denouement below. Their exchange flows as follows:

Kougaiji: You made a promise to follow me to the ends of the earth. Do you mean to break it?
Yaone: ... no. I shall always be by your side, Lord Kougaiji.

Despite his coarse tone and short temper, Yaone was not afraid. Rather, she first seemed stunned, and after the reminder of her promise, she smiles tenderly. From this point on, she never underestimates her importance as Kougaiji's apothecary.

Also, the fans have never seen this promise; not on screen. This is yet another incident one can look into and make theories about. But the questions one should be asking are: When was this promise made? What circumstances prompted it? When exactly did they become so close that Yaone would all but swear undying loyalty to Kougaiji? And most importantly--if Kougaiji doesn't care for her as anything more than a friend, why would he a) phrase it the way he did, and b) actually put his thoughts into words? Kougaiji truly is a man of action more than words, as he proved when he prevented her suicide. Why, then, does he choose words in this incident?

Other hints one can infer are not so much interaction between the two, but interaction concerning them. For instance, it's always Yaone whom Kougaiji entrusts the care of his precious little sister to. It's true that within Houtou Castle, there are few people Kougaiji can trust with even intangible concepts, never mind the physical care of Lirin. Yet not once, ever, does he entrust her to Dokugakuji. One would think that, having grown up with a younger brother, Kougaiji would have left Lirin in his care at some point, especially after Dokugakuji's segment where he explains bits and pieces of his past. Yet when it comes to caring for what he deems important, he gives the job to Yaone.

Also, though she is fully capable of fighting and has even once claimed to be the best suited to gather information, Yaone never questions that particular order. In such a case, protecting what Kougaiji cares for most is a far greater deal than protecting him. The fact he trusts only Yaone with Lirin, the fact he relies on only her in this situation, speaks volumes of the kind of relationship they have. Particularly when it involves these two--as neither would dare to start any sort of relationship without a deep, secure faith in the other.

In addition, while Yaone does harbor infinite respect for her lord, she doesn't always follow his orders. She presses when she feels she is not being of enough use to him. This can be seen twice in the anime, though only once in the manga. In the anime/manga incident, before she was dispatched to assassinate the Sanzo party, she had to fight for the privilege. Had it been Dokugakuji, no doubt Kougaiji would have given him permission with little struggle. His sister, on the other hand, is irresponsible. However, Yaone is fully capable of taking care of herself, and the need to serve Kougaiji is practically an instinct to her at this point.

It seems strange, to me, that though Yaone has proven again and again that she can hold her own and is a good actor when the need rises, Kougaiji tries to hold her back from it. He only gives in when she presses--which, to me, eliminates the possibility that he believes it isn't a woman's place to fight. (Also, if he believed that, I highly doubt he would be as lenient with his sister as he is.) The only explanation that comes to mind is that he cares for her to the point he wants her to avoid particularly risky situations.

And, when he grudgingly allows her to go, he still expresses his concern by warning her not to underestimate the Sanzo party. This says two things: the first being that he respects her enough to realize her wishes, and the second being that he seems to realize she has a tendency to do exactly what he warned her against. (And, in fact, Yaone did end up underestimating them.)

Could all of this be a fangirl simply reading too much into events? Possibly. But in a series like Saiyuki, taking hints and running away with them is not exactly an uncommon occurrence. A great deal of pairings the fandom likes are those that have to be "read into." I just believe that Kougaiji and Yaone happen to have deeper and more intimate hints than most.

"I shall always be by your side, Lord Kougaiji." - Yaone

As someone who 'ships all kinds of pairings -- yaoi, het, yuri, and the occasional threesome -- I found it surprising yet not to see so little of Kougaiji/Yaone in the fandom. Certainly, it's a pairing some would, if confronted with a question, would admit it's likely. (Barring those who are against anything not male/male, of course.) But in a fandom where the cast is largely dominated by males, it's not too surprising that most pairing 'shippers turn to the main four guys to play with.

Still, heterosexual pairings are the only canon pairings in Saiyuki. And while Minekura Kazuya may have been/is a yaoi doujinshi artist, that doesn't mean she doesn't drop hints for other pairings. It can be argued that there is even a hint of female/female interest in the series--even in the original manga.

Yet it's still strange for me -- and a few other fans I know -- to see little to no male/female relationships in fanfiction or art. It's there. Kougaiji and Yaone are proof that the hints exist. The caring, the comradeship, the concern, and even the adoration: they're all there.

Kougaiji/Yaone may be under-loved, but it's certainly not underappreciated by fans of the pairing.

Fanfiction Reccomendations

If I Love Her by Adakie (G)
A short, almost poetic piece for the pairing--but it accurately portrays Kougaiji's thoughts, as well as the most obvious obstacles in the way of actually having a relationship.
Summer Night's Dance by Luna Crescent (G)
A bit of a longer piece, focusing on a little moment in time. Very sweet, very cute, and touches on their relationship subtly but beautifully.
Blush by Iapetus (PG)
Some general cuteness, wherein the writer simply shows the difference between demons and humans is very little when it comes to romance. The Kougaiji/Yaone is more implied than stated, and there are hints of female/female desire, but it's still a very cute -- if short -- tribute to them.

As Kougaiji/Yaone fiction is difficult to find -- much less when seeking out well-written stories -- I'm going to be so arrogant as to post two of my own pieces for them, along with their summaries.
Fragments (PG-13)
Despite her clear intentions, the sight of her sifting through his mother's remains was very morbid.
Repercussions (R)
There is such a thing called consequence.

Communities and Links
[livejournal.com profile] kougaijixyaone
[livejournal.com profile] princeofdemons
Kougaiji-only community; supports all pairings, including KY
Eternal Promise: Devotion 'Til Death
A small shrine to the couple, complete with pictures and a brief explanation.
For him, I would do anything
The fanfiction.net C2 community. Here you can find almost all of the KY fanfiction in the section. The community isn't picky about grammar and characterization, given the lack of the pairing. But if you're willing to chance it, this is the place to be.

Date: 2005-06-05 06:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bluefall.livejournal.com
Nice essay. I'm as shocked as you to hear that Kougaiji/Yaone is rare. Saiyuki has never been a fandom of mine, but i've watched the whole anime and it's pretty obvious the kind of relationship they have. So good job, and keep spreading the word.

Date: 2005-06-05 06:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chaoscheebs.livejournal.com
*claps hands together* Kougaiji/Yaone! I remember hoping to find a doujinshi of them when I was on an Ebay-ing spree! Never found one, tho'. Woe.

Eheh, anyway, yeah. The fanbase is there. *raises hand*

Date: 2005-06-05 07:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arete.livejournal.com
Oh, hell yes I agree with this pairing. I may be a hardcore yaoi/slash/shonenai fangirl, but Kou/Yaone is one of the cutest and strongest relationships I have seen. Minekura may not give us many females to look at, but when she does, they're as fully rounded as the boys. Though... I rather see it be Kou/Doku/Yaone... I think that threesome would work well.

Date: 2005-06-18 09:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janegray.livejournal.com
I am glad to see that, among so many ship manifestos, there is one KogaijiXYaone ^_^.
I love them together, it's so obvious they deeply care for each other.
Yet, many yaoi fangirls annoy the hell out of me saying that Kogaiji obviously is into Dokugakugi X(.
Don't misunderstand me: I am a yaoi fangirl as well. But I am also enough open minded to like as well both het and yuri pairings, as long as I like the characters. I just can't stand it when my fellow yaoi fangirls start scorning every pairing that is not m/m, calling the female characters "clingy bitches" because they dare to think that the obviously gay guy may be interested in them X(. Yaoi pairings can be very good, but they are not necessarily better than het pairings.

Anyway, there is a small mistake in your essay:
In the attack on the place over five centuries ago, a seal was placed on her as well as Kougaiji and Gyuumaoh.
You forgot to mention that Lirin and Gyukumen Koshu were sealed as well. Gyuumaoh had been dead for 500 years, so Gyokumen Koshu had to be pregnant of Lirin before that. There is no way in Hell Lirin and Gyokumen are older than 500 years, so they had to be sealed along with Kougaiji, and were freed by whoever/whatever freed him.
Sure, Goku is older than 500 years despite the fact that he looks like a young boy, but that's just because whoever had imprisoned him in the cave had put on him a time-stopping spell (indeed, in Burial he says that he had never felt hungry while he was trapped, but he felt hungry after he got out).

There is also a part I don't agree with:
Kougaiji rescued her out of personal gain
No. Just no.
Of course, he didn't do it because he had instantly fallen in love with her, I do agree that it's impossible for the basis of their relationship to begin here.
Still, to claim that a good boy like him had saved her life just out of personal gain is too much. He didn't do it because he was in love with her, but because he has always been a kind person, and his good heart wouldn't have allowed him to just stand by while a poor innocent girl was taken to a well-known rapist and murderer.

Date: 2005-06-19 10:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janegray.livejournal.com
Thank you for the essay, it was a real pleasant reading ^_^

Date: 2005-08-27 06:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ravendarkangel.livejournal.com
The essay's very well done, and after reading this, it's easier to see the hints in the anime between the two of them. I guess it only applies to me, since I can't see a hint unless it hit me over the head with a club.

Date: 2007-03-25 03:06 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
you'd think kougaiji/yaone would be the most popular het pairing in the saiyuki fandom...huh, go fig.

neway, awesome essay. i'm not a k/y shipper, mostly cus i lean more towards the yaoi/yuri than het, but i think yaone is most likely 2 end up with kou and ur essay proves it.

nice job.

Date: 2008-07-27 03:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] banluvsnat.livejournal.com
Very nice essay...honestly, I love Kougaiji and Yaone but I didn't know all these details...I know for sure that there will be more people who'll appreciate this pair thanks to ur essay!


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