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Ayeka Masaki Jurai (柾木 阿重霞 樹雷 Masaki Aeka Jurai?) is a key character in the various Tenchi Muyo! anime series by AIC. While details of her character differ between the various series, Ayeka is typically shown as the beautiful first princess of the planet Jurai who has fallen in love with the title character, Tenchi Masaki. Ayeka is portrayed as being modest, well mannered, traditional, and aristocratic, but can also be snobbish (her proper accent is evidence of her aristocratic upbringing). She can also be very fierce when she feels that anyone or anything she cares for is in danger, such as Tenchi or her younger sister Sasami, of whom she is very protective.
Ayeka is a rival of Ryoko for Tenchi's affections. Often the conflict between the two comes out of their decidedly different personalities and backgrounds, with Ryoko being more blunt, open and sexual in her attempts to gain Tenchi's love. The level of the rivalry can vary between being equatable to a pair of bickering siblings to an all-out feud. Ryoko's teasing and efforts often bring out some of Ayeka's worse aspects. However, there are times when Ayeka puts aside her rivalry whenever Tenchi is in danger, such as the battle with Kagato.
The romanization of her name in the Pioneer/Geneon English subtitles is "Ayeka" instead of "Aeka" to clarify its pronunciation for Western viewers (ah-eh-ka). Her name is believed to be derived from aekanaru, meaning "frail" or "delicate," reflecting her usual outward demeanor. An old reading of aeka is "willowy", or "requiring the assistance of a man." The tree is referenced in the "soul of the ship," and further connects to "spring" and the "awakening of sexual desire." In Japanese mythology, the willow tree is known as a "demon repeller," which represents her relationship with Ryoko.
Ayeka does not have Ryoko's level of power but is still quite capable in dueling most opponents, including Kagato. She is more powerful than Tenchi in his typical state, but once transformed his Juraian powers exceed hers.
Ayeka is the First Princess of Jurai's royal family. During this series, she was on a search for her missing brother, Yosho (she and Sasami are Tenchi's great aunts). When her search led her to Earth, she didn't find her brother or his ship, but did find Ryoko.
Ayeka's apparent age is 20, but her true age is uncertain. It is known, however, that she was in a state of suspended animation for over 700 years when she and Sasami arrived on Earth. Her rivalry with Ryoko started well before the two met Tenchi; Ryoko and Ryo-ohki attacked Jurai, nearly killed Sasami (unintentionally), caused extensive damage and led Yosho, her brother and fiancee, to leave the planet in pursuit of the criminal. Because of this, at the start of Tenchi Muyo, she hates everything about Ryoko and considers her a monster.
Ayeka possesses various superhuman powers: she can fire energy blasts, summon a very powerful forcefield has the ability to summon guardians that also have various abilities, such as possessing arc electricity and capturing spaceships. She also has the ability to fly at very high speeds and possesses superhuman strength.
For the most part, Ayeka is shy, demure and proper, but can become just as violent as Ryoko. When her temper is roused, Ayeka becomes very loud and aggressive, without regard for current conditions. However, she only resorts to physical aggression with Ryoko, and even these fights have diminished over time.
Ayeka's spaceship is named Ryu-Oh. Unfortunately, it is damaged in a crash landing on Earth after an escape attempt by Ryoko. It did begin to regenerate, but it was blown away by Kagato ship, Sōja. However, due to help from Tsunami, Ayeka received a seed that will grow into a new Ryu-Oh.
Ryu-Oh has the ability to produce three kō-ō-yoku ("light-hawk-wings"). Ayeka had bonded with the ship shortly before Ryoko and Ryo-ohki attacked the Juraian castle, Tenju. Despite warnings made by the castle's attendants, 14-year-old Ayeka launched the young, underdeveloped ship to fend Ryoko's attacks. According to the True Tenchi Novels, "Ayeka had just finished the selection ceremony and didn't have the key to help her connect with Ryu-oh. Also her ship had just equipped, thus was not fully synchronized with the external armor, so Ayeka and Ryu-oh could not fully control the power of the Royal tree. But Aeka did not give up and continued the battle. However, she could not help the situation just by defending herself. It was only by virtue of the second generation Royal tree's power that she could hold off the attack, and it was also because Ryo-ohki and Ryoko were just teasing her and not fighting with full power." Ayeka was also able to use the light-hawk-wings to attack (though their purpose is for defense) and was able to hit Ryo-ohki, which no other ship could do. This feat is noted by Noike when she speaks to Tenchi in OVA 3.
Ayeka is still a princess of Jurai in this series. As shy and demure as before, she seems to fall in love with Tenchi on the very first day she meets him.
Ayeka was drawn to Earth by Mihoshi's distress signal, but once again, she finds Ryoko there as well and a massive fight eventually occurs. Here, the rivalry with Ryoko started back during their childhood, which was shown through flashbacks, with both Ayeka and Ryoko blaming each other for their problems.
Again, Ayeka has a ship, Ryu-Oh, which crashlands on Earth; however, it becomes incapable of flying when it begins to regenerate, taking root to the wreckage of her old ship.
Ayeka is a relatively minor member of the Jurai family, not the daughter of the Emperor as in the OVA. Still, after being kidnapped by Kagato (and being inexplicably stripped of her shoes and socks while in captivity) and released by Tenchi, she returns to Jurai because she must remain with the Imperial Family from then on; but as the series concludes, Ayeka chooses to run away from home and rejoin Tenchi on earth.
Tenchi in Tokyo
In Tenchi in Tokyo, Ayeka is once again a princess of Jurai. She teams up with the Galaxy Police to capture the space pirate Ryoko and scientist Washu, who stole the Jurai Light Stone. After they crash-land onto Earth, Ayeka fights Ryoko, who turns the tide of the battle in her favor by absorbing the light stone herself; it isn't until Tenchi's intervention that Ayeka is saved.
She is the pilot of the Ayesa (as shown in Pioneer's subtitles), which is identical to her Ryu-Oh.
Instead of being completely shy and demure, she's similar to Ryoko in terms of explosive emotions. She's a lot more gullible than in the other series and is occasionally ditzy. On the other hand, unlike Ryoko, she does somewhat accept that Tenchi may prefer Sakuya Kumashiro to herself and others, as she confesses to a woman named Masayo whom she and Sasami aided once. Unlike Ryoko, also, she decides to stay on Earth; she aids Washu with her research about Yugi (she's the one who discovers Yugi's background) and attempts to protect Sasami and the Masaki household, ending up seriously injured by Matori. Ayeka is the first to notice that she and the others are being unwillingly separated by Tenchi, which greatly worries her.
Her powers are still similar to the other two series, except we never see her fling energy blasts. Instead, she activates her forcefield on many occasions. Her Guardians, Azaka and Kamidake, take on a more combative role instead.
In the Pretty Sammy OAV series, Ayeka Takada (高田 阿重霞 Takada Aeka?) (she was given the last name of her seiyū Yumi Takada) is from a rich family, is the class president and is skilled in martial arts. She has a crush on Tenchi Kawai. Ayeka sends her three female servants, Yuri, Yuka, and Yuma, to spy on Ryoko, who also has a crush on Tenchi. Ayeka is briefly transformed with Ryoko into a Love-Love Monster by Pixy Misa, and becomes more obsessive towards Tenchi until his feelings get through to Ayeka, enabling Pretty Sammy to restore Ayeka to her normal condition. But even after that, Ayeka's rivalry towards Ryoko over Tenchi's affections still continue.
In Magical Project S (Pretty Sammy TV), Ayeka is known as Romio (露美御 Romio?), the third candidate to be the queen of Juraihelm. After she loses, Romio disappears from the scene for a time, later appeared before Ramia to help her become queen after Pretty Sammy had restored the balance between earth and Juraihelm, with Tsunami about to be crowned queen. Much to Rumiya's protests, Ramia accepted Romio's offer and Romio kidnaps Eimi Date (Sasami's classmate) and turns her into her own magical girl, "Love-Me Eimy", for her plan to drain Juraihelm and earth of all magic.
When that fails, Romio revealed her true self to Ramia and attempts to drain Juraihelm's magic with her NT System and use the stolen magic power to send earth into the sun. Its turns out that Romio was once a magical girl, but was unable to fix the balance between earth and Juraihelm, and since then she has felt the earth is evil and wants to destroy it. Romio's plan is stopped by the combined might of Pretty Sammy, Pixy Misa, Ryo-Ohki, and Rumiya with the assistance of Professor Washu, who develops her own NT System. After her NT System is destroyed, Romio is carried off into the distance by an angry Ramia. At the end of the series, despite her defeat, Romio hasn't given up and is now leading the Martians against Earth, as Pretty Sammy and Pixy Misa move in to stop her.
As mentioned in the True Tenchi Novels, Ayeka's hair was originally blue and curly like her mother's and Sasami's, but she underwent gene manipulation so her hair would match Funaho's, an action meant to impress her fiancee Yosho. She still keeps her hair violet out of respect for her half-brother. In the English language version, she speaks with a British accent.