Ryoko (魎呼 Ryōko?) is a key character in the various Tenchi Muyo! anime series by AIC. While details of her character differ between the various series, Ryoko is typically shown as an attractive, semi-reformed powerful space pirate who is madly in love with the series main character, Tenchi Masaki. In the various series, Ryoko is portrayed as being impulsive, hedonistic (with a penchant for sake), poor-mannered, often immodest, recklessly violent, and hot-tempered although she sometimes reveals her more emotional and vulnerable side. .
In the anime, Ryoko universally holds an intense rivalry with the character Ayeka, who also fights for Tenchi's affections. Often the conflict between the two comes out of their decidedly different personalities, with Ryoko being the tomboyish troublemaker and Ayeka being the well-mannered, but often snooty aristocrat. The level of the rivalry can vary between being equitable to a pair of bickering siblings to an all-out feud.
While the name Ryoko is a common feminine given name in Japan, in this instance it is written with very uncommon kanji. Ryoko's name can be translated as "bringer of demons" and is stated as meaning "The Devil Caller" in the OVA series.
She was created by Washu, using one of her egg cells as a base, so she is indirectly (raised in a tube with no contact with Washu) Washu's daughter. Washu's DNA was combined with that of amorphous creatures called the Masu to create Ryoko. She has three red gems that are the source of her full energy, which also came from Washu when she imbued them with her godly powers in her early life.
As a character, Ryoko is very emotional. She easily gets upset, and is short tempered, especially around Ayeka. But she's deeply in love with Tenchi, though not fully admitting how deeply until Episodes 5 & 6, when she tells Ayeka how she first met Tenchi, and later when she offers up her own life in place of his. While she was trapped in the cave, she was able to create an astral body and venture to the entrance of the cave. She watched Tenchi grow up over the years, and she wished more than anything to be with him. However, the way she introduced herself to him was terribly frightening to Tenchi, so he distanced himself from her for a long time. Also, when Washu is first introduced she tells Ryoko that she knows how she (Ryoko) feels about Tenchi and says that Ryoko wants to do "this and that" with Tenchi.
Ryoko also has a bit of an ambiguous relation with Washu, her mother. When Washu first appears, she critiques her daughter's sex appeal and asks Ryoko to refer to her as "mommy". As the series progresses, she starts to fear Washu, especially when Washu starts doing some of her experiments on an unwilling Ryoko. In fact, Ryoko becomes slightly cautious whenever Washu is looking at her with a mischievous smile and intimidating eyes.
Ryoko, when captured and electrocuted by Ayeka in Episode 2, seems to enjoy it until the point when Ayeka uses excruciating force when Ryoko was clearly in pain. Ayeka calls her a masochist, and Ryoko says that she was more of a sadist. Judging by the fact that her ship Ryo-Ohki destroyed twenty-eight planets and sixty-nine colonies when in Kagato's service, and by some of her taunts in the fight with Tenchi, she might not have been joking. Ryoko is also sometimes rather childlike, and can be a bit gullible. Since most of her life was spent either enslaved by Kagato, or sealed inside a cave, she does not have much of a range of experiences. She is also extremely sensitive about her age, being brought to tears when Ayeka called her a "mummy".
Power and abilities
True to the meaning of her nomenclature, the gem on the inside of Ryoko's left wrist allows her to summon powerful, ferocious "demon" spirits, which let physical attacks pass right through them, while the gem on the inside of her right wrist allows her to control the summoned spirits, and the last gem, which goes on her throat, gives her full power.
She also has the ability to create false gems; one of which she keeps hidden in plain sight on her left ear as an earring. This false gem is not as potent as the originals, but allow her to balance her power and abilities. False gems also last for only a limited time, while the originals have an inexhaustible supply of energy. In OVA 3, it was revealed that the true gems contain the powers and godhead of Washu-kami-sama (who is one of the three Chōshin goddesses). It is debatable just how much of her mother's power she is borrowing and how much she is capable of using on her own, but her relatively young age (she appears about nineteen years old) prevents her from drawing upon their full power. It has been stated that when reaching full maturity and in possession of all 3 gems, Ryoko and Ryo-Ohki will be able to generate up to 10 lighthawk wings, which has been described as the greatest amount that 3-dimensional reality can support without collapsing.
Physically, Ryoko has no taste buds, and has no need to eat; all the energy she gets comes from the gem inherited by Washu on her wrist. Ryoko eats to be social, but has a "taste" for sake. Although she can get drunk like normal humans, Ryoko's level of healing has the ability to overcome the effects of alcohol, which comes in handy if she has to go into battle. She can also instantly nullify any other toxic chemicals within her body. In addition, Ryoko does not need to breathe, and can survive unaided in the vacuum of space.
Other powers Ryoko possesses include flight, certain amounts of superhuman strength and superhuman speed, teleportation, intangibility, creating energy swords and energy blasts of varying yields and destructive power (All regularly used), instant regeneration of missing limbs (Episode 1), creating doppelgängers (Episode 7), telekinesis, creating forcefields, matter formation (manipulating matter and merging with it, as with a stone pillar in Episode 6), complex molecular restructuring (repairing Mihoshi's GXP scanner in Episode 4), hair needles that she can fire from her head (Episode 11), and telepathy with Washu and Ryo-Ohki. In addition she can access an advanced internal database, as a group-mind shared with Ryo-Ohki (Episode 14) to constantly overview her exact universal coordinates (and presumably additional functions/information). Some of these abilities are known to have been inherited from Washu, while others are likely the result of her Masu genes, or intended design. It is possible that she gained shapeshifting abilities from merging with Zero (Episode 12), in combination with her amorphous masu heritage.
In this series, Ryoko is once again a space pirate, but she isn't a slave to anybody. She was introduced to Tenchi by crash-landing on Earth during a dogfight with Mihoshi. Tenchi found her and it was almost love at first sight (for her, of course). We have no idea who her parents are or what her origins are; those are never revealed.
Ryoko can still summon an energy sword and shoot ki blasts, she can also fly, teleport, and make copies of herself, but she can no longer summon demons. Gems can still be glimpsed on her wrists, however, there is no mention of them being her power source. Ryoko is generally less powerful than in the OVA, as the bounty hunter Nagi (who has no superhuman powers at all) is able to fight her on at least equal terms.
Again, she's very emotional and brash, but not as much as in the OVA, and enjoys doing things to make Ayeka mad, which includes flirting with Tenchi. By the end of the series, however, her love for Tenchi has become very powerful — to the point that she nearly dies for him.
In this series, Ryoko still has Ryo-Ohki, her pet (or partner-in-crime) cabbit (cat/rabbit animal), which can transform into a well-armed spaceship. She also has an arch-rival, Nagi, who has her own cabbit, a male named Ken-Ohki. Ryo-Ohki and Ken-Ohki love each other, which complicates the lives of their mistresses.
In the end, Tenchi is seen heading off for school and daydreaming about the missing Ryoko; then, to his surprise and delight, the real Ryoko returns.
On a side note it is inferred that Ryoko was also imprisoned for 700 years in this series during a scene between Ryoko and Ayeka where Ayeka exclaims to Ryoko "Well if your case goes to trial you won't get away with a mere 700 years of imprisonment this time."
Tenchi in Tokyo
Once again, Ryoko is a space pirate in this series. She and Washu were in the process of running away with the Jurai Lightstone, which consequently brings everybody to Tenchi's planet all at once. She pilots a pink Sōja, which looks identical to OVA Kagato's ship, except for its color.
Her physical appearance is considerably different in comparison with the other series due to the artwork, which made her look more tomboyish than she used to be. Her attitude is also very different: she's more violent and screams a lot more, so many things get blown up around her.
Ryoko's obsession over Tenchi is still there, but that's basically the only characteristic that remains consistent throughout every series. However, it develops to a greater extent in this series after she goes on a date with Tenchi, and later sees him with Sakuya. Her hurt feelings for Tenchi made her even abandon the group after she sees him and Sakuya kiss.
She still retains the ability to summon an energy sword and fire energy blasts, but Ryo-Ohki doesn't belong to her. Also she cannot survive without oxygen unlike the previous series.
Ryoko falls in love with Tenchi after a major battle between her and everybody else. Unfortunately, she was severely injured, but Tenchi remained by her bedside, taking care of her, and because nobody had done that for her before, it sparked her love for him there.
Ryoko appears in both Pretty Sammy series in very different roles. In the OVA series, Ryoko appears as a schoolgirl, Ryoko Orikasa (折笠 魎呼 Orikasa Ryōko?) (she was given the last name of her Japanese seiyū, Ai Orikasa), a yankii (a Japanese term for a juvenile delinquent). She and Ayeka constantly bicker over Tenchi Kawai's affections. Ryoko is obsessed with Tenchi, to the point where she even hides out inside his bedroom for one night, and even kidnaps him and carries him off against his will. Ryoko was briefly transformed with Ayeka into one of Pixy Misa's Love-Love Monsters in the first episode and became more obsessive over Tenchi, until Tenchi was able to get through to Ryoko, enabling Pretty Sammy to return her to normal. But even after that Ryoko hadn't changed.
In the Pretty Sammy TV series (Magical Project S), Ryoko appears in the last few episodes starting with episode 23 as Oryo... or "Overly Splendid" Oryo (素晴らしすぎるお魎 Subarashi Sugiru Oryō?), bodyguard to Queen Tsunami of Juraihelm. In contrast to Ryoko's usual characterization, Oryo is a dignified and honorable warrior, ready to lay down her life for Tsunami. Her appearance and powers remain roughly the same, except that Oryo has normal human ears. She fights alongside Pretty Sammy and Pixy Misa against Romio, the would-be usurper. Fittingly, the name Oryo can be read "most honorable demon." In her first appearance, she disguised herself as "Cool Red", a character from the series Blue Sky Cool Rangers (a spoof of Japan's live-action Super Sentai series) and easily destroyed Love-Me Eimy's Lovely Monsters Right and Left, after Pretty Sammy had destroyed the antenna that Romio was using to control Eimi.
Ryoko (and Ayeka) appear in the manga Futaba Kun Change briefly early in the series.
- A description of Ryoko's personality during her service to Kagato, translated from the second official Tenchi Muyo novel.
- Tenchi Muyo 101 Questions