|Tokyo Babylon, X character|
Seishirō as seen in Tokyo Babylon
|First appearance||Tokyo Babylon|
Dean Fenton (Tokyo Babylon)
Garrick Hagon (X feature film)
Dave Mallow (X TV series)
J. Michael Tatum (Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle)
|Portrayed by||Shihodo Wataru (Tokyo Babylon 1999)|
Seishirō Sakurazuka (桜塚 星史郎 Sakurazuka Seishirō) is a fictional character created by Clamp in their 1990 manga Tokyo Babylon. In Tokyo Babylon, he appears as a kindly veterinarian often showing romantical affection to the young onmyoji Subaru Sumeragi. However, across the story it is revealed he is the Sakurazukamori (桜塚護, lit. "Cherry Blossom burial mound guardian"), Japan's number one assassin who is targeting Subaru. The character returns in the apocalyptic manga X as a combatant in the battle of Armageddon, a Dragon of Earth and Subaru's rival. An alternate version of him also appears in Clamp's crossover series, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle as a young treasure hunter who is in search of vampires.
Seishirō was created alongside Subaru and his twin sister Hokuto as the main characters for a dōjinshi novel. After undergoing major changes, he was used as one of the main characters from Tokyo Babylon. Ever since his introduction in Tokyo Babylon Seishirō has been well received by publications for manga and anime for his relationship with Subaru which would transform into one of the most famous rivalries from X.
In Tokyo Babylon, Seishirō appears as a veterinarian working in Shinjuku, Tokyo. He is friends with the meets up with 16-year-old Subaru Sumeragi, Japan's most powerful onmyoji, after the latter's shikigami causes an unlikely meeting between the two at Ikebukuro train station. Seishirō begins a year of courtship that will ultimately change both of their lives. Often he professes his love for the boy, with Subaru's eccentric twin sister Hokuto enthusiastically supporting the pairing, much to Subaru’s embarrassment. Seishirō also protects Subaru on several occasions, even sacrificing his right eye to protect Subaru from a knife-wielding attacker.
Though freely sharing his knowledge of the occult and occasionally using his powers, Seishirō obscures his true identity and personal details. After a year passes and Subaru finally realises his love for Seishirō, but at this point Seishirō reveals he is the Sakurazukamori, Japan's top one assassin. Having become the Sakurazukamori, Seishirō was supposed to kill the young Subaru when being found by him. Impressed with kid's purity, Seishirō made a bet with him: Should Seishirō come to love him after living a year with him he would spare him and otherwise he would kill him. As a result, he almost kills the young onmyōji, but Subaru's grandmother intervenes to free him from the illusion, leaving herself crippled as a result.
Seishirō disappears from Subaru's life after this point; Hokuto, fearing that he will come after her brother, offers up her own life in his place. Seishirō accepts and stabs her through the heart; with her last breath, Hokuto casts a spell whose effects would subsequently be revealed in X.
After leaving Tokyo following the events of Tokyo Babylon, Seishirō returns to the city to assume his place as one of the Dragons of Earth, one of the warriors destined to fight against the Dragons of Heaven to eliminate mankind. He encounters Subaru and other Dragons of Heaven while destroying one of the city's barrier but their fight does not conclude. Though still unemotional, Seishirō makes an unlikely friend with Fūma Monou, the most leader of the Dragon of Earth, who while taking one of Subaru's eyes in combat tells him that only Seishirō can grant Subaru's true wish.
Seishirō encounters Subaru for one final fight in the Rainbow Bridge. After some time of fighting, Seishirō heads in for the finishing blow. Hokuto's final spell takes effect, leaving Subaru with his hand through Seishirō's chest, killing the Sakurazukamori instead. Hokuto's final wish was Subaru could not be killed the same way she was. Seishirō knew this, effectively committing suicide as Fūma states Subaru's wish was dying at Seishirō's hands. After the battle, Fūma offers Subaru Seishirō's remaining intact eye, revealing that it was Seishirō's wish to erase Fūma's trace on Subaru, which Subaru accepts. This act completes this ritual and, after regaining his full sight, Subaru becomes the 14th Sakurazukamori and one of the Dragons of Earth. A sidestory in the series also shows Seishiro becoming the Sakurazukamori by killing his mother, Setsuka. As she dies in his arms, she tells him he will also be killed by the person he loves.
In the live-action sequel to Clamp's manga, Seishirō Sakurazuka is portrayed by Shihodo Wataru. In the film, the Sakurazukamori assassinates a former enemy of the Sumeragi clan; however, his signature hand-through-the-chest style of killing is dropped in favor of magically strangling his victims.
In the crossover manga Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Seishiro appears as a young traveler who gained the power to travel between worlds from the witch Yūko Ichihara in exchange for his right eye. He searches for the vampire twins Kamui and Subaru and, like his younger brother Fūma, he is a treasure hunter. Although the reason for searching the vampire twins remains unknown, Kamui states that he will kill Seishirō if he finds them. Seishirō possesses one of Sakura's magical feathers which allows him to summon oni to fight for him as well as modify them into swords he can change their shape. An experienced fighter, Seishirō was also the one to teach the dimension traveller Syaoran his kicking techniques. Although he grows happy with his development, Seishirō does not doubt in trying to kill Syaoran in Oto Country when searching for clues about the vampires. When coming to Japan to get information about the vampires' location, Seishirō is challenged by the "other Syaoran" who wishes to obtain his feather. In the course of the battle Syaoran manages to claim the feather, although Fūma comments that was his main intention from the start. He later leaves Japan to continue his search and is seen in the epilogue alongside his brother and the vampires.
Creation and conception
Subaru and his twin sister Hokuto, as well as Seishirō, were first conceived by series creator Nanase Ohkawa for a dōjinshi novel about an onmyōji who hunts elves, of which only the beginning exists. The characters were twice drawn for covers, and when South asked Clamp to create a new series for them, these characters were used. In the dōjinshi, Seishirō was also a veterinarian, but though he had a dark side, it was nowhere near as pronounced. Thus, he was the character who underwent the most change from this early conception to the creation of Tokyo Babylon. Nevertheless, Seishiro was easier to write than Subaru as Clamp was more used to writing dark characters. In the dōjinshi, Seishirō's shikigami was named Nandaro ("Just what is this?"), and Clamp privately still refer to it by this name. Yasunori Kato: Subaru and Seishiro's respective designs pay homage to this character, the protagonist of the fantasy novel Teito Monogatari, widely credited with starting the "onmyoji boom" in Japan.
Subaru and Seishirō appear in X because their relationship parallels Kamui Shirō and Fuma Monou's. They serve as an example to Kamui and Fuma: One of X's most important developments is the question what these two will do so they will not end up like Subaru and Seishirō. Ohkawa found Seishirō to be childish due how he only deals with what appeals to him in contrast to Fuma who Ohkawa finds adult-like. In the sixteenth volume of the series, the rivalry between the two ended with Seishirō's death much to the surprise of most readers. As they believed Seishirō would actually survive, Clamp made it clear that Seishirō permanently died and would not return in future chapters.
Seishirō has been well received by publications for manga and anime. Mania Entertainment writer Mike Dungan found Seishirō's role in Tokyo Babylon as comical, with his romantic intentions for Subaru being hard to find genuine. Despite initially finding Seishirō "cliche", the writers from Manga Bookshelf were interested by the true meaning behind his actions to Subaru. They were surprised by Seishirō's betrayal to Subaru as it contrasted other stories in which an traitor would redeem himself but at the same time they questioned his motivations in the past. Zac Bertschy from Anime News Network referred to Seishirō as one of the most deep villains from X, pointing that he was already developed in Tokyo Babylon. His confrontation with Subaru in the TV series was praised mainly because how their character designs were updated from the ones from Tokyo Babylon. Mania Entertainment's Chris Beveridge agreed with Bertschy, calling the episode of their final battle one of the best ones from the series focused on how their backgrounds are shown and tragic elements portrayed.
In the book Understanding Manga and Anime, writer Robin E. Brenner referred to Seishirō's and Subaru's relationship as one of the most explicit ones from X adding that the romantic feelings between these two male characters were uncommon in western stories. Brenner stated that Seishirō's unheard last words were meant to force readers to interpret them into their own ways, something characteristic in manga series. In the first character popularity poll from Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Seishirō was voted as the sixth most popular character from the series.
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