Motoko Nakagami (中神 素子, Nakagami Motoko) née Aoyama (青山, Aoyama) is a fictional character and primary protagonist in Kuro Arashi: The Black Storm. She is one of the members of Kuro Arashi and lives at the Hinata-Sou, sharing room 302 with her husband, Seno Nakagami.
Like Seno, she is well-versed in the arts of Shinmei-ryū, having studied the style for her entire life.Her pace of development in the style has been slow, in line with the teaching regimen of the style, until recently when she has begun to progress in technique learning at her own pace.
Motoko was born at the Shinmei-ryū dojo in Kyoto, Japan. As a potential heiress to the swordsmanship school, she was trained as a practitioner from the time she was able to hold a wooden sword. Beginning in her early childhood, and throughout her life, Motoko would idolize her older sister, Tsuruko Aoyama, viewing her as the personification of the life she should lead, much to Tsuruko's consternation, who always wanted Motoko to live her own life for her own happiness. At the age of five, she was introduced to Seno Nakagami, her future husband. The two became inseparable, and when not training, often ran amock pulling pranks and doing as children are wont to do.
Several years later, a young crow hanyou named Setsuna Sakurazaki was brought to the dojo by Eishun Konoe, another Shinmei-ryū practitioner and formerly of the Aoyama clan. In order to ward off harassment and intolerance from the other practitioners, the Aoyama family officially adopted Setsuna. Ironically, Setsuna would almost immediately adopt the same sort of idolization for Motoko that Motoko did for Tsuruko.
Unfortunately, things would soon take a downward turn in Kyoto. Within only a few years, Setsuna was first taken to serve in her role as "bodyguard" to Konoka Konoe, and shortly thereafter, Seno was withdrawn from training by his parents. His leaving the school played a major role in Motoko's adolescent disdain for men. At about the same time, her sister had chosen to marry rather than fulfill the obligations of heiress to Shinmei-ryū, further exacerbating her attitudes toward men and feminism.
Life at the Hinata
At the age of fourteen, the stresses of seeing her sister's marriage in daily life grew to be too much to bear, and she left Kyoto to attend school elsewhere. At the behest of Tsuruko, their parents continued to support Motoko by paying for her rent at the Hinata-Sou, where she attended middle school. Kaolla Su immediately latched on to her as her play partner; a job Motoko stoically tolerated.
Two years later, as Keitaro Urashima arrived at Hinata House, Motoko had already left to attend a kendo camp run by her high school. During her return she and her three admirers were pestered by Kimiaki Shirai and Masayuki Hitani, with Keitaro in tow. Motoko used her ki power to get rid of them, however when she encountered Keitaro again in the Hinata she proclaimed him a stalker until Naru Narusegawa explained that he was the new landlord. Unwilling to accept a man as landlord she attempted to expel him by force, coming under the influence of a cold she became confused and prone to fainting when she overexerted herself. She stopped her assault on Keitaro after he had saved her from falling off of the complex’s roof due to one such fainting spell. While she grudgingly respected his position as landlord, she still regarded him as a spineless pervert who never takes anything seriously, only helping him during moments of crisis due to majority opinion and her own sense of professionalism.
Fate soon drew Seno back into her life, the swordsman returning from his studies in America to walk in on the landlord engaged in a fantasy dating duel with the local jerkass, Kentaro Sakata. She did not notice his presence until he forcefully intervened to spare Keitaro more embarassment, at which point she--not recognizing him as her childhood friend--challenged him as an intruder. He, likewise oblivious to her identity, warned her repeatedly not to fight him, but finally relented and defeated her by fighting dirty, knocking her unconscious in the process.
Motoko, upon regaining consciousness and learning of Seno's need for residence for a few days, was the first to voice that he should not be turned away, prompting the others to relent, at which point she volunteered to go looking for him to inform him. Seno met her at the playground near the bay, where both apologized for their previous behavior and he agreed to her request to be sparring partners.
Her judgment on Keitaro would swing back onto herself, however, during a meditative dream she had conducted to decide on what to ultimately do about him. Realizing that she needed to enjoy life and not take everything as seriously, she dropped her prejudice against Keitaro’s happy-go-lucky attitude. Though this revelation allowed her to tolerate the antics of the Hinata residents a little more, it did nothing to aid in her phobia that arose when Tama, or any other turtle, appeared.
In addition, her issues with femininity would become the cause of distress when she is forced to wear feminine clothing due to having no spare clothing of her own. Repeatedly forced to be feminine, Motoko lost her ability to wield her ki energy, due to her distress. During the day, when she was harassed by a group of men who were hitting on her, Seno happened to wander by and masqueraded as her boyfriend to run them off. On their way back to the apartments, he remarked that the frilly dress did not suit her, but commented on her attractiveness--much to her embarrassment-- as he lent her his hoodie to wear over it. When Kaolla’s Mecha-Tama went rogue, she was only able to regain a sense of herself after Keitaro advised that her power and who she was ultimately stemmed from her, not from what clothes she wore. She then collaborated with Seno to form a tandem ki attack that was able to defeat the monster.
Not So Typical Summer Vacation
With summer came the span of time working at the tea house on the beach, during which the tenants also put on a play of Journey to the West, in which Motoko had the role of Zhu Bajie. As the play progressed, and the tea house was destroyed, and forced to relocate to an ancient amphitheater uncovered by Seta, Motoko recognized the martial skill in Seta's movements and challenged him to a duel. He surprised her by being well-informed of her style, and after several minutes of intense combat, defeated her cleanly. This prompted a short-lived infatuation with improving herself through battle against the better combatant.
Once the tea house was repaired and used as a restaurant, Motoko served as a waitress along with the other girls. Several times she attempted to challenge Seta to a duel within the restaurant, but each time the two were forcibly ejected by Seno--serving as a bouncer--before they could damage the building. One evening, Motoko received a letter from her sister, informing her of a demonic spirit haunting the wreck of a beached ship near the Tea House, with orders to safeguard it until a specialist team of exorcists could arrive to remove the spirit. Initially, she intended to follow the orders to the letter, but soon decided to prove her worth by taking care of the spirit herself.
She set off to investigate the shipwreck and discovered, to her great consternation, that Keitaro and his two friends were there along with several of the girls, planning to invoke the spooky nature of the shipwreck to try and get lucky. Seno was also present, prompting a sour gaze from Motoko, before he explained to her that he was just there to keep Keitaro from digging himself any deeper into his various graves. Upon learning that she was there on an official Shinmei-ryū mission, he decided to tag along and assist her instead.
After Naru was possessed by the demonic spirit, Motoko found herself confounded by her lack of any usable swordplay techniques that could defeat the spirit without causing harm to Naru. At the subsequent strategy meeting with the others, when she mentioned the Zanmaken Ni-no-Tachi technique as a possible solution, Seno collaborated this with part of the tales of Shinmei-ryū that his father had told him. Later, as she attempted to discern the technique by trial-and-error, Keitaro suffered the effects of many failed attempts, and notably, Kentaro fell under the bullet as well, though Seno called Motoko out on failing the effort on purpose against Kentaro for his discrediting Shinmei-ryū.
Like the others, Motoko was impressed with Keitaro's determination to continue to stand as Motoko's practice target, not wholly understanding his friend's reasoning until it was pointed out by Seta: That a person who acts to protect someone they love is possessed of true strength. When Keitaro returned to continue the attempts, Seno stepped in, telling his old friend to step aside, that it was his "turn to take a few bullets." However, before the training could resume, Haitani had fallen victim to the possessed Naru. When the spirit switched bodies from Naru to the man-hating fangirl of Motoko and attempted to drown Keitaro, Seno arrived in time to push Keitaro away, becoming trapped by the possessed girl himself, who then taunted Motoko over her inability to harm itself without killing Seno and the girl, and claimed that Motoko was destined to never find love. Seno laughed at this proclamation, dared the spirit to do its worst, and expressed his utmost confidence in Motoko's ability to perform the technique. When she successfully performed the maneuver, just before it struck, when the spirit declared that it would not allow her to be happy, Seno answered that it would be he who determined Motoko's happiness. Aside from the spirit, only Keitaro overheard this, making him the first of the tenants to become aware of the swordsman's attraction to Motoko.
The next day, Motoko and the others went to the summer festival, spending a good quantity of time alone before meeting up with Shinobu Maehara and, a short while later, Seno. Upon watching his terrible attempts at hitting targets with a firearm at the target shooting booth, and demonstrating her own remarkable throwing skill, she commented in amusement that it was nice to finally find something he wasn't good at. He didn't appear offended, and later the trio watched the fireworks together, prompting Seno to remark on a memory he had when he was a child, of attending a similar summer festival with a girl with whom he had made an important promise, though he couldn't remember her name or the promise. Motoko shared a similar memory, but neither thought anything more of it at the time.
Tsuruko at Hinata-Sou
Just over a month later, while Seno was away on a circuit of convention tours across Japan, Motoko’s sister arrived to bring her back to Kyoto to take over the family dojo. However, Motoko didn’t feel that she was capable of leading the dojo yet and attempted to lie, telling her sister that she was engaged to Keitaro, in order to avoid leaving. Though she would never admit it to anyone, she mused at the time that she would have rather had Seno around to be the one for her to concoct the lie with, on the presumption that his swordsmanship would make the lie more believable.
It didn't take long for Tsuruko to learn the truth, however, and, in retaliation for lying, engaged Motoko in combat, soundly defeating her and breaking her sword in half. Now disowned from her family, Motoko stole Kitsune Konno’s maid outfit and attempts to work as the maid, however her over enthusiasm for the work would eventually lead to complaints from the other dorm residents and, out of frustrated hopelessness, she ran away.
Tsuruko convinced Keitaro to help Motoko defeat her, thus reclaiming her right as part of the Aoyama family, but under the condition that if they were unable to defeat her she would force Keitaro to marry Motoko to make up for his part in lying about their engagement. Giving her the Youto Hina to replace Shisui, Keitaro accompanied Motoko to Kyoto to challenge Tsuruko.
When Naru became involved in the incident, she became possessed by the Hina blade during Motoko and Tsuruko’s final bout. When Motoko managed to seal the blade without harming anyone involved, she redeemed herself in Tsuruko’s eyes and was allowed to continue studying and living in the Hinata. She began to use the Youto Hina as her primary weapon without incident following this event.
Altering the Status Quo
One night following the incident with the cursed blade, she left her room late at night to get something to drink before attempting to return to sleep. In the hall, she found Seno standing outside Naru's room. When asked what he was doing, he informed her that he had grown tired of the continual tension between Keitaro and Naru and had tossed the ronin into the other girl's room so that he might finally confess. Feeling compelled to stop what she considered to be a farce at the time, she moved to interfere. However, Seno had not informed her that he was standing outside Naru's room in order to prevent such interference. Unwilling to resort to violence that might distract Keitaro, Seno stopped her in the only way that he could think of: he kissed her. At the exact moment this occurred, Keitaro's confession was also succeeding, an event marked by Seno's sword, which began to glow brilliantly as was its nature when exposed to an abundance of love.
Taken completely by surprise, that brief moment of connection cut through the fabrications and justifications she surrounded herself with, showing to her just how much the swordsman meant to her. When he attempted to apologize for stopping her in the way he did, she cut him off with a kiss of her own.
As their relationship budded, the pair would be struck with tragedy.
The return of Kawakami Gensai, who possessed Seno in order to be released from his bonds, raped Motoko using Seno as the middle man. The resulting duel at Hinata would lead to Seno's death, albeit a short lived happenstance. Mutsumi Otohime would arrive shortly after the duel and Gensai's reappearance. The woman then would, with the aide of Naru, revive Seno. In turn, Naru's powers as an angel would also be revealed.
Though celebration took place quite swiftly in the Hinata-Sou fashion, Seno would remain somewhat at unease. The following morning, the residents would awaken to find that Seno had left for Kyoto to seek Tsuruko. There, he swiftly explained the situation and requested Motoko's hand in marriage. Tsuruko declined at first, stating it was much too short a time for him to even begin thinking about that... but then she recanted after seeing how true Seno's affections were and demanded one condition; a duel.
The ensuing duel at Kyoto would find Seno and Tsuruko locked in battle. Motoko, Keitaro and Naru eventually arrived as well, having followed after Seno for fear that he might take the blame for Motoko being raped and fear that Tsuruko might take it out on him, rather than the true culprit, Gensai. In the end, it would be Motoko who emerged victorious from the duel, finding her true feelings and stance, standing against Tsuruko to protect the man she loved. In result, Tsuruko granted Seno and Motoko permission to marry, with the ceremony and announcement to the rest of the Hinata residents taking place in the days to follow.
As a result of Keitaro fleeing the country, Seno, Motoko, Shippu and Naru find themselves on their way to Pararakelse with the aide of Kentaro Sakata and his jet ship. With sparse conversation from Naru, it does not take long before it is revealed that Tama has stowed away upon the ship. Upon sight of the turtle, Motoko promptly faints. Seno resorts to kissing her on her neckline to wake her up, much to her embarrassment.
Motoko's return to consciousness was short-lived, however, when the rest of the group notice a flock of flying turtles fleeing the island in exodus. Unable to continue their flight path, according to Kentaro, Naru decides that they've come far enough for her to continue her search on her own, and resorts to jumping out of the craft, smacking Kentaro in the face with one of her wings in the process. Seno leaps out as well, using a parachute, and aides the still unconscious Motoko in releasing hers.
Seno and Motoko finally manage to track down Keitaro, who was in the midst of stealing some food from a work camp with the help of Nyamo Namo. Finally corralling their friend, Seno and Motoko give Keitaro a five minute head start before they punk his ass for running away from Hinata. Little do they know, Keitaro uses that time to assemble his and Nyamo's supplies to head across the desert, leaving again. Seno and Motoko give pursuit, realizing that their friend is seriously aiming to cross the desert.
Powers and Abilities
- Shinmei-ryū: As the heiress to the Shinmei-ryū dojo and the Aoyama clan, Motoko is skilled in numerous techniques of the school, to include such secretive and high-ranked techniques as the Ni-no-tachi form of several of the basic techniques, allowing her to strike at targets using a nonhostile for cover without harming the innocent.
Motoko in Other Media
Like many other characters from Project: Arashi, Motoko appears in the fusion fan fiction, New Mobile Report: Shooting Stars which sees the entire cast of Gundam Wing replaced with characters from Love Hina. In this, Motoko replaces Wufei Chang as the pilot of the fifth Gundam, which she refers to as Shisui, after her sword, rather than Nataku, the name of Wufei's wife. She retains her Shinmei-ryū abilities and her specific type of motorcycle, and thus far her attitude has been severe and no-nonsense, similar to her early attitude in Love Hina.