Why people calling Byakuren Hijiri “pure” and “a mom” bother me.
This is coming from someone who loves Byakuren Hijiri since she first appeared. Now i’m gonna be honest with ya: Yes. Yes I was like that too at first. Yes, I thought that Byakuren was a “pure mom who’s as innocent as a lamb” but I’ve been reading about canon since long time and the “real” Byakuren is not what you expect her to be. I want to start this angry shot by saying that ALL the characters are not to be trusted. There is no “objective” point of view, if we except the omniscient point of view in the mangas which is used for storytelling (but anyways even in this point of view you can see that Kosuzu is… A really deep character). Even Akyuu, the main source of information (with her books Perfect Memento In Strict Sense and Symposium of Post Mysticism), can be biased at best. All of the characters are more than their fandom’s “main trait”. They’re multidimensional, and a lot of them are morally grey. This is also the case of Byakuren Hijiri.
Let’s begin with the beginning: Why she became a “youkai saint”. In the UFO Omake, it’s explained that Byakuren was a Buddhist nun. She saw her younger brother, Myouren, dying, probably of old age. She then feared death itself more than anything: what if she died too? She couldn’t bear with that fact. And thus, she started to seek a way to be youthful forever. The problem? She uses black magic, my friend, which is against Buddhist arts, I guess. After she got it around (and managed to be actually We’re the Teens, Problem?), she then feared to lose her powers. And the only way to be a master of Black Magic is to prevent Youkais from stopping existing. If youkais don’t exist, Black Magic either (don’t ask me how, it’s kinda weird to me). Soooo, she started saving youkais by pretending she is a youkai exterminator. Which is, for humans, totally UNACCEPTABLE because youkais are the enemy. As much as I love Youkais, I’ll put myself in a human villager’s shoe: if this Old Teenager went to my house, asked me if I want to get rid of this Rokurokubi shittin around my house, and I was like “yeah ok i really hate them like a LOT” and she actually saved her instead of something else… Huh. I’d say that This Old Woman, She Played One, She Played Nick Nack On My Trust. Which is why humans eventually sealed her in Makkai when they learned the truth.
“Ok” you’ll say. “So far, so good, but in the Omake, it is said that…
She had great respect for youkai, but not because she disliked humans. In the beginning, it was born from her own greed, but as she learned of the difficult past the youkai had borne, she began to think she needed to do something to help them.
Technically, in the point of view of humans, she’s the devil incarnate. But from a youkai point of view, she’s a saint, eh?” Well you’re kinda right! Youkais view her as a goodie goodie. But mostly because she does things a youkai would do. Because there’s a difference between intentions and actions.
Let’s remember that, to get Minamitsu Murasa, the sinker ghost, Byakuren decided to get on a boat to bait Minamitsu so she can sink the boat so Byaky can get her to stop by offering her a Cool Boat (Palanquin). AW she’s pure… But… She fucking killed the crew and the people on the boat. She willingly sacrificed them to get a ghost in her Pokemon collection. That’s kinda.
Eventually she gets sealed. Eventually she gets unsealed by her Crew and confronts the heroines. Eventually, she decided to install herself in Gensokyo to start her own Brand Of Religion. And this is where the fun part begins, because it’s the actual Byakuren. Byakuren changed, and she’s kinda worse than before.
First of all, she installed her Temple on Toyosatomimi no Miko’s Mausoleum, in order to slow down the Shotoku Taishi’s reincarnation. Dick move. And even MORE dick move when she says, during the Symposium of Post Mysticism, that “Nazrin surveyed it and there’s apparently something dangerous under it aaaand yeah basically we had to seal it”. Basically did that to prevent Miko from getting in because she’d be a danger for Byakuren’s reputation (Miko, when she was Shotoku Taishi, emperor of Japan, used Buddhism for political purposes. And it’s like the main thing Byakuren does with Buddhism. So she KNOWS how it’s like.)
Speaking of Buddhism, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about HOW MISERABLY she fails to shoehorn a human religion against youkais. In the Chapter 2 of SoPM, she explains how Buddhism works for dummies. The joke is: the other characters (Miko and Marisa, a biased opinion AND a mediator) kept interrupting her for saying that her disciples goes off ALL OF THESE PRINCIPLES. They drink alcohol, they eat meat, they do bad things that goes off about the 8 main principles that are the core of Buddhism. EVEN ICHIRIN. Ichirin, the kind disciple, the one that wants to be like Byakuren (despite being objectively better than Byakuren) goes ahead and parties and DRINKS BOOZE. We can say that Ichirin is the “youkai that tries to be Buddhist, but it’s 50/50 because she’s trying her best as she was human before”.
The reason is: Buddhism isn’t for Youkais. Buddhism is for Humans. Buddhism’s whole principles (wisdom, ethical conduct, and concentration) is not fit for Youkais at all. And she tries to shoehorn it onto them, which is, if she succeeded, actually harmful to them, because it’s preventing them to act with their TRUE nature. As much as she wanted to be, she can’t prevent Minamitsu from killing people. She can’t even prevent the funa yurei from sinking ships. Because that’d goes off against Minamitsu’s sole reason of existence.
Let’s end this long post with a last point that I like: Byakuren outright refused the entrance of some youkais into the temple (Yamame and Orin are namedropped, Yamame because she thinks “the humans that come to the temple with their worries look delicious” and Orin because she wants to get corpses from the cemetery) so that they don’t give a bad image to the temple. That’s politics right there, my pals. The leader of the Republican party of my country kicked out the vice-president because she gave out a bad image of him. And Byakuren does the same.
And she outright says that “some Youkais cannot be fit for Buddhism”. Which. Huh. Proves the point she’s actually going against. Heh!
I could continue with speaking in details about the events of Hopeless Masquerade and Urban Legend in Limbo, but I wrote enough and I’m outright lazy to do so… I will only say that Byakuren just shrugged off the bad event that could destroy Gensokyo by saying “yeah let’s seal the balls lol” while Miko worked her ass hard to find a solution.
tl;dr here’s what Byakuren has done wrong:
Used Black Magic to get eternally young, which is against Buddhism
Befriended youkais (first to get eternally young) and lied to humans about her job, which is not a good thing from a human perspective
Killed a whole boat crew and passengers to get a ghost to join her
Built a Buddhist Temple for Youkais on the mausoleum of her political adversary
Tries to shove a harmful mentality down Youkais’ throat and says it’s good for them, and even her most fervent disciple disobeys those principles.
Kicks out unfit for training Youkais by saying that “some youkais aren’t fit for Buddhism”, which contradicts herself entirely
Runs around in a cat suit and beats up people with her motorcycle
Shrugged off a dangerous event by saying “hey let’s seal this shit” instead of researching about it
Disclaimer: I am NOT saying that “BYAKUREN IS A BAD PERSON AND IF YOU LIKE HER YOURE A DUMB”. Byakuren is a complex character. She is really morally grey and you have to interpret all of her actions with a grain of salt. I myself is a fervent fan of Byakuren, because she’s a complex character with interesting motives, an amazing morally grey personality and a great design overall. However, I try to be critical: she’s done some wrong things, she’s done some good, etc… Byakuren is more than just the crummy “Pure Mom” stereotype people tend to shoehorn miserably on her, which is, honestly, not fun at all. I think that this Byakuren, the canon Byakuren, is more fun and enjoyable than the “pure mom who did nothing wrong” that tend to annoy me a lot on the Byakuren tag.
To conclude this, I will say that Byakuren is a Problematic Aunt that tries her best and fails miserably, but has good intentions.
In Native American folklore an Acheri is the ghost or spirit of a little girl who comes down from mountains and hilltops at night to bring sickness to humans, particularly children. They are often depicted with dark or unnatural eyes and can also be referred to as “hill fairies”. The only defense against an Acheri was thought to be a red ribbon tied around one’s neck. The Acheri is said to bring death to the elderly or other people with low immune system defenses.
The “Ghost of Fear” It lives in the forests and graveyards. It takes the form of a shaking old man or woman and sometime only has one eye. It will attach itself to the back of its victim sending a chill up and down the spine. The selected victim then dies of fright.
Is a female ghost of South Asian folklore, which is equivalent of Lilith and well known in North India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The word “churel” is also used colloquially for a witch. Women who die in childbirth or pregnancy due to the negligence of her relatives are often described turning into churels, who return to seek their vendetta and suck the blood of their male relatives. The churel is described to have a hideous and terrible appearance, however she appears in the devious disguise of a youthful, beautiful maiden to lure young men. She drains their blood, semen, and virility, transforming them into aged men. She dwells and prowls in places associated with death and filth
Funa Yurei are said to be the souls of drowning victims. Bitter and wrathful towards the living, they rise up from the bottom of the sea to attack boats. Meeting one on the sea is fatal. They approach people on boats and ask to borrow a ladle. If they are given a ladle, they will pour sea water into the boat until it sinks. If the victims are lucky, they drown, and if they are unlucky they are captured, tortured and eaten by the “Isohime”, a giant fantastical mermaid that likes to catch survivors in sinking ships.
The Konaki-Jiji is said to be able to take the appearance of an old man or a baby. In either case, the spirit lures an unwary by passer towards it and allows him or her to pick it up. After the spirit is picked up, it suddenly becomes a heavy stone that crushes the victim to death. In some versions of Konaki-Jijistories, the spirit is that of a baby left to die in the wilderness, while others say that it can not be dropped or let go, or it will eventually crush you to death either way.
It’s a creature in Japanese folklore that lives in graveyards and it is seen late at night searching for its head. It feasts on the heads of the living and the dead alike. One can smell the creature before it is seen because it smells of fresh blood.
A “Vetala” is a ghost like being from Hindu mythology. The Vetala are defined as spirits inhabiting corpses and cemetery grounds. These corpses may be used as vehicles for movement (as they no longer decay while so inhabited) but a Vetala may also leave the body at will. They make their displeasure known by troubling humans, they can drive people mad, kill children, and cause miscarriages.