h . o . r . a . i . d . o
Before reading this, you should already be familiar with the story of Yotoden. This is not a plot synopsis, as I am assuming that you already have basic knowledge of the series.
This is a text intensive character analysis of Sakon-sama, and as such, it certainly contains my own interpretations of things. This insanely text intensive “essay” is long, and I did not bother to break it up into sizable subsections. For those few who are actually interested in reading through the whole thing, my apologies. ^_^; By the way, Horai-do Cave is where Sakon-sama retreated to after he separated himself from Ayame and Ryoma and where he meditated in search of satori, so I thought it would be a fitting title.
Hayate no Sakon is a highly complex character, whose life cannot be summed up by just any single driving emotion/motivation. In a genre in which so many anime characters seem to live and fight for one unyielding principle, Sakon’s multiplicity sets him apart from the rest. And in very much the same fashion, Sakon was also set apart from his fellow Shadow Warriors. I am not trying to say that one is better than the other, just that this layered quality in his personality is half of the reason why Hayate no Sakon has captured my fascination for so many years and continues to be a constant source of obsession and inspiration. (The other half of the reason is much too circumstantial and personal to discuss here.)
Let’s start with the man’s name. Hayate no Sakon. (Translated in the anime as Sakon the Whirlwind.) Hayate: strong wind; gale. Gale: a strong current of wind from 32 to 63 miles per hour (about 51 to 101 kilometers per hour); an emotional outburst. “Hayate” is most likely a title given to him in deference to his extraordinary swordsmanship, indicating speed, velocity, and precision. The implication of “an emotional outburst” is certainly an interesting one, for Sakon more or less maintained his perfect composure all the way through until the latter half of the third OAV, and “an emotional outburst” might just be the right words to describe what happened. (I will go into this in more details later.) Sakon: literally, the two kanji mean “left” and “near” respectively. Not too much to read into here, except maybe that “left” can be taken to signify a deviation from the main stream. So, there you have it, Hayate no Sakon.
Appearance matters. And anyone who says otherwise is lying. =P So, let’s take a good look at Sakon-sama. (For the visually inclined, please visit the Images section.) Sakon is not the most pretty or beautiful biseinen you will find, although he is certainly good looking, as Ryoma pointed out during their first meeting. ^^ No exact age is given, but I would guess that Sakon is 25 or older. He is tall, although I don’t know the exact height. While not brawny, he is certainly more muscled and well toned than the classical slender and willowy look associated with bishonen or biseinen. He does have long hair, resplendent, lush, auburn hair that he usually tied loosely down the middle of his back. His dark brown eyes are really the most expressive of his facial features. He carries himself with the grace and dignity of a master swordsman. If you can’t tell by now, I am quite smitten with Sakon-sama. ^_^;;
Next, we will look at the man’s background. In the anime, not much is known about Sakon’s past. However, there are three pages in the manga depicting a flashback scene that sheds some rather confusing light on Sakon’s childhood. I have read that part of the manga over and over again, but there are just too much left unsaid in those pages, nevertheless, here is the best interpretation I can come up with, for now. Some of it may not be exactly correct, and if you know more about this, please share your knowledge with me! ^_^
A young Sakon, probably about 7, 8 years old (and he was such an adorable little boy ^_^), hurriedly ran after his older sister as she instructed him to make haste. At the same time, several dark hooded ninjas were in pursuit of them, but their intention apparently was to help the two. Sakon and his sister kept running until they came across a collapsed (most likely dead) man surrounded by three white hooded ninjas. Upon seeing this, Sakon’s sister stopped and screamed “No!” This man, from what I can tell, was her husband. Then in a blur of motion, the sister was dead and Sakon was wounded on his left arm, but the injured boy held up a sword (now, was this the fated magical katana?) and stood firmly in front of the two lifeless bodies, ready to fight the three white hooded ninjas that surrounded him. Just in time, the group of dark hooded ninjas rushed in at that precise moment and very quickly finished off the boy’s enemies. One of the dark hooded ninjas stopped Sakon’s sword with his bare hand, and pulling down his mask, he smiled at the startled boy and said, “Sakon, let’s go together!?” The scene ends with the young boy looking forlorn and troubled. Presumably, young Sakon did leave with the group of dark hooded ninjas, but not before calling out “Nee-chan” one last time in front of his sister’s grave. Were the dark hooded ninjas from the Hyuga clan? And who were those white hooded ninjas? So many questions, and I can only guess at their answers.
What we do know for sure is that Sakon came from the Hyuga clan of Kaga and was trained in the ways of a ninja according to the Hyuga School--Hyuga Revelation Style, I believe that’s what it’s called. I also believe his exceptional skills and abilities earned him a master status. For certain, he inherited the clan’s magical katana, which inevitably tangled his path with those of Ayame and Ryoma’s, and the Legend of the Swords of Sorcery. After the destruction of his clan by the three-headed monster, for some reason or other, Sakon became the leader of a group of mountain bandits. ^o^ When this said group of bandits ambushed Ayame but was unsuccessful in getting their way, Sakon made his first appearance in the anime.
That brings us to the beginning of the story, when Sakon first met Ayame. Sakon’s relationship with Ayame and the feelings he has for her certainly play a huge part in his characterization. I have a detailed write-up on the subject in the Of Love section, so I am not going to be redundant and go into it again here. Instead, I want to go through some significant aspects of the anime and focus on Sakon in relation to the other characters.
So why did Sakon-sama lead the Nagabuse Mountain bandits? Well, for one thing, Sakon is not a man that will let conventions restrict him. Moreover, I think he really cared for those men, evidenced by the pained expression on his face as he looked upon their dead bodies after Saegusa Jinnai’s quick massacre. When Sakon survived the destruction of Hyuga, perhaps he was wounded, and perhaps these bandits had taken him in and took care of him? Just a speculation on my part, but a possible one.
After Sakon met up with both Ayame and Ryoma, it is wonderful to watch how the differences between the three Shadow Warriors’ abilities and personalities played out in the anime. It is my belief, maybe a biased belief but nevertheless a strong belief, that Sakon is the most skilled ninja of the three. There are at least evidences from the anime that Sakon’s innate sensing ability is quicker and more alert than both Ayame and Ryoma’s. And while Ayame and Ryoma are more trusting and openly expressive of their emotions, thus making them more effective users of their magical weapons, Sakon is more cynical and withdrawn. I think for Sakon-sama, releasing the power of his magical katana would mean a deficiency of control, for he is used to keeping his emotions in check. Therefore, Sakon’s demeanors are usually subtle, yet charged with meanings. And unlike Ayame and Ryoma, he doesn’t buy into the whole fated destiny scheme.
(Unfinished... Still have OAV II & III to go through. I will try to finish this sometime soon. Bug me about it if my procrastination outlasts your patience. ^_^)
Hayate no Sakon