Since the story of “Kaze no stigma” revolves around the arc of Kazuma Yagami, the heir to the Kannagi family we have to inspect his ideal love interest closer to see who was that mysterious girl he loved and cared about so much.
Long story short: Kannagi family launched a complicated game, seeing that they are unable to upbring Kazuma on their own. So they’ve decided life should teach him instead. After that’s been done, Kannagi family makes a final move of returning the lost heir back into the family through any means necessary.
Obviously, Kazuma has missed the hidden plot that Jugo and Genma Kannagi have started and finished together. Chances are, even Genma wasn’t fully aware of it. Since nothing in the family is done without Jugo’s approval, it’s obvious that Kazuma’s exile has been approved 4 years ago.
But let’s concentrate on the “life lesson” that was given to Kazuma, just as Jugo has plotted. It all revolved about one woman, Tsui Ling.
An angel or a demon?
Throughout the whole story Tsui Ling is being referred to and remembered as almost the perfect being alive. She’s in high regard of everyone who ever came in contact with her. In this article we’ll look into 5 signs that show us how dangerous Tsui Ling was all this time.
1st sign. Someone who’s treated above all humans.
There is a common trait we can see of people treating each other with bias. Particularly, we find that some women in the family are being remembered that way, especially after their death and sometimes even during their lives. Among the examples would be:
Balance Unlimited: how Daisuke thought of his mother.
Code Geass: how Lelouch felt about his mother, Marianne and his sister Nannally. And how everyone who knew Euphemia outside of news coverage thought of her during and after her life.
Stigma of the Wind: how Kazuma felt about Tsui Ling during her life and after.
Interesting detail. Let’s say Tsui Ling was an amazing woman, we also have Ayano on the other hand, who despite an obvious flaw of wearing too short of a skirt, has a mindset of a strong future wife: a kind heart, a strong determination, and an ability to bring Kazuma up whenever he’s down. Yet, she doesn’t get treated on the same level as Tsui Ling.
Tsui Ling was someone… “almost above all other humans”, an absolute perfection. So what’s the difference between the two?
Code Geass gives us an interesting answer, a peek into an answer of those women, since we have 3 of them in that show. It turns out that Lelouch “worships” them only while they are far away, dead, in other words not present in the action. The moment his long-dead-mother appears on the scene, Lelouch not only exterminates her himself, but would barely even talk with that “ideal” he was spilling tears over for so long.
Same with Nannally, who was treasured the most. As soon as she stepped into the politics and games, it became a disaster that Lelouch stood against. He also left Nannally be so she would walk her own path since it differed from his own so much. Left the “ideal” without thinking about it too much. Weird, right?
Finally Euphemia makes one step and everyone hates that move indefinitely, obviously treating her very differently as well. Not only Lelouch but also Cornelia, who loved her own sister like no one else.
So those wonderful personalities that aren’t human and absolutely ideal, always seem to crash when we look at how those humans act. And how do they act? Like humans: they make mistakes, sometimes act selfish, etc.
We do not see much of what Tsui Ling did during her life, but when she’s being treated like an ideal person, that’s the first sign. We as people clearly know how others think or feel about us.
2nd sign. The fruits of Tsui Ling’s actions.
When looking into Tsui Ling’s character we have to see her relationship with Kazuma. A person can appear to be intimidating or nice, close or afar. But all that is a part of a life role-play, an illusion.
The true colors of one’s relationship can be found through their actions + through the results of their relationship.
How did Kazuma change before and after meeting with Tsui Ling?
Weirdly enough, the plot tries to tell us as little as possible about how their relationship was established. It’s not even animated but said along with the plot: Kazuma was drinking, picking fights, and flirting with random women. Then Tsui Ling found and changed him.
At a first glance, it looks like a perfect story and that’s Tsui Ling has been a perfect influence for Kazuma. Until we start asking questions:
- How did she find him? In a dark alley?
- Why did she fall for a guy who obviously looked like a delinquent at the moment?
- How did they fall in love? Considering that it’s not easy for a guy who sinks his life to see and appreciate a nice girl in a matter of seconds.
- How exactly did she change him?
But those important to the plot questions remain unanswered. Even from the romantic POV that takes a huge part in the story, it would be wise to know how the first woman hooked up Kazuma, to understand where the second will succeed as well.
Instead, we’re only given short one day of the promise on episode 20. It’s clear that Kazuma and Tsui Ling are deeply in love and most likely share their “honey year”, in which people don’t notice anything, reality included, due to how deep they’re in love. During that day there is a photograph of Tsui Ling and Kazuma’s life. Kazuma, whom normally know is clearly capable of successfully solving problems, but for some reason, he doesn’t have success with his errands and doesn’t get paid. Later, he joins Tsui Ling in being a waiter at a place that’s a mix of a cafe and a bar. It’s clear that Tsui Ling works there and he was taken because of her.
As we know Kazuma mostly by his present actions and not his past, he’s more than capable of solving problems and getting high-paying jobs using his brain first and only then relying on his ability. Meaning that he must have had no problems being successful at any work he’d taken. But for some reason, he isn’t.
“So Kazuma, how was your day?”
“I rescued a cat. And it sucked.”
There is another interesting sign. There are a few men drinking at that bar, who tell Kazuma that he should value Tsui Ling as a woman and take care of her, that she’s amazing etc. That is weird as the nature of a good woman is normally hidden from the naked eye. Let’s compare Kushida and Horikita from the Classroom of the Elite for evidence:
Kushida is a bitch who’s loved by the whole class by being nice to them and concealing her true character.
Horikita is a tsundere who puts her interests first but ends up helping others even when it hurts her interests or she’s no obligation to help. To others, she appears as a cold girl and a loner.
Despite what public eyes see, Horikita is a serious wife-material (not to be confused with waifu-material) while Kushida is a one-night girl.
3rd sign. The wrong promise given.
Finally, we’re given the extreme details on Tsui Ling’s character during the night of the promise. Kazuma talks about how he got kicked from home because he lacked abilities (so he lived with her for a while but didn’t mention it before??) and Tsui Ling asks whether or not Kazuma wants power. She says the following:
“Tell me the truth. Do you still want it? You do, don’t you? Because if you have power, you’ll get to go home. You can have a better life than living in a filthy place like this with me.”Tsui Ling
At his turn, Kazuma gives obvious signs of being in a honeymoon state, where he doesn’t notice or care. But what we need to look closer for is Tsui Ling’s part of the discussion:
- “Tell me the truth. Do you still want it (power)?” — a question that looks normal at first, until you realize two details. Firstly, Kazuma cannot get that “power”, because he was born without it. Secondly, there is nothing wrong with such desire, as the show demonstrated it helps to protect your loved ones.
- “You do, don’t you?” — here is an awkward moment where Kazuma doesn’t even get to state his own opinion. Together with “do you still want power” as if it’s something bad + the way she answers it for Kazuma, we see that in her view power is somewhat negative.
- Because if you have power, you’ll get to go home.” — at this point, it looks like Tsui Ling is afraid of losing Kazuma, as she loves her place in China and he’ll leave it as soon as he has powers. But only until we read the last line.
- “You can have a better life than living in a filthy place like this with me.” — finally, it becomes clear that Tsui Ling doesn’t like this place, and lets a quick slip regarding what she really thinks of her hometown. But there is a much more interesting detail.
In Tsui Ling’s words, Kazuma can either have a life in this filthy place with her or go home without her. Which makes no sense whatsoever. What stops Tsui Ling from coming to Japan, away from the place she doesn’t like much anyway? And even if she does like this “filthy place” as a hometown, wouldn’t she go with the man she loves?
Tsui Ling uses weird logic, to say the least. A logic, according to which Kazuma can either have power and good stuff related to it (like his family), or… he can have Tsui Ling. But those things are not combinable for some reason.
Kazuma misses the lack of logic and just explains that he’s fine just being with her and without power. But we all know that’s a temporary answer, caused by the honeymoon year they’re experiencing. Tsui Ling knows it too.
After that year is gone, Kazuma will feel his unsolved problems again: the lack of power or the lack of abilities, the lack of his family, the betrayal of the Kannagi’s. Those things won’t go away — meanwhile, he’s stuck in a foreign country with only two ways he knows how to live — to get drunk and act like a delinquent (as his friend mentioned at the bar) or be that loser who survives mostly on his wife’s salary. Man’s pride may be suppressed for now, but surely Kazuma won’t be interested in waitering tables until the end of his days, considering that this job is done so much better by his hardworking spouse.
Those questions will rise in a year and will have to be resolved. Tsui Ling knows it. And that’s why Tsui Ling gives the weirdest response to Kazuma’s words. She changes the subject of their discussion completely — from their view on a small life as a family to this:
“Kazuma. Please protect me. Promise you’ll protect me forever.”— Tsui Ling
What Tsui Ling was terrified of the most.
What was that? Is she in some known danger? Was she before? Not really.
It looks like a lack of logic, but only until we look into a deeper picture.
Tsui Ling will not move in with Kazuma from the “filthy place”, because that filthy place is her priority over her husband. If she were to move with him, she’d have to face a wealthy Kannagi family, face a fact that Kazuma is an heir to that family and therefore — she’s not an ordinary girl who can do whatever she wants — whether that’s to serve alcohol to men in the bar or anything else. She is a wife to the future head and will have obligations to act accordingly. It’s a life filled with power and great responsibilities that come with it.
Tsui Ling is terrified of that life, whether she knows all details or not — she can see in Kazuma his background upbringing and what social class he comes from. Tsui Ling positions their future as if Kazuma has to choose between her and that life, because these two simply do not mix.
Later on, when Kazuma will wake up from the honeymoon into reality, he’ll be tied by a promise to “protect Tsui Ling forever”. There is no indication of what to protect her from but obviously, that means Kazuma will have to stay by her side. By doing that, Tsui Ling unknowingly challenges Jugo Kannagi and his masterplan — to upbring Kazuma outside of the family and return him afterward.
If Tsui Ling’s plan succeeds, Kazuma will remain powerless forever, stuck in China with his wife who won’t move out, but has to be protected. And more importantly, the Kannagi family’s leader will be successfully stolen.
4th sign. The memories of a dead one.
Let’s take a break from Tsui Ling’s actions to talk about Kazuma’s changes after her death. Immediately as she died, he gained all the power he wanted and needed.
He became successful at his job, and after a while, returned to the Kannagi family only to rejoin it through marriage to Jugo’s daughter.
Kazuma is known to defeat his enemies through outsmarting, not overpowering them. In other words, he became everything Tsui Ling was afraid he could become. A man who wanted power, who got it, left China, and returned home without her by his side.
But at a certain point in the plot, Kazuma encounters strong memories of Tsui Ling. Thoughts are material, as it’s been long proved by psychological researches. Combine that with “you become what you see” and we’ll immediately get to see the source of Kazuma’s “sudden” change.
- The moment Kazuma sees Tsui Ling’s clone, he immediately throws his brain into the trash can. Being in a middle of an operation, having a partner — it’s all forgotten in a moment. That’s not something Kazuma would do.
- Kazuma also immediately abandons the family he cares deeply about, he talks coldly whenever he sees his brother or Ayano, making sure the distance between him and the family doesn’t close. That is also something that’s in accordance with Tsui Ling’s desires to keep him away from the family.
- Kazuma becomes weak despite his power, to such an extent that Ayano can beat him. He no longer has power.
- And finally, Kazuma trades his desire to responsibly serve with his power as he should in favor of concentrating all his power and making it about Tsui Ling. That goes in accordance with her request: “protect me always”. Since protection requires concentration of power on a certain goal and Tsui Ling is that goal, Kazuma works on something that is associated with her.
Meanwhile the family sends in another woman in hopes that Ayano will work it out. Obviously Kazuma’s connection with his passed wife is deeper than with a new woman, not to mention Ayano doesn’t have authority over Kazuma like Tsui Ling did. He won’t listen to her. Ayano knows that she’s powerless and she’s right in her understanding of being unable to neither defeat nor convince Kazuma.
But that’s not why Jugo and Genma send her over in episode 23.
“You become what you see”
And because Jugo and Genma know that, they send Ayano over not to fight, or talk things over. They know Ayano’s intentions and motives lie to serve and benefit the family and benefit Kazuma whom she loves. They know her nature will be projected onto Kazuma if he looks at her.
Ayano doesn’t know it, that she’s going to show her face and nothing more. She already did it before a few times, but Kazuma barely looked at her. This time, she does it right — and keeps talking about her personal nonsense while standing in front of Kazuma. Kazuma falls into the trap sent by the Kannagi family. He looks at Ayano and gives her 3 warnings: more than enough time for him to see her… and become what he sees.
Kannagi’s family overwrites the motives planted by Tsui Ling.
Please notice that it doesn’t matter whether Kazuma cared for the clone Lapis or not. Or whether he was strong enough to shake off the idea of Lapis being probably his wife who survived. What matters is that Lapis made him think of Tsui Ling, and seeing that image in his head brought him back on track with Tsui Ling’s ideals. Bernhart’s plan worked perfectly.
5th sign. Tsui Ling’s final thoughts.
As a copy of Tsui Ling, Lapis knew her true nature and thoughts. After the battle, Kazuma asks for Tsui Ling’s last emotions, despite that it was already told to him. Lapis was made out of despair, but Tsui Ling is the type of person who’d take pleasure in suffering. After all, she assembled her life that way so that Kazuma would leave her eventually in a worst-case scenario. In the best one, he’d become unhappy and would unwillingly make Tsui Ling’s existence sad as well.
“You’re self-destructive, aren’t you?— Erwin Leszaar
You would have to be suicidal to think you stand a chance against us.”
The plot never reveals to us how a random living couple in China ended up in a prosecution ceremony by a powerful magic clan. Most people assume the evil clan grabbed random people. However, Erwin has no reason to lie to the people who’ll both be dead in the next 5 minutes. And what he says just doesn’t make sense for a villain who grabbed random people for prosecution.
Erwin points out that Tsui Ling is suicidal and self-destructive, because of her actions. As for those actions, he only mentions that she thought she could take them on. Chances are he could mean both of them deciding to attack the clan. But it doesn’t matter as Kazuma is clearly too smart to come up with this idea. Moreover, we see Kazuma only beaten up and still clothed, while Tsui Ling has already lost a lot of blood. Meaning that most likely Tsui Ling went to fight the clan and Kazuma tried to rescue her, thus the difference in time that they spend — the clan already put Tsui Ling on the prosecution table and she lost lots of blood while Kazuma seems to have just arrived.
As a result, we know that Tsui Ling took participation in the event of putting herself in great danger after she made Kazuma promise to protect her. She was fully aware he has no power to do so. For what reason Tsui Ling decided to siege the clan of mages while having no magical powers? It will remain a mystery forever, as Takahiro Yamato — the author of the story has sadly passed away. Regardless of the motive, that act of intense stupidity lead her to die unprotected and she hated Kazuma for that ending with her last thoughts.
Now, the question may arrive whether or not Lapis had lied about the final thoughts only to play with Kazuma’s mind. However, Lapis doesn’t have a will of her own and only does as she told. So chances are she either lied as Bernhart told her to, or told the truth. Bernhart Rhodes saw the whole ritual taking place, including the death of his predecessor, Erwin.
Throughout the series, Bernhart was extremely honest in every aspect of his actions and motives. He’s that type of a villain who finds himself too powerful to lie about intentions.
- Bernhart mentioned that he wants the destruction of the city simply for drama as he has no deeper motive: and his emotional state proves that to be true.
- He also points out his lack of interest to battle with Kazuma, as he doesn’t see the latest as a rival, but “merely a nuisance”. That also proves to be true as he easily walks away from an opportunity to finish Kazuma off. Bernhart says that he doesn’t want to take unnecessary risks, hinting at Genma standing near. The presence of Genma doesn’t really help as much as Bernhart praised it, as Genma is known to have lost to Kazuma once, while Kazuma is known to be weaker than the Bernhart + Lapis duo, you can figure out that the food chain doesn’t work in Genma’s favor here. Therefore, chances could easily be taken.
Bernhart doesn’t care. Erwin paid with his life when accidentally made an enemy with a kid who turned to be a contractor, but that’s a matter of the past. What matters now is that one man cannot solemnly take on an organization and Bernhart knows it. He’s a part of the system and Kazuma isn’t. At least the Kannagi family isn’t strong enough to wage that war and clearly lacks interest in doing so. We can see this story easily from Bernhart’s point of view. His predecessor tried to sacrifice two kids who attacked his clan, but one of them survived. Does it hook Bernhart’s emotions and make them foes? “Ehh, not really” — is the most obvious answer. For Kazuma, this is a life-worth tragedy, but Bernhart doesn’t share the emotional involvement.
He got to be the leader because of that situation, meanwhile, Kazuma will never catch him off guard as he did with Erwin.
So… would Bernhart really have a reason to train Lapis to lie about Tsui Ling’s last thoughts, emotions or anything else regarding her?
If that would be the case, it means that Bernhart had to see and recognize Tsui Ling as something incredibly pure, but have some personal reason to lie to Kazuma about that. One of those reasons could be if Bernhart had some feelings for Tsui Ling, thus he created her copy and told Kazuma that the old version hated him to break his heart. That would make Bernhart a pawn in the competition for Tsui Ling.
We can easily see why it’s not true.
- This is a competition for a dead woman, that’s impossible to win.
- Prior to Tsui Ling’s death, Erwin (and Bernhart) looked down on her suicidal nature, her true stupidity that was shown through actions. Those are clearly not the feelings a person will experience when being in love.
- Bernhart already has a clone Lapis at his disposal.
- Bernhart had proved to not care much about Kazuma’s existence which would’ve been impossible had he been a worthy rival (obviously a husband is always a worthy rival to a potential lover)
- Bernhart had access to Tsui Ling’s true thoughts and emotions from the moment of capture to her death (how did they store them though?)
Therefore we see that Bernhart had no meaning to lie about Tsui Ling’s last thoughts. It’s also clear that Lapis is not prepared to answer that question as Bernhart isn’t interested in brainwashing Kazuma at all and proceeds to ignore him heavily, considering that Kazuma is the contractor.
Meaning that Lapis told the truth.
“With her last thoughts, she wished you were dead.”
And that finally reveals to us everything we need to know about Tsui Ling’s true nature. She is the girl who wanted to steal Kazuma from his family and keep him to herself, even at the means of keeping him unhappy. So she lied to him and created a “greater purpose”.
“Yes, Kazuma is destroying his life and wasting his years, but at least Tsui Ling, the perfect fragile being is protected. So it’s a worthy sacrifice.” — that type of illusion is successfully created in his mind.
But in being dishonest to her husband, Tsui Ling caught herself in a trap all liars end up in. The more you succeed in lying to someone, the more you despise and hate them. Can you have respect for a fool that buys all your deliberate lies? Who is so naive and deep in love they trust everything you say?
We can see that shortly after the promise was given and Tsui Ling succeeded in lying to Kazuma that she needs extreme protection, she started to despise the man who bought her lies.
Her last thoughts, therefore, are easy to explain. She looked at Kazuma who struggled to protect her and clearly expressed his love during her last moment of life. If Kazuma knew of the lies, he wouldn’t act like that, his feelings would be confused. Tsui Ling looks at a man whom she deceived and his pure emotions remind her that Kazuma doesn’t know. And because of that, she hates him. Had he seen through her lies and scolded her for being dishonest, Tsui Ling would have respected her husband instead of despising him. But since he wasn’t able to see through her perfectness and fell for her trap, Tsui Ling’s last dying thoughts was the enraged desire to bring the one she once loved into the grave.
Ayano’s partnership and how she changed Kazuma’s mind
Lapis didn’t lie that Tsui Ling wished death to Kazuma. But Kazuma is wrong for thinking that’s because he didn’t protect her. He still lives in the assumption that if he succeeds in protecting a woman, she’ll love him (this time it’s Ayano). And if he fails, she’ll hate him and will wish him to share her fate.
Ayano helps the situation out by trying to kick some sense into Kazuma (with a literal slap). As it fails she screams at him for being an idiot, as her love for him is unconditional and is not based on his protection skills. Ayano shows the true relationship of a marriage where both people are meant to support each other and make up for each other’s weaknesses, carry each other’s burden. A family where no one is put on a pedestal or idolized. Ayano isn’t perfect by any chance. But apart from her words, her past actions spoke for herself — she came for Kazuma when he was lost, but not in the same way Tsui Ling did. She came with love and respect, she didn’t look down on a man she loves to ask for his patronizing later. Ayano looks up to Kazuma as a man who taught her a lot, yet is willing to stand for herself using a brain of her own.
She is clearly not another Tsui Ling, but rather an opposite of that woman. After all, when looking at her, Kazuma becomes the opposite of what Tsui Ling’s image made him into.