- True Name: Murasaki Shikibu
- Class: Caster
- Source: Historical Fact
- Region: Japan
- Gender: Female
- Alignment: Neutral Good
- Height: 163cm
- Weight: 51kg
- Character Creator: Hikaru Sakurai
- Character Designer: Raita Honjou
- Character Voice: Ai Kayano
- Appearance in Main Works: Fate/Grand Order
Item Construction: [C]
It’s possible to construct items, up to a certain level, as long as these items are related to Onmyoudou, specifically the branch of Onmyoudou Seimei taught her.
Territory Creation: [C+]
Ranked B+ only when creating a book paradise, like a library or an archive.
Immortal’s Poetry: [A]
In the Taiheiki’s 16th volume, Nihon Chouteki no Koto (The Case of the Enemy of the Japanese Imperial Court), Ki no Yasuo is sent to subjugate Fujiwara no Chikata, the traitor who served the Four Oni. It’s said he drove away the Four Oni reciting the poem:
Be it the grass or the trees
no inch of the country
of my Emperor
shall become den
to the oni.
Murasaki Shikibu is a poet who left her name among both the Medieval 36 Immortal Poets and the 36 Immortal Lady Poets. She could easily compose a demon-expelling poem like the above.
By the way, her poem in the Ogura Anthology of One Hundred Tanka by One Hundred Poets was:
We meet after long,
yet you depart
before I am sure
whether I saw you or not.
Like the midnight moon hidden by the snow.
Curses (Poem): [D+]
Murasaki Shikibu seemed to have some knowledge of Onmyoudou and you can notice she included some elements of it in a few sections of The Tale of Genji.
Speaking in modern terms, she was that kind of author who “actually studies magecraft to write a novel with magecraft in it”.
The Diary of Lady Murasaki: [B]
The diary that exposed Murasaki Shikibu’s methodical personality.
Ever since she was summoned, she chronicles every event that happened in her days here, be them good or bad.
By revising and falsifying the past composed in this diary, it’s possible to cancel a fixed amount damage and injury.
“I’ll pretend this never happened.”(1)
However, the targets and amount of time reversed need to fulfill several requisites.
Actually a Noble Phantasm, but displayed in-game as a Skill.
Genji Monogatari – Kiritsubo – Betsuri (The Tale of Genji - The Lady of the Paulownia-Courtyard Chambers – Parting)
- Rank: C
- Type: Poetic Noble Phantasm
- Range: 1-20
- Max. Targets: 50 people
Now our paths
when in my sorrow
I would certainly have wished
to follow the path of life.
The poem recited along with the True Name Release works as a form of blessing, leading her party to victory.
A Recovery + Bounded Field Noble Phantasm.
This waka poem was published in the The Lady of the Paulownia-Courtyard Chambers, the 1st tome of The Tale of Genji.
It’s a poem a sickly woman composed as a response to her loved one’s farewell.
“Despite all the sorrow of parting ways with you, I still want to live my life.”
(Not used in Fate/Grand Order)
Genji Monogatari – Aoi – Mononoke (The Tale of Genji – The Hollyhocks – Mononoke)
- Rank: C
- Type: Poetic Noble Phantasm
- Range: 1-20
- Max. Targets: 50 people
the color of my clothes
is shallow with no depth.
But from the tears on my sleeve
forms an abyss bottomless.
The poem recited along with the True Name Release works as a form of hex, inviting ruin to the target(s).
It damages and weakens the target(s).
This waka poem was published in the The Hollyhocks, the 9th tome of The Tale of Genji.
It is a poem of regret recited by Hikaru Genji as his wife Aoi no Ue dies immediately after giving birth to their son Yuugiri. Aoi no Ue’s death was caused by the grudge from Genji’s former lover Rokujou no Miasundokoro. In short, she was killed by a form of curse.
By reciting this poem of sorrow so tied to grudge and deadly curse, Caster Murasaki Shikibu laments her target’s fate. That is, their fate to lie down on the ground after facing defeat.
By the way, the chapters related to Aoi no Ue’s death later became the source material for the Noh play Aoi no Ue.
First person pronoun: watashi/Kaoruko
Second person pronoun: anata
Third person pronoun: (name)-sama/kare/kanojo
The well-mannered “studious” type of woman.
Well raised and of good judgement. Discreet.
Loves reading. Also loves writing stories sparklingly with the elegance of love and poetry.
Is methodical and keeps a diary (a quite realistic diary).
Normally acts as a “librarian with a composed demeanor” but merrily bursts into poem when the subject becomes certain particular stories, particular books, particular feelings.
Her favorite stories are The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter and The Tales of Ise.
It is believed that Murasaki Shikibu’s character description was inspired by The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter and her presentation, plotting and characterization all heavily inspired by The Tales of Ise. Those aside, it’s believed that she also took inspirations from multiple other sources, like Bai Letian’s Bai Shi Wenji and Records of the Grand Historian, and that the conversations where Hikaru Genji seduces women are inspired by the T’ang romance tale Youxianku.
As for poetry, her three favorite compilations are Kokinshuu, Gosenshuu and Shuuishuu.
She was a loving fan of many poem anthologies since when she was alive.
Since she’s been summoned to Chaldea, she has been enjoying acting as a librarian. And in the meanwhile, she grew to love stories and poems from eras and regions other than her own, spending all of her free time absorbed in their reading.
Attitude Towards Master
Although she fully understands the proper relationship between Master and Servant, she intentionally still always treats them as a patron of the library.
“Servant, Caster. I am called Murasaki Shikibu.
I am a woman intimate to prose, craving for poetry, in an inseparable embrace to human feelings…
Pleased to make your acquaintace…”
“Welcome. Are you looking for any book?”
“Do you like books? Oh, then… I am sure you will take in many words to feed the progress of humanity, radiant like the stars in the night sky. How splendid.”
“We put together a wide variety of pieces, from history to legends, from mythology to biography, from tragedy to comedy, classic to recent, fables to fairy tales, period pieces to westerns, low class drama to political drama, Victorian to Oriental, medieval to modern, ancient to newly published, fiction to non-fiction. Our collection also includes encyclopedias and maps. Oh, and of course, we also have a selection of tales of love and revenge.”
“I am a Heroic Spirit who composes feelings. A person’s heart for others is what I script and transcribe.”
“Poetry and prose express and relay everything, eventually making them transcend even space and time. This is the same as lighting stars in the sky. Even if not eternal, naturally formless feeling manage to take shape and…
“How charming it is.”(4)
It’s implied that her Onmyoudou skills were lackluster when she was alive, but they were powered up due to her summon in the Caster Class, so she can do a lot that she couldn’t before.
Special Abilities (Curses)
Murasaki Shikibu can add captions explaining the words and actions of a selected target.
The captions start expositing entirely on their own.
In one way, this can be considered the most powerful curse Abe no Seimei taught her. Oh, that terrible man.
Here’s a practical example of how it works!
Andersen: “Oranges? Why should I care? Ridiculous. My fingers would get all smudged.”
Caption: “Despite what he says, this boy actually loves himself some sweet oranges.”
Osakabehime: “Heh, so that’s how it is, hehe (smirk)”
Murasaki Shikibu “AH… Not again…!”
Andersen: “? What’s wrong with your faces?”
That’s the most terrifying part: the person with the captions can’t read them!
They're only visible for the people around the target!
How shameful, how despicable! NNNNNNNN, damned be that wretched Abe no Seimei!
However, this has one limitation: it’s unable to write lies.
Only the truth can ever appear in the captions.
Historical Character and Figure
An author and poet from the Heian Era.
Her dates of birth and death are unknown.
Her published works include The Tale of Genji, Murasaki Shikibushuu and The Diary of Lady Murasaki. Her poems were included in dozens of imperial-commissioned anthologies, starting with the Goshuui Wakashuu.
Among the many theories about what her true name was, the most prominent one is that she was Fujiwara no Kaoruko (but being the most prominent theory doesn’t necessarily means the theorist have any evidence).
She was born the daughter of Fujiwara no Tametoki, a Sinologist and poet.
She was still a child when she lost her mother.
She took a relatively long time to get married.
Her father’s family was famed as a lineage of people of culture (her paternal great-grandfather, Fujiwara no Kanesuke, was not only an active poet, but also the author of many works, including the first and last volumes of the Shoutoku Taishi Denryaku, under the pseudonym of Tsutsumichuu Nagon), so Kaoruko was expected to, likewise, be raised close to prose and poetry.
In her twenties, she marries Yamashiro no Kami no Emonnosuke no Fujiwara no Nobutaka and bears one child before her husband Nobutaka, over 20 years older than her, passes away 3 years after the wedding.
On the spring of the year when she became a young widow, Kaoruko started writing a tale. That is the one and only The Tale of Genji, a lengthy story completed in 54 volumes.
This story was already acclaimed by many (including Emperor Ichijou) while it was still ongoing, and kept receiving high praise after its conclusion. The loves of Genji’s life became the theme of numerous poems composed at the end of the Heian Era, and those kind of poems can still be found even to this day.
Despite the fact she made history by composing a long-running masterpiece, writing was not her profession. In the year 1005, she was working as a lady-in-waiting for Emperor Ichijou’s second empress, Shoushi (the daughter of Fujiwara no Michinaga).
Which means she a kind of government worker writing as a side job.
By the way, the name Murasaki Shikibu apparently started as her nickname on her work office.
It’s said that Kaoruko firmly refused to the prestigious offer to serve the second empress because she wanted to fully dedicate herself to writing The Tale of Genji.
But she ultimately accepted it…
Coming to service, she was met with a harsh work environment, always ignored and backbitten by her fellow ladies-in-waiting, who were always on guard against “eggheads from the capital”. Baffled by the situation, Kaoruko sends a letter to the ladies-in-waiting proposing a peaceful reconciliation, but as this fell in deaf ears, she became a shut-in for a period of 5 months.
Having regained her composure after diligently writing The Tale of Genji, Kaoruko later resumes her work serving the second empress and avoids attacks from her coworkers by acting the character of a natural airhead, successfully blending in into the inner palace’s community.
Character in FGO
Discreet, well-mannered and studious.
The feelings she keeps to herself are ardent, and if she were to put them to paper, she create another long runner.
Kaoruko, later Murasaki Shikibu, had a close relationship with books and poems since childhood, but she also held interesting the Heian Era’s latest natural science: Onmyoudou. She made one request to her father Tametoki.
“Father, I want to…”
That’s the origin story of the Onmyou Girl Kaoruko.
Wait, that’s not how it happened.
Kaoruko learned from the Abe no Seimei, the greatest and most powerful sorcerer of his time and administrator of the Bureau of Onmyou, but her Onmyou talents never blossomed and she only managed very minimal access to the Mystery of Onmyoudou (a level within the limits of modern Magecraft). At least it wasn't zero.
Kaoruko’s true talent blossomed after her husband’s death.
Her talent as a writer and poet.
The fact she was included among the Medieval 36 Immortal Poets and the 36 Immortal Lady Poets and delivered The Tale of Genji, a story still widely remembered to this day, is unquestionable proof of her talent as a poet and dramatist.
Heian’s top tier Super Intellectual Lady.
History was accurate in describing her poor relationship with her coworkers and this left her with a general anxiety that survived the eras, but as Servant, not as many (alas, it wasn't zero) people make her feel that.
She’s just sensitive to the subtleties of the heart.
She immediately notices when a person is anxious or concerned and offers help.
Physical publications, books made of paper…
She serves as the librarian to a varied collection of books.
More specifically, she used her own magecraft (curses) to convert publications recorded as digital data into books made of paper and quietly constructed her library deep underground.
As its only manager, librarian and proprietress, she protects her dark and chilled book paradise.
She could teach how to write diaries and letters if asked.
By taking only one look at someone, she can find a book that suits them.
Most of them tend to be romantic tragedies, revenge tragedies, and other books relatively heavily associated with feelings.
Because she is a Heroic Spirit who composes feelings, of course.
“I am a Heroic Spirit who composes feelings. A person’s heart for others is what I script and transcribe.”
Abe no Seimei:
When she was alive, she actually learned the basics of Onmyoudou from Abe no Seimei.
She was still a little girl at the time.
Seimei was complete uninvested on this, only doing it because it was a request from the master sinologist Fujiwara no Tametoki, but Shikibu shows signs that she when through a quite traumatic experience.
“Seimei, such dreadful mister.”(5)
Fujiwara no Michinaga:
Adviser Mido. The nobleman of the Mido Branch of the Fujiwara Hokke clan needs no introduction.
When he (then Minister of the Right) was trying to marry his eldest daughter Shoushi to Emperor Ichijou, he convinced (pretty much by force) the renowned woman of culture Murasaki Shikibu to serve as her lady-in-waiting. He couldn’t have made a better choice, as Emperor Ichijou would frequently visit Shoushi’s chambers to try to ask what would happen in the future chapters of The Tale of Genji, and thanks to that, in 1008, Shoushi gave birth to Prince Atsuhira, later turned Emperor Goichijou.
The Diary of Lady Murasaki mentions one night where he visited her bedroom, and the genealogy book Sonpi Bunmyaku lists Murasaki Shikibu and Michinaga as lovers.
When asked about how things really were with Michinaga, she refuses to comment.
“No comments about Minister Michinaga.”
Minamoto no Raikou:
A person she would often see in the capital back when she was alive.
The leader of the Minamoto Family, who served Fujiwara no Kaneie, then his son Michinaga, then Michinaga’s son Yorimichi.
They weren’t really friends, but she would often her stories about how Raikou was so mighty as a warrior that the people would even forget she was a woman (despite how gorgeous as a woman she is!).
They actually only had one single conversation during their court days.
“Yorimitsu, a warrior most gorgeous, graceful, and only slightly scary.”
A fellow lady-in-waiting slightly older and more experienced than her.
She served Teishi, one of Second Empress Shoushi’s rivals.
In The Diary of Lady Murasaki, she wrote the quote below. She’s quite conscious of their rivalry.
“Sei Shounagon, for instance, was dreadfully conceited. She thought herself so clever and littered her writing with Chinese characters; but if you examined them closely, they left a great deal to be desired. Those who think of themselves of being superior to everyone else in this way will inevitably suffer and come to a bad end. One who is too richly gifted, who indulges too much in emotion even when she ought to be reserved, and cannot turn aside from anything she of her interest will lose self-control. How can such a vain and reckless person end her days happily?”
She’s ridiculously conscious of their rivalry…!
By the way, it’s highly speculated that they never met each other in person.
A younger poet woman.
Like Murasaki Shikibu, she was a member of the Medieval 36 Immortal Poets and the 36 Immortal Lady Poets.
A young playgirl. There were tons of stories about her “fun affairs”. Michinaga called her The Floating Lady because she couldn’t keep herself grounded to a single lover.
A quote from The Diary of Lady Murasaki:
“Izumi Shikibu writes with grace and ease and with a flashing wit, but her behaviour is improper indeed.”
The terrifying oni she heard about during her life.
She once witnessed Ibaraki Douji attacking the capital with her underlings.
“The Doujis. I’m scared of the onis.”
They met often during her life.
“Houshi(6), your beauty is like that of a wild beast...”
Comment from the Illustrator
The first thing I decided is that the third Ascension would be a twelve-layered kimono, so that I could go all in for my personal preferences on the other Ascensions. I believe I was trying to imagine an owner of a poorly illuminated used-books store (like that one Unagi no Nedoko in Jinbouchou) listlessly cataloguing the rare books on the end of the hallway. You know, the kind of lady who goes out sometimes, but always with a parasol because she can’t handle the sunlight. The twelve-layered kimono on the third Ascension was too large to fit the card frame, so I’m glad you have this book where you can you appreciate the twelve layers on their full glory. Also, it took me a lot to come up with attack animations, literary characters with no weapons are hard. (Raita Honjou)
She’s saying the same line BB says when she’s undoing damage with Potnia Theron.
According to my research, there are 4 official translations to The Tale of Genji, so I really don’t have a fixed translation reference I must follow for the chapter names and poems in the Noble Phantasms. Instead I’m mostly taking reference from my own copy of the book, which is the Portuguese translation by Carlos Correia Monteiro de Oliveira and adjusting it into English on my own.
To simplify the formatting, I’m not including links for the parts that overlap with Murasaki’s in-game profile. Please consult from there if you’re interested in any of this literature.
Murasaki is semi-ironically quoting the most iconic verse from Sei Shounagon’s In Spring, The Dawn. Due it’s immense popularity, this verse (itowokashi) is often used in historical fiction (FGO included) as a catchphrase for Shounagon’s character.
Parodying a quote from the first tome of The Tale of Genji (Our empress, such dreadful mistress) about the empress trying to harass Kiritsubo into leaving the court.
Ashiya Douman’s real name is Douma Houshi.
(Lib will add after publish)