- True Name: Sei Shounagon
- Class: Archer
- Source: Historical fact
- Region: Japan
- Gender: Female
- Alignment: Chaotic Good
- Height: 157 cm
- Weight: 46 kg
- Character Creator: OKSG
- Character Design: Mika Pikazo
- Character Voice: Farouz Ai
- Appearance in Main Works: Fate/Grand Order
Magic Resistance: [C]
Negates spells with a chant of two verses or less.
Cannot defend against something more complex, like high magecraft or ritual curses.
Independent Action (Self-Centered): [A]
Goes out to have a good time even when her Master is absent.
"Right, let's go to Kyoto."
However, she needs her Master's backup for things that demand vast amounts of magical energy, such as using her Noble Phantasm.
Snow on Xianglu Peak: [A]
In one snowy day, Sei Shounagon's lady, Empress Teishi, asked her what the snow was like atop China's Xianglu Peak. Bai Jiyu's poem read "One must open the bamboo blinds to see the snow on Xianglu Peak", so in reference to it, she raised her lady's blinds high, displaying the snow in her garden.
Sei Shounagon's knack for ascertaining the true essence of every situation often produces a decisive strike.
Law of Ekanaya: [A]
The Lotus Sutra defines the Law of Ekanaya as an allegory to the idea of being the one and only.
Sei Shounagon's single-minded feelings toward her lady repels all forms of tentation that comes her way.
Sei Shounagon famously used the Law of Ekayana as a metaphor for her views on romance. She strived to be the number one in the heart of her partner, and wouldn't accept being number two or three, but in front of Teishi, she lost all her previous backbone and timidly said:
"For your affection, I could accept being any number.".
The very lady she cared for scold her for this comment.
"Listen here, you need to learn to commit to what you say."
How beautiful that was.
Immortal's Poetry: [B]
Despite being listed among the Thirty-Six Immortal Poets and the Thirty-Six Immortal Poetesses, and having one of her pieces published in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, Sei Shounagon dismisses herself as an unskilled poet.
Her distaste for it potentially comes from the incompatibilities of waka poetry's antiquated ruleset and her forward-thinking sensitivities.
Regardless, her poetry often hit the hearts of its readers, and often were used to boldly turn away rude men.
Murasaki Shikibu has a Skill with the same name and rank, but completely different in content. That's a great point of interest to evaluate the differences in the two's personalities. Maybe.
Ousaka's Gateway: [A]
A rooster's crow may open the Hangu Pass gateways, but the checkpoint of the heart is not one to open its gates as easily.
Who shall be the first to cross her impregnable Ousaka Gateway?
The Best Stars: [B]
The darker the night is, the brighter the stars shine.
Pleiades, Altair, Vesper, shooting stars...
And her light is also like a star.
Emotional Engine: Full Drive (The Pillow Book: Spring Dawn Commentary)
- Rank D++
- Type: Poetic Noble Phantasm
- Range: 1-20
- Max. Targets: 50 people
A singular mental state achieved not through martial arts or onmyou techniques, but through constant penmanship.
The imagined landscape of her Pillow Book materialized in the real world when the waves of her emotions take over.
In other words, a Reality Marble.
Sei Shounagon rewrites the world into nostalgic sceneries that the opponents engulfed within her boundaries once saw, corroding their hearts.
Sorrow, nostagia, poignancy... If the whirl of powerful emotion throws them into enough disarray to forget their battle even for a moment, they will be unable to avoid the powerful (and unfair) attack of the owner of this domain.
"All that is radiating and heartthrobbing remains eternal long after the flesh withers! It shall endlessly continue to be! Emotional Engine: Full Drive!"
Side note: "The Pillow Book: Spring Dawn Commentary" is the title of an commented edition produced by Kitamura Kigin in the Edo period. Sei Shounagon was delighted to know that her published emotions withstood the test of time and were loved by people of future eras. She took the name "Spring Dawn Edition" as a title that symbolized the connection of past and future, and also elevated that into her Noble Phantasm subtitle as a term that perfectly encapsulates the nature of her Noble Phantasm as commentary on her "In spring, the dawn" verse.
First-person pronoun: Atashi-chan/Atashi/Uchira
Second-person pronoun: Anta/chan-Mas/nickname
Third-person pronoun: Aitsu/ano kata/nickname
A good-humored girl always finding something to enjoy... until she gets disgruntled when you least expect it.
A rare breed: the party animal Servant. Whimsical as a cat, always spreading mayhem, and prioritizing fun above all else.
A radiating lady far ahead of her time. Someone who loves okashige (or in modern terms, the feels) above all else.
She's very different from what one would expect of a renowned poet, presumably as a consequence of her excessive affinity with modern youth culture.
Her taking the form of a high schooler on summon makes sense with the historical facts, as it's known she was very concerned about being too old for job in the Teishi Salon.
It's important to note that while the body she manisfets with as a Servant is on her late teens, her appearance remains young as ever in Hell Mandala for whatever reason.
The Singularity is set in Heian, the fiend-ridden capital where anyone can turn into a specter. Perhaps she also suffered something similar to the strange phenomenon that assailed her brother Munenobu (that's probably not it).
Shounagon is a title, not a name.
The tradition of time was that court ladies would have office names containing the rank of their fathers or husbands in the Department of State, but she didn't have any relative ranked Shounagon.
It's presumed she's called that because Teishi found the idea amusing.
Nagiko might consider the act of nicknaming to be a proof of affection... or maybe not, we don't know.
On an unrelated tangent, she became great friends with Murasaki Shikibu in Chaldea (her own opinion, up for debate).
Attitude Towards Master
Sei Shounagon believes her role is finished since she completed The Pillow Book.
Her life after that, including her summon, is past her peak.
Still, life is intriguing in its unpredictability.
When she and her Master build a relationship based on trust and friendship, not restrained by the Master-Servant roles, she might one day pick up the pen again and write a new book.
Let's get this ball rolling, chan-Mas!
What I dislike? Hah, the list gets long. But, check out this life hack: if I focus only on what I like, I can't remember any of that. What about you, chan-Mas? Aren't you letting too many dislikes live rent-free in your head?
Sei Shounagon's role was over when The Pillow Book ended. You're talking to her dregs right now. I'm only Nagiko. An essayist who loved Empress Teishi.
Young people, stay happy! Yesterday's smile can overwrite today's sadness and connect you to a brand new tomorrow! Overwrite the world, Pillow Book! Emotional Engine: Full Drive!
Great job, team, we killed Selinuntus.
Historical Character and Figure
A Heian novelist and poet.
She's the daughter of Kiyohara no Motosuke, one of the Five Men of the Pear Chamber responsible for the Chinese-to-Japanese translation work in the Man'youshuu.
She grew familiar with Chinese grammar and poetry, which was considered something only men learned. Many incidents proved she was a woman who broke the female mold of her time, as her vast knowledge allowed her to talk back to men and win the argument.
She's often considered Murasaki Shikibu's rival but there was a 5 year gap between Shounagon leaving and Shikibu entering the imperial court. It's believed the two of them never seen each other.
But the possibility that they crossed paths at least once can't be discarded.
That's because the famed Diary of Lady Murasaki described Sei Shounagon as if Murasaki personally knew her.
In her late 20s, she started working as a lady-in-waiting for Empress Teishi, the consort of Emperor Ichijou.
The young Teishi was very affectionate toward this "Shounagon" a whole 12 years older than her, and her Shounagon, in turn, constantly tried to live up to the beautiful and witty Teishi's expectations.
She wrote down all the humorous and intriguing events of her court life, and compiled them into one prose essay anthology.
That was Japan's first essay book: The Pillow Book
The Pillow Book tells of her happy and extravagant days, but its writting only started when Teishi and her Naka-no-Kanpaku family were suffering their political collapse.
Sei Shounagon's prose was penned with the express purpose of reminding her lady of the glory days. To encourage Teishi when the oppressive circumstances weighted heavy on her heart.
It had no need for memories of their sad and painful pasts, nor worries for their dark and challenging future.
Despite being dedicated to Teishi, this literary work continued after her death, later allowing The Pillow Book to see its completion.
Nowadays this anthology is sometimes dismissed as simply Sei Shounagon's bragging, but in reality, it's a piece brimming with love and admiration for her dear lady Empress Teishi.
The Pillow Book's portrayal of the Teishi Salon of the olden days became a topic of debate among the future generations, making it so that the life of the girl named Fujiwara no Teishi remained vivid in public consciouness to this day.
Sei Shounagon left the court after Empress Teishi's death. The records on her life after this event are fragmentary at best, but there are multiple fictional "Sei myths" created with the intention of humiliating her for being too clever for a woman (for example, the famous factoid about her exposing her crotch to get away from an assassination attemption was first mentioned 200 years after her time in the court).
On the other hand, a prevalent theory is that she made a new home next to the Toribeno Mausoleum, Teishi's resting place, and lived a quiet life in her remaining years.
Whatever the truth is, it's honestly none of our business.
Character in FGO
She debuted in the 2020 event Not-So-Ordinary Valentines.
Nagiko, as she called herself, was actually an irregular entity summoned as a counter to the Sei Shounagon created by the Holy Grail based on Murasaki Shikibu's imagination.
Logically, she's most qualified for the Caster Class like the rest of the writers, but against everyone's expectations, the imperfect Grail summoned her in the Archer Class.
She is no longer Sei Shounagon, as she offered both that name and The Pillow Book as a tribute to let the lady she served in life, Empress Teishi, rest in peace.
She chose to abandon her wish for revenge, and to never forget her splendid life, always carrying one lone star inside her heart.
This meant another star dying out.
By leaving the court and never making any public appearance again, she died quietly and in peace as just "Nagiko".
She was too human to become a guardian of Human Order.
But this irregular summon was a turning point for Sei Shounagon.
In the days she spent in the Singularity pretending to be the ordinary wanderer Nagiko, the dregs of who she once where, she went through many new experiences and established emotional bonds with trustworthy people. This both broke the seal locking her poet identity and filled her with new potential. That's when she finally joined the Throne of Heroes.
As such, she was summoned.
Even if he/she is yet to experience those bustling days with "Nagiko", Sei Shounagon is eager to see the day she meets him/her again.
The broken Holy Grail created an imaginary Sei Shounagon built from Murasaki Shikibu's subconsciousness. A misinterpretation given form.
A narcisistic woman with a smug face and self-important attitude, who thinks she's oh so clever despite never getting anything right.
In that micro-Singularity where all present were distorted into The Tale of Genji characters, she named herself after Rokujou no Miyasundokoro and appeared by the end of the story.
She carried a powerful grudge against Murasaki Shikibu, Fujiwara no Shoushi, and Fujiwara no Michinaga, but (the real) Sei Shounagon of all people barged in to purify her, resulting in her complete annihilation.
"Are you freaking kidding me!?"
For reference, Rokujou no Miyasundokoro is a character in Hollyhock, the ninth chapter of The Tale of Genji.
She was a terrifying and pitiful woman, so consumed by envy that she transformed into a living ghost and killed Aoi no Ue by possessing her.
A fellow female writer of the Heian period, and a bestie (she thinks).
Evidence suggests their friendship is surprisingly firm despite Nagiko's pushiness.
When it's just the two of them alone, they can discuss the books they recently read like normal people.
"My senpai in the JK uniform style, and a senpai to the Heian Era as a whole. A paisen beyond any senpai. Her sublime lifestyle slays."
The one who killed her brother Munenobu. The commander of the Genji.
When she was first summoned, she kept her distance out of fear but... Read more in the (second) interlude.
"When this feral child was first brought to the big city, I took care of him with all my love and affection, and as result, he saved my life when he came home to slay my brother. Remember that?"
Why is she trying to take his clothes off?
When questioned, she testified she was trying to check if he had a tail.
"A messy relationship with messy treatment and messy interactions. He probably doesn't see me as a woman, but I'm a still a target for his heal, so it's all good."
"The perpetually grumpy god of love. When I carry her, she makes that face that looks like she's given up on everything in the universe."
She feels a need to be nice to him for some reason.
She got 100 times more annoying about it after learning about his rambunctious past.
Child Servants and Emiya
She sometimes leads the children in cafeteria raids.
She's always the first to be captured and punished, so the children are mad at her uselessness.
Fujiwara no Teishi
She doesn't say anything about her former lady.
It won't be easy to convince her to share what's truly precious to her.
Comment from the Illustrator
Sei Shounagon is a design that carries the concepts of "Heian vs future", "the best parts of the past", and "shockingly cute trends". She's a character that really got me thinking about what would the real Sei Shounagon like and choose. If you can see what makes her good, feel free to love her, either deeply or the consumerist way. The Noble Phantasm's face cut-in with the double peace sign and the little tongue sticking out was me intentionally creating the smile capable of defeating everything. (Mika Pikazo)
- This one is about her poem in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu. First the historical context behind it. China's Hangu Pass was a fortified checkpoint that opened its gates for transport early in the morning upon the rooster's first crow. Lord Mengchang, then a fugitive, once escaped Qin by imitating a rooster to get this gate to open.
Fast forward twelve centuries and Fujiwara no Yukinari visited Sei Shounagon but quickly left saying he had things to do in the imperial court. They then exchanged messages that went like
Yukinari: "Sorry, the crow of the rooster hurried me."
Sei: "That's not true, it was an imitation of a rooster, like in the Hangu Pass incident." (Meaning: I'm not buying your excuse)
Yukinari: "The Hangu Pass gateway and Ousaka's gateway are not the same checkpoint."
Sei Shounagon then contributed to Ogura's compilation with the following entry:
The rooster's crowing
In the middle of the night
Deceived the hearers;
But at Ousaka's gateway
The guards are never fooled.
Unlike the Hangu Pass, her Ousaka checkpoint will never open to liars trying to fake the rooster's crow before the sun rises. The pun in the exchange is that Ousaka's kanji roughly means "hill of (romantic) encounters", so she basically dumped a guy in the middle of the most important poetry event of her time. The skill description also takes the "gates of love" angle, with an open question implying the first to pass the impregnable checkpoint was Teishi.
- From a short Pillow Book entry.
The best stars are the Pleiades, Altair, and Vesper. Comets also have their charm, but could be improved from not having the long trail behind them.
Okashige, most commonly seen in its adjective form "okashi", is the concept of beauty as portrayed by Sei Shounagon's writing. It proposes cheerful, intellectual, and guttural sentimentality, as opposed to the subdued atmosphere of elegant melancholy prevalent in, say, Murasaki Shikibu's works. Uncoincidently, Type-Moon web designer and assistant writer OKSG names himself after okashige.
"Run, Melos!" is a short story by Osamu Dazai where Melos is given the sunset as a time limit to save his friend Selinuntus's life. Servant Summer Camp's bonus Gudaguda scene involves Nagiko's party getting lost in the woods, and when the sun sets, she drops this line as a reference none of the other Servants get.
(Lib will add after publish)