Nurugai (ヌルガイ) is the last remaining member of the Sanka and a wrongly convicted death-row criminal. After the shogun called for convicted criminals to acquire the Elixir of Life from the dangerous island known as Kotaku, in exchange for a pardon for their past crimes, Nurugai accepted the invitation to be a part of the competition mission. Upon taking the mission, Yamada Asaemon Tenza was chosen as her assigned monitor. Shortly after, Nurugai became a part of a united front formed from the remaining surviving criminals and executioners to defeat Lord Tensen, work together in capturing the elixir, and have everyone escape the island.
After a year passed since the mission, Nurugai currently travels with Shion as her companion to find her people while assuming a new identity as Koto (コト) as a way to hide from the authorities. The pair would eventually become known as the "Blind Wolf and Cub" as they would often help right the wrongs within each town they happened to come by.
Nurugai has quite an androgynous appearance, with her Asaemon having only figured out that she was a girl after undressing. She has dark tanned skin and long, black, messy hair that reaches down past her shoulders when left untied; although she usually ties the hair up above her head. Later in the chapters, Nurugai's hair becomes smoother. Her body is also noticeably muscular.
She is seen wearing very scrappy clothes, her top lacking sleeves, a bone necklace, and bandages wrapped around both of her wrists. She also wears black pants that end somewhere halfway down her calves, also lacking any footwear.
After briefly settling in Hōrai, Nurugai changed into an orange vest with a mandarin collar and black pants. She keeps her bone necklace and carries her sword on her back.
A year later, Nurugai chooses to allow her hair to flow back, continues to wear her hoop earrings, and wears a kimono. According to Nurugai, she decided to appear this way after taking note of how the girls around her look, which made her appear a lot more feminine and attractive to men, much to her fancy.
Nurugai originally looked down on samurai, viewing them as stupid. Her disdain for them stems from the fact that they were partially responsible for killing her people. Because of this incident, Nurugai felt a strong guilt for leading her village's extermination, even believed that the reason why she is on a dangerous mission is because she was receiving divine punishment for her actions and accepted death. However, after Tenza makes Nurugai take her own desires into account, Nurugai realizes that she wants to stay alive to return back to her home. After being influenced by Tenza and being by Shion's side, with his task of protecting her, Nurugai's opinion of samurai may have changed and sees that not all of them are bad.
Nurugai cares greatly towards the people she has a deep connection with. She cherished the time she had with her grandfather and felt that she needed to be punished for causing his death. After the death of Tenza, Nurugai begged Shion to teach her swordsmanship and his ability to sense Tao to avenge him, stating that she could not stand by and watch as more people she cares for die in front of her. During her and Shion's fight with Zhu Jin, Nurugai ran out of the Taisoku Temple with tears running down her face after Shion begged her to leave him as he prepares to sacrifice himself to kill the Tensen. However, after remembering how Tenza opened up her resolve, Nurugai returned to save Shion and counselled him into giving up his vengeance.
Nurugai is also very helpful. She was generous enough to guide a group of samurai that were lost (not knowing that their mission was to execute her people). She removed Senta's flowers from his Arborified body just in time, tried to help Yuzuriha by unknowingly using the Tao restoration and assisted Sagiri in helping Shion fight Mu Dan in his Kishikai. Nurugai also showed that she has a lowest level of modesty, having no shame when she exposed her naked body to Tenza. Despite not always expressing it, Nurugai can sometimes bring out her feminine side. After being charmed by Tenza's chivalry, Nurugai vowed to make him her groom and wanted to try on new clothes with Yuzuriha.
Nurugai was raised with the Sanka Mountain People in a village where she had lived with her grandfather. Nurugai and her grandfather were in a friendly, familial relationship where she would learn off her grandfather's wisdom.
Her village however were considered rebels against the current shogunate, refusing to submit to Tokugawa. Because of this, samurai were sent to locate the hillside tribes they defined as Emishis. One day, Nurugai crossed paths with a party of lost men, encouraging Nurugai to offer her help by seeking rest in the security of her village. Nurugai recognized her mistake when she realised that these men were samurai under the order of Tokugawa, who began a mass killing of her village that would leave her as the sole survivor.
The samurai later imprisoned Nurugai in order to reveal the location of other Sanka settlements; promising to execute her once they had gotten what they needed. During her captivity, Nurugai met Yamada Asaemon Tenza who invited her to partake in the search for the elixir to avoid execution.
- Main article: Island Arc
After coming to Edo, Nurugai is grouped together with death row criminals and was told the details of the mission. She asked if the Elixir of Life doesn't come to exist on the island but the questioned was ignored. They were then told to massacre until only a few were available to leave for the island. After the massacres ends, Nurugai survives and leaves for the island with Yamada Asaemon Tenza.
After making land, the two stumble upon a monster, however Tenza manages to slay it. He decides to take Nurugai to the shogun's ship so she can return back to the mainland, believing that she is innocent. While talking down to him, Nurugai felt that it would be pointless to return since she didn't acquire the elixir. Tenza assured her that he would talk to his superiors but Nurugai doubted that would work. After the fog clears, Tenza finds the ship but later turns out to be wreckage from the boats that were departing. Nurugai then notices two shadows through the fog.
Tenza draws his sword but Nurugai warns him not to. A large tentacle then suddenly attacks them, but they manage to dodge it in time. They are then surrounded by more large tentacles. Tenza suggests that they find a boat to escape. While running, Nurugai thinks back as to how she led her grandfather and her people to their demise. The two stop and find the blooming corpse of Yamada Asaemon Kishō who causes Nurugai to envision her dead grandfather. She gives up on trying to survive and believes that she is receiving divine punishment for her crimes. Tenza refuses to allow her to be killed by the creature and tells her that he couldn't accept her resolve and asked her whether or not if she wanted to make the choose to live or die. Remembering the peaceful times she had with her grandfather, Nurugai tells him that she wanted to live and return home. Tenza gives Nurugai a sword and tells her to fight alongside him until they can get to Kishō's boat.
The two managed to escape from the beast and landed back on the island, later washing off the blood. As Nurugai begins to undress, Tenza notices that her body is quite feminine for a male, which she corrects him, saying that she was female by exposing herself to him. Tenza becomes shocked and shrugs off her statement of making him her groom. After cleaning and dressing themselves, Tenza suggest finding an escape route and find his fellow Asaemon for help.
Lord Tensen Arc
- Main article: Lord Tensen Arc
While wandering aimlessly on the beach, Nurugai and Tenza are unable to find a current away from the island. They then run into a mysterious woman who transforms into a man and starts to attack them. Tenza is injured but fights back and tells Nurugai to run, however, he catches up to them. The man is then beheaded by a sword thrown by Yamada Asaemon Shion
As they are given an opportunity to run to safety, Nurugai notices that despite him being blind Shion was maneuvering well in the forest. After relocating to a save area, Tenza introduces his master Shion to Nurugai who scolds him for his sloppy swordplay against his opponent. Shion reveals to them that while he was prepared to leave he found an optimal current that could lead them away from the island. He then draws his sword towards Nurugai and asked for an explanation as to why Tenza was protecting her. At first Shion could not accept Tenza's actions in protecting her because she was innocent but he is later convince by Tenza to not carry out the execution. Nurugai greets Shion by calling him sensei but Shion says that calling him sensei was not necessary since he did not teach her anything. They are then shocked that despite his blindness that he was able to tell that Nurugai was female.
Before they could go to the current, they take into account of the immortal being that attacked them and try to come up with an plan. However, it instantly shows up behind Tenza and Nurugai as a female and prepares to attack. Shion pushes them out of the way but has his throat slashed by her. Tenza engages in battle against the female but is hit by a devastating blow. Nurugai runs towards him in horror but is stopped by Shion. After Shion senses Tenza's desperate plead for them to escape, Shion grabs Nurugai and runs off. Nurugai begs him to stop but he explains that he was honoring Tenza's last wish and he will avenge him.
In the forest, Nurugai tries to attack Shion but is easily intercepted with his perceptive powers. Nurugai pleads for Shion's to teach her swordsmanship and his surrounds, explaining that she doesn't want to see the people she cares for to die. Shion refuses but explains to Nurugai that his perceptive powers comes from sensing waves within everything around him and tells her that it would be difficult for her to learn. Although he objected, Nurugai receives lessons from him while fighting the Sōshin and wonders if he is either doing this on purpose or if he is absent-minded. The two then continue to move forward.
The two arrive in Hōrai and lend their aid to Sagiri, Yuzuriha and Senta in facing off against the monstrous Lord Tensen. Nurugai removes the blooming flowers from Senta's head and assures Sagiri's worries about Shion. The three then watch in amazement as Shion fights on par with the monster. However, they are shocked by flowers emerging from Shion's scratched body. Sagiri makes the decision to join him after seeing him loose blood from removing the flowers but Nurugai recommends not to because of her condition. Despite this, Sagiri says that she could not stand by as Shion risks his life. Her words encourages Nurugai to join her but Yuzuriha decides to not help them since she does not have enough energy. Thinking about the time she was with her grandfather and Shion, Nurugai embraces Yuzuriha and Sagiri as way to restore their strength. She and Sagiri then wrap themselves in bandages and have Yuzuriha coat them in her fluid to prevent them from being infected by the monsters stingers.
After relaying their plan to Shion, the monster comes up to Nurugai and attacks. However, she manages to dodge and cut its stingers. She then sees it extend its hand towards her but Sagiri comes in and intercepts it, as well as protect her from the rest of its oncoming attacks. After Sagiri cuts every one of its vines, Shion gets behind the monster and kills it with his sword. Once the battle was over, Nurugai and the rest comes to Senta and watches as a dies in peace in Yuzuriha's arms. Nurugai then listens to Sagiri's resolve to have every criminal and executioner cooperate to return home safely.
The group enters Hōrai and settles in a building. Yuzuriha and Nurugai take the time to change outfits and listen to Shion's review of Tao and how they can defeat Lord Tensen. Nurugai then changes the topics about finding the Elixir of Life. Yuzuriha points out that from what she learned from Mu Dan the elixir does not benefit humans. Sagiri interjects saying that according to Gabimaru, his village chief is immortal because of the elixir, but Yuzuriha explains the possibilities of the chief using an illusion to fool his villagers. Later, she sleeps with Yuzuriha during the night.
The next day, the group heads to the gate to see if the others have made it to Hōrai. After arriving at the gate, they are met by Yamada Asaemon Fuchi, Tamiya Gantetsusai, Gabimaru unconscious, Mei, Tōma, and a Dōshi. The remaining survivors then relocate to a cave to hide from Lord Tensen. Nurugai, Shion, Gantetsusai, and Tōma are then asked by Gabimaru to assist him in his training. After Gantetsusai and Tōma made their attacks, Nurugai joins in as well. Gabimaru sees her attack coming and grabs and swings her to knock Gantetsusai, Tōma, and Shion back. Nurugai becomes impress with Gabimaru's skills and finds that he is strong enough to fight Lord Tensen but the ninja says that he is far from ready. The group later gather together and are warned by Mei that someone or another group has arrived on the island.
Shion and Fuchi believe that it is Shugen and the other Asaemon who were sent as reinforcements by Eizen, along with another group of criminals. Although Sagiri vouched for his cooperation, Shion denies this after explaining the full story of the Silver Serpent's group execution and how he does not cooperate with criminals or allow any Asaemon to work with them as well. Moving on, Shion presents his strategy of finding the Tan elixir and an escape route by separating everyone into two teams and using their Tao attributes to hinder and defeat each member of Lord Tensen. However, Yuzuriha suggests finding a way off the island and go into hiding. Shion takes her recommendation into account and gives everyone the option of working separately or working together in completing the mission. Unanimously, everyone decides to follow Shion into the came and work together. Nurugai then punches Shion thinking that he wanted to leave her after giving everyone the two choices.
- Main article: Hōrai Arc
Using the information Mei provided, the group strategies on how to escape the island by using the ships located within the palace and learns that the elixir is located in Rien's laboratory. The group then sits in on Gabimaru and Yuzuriha's lessons on espionage using Tao. Later, Nurugai, Gantetsusai and Fuchi are seen exhausted from the training. After being put in the Escape Route Securing Team, Nurugai prepares to ask Shion a question but is told by the Asaemon that he has not forgotten. The group then review their strategy on infiltrating the palace. Once they were finish, the two teams decide to deploy tonight.
After sneaking into the palace, the Elixir Retrieval Team signals the Escape Route Securing Team that it is okay to enter. The team advances into the palace but are met by a sudden mist, causing Nurugai and Shion to get separated by Gantetsusai, Fuchi and Tōma. The two then encounter Zhu Jin once again, who plans to offer them as sacrifices to the grandmaster. Knowing that their plan to avoid Lord Tensen has failed, the group moves on to their second plan of fighting against them.
Nurugai watches form the sidelines as Shion continuous to cut away at Zhu Jin's body until he loses Tao. She then tells Shion that he has cut them two hundred and fifteen times. Zhu Jin manages to reform back but in a weakened and attacks them with his corpses. Nurugai becomes frighten and worries for Shion's condition. Shion knew that Zhu Jin was attempting to buy enough time to recover and cuts the corpses to bits. Shion continuous to attack but becomes exhausted from using too much Tao, causing Nurugai to rush to his aid. Shion tells her to stay back and is suddenly crushed by Zhu Jin's corpses. However, he escapes and dodges his broken blade manipulated by Zhu Jin, giving him a chance to fall back into the water. Shion and Nurugai becomes shock after Zhu Jin emerges from the water fully recover after combining their Yin and Yang form and partially transforms in their Kishikai.
Nurugai fights together with Shion and sees that the blind Asaemon is determined to kill Zhu Jin at all costs. He disembodies Zhu Jin, opens up their tanden to reveal the plant ovule, and presses his sword down to end the Tensens life but is assaulted with vines. Nurugai begs Shion to stop since he will die if he goes any further but is told by Shion to leave him to avenge Tenza. Nurugai, unable to do anything about the situation, painfully forces herself to leave the temple. However, after remembering Tenza's words to her, Nurugai sees a vision of him in front of her. Having seen his face once again, Nurugai remembers the words Tenza said that made her realize her will to live and returns to the temple to save Shion. Nurugai jumps in to push Shion away from his sword, removes the vines from his body, and embraces him to restore his Tao. Nurugai tells Shion that Tenza's final wishes was not have them sacrifice their lives to get revenge but to keep on living after witnessing how he smiled knowing that he protected the both of them. Instead of seeking revenge, Nurugai asks that Shion come with her to regroup with the others and tell her more about Tenza later. After hearing her plea, Shion agrees to leave Zhu Jin and expresses his gratitude to Nurugai for saving him.
As they walk off, Nurugai listens to Shion as he promises to be her protector until they return to Japan and find a suitable home for her. Unexpectedly, the two starts to feel the palace shaking and finds themselves cornered by Iwagakure shinobi from the second landing party who have come to eliminate any criminals alive and a Dōshi army tasked with eliminating all intruders. Nurugai and Shion try to escape from the warfare but are forced to stand down after Yamada Asaemon Kiyomaru appears with the intent of executing Nurugai. After Shion lays down his sword, Nurugai hears him announcing to Kiyomaru his defection from the Yamada clan since he can not bring himself to execute an innocent such as Nurugai and asks that he overlook the situation with them. The group then bare witnesses to Zhu Jin emerging out of the Main Temple completely fused with the Banko, causing Hōrai to be taken over. With the situation changing, Nurugai, Shion, along with Kiyomaru and his Iwagakure forces regroup, with everyone gathered at the Rentan Temple where Jikka proposes that everyone cooperate to defeat the Zhu Jin-fused Banko by destroying its tandens that are scattered around Hōrai. After everyone becomes clear on the plan and pair up with a partner based on the Tao Restoration cycle, Nurugai and Shion run off to the Earth tanden to destroy it.
After arriving at the tanden and hearing the sound of the signal by Yuzuriha, Nurugai lends her sword to Shion to target the tanden while boosting his Tao but makes a shallow cut. Nurugai is then told by Shion to stay behind him as the monsters approach them, telling her that she is in danger without mastering the ability to use Tao. She then recalls the other times Shion has protected her, including their encounter with Kiyomaru, and asks him if he really meant what he said at that time, to which he replies yes. After thanking him, Nurugai rushes straight towards the monsters and manages to awaken her Tao, which allowed her to cut down the monsters. Nurugai then tells Shion that she needed to use her own strength to survive and prefers to fight alongside him as a partner rather than a guardian. Shion agrees to change his view of her and ask that she take the lead until the next sound of the horn, much to her happiness. In an unexpected turn of events, Nurugai and Shion witness clones of Mu Dan sprouting from the Earth tanden and are forced to fight them off after they enter into a partial Kishikai transformation.
Later, Nurugai and Shion manage to get near the Earth tanden and proceed to commence their next attack, which successfully manages to coordinate with the other attacks towards the tandens. However, due to it already being morning, the Zhu Jin-fused Banko starts to recover and has its tandens slowly regenerate. Luckily, Aza Chōbei comes up with the idea of using his vines to destroy the roots of the tandens in order to cut off its regeneration link to the main body, resulting in the Zhu Jin-fused Banko's destruction.
- Main article: Departure Arc
With the path to the floodgates cleared, Nurugai, Shion, and all the survivors enter the floodgates but become disappointed to see that all the ships have been destroyed. Nurugai notices that one ship is left intact but hears Shion's warning about the currents being blocked by the wreckage, making the ship unusable. She then sees Gabimaru and Sagiri making a desperate attempt at clearing the wreckage and joins in to help. With no other choice, Mei decides to enter into her Kishikai at the cost of her life and clears away the debris, giving the survivors the opportunity to board the ship and depart from the island.
The survivors' ship manages to reach Rien's burning ship after Gantetsusai (who managed to board the ship earlier) slightly damages it. Though Gabimaru was originally the one willing to fight Rien alone, Nurugai makes a point earlier about their chances at survival being higher if they were to fight all together and later climbs onboard with everyone to defeat Rien. After the battle commences, Nurugai comes in to attack Rien and manages to cut her arm. She is then grabbed by the neck by Rien's severed arm but is soon freed by Gantetsusai. The survivors are then victorious after Sagiri and Shion's combined attack finishes off Rien. However, Rien reveals that the events was a Tao illusion created by her, which knocks out Nurugai and her allies in the real world, and transforms into her Kishikai. Nurugai manages to regain consciousness and is carried away by Shion. The two fall into the ocean, after Rien unleashes her power on her ship, and carries Gantetsusai and Yuzuriha's unconscious bodies to their ship with Jikka intoxicated. The two then watch as Gabimaru and Sagiri work together to fight Rien. Nurugai witnesses Rien's defeat after Sagiri destroys her plant ovule but panics after the Tensen reforms its body with a vengeance to kill the humans. Nurugai attempts to provide support after Gabimaru is in danger but is stopped by Jikka who tells her that power alone would not stop Rien. The survivors then watch as Rien's body crumbles after coming to terms with Xu Fu's death with the help of Gabimaru.
As they make their way back home, Shion tells the others that he and Nurugai will not be returning to Edo and will go their separate ways together. Shion also reminds Gabimaru, Yuzuriha, and Gantetsusai that they have their situation with who will be presenting the Elixir of Life to the shogun but the topic is ignored after the survivors enter into a comedic conversation about each one of them being villainous. After they become shock to see Gabimaru laughing after his wife was accused of being evil by Gantetsusai and Yuzuriha, Nurugai and the others wish to hear more about Yui to pass the time, to which Gabimaru agrees. Later, after Gantetsusai is chosen by Gabimaru and Yuzuriha to be the one to receive the pardon, Nurugai gives Sagiri a goodbye hug and departs with Shion on a boat.
After escaping the island, Nurugai travels with Shion in search for her people as he had promised. While traveling from town after town, the two would frequently come across trouble and take it upon themselves to fix them. Rumors then began to spread of the traveling blind swordsman and the girl, making them known as the "Blind Wolf and Cub".
After a year passed, Nurugai hears Shion's concern about the way she chooses to look in public but tells him that she preferred her current appearance since she was trying to model after the other girls around her. Nurugai is then hit on by a couple of men, which she found flattering, but becomes disappointed to see Shion driving them away. After being given a stern lecture, Nurugai heads North with Shion while sitting in the wagon they borrowed.
Abilities and Powers
While still only a child, Nurugai was capable enough to survive a massacre of multiple death row criminals and soon became one of the few in 1,000 years to survive the horrendous ordeals that Kotaku had to offer, such as the monsters and the members of Lord Tensen.
Nurugai is very agile and has fast reflexes, shown as she avoided a direct attack from Zhu Jin, who themselves complimented on her being quick for a human. Sagiri was also amazed by how nimble Nurugai was when she managed to evade and cut Mu Dan's stingers easily. Nurugai's muscular build also suggests that she underwent extensive training.
- Further information: Tameshi Ittō-ryū
With a sword at hand, Nurugai displayed enough skill to help Tenza slash away at the Wadatsumi's tentacles and escape. Her swordsmanship later improved after receiving a lesson from Shion on how to properly wield a blade and was able to assist him in his fight with Zhu Jin. She was also able to take down the monsters created by the Zhu Jin-fused Banko, and showed during the battle against Rien (in a Tao illusion) that she developed the skills to execute a Tameshi Ittō-ryū technique that was created by Tenza.
- Tameshi Ittō-ryū Ōgi: Shinotsukuame (試一刀流奥技 篠突く雨, Literal meaning: One Sword Style Test Cutting Secret Technique: Roaring Rain): A technique invented by Yamada Asaemon Tenza that was later passed on to Nurugai. After seeing this technique once and received lessons in swordsmanship from Shion, Nurugai developed the skills needed to use this technique. This is called Ittō-ryū Ultimate: Pounding Torrent in the Viz Manga.
- Further information: Tao
Nurugai possesses Water-attribute Tao. At first, Nurugai started off not being able to use Tao due to her being unable to believe what she cannot see. However, after soon overcoming this inability, Nurugai managed to unlock this power and used it to sense the Tao of the monsters created by the Zhu Jin-fused Banko and swiftly cut them down.
Nurugai wields a sword given to her by Tenza.
- "More like my grandpa's wisdom. He was always telling me to economize in everything I do."
- "But now I know. This IS Divine Punishment. Punishment for getting gramps killed... For getting them all killed..."
- "Of course I don't! I wanna go back to the mountains!"
Creation and Conception
- Nurugai's new identity as "Koto" is a combination of words from multiple ethnic minorities, which includes her birth name.
- Nurugai's rankings in the Popularity Polls:
- In the first popularity poll, Nurugai ranked 10th place with 241 votes.
- In the second popularity poll, Nurugai ranked 15th place with 211 votes.
- Nurugai's birthday, December 25, is on Christmas Day.
- In the Jigokuraku Fashion Review of Volume 2, Nurugai's attire received 0 out of 3 stars.
- Nurugai is the only non-Yamada clan member that is capable of using the Tameshi Ittō-ryū.
- Nurugai's and Shion's pack as the "Blind Wolf and Cub" is a clear reference to the manga, Lone Wolf and Cub, where a wandering swordsman and a child travel together to seek revenge but experience numerous adventures along the way.