When we're first introduced to him, he just seems like a pretty ordinary elderly man: slowly walking up the stone steps of the Masaki Shrine, grumpy at Tenchi for not doing his chores. A little later on, we start to see him as the "cool" Grandpa, consistently able to beat Tenchi at martial arts, swordplay, or pretty much anyting else ^-^ we see his sense of humor & wit, & we start to get more interested in this character, Katsuhito Masaki, guardian of the Masaki Shrine. Perhaps he has an interesting background; we assume he must have been a great swordmaster in his prime, & start to wonder about his backstory: where he came from, what made him become a Shinto priest...who is Katsuhito???
& then of course, later on throughout oav1, after some guesswork & putting the pieces together, we learn who Katsuhito really is--Yosho, first crown-prince of a planet called Jurai, & undisputedly the greatest swordsman in the galaxy. He is well over 700 years old, yet--as we learn later on--because of Washu's gems & his tree, Funaho, he is as young & fit as he ever was, yet with the knowledge, wisdom & wit that one could only acquire from having a long life & an equally long set of life experiences to match. Yet Yosho never presents himself as this all-knowing guru, or anything of the sort; he usually remains quiet and reserved, but ready to help should the need truly ever arise, & eager to pass on important family history & life lessons to Tenchi & anyone else that will listen.
I didn't really identify with Yosho much when I first saw Tenchi Muyo (back in 2000, I was like 10 when I first saw it) yet as I've become re-acquainted with the series recently, I've been able to appreciate the story & characters in a whole new way. For some reason, I identify with Yosho in many ways. He's sort of the "black sheep" of his family; a royal type, THE crown prince no less, runs off away from his overbearing parents & a lifestyle he can't relate to. He feels very trapped, pushed into a mold, so he breaks free of that mold by running away to earth; like a teenager with angst driving away from their parents' house in their dad's car. & while on Earth, he experiences so many things he never would have on Jurai: the beauty of nature around him, the people that inhabited the land, & especially within the context of Tenchi Universe--love & family. He would have been youthful & lived forever, perhaps even one day ruling the known universe as King had he remained on Jurai. Yet on Earth, he found a peace & happiness, & sense of contentment he could never have had on Jurai. & since he didn't at the time know about the full effect of Washu's gems on his tree, he realized full well, by all accounts, that he would grow old & eventually die on Earth, & he was at peace with that. Ayeka, when she first realizes that Katsuhito is her brother, is confused & perplexed why Yosho would possibly choose growing old & dying rather than youth & eternal life on Jurai. Yosho simply states that Earth is his home, & it is where he wishes to be buried, & that someday, Ayeka will be able to understand (even though she herself is probably hundreds of years old). This demonstrated to me that wisdom is not a given with old age--I've met 10 year olds that were wiser than some middle-aged people I've run across on my life's journey (sad that some people are that immature, isn't it?) But I digress...
This has a profound impact on me; it's really food for thought: it doesn't make much sense to me either. Nowadays, in our society where image means so much, where people spend so much money on anti-aging creams & botox procedures, who in their right mind would choose old age over youth??? It hits a nerve that many of us--if not most of us--dread (even if we don't think about it on a daily basis): our own mortality. It may not seem so obvious, but if one stops to think about it, & if we're willing to admit it, we're afraid of dying, & worry about growing old. Yosho demonstrates to me (& can to anyone) that growing old is a part of life, as is death. It's not something to be feared, or to worry about, or something you should try to avoid. The best any of us can do is cherish our loved ones around us--for however long we have with them--& try to find peace & contentment for ourselves in our own lives. Sometimes, I think 'what's the f***ing point?' as I'm going about my day. All of us have a limited amount of time here on Earth, then we're gone--why? what's even the point? (Let me assure you, from personal experience, that kind of thinking can lead to a rather dull view of life. Makes life seem boring & pointless). But Yosho's life experience can teach us so much about what's really important in life; the things that are closest to us, that we take for granted, usually the simplest of things are often the most precious, & are things to be cherished & enjoyed. In your day to day routine, life on Earth may seem pretty boring, maybe even pointless. But if you have those thoughts, I would encourage you to stop, look at the leaves on the trees, listen to the birds singing, feel the cool breeze on your face & the warm sun on your back, stop & look at the clear blue sky, or the rain streaming down your window, or the snow drifting outside & I think you'll come a bit closer to understanding how precious life & our world really is (Yosho gave up being king of the known universe & eternal youth for it! Food for thought).
So for anyone & everyone who reads this, I'm sorry I got kind of preachy there, that's not my intent. I just wanted to share how a fictional character, in a fictional world, has actually had a profound influence on me, on my outlook on day-to-day life. I hope this shows to anyone that a well-written work of fiction has so much more potential value than just escapism or entertainment (not that those aren't all well & good) & I hope that there is someone in your life--real or fictional--that can help you have the kind of appreciation for some aspect of your life that Yosho has had for me.
Cheers to the coolest Grandpa in the galaxy!