|“||It happened in Misaki City, when the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. They were later than usual this year. My name is Yuji Sakai. The school year had just begun and I was settling in to daily routine that was the life of a high school student. A normal morning no different from any other, Nothing out of the ordinary. Days like that were supposed to last forever. At the time, I couldn't even begin to imagine what was about to happen. I had no inkling of the strange diverging world I was soon to encounter or of the fact that I was going to die. And then I saw her, the girl with the flame red hair and blazing eyes. That was the day my world...changed forever.||„|
|~ Yuji's opening narration|
Yuji Sakai is the main male protagonist of the light novel and anime series Shakugan no Shana. He is a Mystes who has the Treasure Tool Midnight Lost Child inside of him, and gets involved in the seemingly never-ending battle between the Flame Haze and the Crimson Denizens, alongside the Flame Haze Shana.
He is voiced by Satoshi Hino in the Japanese version of the anime, and by Kristian Ayre and Josh Grelle the English version of the anime.
Yuji (post-Snake of the Festival) is a young boy with black hair that goes down to his neck (originally they were almost thigh-length hair). He has a fair complexion, dark blue irises and slitted pupils (varying from normal human pupils to very slitted pupils). He is about 15–16 years of age, and is a first-year high school student. In the anime, he is 5 1/2 feet (165 cm) tall.
Before merging with the Snake of the Festival, Yuji usually normally wore the Misaki City Municipal High School uniform, had brown hair and his eyes were of a lighter shade and a more olive complexion.
|“||Yuji: You think I'm spending too much time with Konoe. You've seen how helpless she is. It's not like I can leave her to her own devices, you know.
Ike: I think you're missing the point here, buddy. You don't see what's going on around you.
|~ Hayato Ike calling out Yuji on his obliviousness|
Initially, Yuji is a kind boy who usually puts the well-being of others before his own. This drew much confusion and annoyance from Shana, as prior torches from Shana's experience exhibited selfish attitudes. However, he is far from a pushover; he took being considered a mere 'thing' very harshly, insisting that even if he was just residue of his former self, he was still Yuji Sakai and didn't hesitate to call out Shana for her nihilism and lack of empathy, going so far as to call her "heartless" due to her flippant attitude over essentially taking over Yukari Hirai's life. Soon, his kind nature rubbed off on Shana and she began to see herself as more than just the Flame Haze she was raised to be. Simultaneously, Yuji's compassion and empathy sow the seeds of attraction between him and Shana.
Before learning he had the Midnight Lost Child inside him, Yuji was determined to make proof that he existed, going so far as to give up much of his Power of Existence to repair the damage to a classroom, something that had never been done by any other Torch Shana had met. Ultimately, he developed a somewhat optimistic, yet ultimately fatalistic view of his life. Even when he believed he was slated to perish as a Torch, Yuji took the information in a stride after the initial shock, and did not seem too disturbed or melancholy with the idea that everyone would simply forget about him. After discovering that he had the Midnight Lost Child in him and was effectively immortal, however, he was relieved and gained a desire to help Shana in her battles, asking Shana to train him in case any other Denizens come to attack Misaki City. While initially unable to fight, Yuji is able to help Shana through his intelligence and insight, and has done so numerous times. Wilhelmina describes him as a very unique boy, and wonders how he can view the world the way he does.
However, Yuji has been shown on several occasions to be too helpful for his own good. An example of this is when he agreed to help out the school committee in place of Matake Ogata, when he had already agreed with Shana to do more training after school. When Shana questioned him about this, he claimed that he didn't have a choice, prompting Shana to point out that he could have simply refused. After Kazumi finds out that he is a Torch, he chooses to abandon Shana and run after her to explain himself, an act that ultimately proves to be completely unnecessary as she already knows the truth by the time he finds her. He is shown to deeply regret dragging Kazumi into the Crimson World, even saying at one point that if there's one thing in his past he could change, it would be that. Yuji is also shown to be highly oblivious to Shana and Kazumi's feelings for him, believing that there's no way they could be interested in someone like him. He has come close to figuring it out several times, but always dismisses it as his imagination. As a result of his obliviousness, Yuji is prone to doing things that end up hurting Shana or Kazumi's feelings when he has no intention of doing so. When Fumina Konoe first comes to Misaki City, Yuji ends up helping her a great deal due to her being incredibly helpless. However, this causes a great deal of grief and jealousy to both Shana and Kazumi, especially the former, who ends up leaving his training to Wilhelmina to avoid having to face him. Even after Hayato Ike points out the effect Yuji's actions are having on the girls, he can't even begin to understand why, and the girls ultimately resolve their jealousy with him still being none the wiser.
Later on, Yuji's personality undergoes a change for the worse and he begins to lose some of his kind nature, becoming cold and indifferent towards others. This is shown when he bluntly rejects Kazumi's gift that she brought for him and his mother, saying that the two of them live in different worlds and he can't keep accepting things from her, though he later apologises after being chewed out for it by Shana. He also becomes more ruthless, such as when he kills one of the Jaeger Zarovee's duplicates with his bare hands and then proceeds to incinerate the rest. After Bal Masqué puts a transmitter on the Midnight Lost Child, Yuji starts taking his training more seriously, as noted by Shana and Wilhelmina, though this results in him getting ahead of himself and requesting training he's not ready for, forcing Wilhelmina, Margery and Marchosias to remind him that he has to be patient. He also decides it's finally time for him to leave Misaki City, believing that he'll just attract more trouble and keep putting the city in danger if he stays. However, this draws criticism from Shana and, to a lesser extent, Kazumi, neither of whom believe he's actually serious about leaving, with Shana outright accusing him of lying to himself. Though he denies this at first, Yuji comes to accept it as the truth during the ambush from Sabrac, having realised the city won't be safe even if he does leave. As a result, he gains a strong desire to protect Misaki City and everyone who lives in it, believing that it's what he has to do. However, that desire comes to an abrupt end when he mysteriously vanishes on the night of Christmas Eve.
After merging with the Snake of the Festival, Yuji's personality undergoes a very drastic change. He is shown to be very ruthless and downright cruel at times, such as when he callously reveals to Margery the truth about the Silver for no reason other than to put her out of commission, as well as telling Kazumi that he returned her letter simply to give her some hope. He is also quite manipulative, as he eventually exploits Kazumi's unrequited feelings for him in order to further Bal-Masque's plans. He seems to have grown even more innocently insensitive, as he has a very difficult time understanding that he completely traumatized Shana after defeating her easily and rendering her powerless, and sincerely doesn't get why she becomes so upset when he tries to get close to her afterward. The calm part of his personality also reaches alarming levels, as he remains eerily calm and smiling regardless of what he is currently talking about. His personality overall is very similar to that of the Snake, as the two are almost always on the same wavelength, though this could also be the result of them sharing a body.
When Yuji comes face-to-face with Johann, he speculates that Yuji is underestimating love, which is why he doesn't even trust Shana with the details of his plan. While Yuji initially dismisses this as nothing but a naive viewpoint, he eventually comes to realise that the entire conflict between him and Shana could have been avoided if he had simply trusted her more and asked for her help in creating Xanadu, but ultimately believed that Shana would always consider her duty as a Flame Haze to be more important than him. As Johann puts it, he became so fixated on his goal that he ended up neglecting the one person that goal was supposed to benefit most, and Shana even calls him out for not telling her his true plan from the beginning. Wrecked with guilt over all that he's done, Yuji decides that he has to atone by wandering Xanadu and teaching the Denizens how to co-exist with the humans- alone. Shana and Alastor, however, are disgusted that he believes that this is what he has to do, with the former calling him out for never considering what she wants. Even after being defeated by Shana and recalling Johann's words (that it's okay for him to be a little selfish), Yuji still doesn't believe he deserves to be with Shana after all he's done. Shana, however, assures him that in spite of all of it, she forgives him, she still loves him, and she desires only for him to be with her forever. Yuji agrees, but nevertheless maintains the belief that he has to make amends, as he knows that not everyone will be as forgiving as Shana.
Powers and Abilities
Yuji demonstrates the unique potentials of a Mystes which was supported by the Midnight Lost Child, causing him to possess an almost infinite amount of Power of Existence.
Although Yuji lacks of the training and discipline of a Flame Haze, he has demonstrated an admirable amount of intelligence and logic, often thinking outside the box and solving puzzles others can't (though it still stands for a fact that he is totally clueless to the fact that Shana loves him and is often jealous of any girls who get too close to him).
While many Flame Haze and Lords of the Crimson Realm would be deceived or confused by unconventional casting of magic, Yuji is able to quickly deduce and see through the ploy despite his unfamiliarity with many magical spells, enabling his allies, generally Shana, to strike at the heart of their opposition. Furthermore, by the start of the second season, Yuji's training has enabled him to foresee as well as dodge a good majority of attacks from skilled Flame Haze such as Shana and Wilhelmina due to training from them, and he has gained the ability to cast Power of Unrestraint with the help of Margery Daw. He also has the ability to wield Blutsauger and infusing it with some of his own power. He also can create his own fire, which is silver and black in color, to fire at targets.
It is also shown that Yuji is able to remain calm in any situation no matter how dangerous it is. This allows him to think aggressively during combat and counter his enemies with the same level of aggressiveness. Due to that, he has been referred to as a brutal genius by both Flame Haze and Denizens.
The Midnight Lost Child
In the series, Yuuji has survived being a Torch for most of the series because of the power of the Midnight Lost Child. At first, he was not aware of its existence, until one encounter with Friagne which forced him to use up his Power of Existence to heal his classmates who were severely wounded by Friagne's attacks. By midnight, the flickering flame which was seen on Torches suddenly burst back into life, much to the shock of Shana and Alastor, who realized that Yuuji is the keeper of the Reiji Maigo. Later on, he has been using the Reiji Maigo on a variety of purposes, especially restoring anything which was involved due to the battles with the Crimson Denizens.
Having the Midnight Lost Child soon became a double-edged sword as the Treasure Tool gained the interest of Bal Masque, whose purpose in the series is to grant Hecate, a powerful Crimson Lord, an endless supply of Power of Existence. Hecate almost succeeded in tapping into the powers of the Treasure Tool, causing the Midnight Lost Child to increase the limit of its Power of Existence restoration. Because of this, Yuuji's Power of Existence now rivals those of a Crimson Lord's.
The two great battles with Bal Masque endangered Yuuji and the Reiji Maigo, but due to the joint efforts of Wilhelmina Carmel, Margery Daw, and Shana, and also due to the abilities of Yuuji himself, he managed to hold on to the Reiji Maigo and fend off Bal Masque's attempts.
- His name Yuji means "second child who shall live long" or "cherished second son". His parents called him such because he had a twin brother who died shortly after the birth, as a result, they gave him a name that respects him and also honouring his twin brother.
- Part of his surname, Saka (坂 slope?), is taken from the word Hirasaka, the slope which leads to the land of the dead or Yomi in Japanese. It refers to his "death" at the beginning of the story along with Yukari Hirai whose surname is also taken from the word.