Mihoshi is Not Stupid"Mihoshi's a genius, I swear it." Washu, Zero Ryoko.
There has been an ongoing debate between Tenchi Muyo! fans, including between me and my friend Bill, about the relative mental acuity of my favorite anime blonde, Mihoshi. The arguments range from the idea that she is an utterly useless vegetable-like bimbo to that she is incredibly brilliant and wears a goofy demeanor to mask ulterior machinations. (Note that throughout this essay, I'm pretty much discussing the OAV version of the character. The TV versions, seen even in the best light, are unfortunately and admittedly pretty vapid).
There are two different arguments that I can, without reservation, say that they both have validity: one is that while she may be on the ditzy side (i.e. has a poor attention span and is somewhat absent-minded), she is by no means whatsoever a moron and definitely not useless. The other argument is that she is actually much much smarter than many realize and the "goof" is a mask.
The first argument is, in my mind, basically that Mihoshi is what she seems to be. Yes, I have called her a ditz. I call myself a ditz. I am incredibly easily distracted; I am not abstractly stupid. Many incredibly intelligent people I know are easily distracted and absentminded: those two qualifiers are what I think constitutes the term "ditz." It signifies a way of seeing the world (or not seeing it) and does not refer to raw intelligence. I think Mihoshi actually takes in more information than most people--she's incredibly observant, as has been noted several times, such as when she noticed Ryo-ohki's control crystal, and as reflected in the fact that her report on the capture of Kagato was incredibly detailed, picking up and threading together the powers and secrets of many of the other characters in the series. Perhaps, she's actually taking in so much information at once, she can't always respond to someone "brilliantly" because she's too busy noticing something else. I don't think it means she's abstractly stupid.
But she couldn't understand Washu's explanation about the dual nature of the Soja, you say. And I suppose you could have understood the algorithms as laid out by a wacky, self-absorbed scientist? Sure you could. (Note my sarcasm here). At least she had the integrity to just admit that she didn't understand.
She thought Ryoko was a jeweler, you say? Maybe not. Maybe it was just a goofy conclusion. But, maybe she was trying to figure out what to say, considering just moments before she was thinking she was among the natives of Earth, and was trying to think of something to say that would not startle the "primitives" nearby. There's also another explanation here, that I won't get into till later.
Don't use her clumsiness as an argument that she's stupidthat has nothing to do with intelligence. That's usually an effect of either not paying attention (which as distractable as she seems to be, makes sense) or nervousness (which also makes sense, considering it's hinted a few times she wants very badly to prove herself, which can make a person self-conscious and tense). SO LEAVE HER ALONE, ALREADY!
As for the argument that she isn't what she seems to be, there's a lot of scenes that can be easily interpreted in a way that supports this. If people think you're stupid, they tend to say lots of things in front of you, thinking you won't get it. A good way to gather information, eh? Once again, the "you're a jeweler" comment: it may well be she knows who and what Ryoko is, she just doesn't want Ryoko to know. She may have decided to stick around and find out why Ryoko was there, and if she had accused Ryoko right there, she would have been mistrusted by the pirate. Other scenes of note: she "walks in" on Tenchi and Washu, after inexplicably getting into Washu's lab although Washu had it sealed (hmmm), stopping Washu just in the nick from hand-raping Tenchi, and destroying some of Washu's research (after Mihoshi had looked at it first). Mihoshi destroys Washu's scanner "ball" before Washu can use it on her. One could even argue that Mihoshi was pretending in "The Night before Carnival" when Ryoko tricked her into leaving, because a) it supported her goofball image, and b) she had to go deliver her report on Kagato anyway.
And the report! Some people say they assume it took so long to read because it's written in Mihoshi babble. NO WAY! First of all, Mihoshi doesn't actually babble that much, not in the OAV. Watch it! Secondly, the information in it, as I mentioned in my last essay on Mihoshi, was detailed enough to scare the Juraian Council. Very specific, important pieces of information were attributed to Mihoshi's report in "Here Comes Jurai!" enough to concern Funaho and the rest of Jurai. I don't think babble would have caused the Juraian Council to send their chief of information and general of the bodyguard to Earth to investigate the issues presented in the report.
And Mihoshi is a direct descendant of Washu, as revealed in the True Tenchi novels, written by Kajishima. Her great-grandfather Mikumo is Washu's son. So she does have a genius's genes......
One interesting little side note: Mihoshi's last name, Kuramitsu, is "spelled" in kanji to mean something like "Pointing to Nine Secrets," according to a friend of mine who is fluent in Japanese. Not a coincidence, I think: there are something like 300 or more ways to write that name (phonetically speaking). So there's something about her and/or her family, beyond the connection with Washu, we ought to be keeping an eye out for.
That said, the only think I don't like about the Mihoshi being undercover theory is that it means that she may not really be as kind or innocent as she seems as well, and I like her kindness, her innocence, her loving nature. I really do think those are among her most beautiful traits. Even if she were really stupid (AND SHE'S NOT), I'd still admire her for those other traits, and still admire her more over any other character in the series. It would be a shame if they weren't real. So I tend to stick to the first theory.
I suppose we shall see for sure when the next OAV comes out. I can't wait!
Note added later: the one theory I didn't analyze here was the "burnout" theory--the she's not dumb, just a little loopy from overwork theory, which is based on Kagato's remark to her in episode 5. That one I'll have to get around to some other timereally this issue deserves a much better essay than this one, but... so much Mihoshi, so little time...