Motoko Aoyama (青山 素子 Aoyama Motoko),Sombre and athletic, as of the start of the manga, is a fifteen year-old high school sophomore (Grade 10) and martial arts practitioner living in Room 302 of the Hinata House. Dubbed “Kendo Girl” by others, Motoko is born into the head family of the Shinmei-ryu School of Martial Arts; a school of swordswomen who act as demon slayers and exorcists in Japan, and is next in line to inherit ownership of the school.
Principled, ethical and tolerant, she was brought up to follow traditional Japanese morals of the warrior class; meaning to follow obligation, politeness and duty. As a result she is somewhat naive to the “ways of the world” and is sometimes confused and irritated by the mannerisms and attitudes of other girls her age.
Her appearance and clothing resembles that of traditional Japan, often only seen wearing either her school uniform, sports uniform or her training hakama. Her hair, too, is usually just worn straight in a traditional cut, only sometimes pulling it back into a ponytail during training.
Body-wise she is physically capable of performing mystical techniques due to her ability to harness her ki energy for combat. Her training has also allowed her become a formidable warrior and swordsman, despite her young age, however her naivety has sometimes hampered her progress.
Although her sheltered upbringing is ingrained she remains open to new experiences and willfully participates in “modern” things like Karaoke and attending theme-parks. That being said she has yet to own a mobile phone.
Usually seen practicing and/or honing her martial techniques she is, due to her serious nature, often seen as the moral or principled backbone of Hinata House.
Born into a family of legendary demon-slayers, Motoko was brought up to one day take over the business. From a young age she looked up to her older sister, Tsuruko Aoyama, frequently training with her and learning how to be a noble swordswoman.
When Tsuruko began leaving for missions she gave her favorite sword, the Shisui, to Motoko as a parting gift. Years later, however, Tsuruko would become engaged to a fellow warrior and Motoko, upset with her sister’s decision, left the dojo to live elsewhere during her days at school.
Arriving at the Hinata House, in Hinata, Motoko settled in to commute to her school (an all-female Middle School) from the dorms. Kaolla Su immediately latched on to her as her play partner; a job Motoko stoically tolerated.
When Keitaro Urashima arrived, uninvited, to the Hinata House, Motoko joined the other girls in capturing him and she also, mistakenly believing him to be a Tokyo University student, agreed with the other girls that he could stay. However, she maintained an aggressive watch on him during his first few days, often threatening him with her sword if he seemed to step out of line.
When it was discovered that Keitaro wasn’t actually a Tokyo University student, Motoko lead the movement to evict him and later participated in the girl’s attempts to get him to leave on his own will.
As the other girls gradually grew accustomed to Keitaro, Motoko remained cold towards him as his personality and hijinks contrasted greatly against what she believed an ideal man should be. Her irritation with him came to a peak when, affected by a cold, she challenged him to a kendo duel in an attempt to get rid of him. Due to Keitaro’s panicking and Motoko’s own illness, they were both knocked out during the match (Chapter 6).
Despite her low opinion of him, however, she assisted the other girls in searching for him when he ran away after receiving bad scores in his Christmas mock-test and attempted to help when he received “Worst Luck” in a temple fortune draw.
When Naru and Keitaro decided to travel Japan after having failed their entrance exams, and after Kaolla and Shinobu went after them, Kitsune convinced Motoko to team up and go after them as well. However, instead of searching for Keitaro and the other girls, Kitsune began sampling the different foods along their travels; using Motoko as a source of income by having her demonstrate her martial skills in public shows. The two would eventually run into Kaolla and Shinobu in Kyoto where the four of them would then venture to Okinawa to find Naru and Keitaro.
Returning back to Hinata House, Motoko’s turtle-phobia was revealed when Tama, the hot-springs turtle Naru and Keitaro brought back with them from Okinawa, ventured through the residents’ rooms and causing Motoko to faint due to panic.
In Chapter 27, When Keitaro walked in on her while she was changing, Motoko challenged him again to a duel, this time with the stakes of either him attending her clan’s training regime to “beat some spine into his spineless body” or have her obey his command. She would, again, lose, resulting in her abiding in Keitaro’s request to act more feminine. After many failed attempts at being “more feminine” Keitaro shows her the compassion and understanding that she had never shown him by retracting the command and saying that it was okay to act like she normaly did.
As such her opinion of him changed somewhat and she joined in with the other girls in attempting to prevent Naru and her ex-tutor/ex-crush, Noriyasu Seta, re-acquainting for Keitaro’s sake. Though this attempt ultimately failed, Motoko continued to support Keitaro and Naru’s relationship even if she herself didn’t understand their attraction.
During the Beach Café Hinata’s rendition of The Journey to the West, where Motoko played the role of Gojou Sa; the water demon, Motoko issued a martial challenge to Seta. Though the duel was extensive she was ultimately defeated by Seta when she had become surprised by his knowledge of the Shinmei ryu school.
She began to notice that her skills were deteriorating when even Tama managed to defeat her by catching her sword in mid-strike. Concluding that her deterioration was due to losing her seriousness due to the distractions in Hinata House she left to train in the mountains. However a small party of Kaolla, Sarah, Tama and Keitaro followed after her, momentarily causing her to blame Keitaro for her distraction until she realized that the key to improving her strength was not in cutting herself off from the world but by taking in the experiences around her. She returned to Hinata House after learning the Rock Splitting Spirit Sword, having become stronger due to her revelation.
Her new skill was called into usage to dispel Mutsumi’s bad luck, however the combined “bad luck” of Mutsumi, Naru and Keitaro proved too much for her to overcome.
When Keitaro panicked and ran away to Pararakelse Island Naru went after him to bring him back while Motoko and the rest of the Hinata gang went to check on their latest exam results; discovering that Mutsumi, Naru and Keitaro had all passed the exams. Shinobu, Su and Sarah (calling themselves team Puffy Mushroom) went after them to Pararakelse Island in order to get them back to submit their forms to be admitted to Tokyo University, while Mutsumi, Motoko and Kitsune followed after team Puffy Mushroom to make sure nothing happened to them.
As before, Motoko (much to her chagrin) was used, this time to grab the attention of cars for Kitsune, Mutsumi and herself to hitchhike; first being forced to wear a Leaf Bikini and then Kitsune exposed Motoko’s chest to the cars, causing a car crash.
Eventually the three would meet up with team Puffy Mushroom in the Pararakelse desert where Motoko would begin lecturing Shinobu on why she continually felt empathetic towards a loser like Keitaro. However it took an encounter with an entire tribe of Pararakelse turtles to make her admit that she, too, wanted to see Keitaro succeed in his dream and the teams would eventually meet up with Naru and Keitaro in an oasis at the center of the desert. With Seta’s help the Hinata gang would return to Pararakelse’ airport and return to Japan in time for Keitaro to finally become a Tokyo University student.
The time eventually came when Tsuruko Aoyama, Motoko’s sister, arrived to Hinata House to bring Motoko back to Kyoto to take over the family dojo. However, Motoko didn’t feel that she was capable of leading the dojo yet and attempted to lie, telling her sister that she was engaged to Keitaro, in order to avoid leaving.
Tsuruko would learn the truth, however, and, in retaliation for lying, engaged Motoko in combat, soundly defeating her and breaking her sword in half.
Now disowned from her family, Motoko steals Kitsune’s maid outfit and attempts to work as Hinata House’s maid, however her over enthusiasm for the work would eventually lead to complaints from the other dorm residents and, out of frustrated hopelessness, she runs away.
Tsuruko convinces Keitaro to help Motoko defeat her, thus reclaiming her right as part of the Aoyama family, however if they were unable to defeat her she would force Keitaro to marry Motoko to make up for his part in lying about their engagement. Giving her the Hina: The Ominous Blade to replace Shisui, Keitaro accompanies Motoko to Kyoto to begin challenging Tsuruko.
With Naru becoming involved in the incident, she became possessed by the Hina blade during Motoko and Tsuruko’s final bout. When Motoko managed to seal the blade without harming Naru or Keitaro she redeemed herself in Tsuruko’s eyes and she was allowed to continue studying and living in the Hinata Apartments.
As with all the girls, Motoko was upset over Keitaro’s decision when he opted to study abroad however she, along with the others, wished him the best of luck.
Six months pass, during which Motoko, now 18 years old, graduates high school and attempts, and fails, to get into Tokyo University. Now a Ronin, she spends her time studying in an attempt to pass the exam in her second attempt.
Her studying was interrupted however by the arrival of Kanako Urashima who usurped the position of landlord in Keitaro’s absence and reopened the dormitory as an Inn, forcing the girls already staying there to become employees if they wanted to stay. Assigned as head of security Motoko was made to wear samurai armor as her uniform, this plus various other incidents caused her to join Kitsune in a coup of the Hinata House. It was during this coup that Keitaro returned.
Quickly discovering that Keitaro had learned some martial arts during his travels, Motoko began practicing with him in the mornings. This change in Keitaro caused her to become more interested in him, despite her repeated claims that she was not, and she had unintentionally joined with Shinobu and Kanako in pressuring Naru to reveal her true intentions with Keitaro. This pressure resulted in the pair becoming closer than ever, breaking the magic of the Forbidden Annex which had ordained that Keitaro and Kanako would be together.
Repressing her feelings would eventually get the better of her, however, as she began to become irritated by Keitaro and Naru’s relationship to the point of distraction. Unable to concentrate, her exam grades began to plummet and she began to day dream, unconsciously writing her fantasies on paper and inadvertently forming them into romance stories.
Her predicament was further worsened when Tsuruko, running on a presumption due to Motoko not telling her about it, returned to congratulate her on successfully entering Tokyo University. Fearful of her reaction should the truth be revealed, Motoko continued with the lie while desperately studying to pass the coming mock exam, however, as before, Tsuruko eventually discovered the truth and engaged her sister in another duel; defeating her again.
Opting to cut herself off from troubling influences and distractions, Motoko attempted to abandon everything and become a nun but Keitaro didn’t let her go. Instead he insisted that she continued studying, unaware of her feelings towards him. Eventually, Motoko relented and decided to face her problems; be they physical, educational or emotional, instead of burying or abandoning them. During a rematch against her sister she admitted her feelings towards Keitaro, finally defeating her sister in the process. As a reward Tsuruko gave Motoko her blessings and her pet crane, Shippu.
From then onward Motoko joined Kanako in actively pursuing Keitaro and, when Keitaro was drafted into helping Seta in returning a relic to the Kingdom of Molmol, joined the other Hinata girls in chasing after him. However she, like the others, ultimately leaves Keitaro alone to be with Naru.
As Keitaro arrives at Hinata House, Motoko had already left to attend a Kendo camp run by her High School. During her return she and her three admirers were pestered by Shirai and Hitani, with Keitaro in tow.
Motoko used her ki power to get rid of them , however when she encounters Keitaro again in the Hinata House she proclaims him a stalker until Naru explains that he was the new landlord. Unwilling to accept a man as landlord she attempted to expel him by force, coming under the influence of a cold she became confused and prone to feinting when she over exerted herself. She stopped her assault on Keitaro after he had saved her from falling off of the complex’s roof due to one such feinting spell.
While she grudgingly respected his position as landlord, she still regarded him as a spineless pervert who never takes anything seriously. Only helping him during moments of crisis due to majority opinion and her own sense of professionalism.
Her judgment on Keitaro would swing back onto herself, however, during a meditative dream she had conducted to decide on what to ultimately do about him. Realizing that she needed to enjoy life and not take everything as seriously she dropped her prejudice against Keitaro’s happy-go-lucky attitude.
Though this revelation allowed her to tolerate the antics of the Hinata residents a little more, it did nothing to aid in her phobia that arose when Tama, or any other turtle, appeared.
In addition, her issues with femininity would become the cause of distress when she is forced to wear feminine clothing due to having no spare clothing of her own. Repeatedly forced to be feminine, Motoko loses her ability to wield her ki energy, due to her distress, just when Kaolla’s Mecha-Tama goes rogue, only able to regain a sense of herself after Keitaro advises that her power and who she was ultimately stemmed from her; not from what clothes she wore.
Following the return of Noriyasu Seta and the romantic triangle that then formed between Naru, Keitaro and Seta. The Hinata crew went to the beach to help run the Hinata Sea-side Tea House where, following a disastrous rendition of the Journey to the West, Motoko received her first exorcism assignment. During which she learns the Rock Splitting Spirit Sword with Keitaro’s help.
Motoko observed and assisted in Keitaro and Naru’s relationship. During Christmas where Keitaro had a misunderstanding with Naru’s intention to spend Christmas; Motoko, despite suffering from the loneliness of the season, made sure that Naru received her present and that she met and Keitaro met on Christmas Eve.
Motoko's original Character Concept was supposed to be a frail girl who easily got sick, and always was looked after by Keitaro. This idea was abandoned fairly early in the design stage.
A later character concept was as a high school junior who had a serious and inflexible personality but got nervous in front of boys. Captain of the Kendo club she was not good at intimate conversations or relationships and was afraid of lightning and the dark. This would evolve into her current iteration as a descendant of an established family of demon slayers and her fear of turtles.
Motoko and Kaolla's relationship was also originally meant to be a lot more hostile, with Kaolla intentially annoying and provoking Motoko to the point that she chases after her with her sword.
In the Love Hina Character Popularity Poll, Motoko came in 3rd with 356 votes out of 2506, only 50 votes below Shinobu.
Akamatsu has admitted that Motoko is the character he likes the most. Because of this he decided to give her more appearances in the last portion of the manga, starting with volume 13. However, he received a lot of criticism for this, particularly amongst fans who wanted to know where Mutsumi had gone.
Negima! Magister Negi Magi
- It is rumoured by fans that the shorter of the two Shinmei-ryu representatives in Chapter 30 of Negima! Magister Negi Magi might be Motoko, with the taller woman being Tsuruko. The girls were bringing Setsuna Sakurazaki, a young practitioner of the school, to the Kansai Magic School to be Konoka Konoe’s private bodyguard. Ken Akamatsu later confirmed that the two girls were in fact Motoko and her sister.
- A high school rendition of Motoko in her school uniform appeared on the inside of the dust cover of Negima! Magister Negi Magi #16 (published by Shonen Magazine Comics) along with Naru, Shinobu, Kitsune and Kaolla.
Ground Defense Force! Mao-chan
- In the manga Mao-chan!, Motoko (named Motoka) was mentioned as one of the girls that had sent a supportive email to Keinosuke Urashima (Keitaro Urashima) in Chapter 14 of the manga.
- There are three Motoko-look-alikes in the series, acting as operators in the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). Of the three, only "Mayumi A." is named. Each girl possesses a hairstyle that Motoko had worn through the Love Hina series (long, ponytail, short).
- The name “Aoyama” translates as “Blue Mountain” while her first name, “Motoko” tentatively translates as “Uncovered Child."
- Motoko attends Raika Girls' High School in Hinata (a school famous for their Kendo) which is way she boards at Hinata House.
- Motoko participates in her school’s Kendo Club and also helps out in the Temple shrine during festivals such as New Year’s Day.
- Motoko is a fan of anything related to traditional Japan, this includes books, items and even Chanbara Films.
- A small series of adventures about Motoko, named “Miracle Maid Motoko”, was based on Motoko’s time as a self-described maid for Hinata House after having been temporarily disowned by her family.
- According to Love Hina Mugendai, Motoko cried 38 times throughout the manga's run.
- It is not known exactly what caused Motoko’s fear of turtles; she may have been attacked by a turtle demon as a child and carries emotional scars from that event, however her sister thinks that her fear originates from when she once caught her and her boyfriend in an “intimate moment” together. In Love Hina Mugendai Ken Akamatsu confirms the latter theory, stating that following an incident where Motoko had caught her sister having sex, Motoko became mortified and developed an aversion to turtles due to the head of a turtle looking like an erect penis.
- While in the manga, Motoko only detests certain types of men, in the Anime she repeatedly claims that all men are “scum”, and looks up to women who lead a singular life without male influence, like Haruka. She also believes that being feminine is a form of weakness.
- Motoko's height and BWH Measurements are 175cm, B86-W58-H84 as of Chapter 1 and 176cm, B90-W58-H86 as of Chapter 120.
- Only appearing in the games and as a bonus art in the manga, Motoko has a part time job working in the fast food industry.
- In chapter 22, page 18, Motoko cuts up a radish in the air in front of a crowd of onlookers, and mutters "once again, I have cut a worthless object." This is likely a reference to Goemon Ishikawa of the Lupin III franchise who frequently says this after cutting an inanimate object.
- Motoko hates grey for not being either black or white (thinking it indecisive). She also has a fetish for feminine clothes but states that she doesn't like them.
- Motoko's profile of her after the events of Love Hina from Love Hina Mugendai is as follows: