- "(giggling) I didn't know that cars in Tokyo used to attack people..."
- —Tsuruko after saving Keitaro from being run over by a car
Tsuruko Aoyama (青山 鶴子, Aoyama Tsuruko) is the one currently entrusted with the keeping of their family's dojo; the Shinmei-ryu school of swordsmanship and the elder sister of Motoko Aoyama. As she is not expected to be active in running the school, having given up the life of the sword for marriage, it is her duty to hand the school over to Motoko when she is ready.
Possessing a somewhat eccentric personality, Tsuruko is ethical and tolerant, to a point. She was brought up to follow traditional Japanese morals of the warrior class; meaning to follow obligation, politeness and duty. As a result she seems to be somewhat naive to the “ways of the modern world”, even more so than her sister and is relatively easy to fool. Her righteous temper is perhaps what makes her dangerous, able to intimidate that strongest of individuals while still appearing pleasant.
Her appearance and clothing resembles that of traditional Japan, often only seen wearing her hakuma during Shinmei-ryu affairs, though she does sometimes wear more modern clothing. Her hair, too, is usually just worn straight in a traditional Japanese cut.
Tsuruko is strong willed and difficult to sway when she has made up her mind. Her knowledge and skills with the Shinmei-ryu arts are unparalleled; being one of the most powerful swordswomen in the style’s history.
Despite possessing a “tough love” outlook where her sister is concerned, Tsuruko has Motoko Aoyama's best interests at heart and her only real wish is for her sister to be happy on whatever path she chooses to walk.
Born into a family of legendary demon-slayers, Tsuruko, like Motoko, was brought up to one day take over the business and became one of the most powerful practitioners in the school’s history.
When Tsuruko began leaving for missions she gave her favorite sword, the Shisui, to Motoko as a parting gift. Years later 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.
Years later Tsuruko pays a sudden, unannounced visit to Hinata House to bring Motoko back to the Shinmei-ryu dojo and take over the family business.
Thinking herself unprepared, Motoko lies to her saying her and Keitaro are getting married so Tsuroko couldn't make Motoko take over the dojo. But after Motoko and Keitaro blow their covers of being lovers when Motoko and Keitaro go into the hot springs together (at Tsuruko's decision) and Motoko blurts out were just pretending when she thinks Keitaro is peeking at her resulting in Tsuruko discovering the deception and punishing Motoko by breaking Shisui (during a quick duel with Motoko) and disowning her.
As Motoko falls into despair, Tsuruko convinces Keitaro Urashima 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 the lie. 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.
Tsuruko would eventually pay Motoko another visit, this time running on a presumption that Motoko had passed the Tokyo University entrance exams; due to Motoko not telling her about it. 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 yet 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, before returning to Kyoto.
Tsuruko Aoyama appears several times throughout the Anime but, in most cases, her face is hidden. These appearances are usually the flashbacks and memories (from Tsuruko's wedding and various moments with her husband) of Motoko Aoyama, her younger sister. We get to see Tsuruko's face when she appears in Love Hina episode 25. This episode, episode 25, was not aired on television but was instead featured as a bonus episode included in the Love Hina DVD's.
During episode 25, we see a younger Motoko Aoyama, wielding a sword, running after Tsuruko who is being held unconscience by an unknown demon that turns into a giant turtle-like being (which is possibly where Motoko developed her phobia of turtles). After the turtle looses attention in Tsuruko and comes after Motoko, Tsuruko slices through the demon and then informs Motoko that for her cowardice (she fell before the demon) she must be punished. As she says this, she turns around revealing that her face is like that of the demon she just destroyed, at which point Motoko screams (both in-dream and out) and wakes up. (This is most likely Motoko's complete imagination and was not drawn from actual experience.)
Tsuruko saves Keitaro from getting hit by car (driven by Kentaro) by slicing it in half, Keitaro believes her to be Motoko then quickly sees that she is not. She comes to the Hinata apartments with Keitaro telling Motoko that it is time that she return to the dojo and become the master of it. Motoko lies to her and sais that she is getting married to Keitaro (in fear that she is not ready to be the master of the dojo) Tsuruko suggests they kiss to prove that they are in love, Motoko couldn't do it in the end and ended up punching Keitaro through the roof, however Tsuruko didn't see (or so she let on to believe) she sugests Keitaro and Motoko take a bath together since they are lovers to prove themseleves as such, and they do. However Motoko again couldn't stand the idea and punches Keitaro into the air screaming that this isn't real and they are just pretending to be lovers. Tsuruko over hears and challenges Motoko to a duel. She quickly defeats Motoko and breaks the sword she gave to her during the battle, she disowns Motoko and leaves to the dojo.
Motoko and Keitaro visit the dojo in hopes of Motoko getting back her inheritance, she however makes it that Motoko must defeat her in battle or she'll have to marry Keitaro. Some where between Motoko's failed sneek attacks Naru arrives and while they're in the hot springs she tells naru what is going on and that she's going to give motoko the dojo anyway (but she'll still have to marry Keitaro). Naru get's possessed by the evil Hinata sword (that Motoko and Ketaro brought) and sucks the life force out of Tsuruko and she looses consciousness. Motoko defeats the possessed Naru and Tsuruko lets her off the hook for showing such skill.
Negima! Magister Negi Magi
- Main Article: Tsuruko Aoyama (Negima)
- Tsuruko makes an appearance in a flashback in chapter 303 teaching Setsuna Sakurazaki about the Hina Blade (having presumably loaned it from the Urashima Family for the lesson). During the lesson she accidentally becomes possessed by the blade and runs riot.
- It is rumored by fans that the taller of the two Shinmei-ryu representatives in Chapter 30 of Negima! Magister Negi Magi might be Tsuruko, with the shorter woman being Motoko. 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.
- Her name Tsuruko means "crane, stork" (鶴) (tsuru) and "child" (子) (ko).
- Akamatsu's favorite secondary character is Tsuruko. Specially because of her seiyuu, Miki Nagasawa, who also did Maya in Evangelion.
- Tsuruko's height and BWH Measurements are 180cm, B90-W54-H85 as of Chapter 120.
- Tsuruko’s sword is a nodachi katana; a sword usually twice as long as a normal katana that was traditionally used in combat against horsemen in ancient Japan.
- Though she is one of the most powerful practitioners in the school’s history, Tsuruko believes Motoko Aoyama's potential ability surpasses her own.
- Tsuruko possesses a pet crane named "Shippu", which she later gives to Motoko after Motoko finally defeats Tsuruko in a duel.
- Many years ago, Noriyasu Seta and Tsuruko fought once when she was working for "that organization".
- 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.
- According to Love Hina Mugendai, Tsuruku does not own any panties as she either goes for "commando" (a traditional practice when wearing Kimono) or opts to wear a Fundoshi loincloth instead.
- Tsuruko's profile of her after the events of Love Hina from Love Hina Mugendai is as follows: