A.K.A.: Mitzuhara Makoto
Makoto is supposed to be the typical normal 17 year-old high school student. But
really, let's not kid ourselves. This guy is anything but typical. THIS is the guy
fathers want their daughters to date. Good student, good athlete, popular, well
respected, but with the kind of personality that makes him not seem like a threat
to women. Which is probably why they flock to him like Yogi Bear flocks to pickinik
baskets. You know the guy right? The guy you knew in high school who had it all
going for him. And if you weren't him, then you wanted one of two things: 1. To
be him. 2. To kick his ass.
Maybe that's a little harsh, but he gets away with it because he IS the story's main protagonist. Without him, we don't have much of a story do we? It is his actions that ultimately start a very long and complex cycle that makes up the very colorful and wonderful tapestry that is the story of El-Hazard.
Makoto, is what you can call a very 'Tenchi-esque' character. That is, he is the main 'hero' of the story though you wouldn't guess it from the way the story begins. He is also very much like Tenchi because he has many female suitors vying for his very limited attention and, much like Tenchi, he doesn't seem to grasp that most of these women want a romantic commitment from him.
Makoto is the almost identical twin of the Roshtarian Princess Fatora. The only obvious differences is that he is male (and all that goes along with that distinction) and that his hair is shorter though very similar in the front. However, when he adorns a lengthy wig and proper attire, he makes a very convincing woman. His very thin, runners' physique has made his body lean and trim enough to easily pass as a well built girl (and the other than hair, physically the main difference between him and the princess is that Makoto's chest is washboard flat, while Fatora has a rather decent bosom.)
What can Makoto do? Well before he arrived on El-Hazard we catch glimpses on what he liked to do, or at least at what he excelled at. We know that he is a good student (His grades on a test, which must be important since they posted the results, show that he had the highest overall score.) We see that he is somewhat artistically inclined. We know that he is musically inclined. We see that he is definitely physically adept by his winning a track event. He really does seem to be the total package. However, it is only after he enters El-Hazard that he evolves from simply being 'gifted' to gaining the moniker of 'hero.' When he entered El-Hazard he gained a special power (as do all humans who enter El-Hazard from Earth.) His power specifically is that he can activate, synchronize, and understand the ancient technology of El-Hazard by simply touching it. However, the ability isn't obvious to him right away and even after it is discovered, its apparent usefulness is unknown. However, it is that ability alone that not only saves El-Hazard from total destruction, but also changes the weapon named Ifurita into an actual person. Not too shabby if you ask me. (Now all he needs is to find an ancient El-Hazardian ATM Machine and he is set for life... *g*)
In terms of his love life, it is a tangled mess. Though his situation is very comparable to Tenchi's, his is very different in that he has actually chosen whom he wishes to be his love. That would be Ifurita. The bond they share is no doubt because of the fact that Makoto has reached into her innermost soul and she has done the same with him. Really, how can you beat that? Unfortunately, Ifurita isn't around after the end of the crisis on El-Hazard because she was blown into another dimension stopping the Eye of God from going critical. So Makoto is left pining for his lost love, often acting melancholy when he thinks of her. That also means that he is spending much of his free time trying to find a way back to her.
So who are the other suitorettes trying to win his heart in Ifurita's absence? First we have Nanami. Nanami would have the most likely chance of winning his heart if Ifurita hadn't won it first. She is a lifelong childhood friend, and it is obvious during the beginning of the series that Makoto had a crush on her. Next we have the Fire Priestess Shayla-Shayla. She was first very cold to Makoto, but 'warmed up' to him (pardon the pun) after he saved her life when Ifurita was about to kill her. It almost seems like she feels indebted to him for his actions and this is the only way to show her appreciation. Finally, we have Qawool Towles. She is a relative newcomer to this contest and like Shayla, she seems smitten with him after he saved her life.
The contest matters little though because, unlike Tenchi, we know how it will turn out. At the end of the first OVA we see Ifurita after she completes the cycle and sends Makoto and Co. to El-Hazard in order for them to free her. As she waits for her life to end, whom do we see appear but Makoto, a much more mature looking version mind you, waiting for her so, presumably, he can take her back to El-Hazard and they can finally live together happily ever after (AWWWWWWWWWW...)
People have this tendency to paint Makoto as this perfect hero, without fault. Selfless and pure of heart. Frankly, I find this description to be utter nonsense. Makoto is a good guy, no doubt, but he is human and he definitely has his flaws.
Makoto is a very typical male and is not above letting his male pride and ego get the best of him. Consider how he at first didn't want to testify against Jinnai because he thought it was like snitching on his friend. Only after he is challenged by the question of whether or not he had any 'balls' does he agree to do it. Also, he flats out refuses to pose as the princess at first, even if it is the right thing to do, because he is embarrassed of what others would think of him wearing women's clothing.
Also, Makoto should not be automatically thought of as the selfless hero. Makoto doesn't agree to help Roshtaria because they are a people on the brink of total chaos and devastation, but rather because they possess something he needs. True, as he lives there more and more, I'm sure he grows an attachment to his new home, but one cannot ignore that fact that he was willing to let them hang if they hadn't possessed the possible way of getting home. Getting out of the dungeon probably influenced his decisions some. Finally, consider his volunteering to rescue Fatora from the Bugrom. One must consider that he knows that Ifurita is there and he definitely wants to see her again. Does the rescue mission offer a convenient excuse?
Finally, you really have to wonder exactly how naïve he really is around women. Can he really be that dense, or is it a ruse? Maybe he is afraid of upsetting the current status quo? Sure, all these girls are his friends now, but would they still be if he flat out told them they have no chance in hell of winning his heart? Does he think it is best to simply let them twist in the wind and act dumb to avoid confrontation? Maybe he plays dumb about sex and women because he sees how old-fashioned his sensei is and simply wants to avoid more outbursts from Fujisawa.
Whatever the cause, Makoto does have a certain immaturity when it comes to dealing with relationships. Maybe that stems from poor relations with his parents. During the entire OVA do you hear him once talk about his family? Is he concerned that they have just lost their son, possibly forever? Though, most likely, the writers thought it best not to dump that emotional baggage on the characters from Earth and simply never raised it as an issue.
Flaws aside, Makoto is a good guy. He definitely came through in the clutch and you feel very happy that Ifurita found someone like him who understands her. In general, you don't want to read too deep into him because it shatters the belief that there are still nice guys out there (and believe me, there are.)
All in all his personality is the same an in the OVA timeline with some minor differences.
This version of Makoto is very much a science
geek. In this version of the story, it is not Ifurita who sends him and his compatriots
to El-Hazard, but rather a machine he built which had been sabotaged.
Gone also is his relationship with Ifurita. Instead, his main 'love interest' is a much younger version of Rune Venus. However, Nanami and Shayla are still fighting for his affections and still have little chance to win them.
I think my major gripe with this version is that the writers were determined to remove all his flaws. He becomes the virtual 'knight in shining armor.' They even add a scene where he shows concern for how his parents must be feeling about his disappearing, thus showing him to be a good son. Look at the final scene in the Wanderers for the final proof of his flawlessness. He had wings, a good symbol for his 'angelic' (i.e. perfect) nature.
While it's good to have a clearly defined hero, having a perfect one is annoying. It makes him almost seem self-righteous (which is a trait that bugs the hell out of me in real life.)
Finally, his relationship with Rune can be considered to be to be very unsatisfying. It's very one-dimensional with Makoto playing the good-guy hero and Rune playing the damsel in distress. Rune is in trouble, Makoto rescues. Repeat ad nauseum. At least with Makoto and Ifurita in the OVA, there were so many emotional barriers that had to be overcome for them to be together and when they finally do, you are a satisfied viewer.
This is a nice version of the character. The entire Manga story is as if they took
the OVA and TV universe and threw them in a blender. Many elements from each show
up. In this version his love is Ifurita (OVA version) but he also has suitor in
the TV version of Rune Venus (Though she realizes that she has no chance). While,
not as flawed as his OVA version, Makoto is not squeaky clean and self righteous
I think the main saving grace of this version is his relationship with Ifurita, which is very wonderful to watch play out. I love the fact that they kept the last scene from the OVA's and actually gave it some dialogue, which seems perfect for the occasion.
This version is almost exactly like the TV version of the character, so not much is worth adding. He is in love with TV Rune Venus. Apparently Makoto is supposed to be some sort of Messiah who is prophesized to save El-Hazard in a time of dire crisis.