"Reality isn't solid: it fluctuates with opinion. Convince enough people a lie is true, and it becomes an agreed reality. Weave a web of lies? Now you've built a world."
Mētsuki Hōzuki (鬼灯冥月 Hōzuki Mētsuki) is the "former secretive" Hōzuki Princess (鬼灯姫 Hōzuki-hime) of Kirigakure's Hōzuki clan. Due to the nature of being hidden for so long by her clan, and her latent skills, Mētsuki is commonly referred to as Princess (姫, Hime) by the people of the village. She is the younger sister of the former Head of the clan, Shōgetsu Hōzuki, who disappeared after clearing up a clan dispute for Mētsuki. His actions led Mētsuki's arranged marriage to be cancelled—the to-be husband and his family were found mangled. Out of fear that Mētsuki would share the same faith as them, especially with her brother's sudden disappearance, she was placed under constant guard and rarely allowed to leave the Hōzuki compound. As a consequence, Mētsuki's mentoring by Wakasa Momochi stopped per direct along with the rest of her outside socialisation.
Eventually, her summoning came personally from the Sixth Mizukage, Chōjūrō, who wished to exploit her prowess in fūinjutsu — a rarity within the Land of Water. Tying her hands through hints of knowledge that no one but Shōgetsu could know, Mētsuki pledged her loyalty to the Mizukage and his cause; even if it meant to hurt someone she holds dear. Initially sent to assist the covert unit with their mission, Mētsuki fulfilled her assigned operation that led to her betraying her team. Because as requested by Chōjūrō, she made Kagura the jinchūriki of the Three-tails.
Following this event, Mētsuki would officially be recognised as a kunoichi of Kiri, instantly promoted to Tōkubetsu Jōnin by Chōjūrō himself. As promised he removed the sanctions of her clan, granting her an illusionary image of freedom, as the Sixth Mizukage made her the successor of Kagura — an aide to be at his side most of the time.
Mētsuki is the second and youngest child of the Hōzuki Head that held the position before the start of the Fourth Shinobi World War. At her birth, Mētsuki had a very weak pulse and the midwives predicted a low survivability due to the strict winter of Kiri. She proved them wrong, but still the Hōzuki elders, her parents and the maidens buried her existence. Mētsuki's existence would only be known to the aforementioned, a lie kept to the Mizukage, the other Hōzuki members and her older brother, Shōgetsu. Aside from her presence being considered to be a nuisance to the future of the clan, the truth tied to her feeble condition that led her to be a nuisance to them. Additionally, they believed rivaling clans and other adversaries would exploit this weakness to bring down their noble name. However, her older brother's wild attitude and high-alertness whenever he returned from his missions led him to discover her behind the 'forbidden' door. Shōgetsu's senses confirmed that Mētsuki is his 'late' sister. Because it was in the middle of the night, and his joy revelled in his expression, Mētsuki's hand was pulled by him to dance with him under the moonlight. While still in secret for a long time, much to her own joy, Shōgetsu continued his secret nightly visits to tell her stories about the outside world and stayed at her side until she fell asleep.
By the time Mētsuki turned ten, still neglected by her parents, Shōgetsu had inherited the position as the Head of the clan on his sixtheenth's birthday. His first action as the new clan leader was to remove the extremely mean and isolating sanctions on Mētsuki. The Hōzuki clan was surprised to learn that the Hōzuki princess had been kept a secret even to them, but accepted her nonetheless as one of their own on Shōgetsu's request. In private, Shōgetsu asked her what she wanted to do, albeit sharing that he cannot let her leave their clan's compound. Having heard many stories from Shōgetsu, Mētsuki asked for many books to study Fūinjutsu and Genjutsu to learn the concept of it and develop her own. When asked why these specifically, she told her brother she will share when she mastered it. Since Shōgetsu had to attend special missions as a Hunter-nin, and now also the Head of the clan, whenever he had free time he would spend it with her. But did not fulfil her request to teach her how to control her chakra as that was against the elders of the clan's will.
Two years later, Mētsuki's first meeting with a stranger would be the Sixth Mizukage himself, unbeknownst to her. Chōjūrō had visited their family compound because of the rise of rebels, and after she greeted him she led him to the meeting hall. She had hoped to be able to listen in. Unfortunately, Shōgetsu caressed her cheek after sensing her presence near the door, even after having sent her away, and told her to find the Hunter-nin that was waiting outside. Indirectly her first encounter with Wakasa Momochi, which she was and still is unaware of. While the contents of their meeting remained a mystery, the rise of the rebellion didn't. And shortly after their arrangements, the coup d'état was repelled smoothly. Afterwards, Shōgetsu's affections for Mētsuki continued to shine through, against the will of the elders, he had hired the newly-appointed Jōnin Commander of Kiri to mentor her. To ease the elders, Shōgetsu had made an excuse that even Mētsuki could become a member of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen under the tutelage of Wakasa.
It's later revealed that the elders planned to monitor the growth of Mētsuki, using her lack of existence to transform her into a marriage asset for the clan. It's why Shōgetsu, albeit unaware of their plan, initially refused Mētsuki any trainings. He was told that her body was too fragile for any exercise and could lead to death. Eventually seeing through their scheme, Shōgetsu hired Wakasa Momochi to train his younger sister. But this brought internal dispute between him, their parents and the elders. To spite him, the elders and their parents tried to assure that Mētsuki could never become recognised as a kunoichi or of importance within Kiri, instead, as later proven, attempted to make her a mere "benefit" for the clan's position.
Unfortunately for Shōgetsu and the elders, Wakasa deduced very shortly after interacting with Mētsuki that her weak condition would never lead her to become a Kenjutsu master. At least to please the elders, her brother requested Wakasa to continue practicing Kenjutsu with her at least a few hours a week. With his guidance, Mētsuki learnt to master her chakra control which led her to specialise in the natural affinity for the Hōzuki members, namely Water Release, and knowingly to Wakasa, also Genjutsu. Satisfied with her growth in the short amount of time he spent on her, to Mētsuki's surprise he brought Kagura Karatachi, the ex-rebel-redeemed to be the Sixth's aide and a member of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen. When Wakasa explained to her that she would train with Kagura in Kenjutsu, she complained, stating that a not-even-novice swordsman should not face a Hiramekarei wielder. However, Kagura reassured her that he's here to guide her as her practice partner, not for a battle. In reality, Wakasa had intended their sparring practice to benefit Kagura as well, who was riddled with insecurities after his unwilling involvement in the rebellion. Wakasa hoped that by training Mētsuki, Kagura would begin to gain confidence in his own abilities.
The shyness and nervousness to engage each other was clear to Wakasa, but the interruption from Shōgetsu went unwarranted. Shōgetsu was about to protest about Kagura trespassing the Hōzuki grounds, but kept his silence when he saw Mētsuki's gleeful expression. He left the training area with an underlying threatening glance towards Wakasa. The ice melted between the two youths very quickly as soon as Shōgetsu had left them in the first encounter. Most ironically to Mētsuki was how her brother warmed up to Kagura. It gave her a giddy feeling that Kagura visited the compound even without Wakasa's presence when time allowed him. And she wasn't sure how Kagura had accomplished it, but her brother approved for him to serve as her "guard" to escort her on trips to Kirigakure.
However, her most exciting, joyful and adventurous years came to a quick end when the elders discovered her secret—her Hōzuki mutation. The freedom she was given was stripped from her: she was objectified as a 'woman' that could return the Hōzuki clan to their former status. Her mutation was the bargaining chip they sought to start a bidding war between the different clans within the Land of Water that held a powerful political influence in the country. By the time her brother caught wind of their intentions, it was too late: She had already become a complete tool for them to gain power. However, they underestimated the brotherly love Shōgetsu had, and still has, for Mētsuki. He would utilise his reputation as the Hunter-nin, "The Ghoul", to assure she wouldn't undergo the same process again. He painted his back with a large bounty after eliminating her to-be husband and the entire noble clan. His action scared the Hōzuki clan as a whole, who proceeded to 'chain' Mētsuki back to their grounds and forbade any outside contact to protect her—and her rare mutation. As noble as her brother's actions were meant to be, it had brought her back to the start. However, this time she would be forced to sever her bonds with her mentor, Wakasa Momochi, and closest friend and secret love, Kagura Karatachi for the next few years, until her summoning by the Sixth Mizukage, Chōjūrō.
Mētsuki was raised to become the Hōzuki princess of the clan before she could even talk. She was forced to become an adequate woman of noble birth, taught the courtesies to fulfil her role for the Hōzuki as the elders moulded her into a marriageable asset for the clan. Therefore, Mētsuki learned to hide her modest feelings or requests from her superiors; mainly the Hōzuki elders and, later, Chōjūrō, as she became afraid of feeling useless to them and sanctioned herself for it. She learned not to trust anyone but herself, and to an extent her brother, fearing that people would exploit her for her lack of experience in the world, naïve trust, kindness, and even more.
Losing her brother's protection and bond with her other two allies, Mētsuki's sliver of confidence became non-existent, to the point that her own will was no more. Even then, she retained her timid nature, being very soft-spoken with an excessive politeness. She remains respectful and kind towards the other party even while being threatened under different circumstances. However, as tight-lipped as Mētsuki can be, she crumbles under extreme pressure or when she's feeling guilt. As seen with Ryōhei, her betrayal of Kagura led her to be emotionally vulnerable, which led to her confession about her missing brother, indirectly implying the subject/situation of blackmail.
Typically, however, Mētsuki conceals her genuine feelings even from those that she is considerably close with. She prefers to bottle up her emotions rather than endanger them. By making everyone her enemy, including herself, Mētsuki manipulates the truth according to her own self-delusions. This inadvertently allows her to seamlessly mislead others from what could be right in front of them and reach a level of unpredictability that Mētsuki is unaware of herself.
Following her hospital stay after her first mission, and thanks to the implicating interactions with Ryōhei, Mētsuki seems to have slowly gained a sense of confidence. She shows a desire to be free from Kiri's power struggle together with Kagura Karatachi. Even after involuntarily harming Kagura, she wants to fight to free him and is willing to sacrifice herself to do so. This is likely because of her deep affections for the Jinchūriki, which she has kept to herself for nearly ten years. However, the extent to which Mētsuki is capable of developing her own personality is unknown, as she was morphed to be a simple tool before she was capable of understanding her own thoughts.
Most of the time, Mētsuki can be seen wearing a pale-blue blouse, white blazer over it and adorned with an elegant butterfly tie. She completes this with a short skirt with knee socks and matching heel boots. Later, after becoming the matriarch of the Hōzuki clan, she changes from the white attire to an all-black dress. Her dress is tailored with an open slit from her left waist down. Since it's very revealing, and as a noble, Mētsuki keeps her appearance appropriate by wearing short shorts underneath the dress. And replaced her former footwear for black knee-heel boots.
In the case of Mētsuki, her clan's decision to sanction her from attending Kiri's Academy delayed her growth extremely. She is very much a late bloomer. At her tenth birthday she was allowed to study the art of Fūinjutsu, a rare knowledge to be studied within the borders of the Land of Water. Her research became very fruitful after being taught the basics of Chakra Control, which also led her to master her clan's element. She was hand-picked by the Sixth Mizukage, Chōjūrō, who learnt of her masterful skill and coerced her to create a Jinchūriki for Kirigakure. Because of her expertise in overlapping fields, and especially due to her Hiden, Mētsuki can synchronise and chain different arts into one combination. The high-level techniques that she can perform at once marks her as a fearful Hōzuki, albeit one who was undervalued until recently by her clan and others. After becoming the matriarch of the Hōzuki clan and aide to the Mizukage, this perspective slowly began to change: she became respected not just for her Fūinjutsu, but for the complexity of her entire skillset.
Chakra and Sensory Prowess
While generally a Hōzuki member is physically strong enough to be eligible for a position as a member of the Seven Swordsmen, Mētsuki is not. Instead, the Hōzuki princess possesses very potent chakra, although her chakra reserves seem to be average for a Hōzuki member. Even with lack of experience on the field, Mētsuki demonstrates a precisely refined chakra control even under extreme pressure. Her mastery in chakra is also shown by utilising her clan's mutation to empower her Water techniques by merging with an existing source of water while simultaneously maintaining a powerful barrier strong enough to retain a Tailed Beast and Senjutsu-induced-attacks, as well as uphold a mental connection to five other members of the unit. Her chakra is powerful enough to subdue/disorientate a Tailed Beast through Genjutsu. She can transfer and absorb chakra, as well as precisely extract the poisonous chakra of Hiramekarei through her Sensing. She is moreoften seen using her absorption technique to replenish her reserves, and to an extent, overcome complete exhaustion at least three times. This proves that, despite her weak constitution, Mētsuki's tolerance of pain is very high.
Within the Land of Water, Mētsuki is considered to be one of the best Sensors of Kirigakure's current generation. It is hinted that she was born sensitive towards chakra and can even recognise her blood relatives—able to detect that Shōgetsu is her older brother before meeting him officially. Later, after being separated from two important people in her life, Mētsuki learned to differentiate the chakra signatures of Kiri-nin and citizens and, as such, trained to be able to isolate every irrelevant presence to pin-point her target's whereabouts. Her aptitude for sensing allows her to easily recognise foreign anomalies within someone else's chakra signature, such as detecting a foreign presence within the Jinchūriki Kagura. Once she absorbs chakra from another person, Mētsuki feels the nature of the chakra signature and becomes very aware of their presence for a long period. In two recent cases Mētsuki differentiated the Chakra of Kagura and Ryōhei's; the former being very warm and welcoming, while the latter frightened her to the core.
Cemented as a failure in the eyes of the Hōzuki elders due to her inability to ever reach the strength to become a member of the Seven Swordsmen, Mētsuki steers clear of brawny close-combat. When it was suggested that she wield the legendary Kubikiribōchō, her mentor and herself joked about the impossibility of this fact. Even with her own suggestion to carry Nuibari whilst on the mission, she didn't use it and, instead, entrusted it to Ryōhei. As Mētsuki states herself, she is very chakra-orientated as her mastery in particularly rare arts piqued the interest of the Sixth Mizukage. Her ability to create a Jinchūriki, amongst other things, successfully earned her the recognition of the Sixth and others.
Nature Transformation and Hōzuki Clan Techniques
As a member of the Hōzuki clan, it's not surprising that Mētsuki has a natural affinity for Water release, innately, however, she has an affinity for Yin Release. She can use Fire and Wind Release to achieve different water states for her techniques, but also induce them with her clan's secret technique to achieve the same effect. Her Ninjutsu primarily relies solely on techniques related to Water release, of which she can effortlessly use to perform very high-level techniques, Mētsuki also used them supportively in her covert mission.
By expanding her elemental chakra, she can use the tiny water droplets in the air for various purposes. Her primary use is to turn them into mist almost costlessly. Since the Hōzuki's bodies are primarily made of water, Mētsuki's prowess with the element allows her to rarely utilise techniques with hand seals. However, she still has a preference to use at least one hand to increase the power of a Water technique as seen when she created a Water barrier.
Through her mutation, Mētsuki can separate her soul from her water body and keep it intact. This indirectly allows her to nullify the weakness of the clan's secret technique, as she can return to her body to heal instantly. She's seen to be empowered when merged with an existing source of water, reducing the cost of her techniques tremendously, while keeping her intangible and her presence remains concealed.
Mētsuki is very efficient with the Hōzuki clan secret techniques, making lower Water techniques very powerful. She was able to induce Wind chakra within a water bubble to freeze the water inside, thus allowing her to stop the movement of a Tailed Beast completely, albeit temporarily. She then used one of the rarer techniques, Tate Eboshi, to create a bubble that shrunk in size to bring Kagura and the Three-tails closer together. In the meantime, Mētsuki enchanted the Tailed Beast to calm its enraged thrashing and at the same time began the sealing process to create a Jinchūriki.
The very pinnacle of Mētsuki's set of skills is her true mastery of Fūinjutsu. She taught herself the art through old scrolls obtained from the former remains of Uzushiogakure. While incapable of performing the Uzumaki Sealing Methods, Mētsuki was capable of understanding the fundamentals of Fūinjutsu and the associated rituals that must be taken. This includes the symbols that can be enacted to seal nearly anything within an object or living being. With her vast knowledge of Fūinjutsu and her singular ability to perform otherworldly feats through her Hōzuki mutation, Mētsuki created the Demon Soul Language Method (魔神語の方法, Majingo no Hōhō). According to Shōgetsu, the limits of the sealing method are restrained to Mētsuki's maturity over Fūinjutsu and field experience, implying that it can still develop rapidly by using it more frequently. Mētsuki gave it that particular name due to the fact that only she can read the language of the seals, which is perceived as a very strange and "demonic" language by others. They are actually in the form of Kanji that smudges and branches into overlapping odd symbols. This allows Mētsuki to chain multiple seals for different purposes without it counteracting another seal, and can also hide an additional layer that can function for something else completely. When she sealed the Three-tails in Kagura, the formula of the Fūinjutsu appeared on his upper back in the form of the Hōzuki symbol with unique characteristics. Because the creation of the sealing method is unique to Mētsuki, only she can give or modify the seals, and removing any of the permanent seals has been unheard of as of yet.
She can simplify the Demon Soul Language Method to link multiple targets to her consciousness to open a communication channel. In addition, she can strengthen a barrier by including seals that absorb any form of "concentrated" chakra from adversaries and allies. This particular feat allows her to absorb the chakra to replenish her own chakra reserves, but only if the barrier is forcibly broken down. The versatility of her sealing method can even separate the soul and mind from a victim's body, making them an empty vessel to host the power of a Tailed Beast. This subsequently gives remote control to a third-party through another Genjutsu seal.
A sub-element to her Fūinjutsu understanding is the Ninjutsu Barrier: "to contain something". Mētsuki can utilise her sealing method to improve the stability and versatility of the barrier, preventing it from being destroyed easily. The barriers can absorb chakra residue from techniques performed by those trapped within it to strengthen its confines. She is seen retrieving the chakra used to create a Ninjutsu Barrier before sealing a Tailed Beast. During her covert mission, Mētsuki used an existing source of water, specifically sea water, to create a "Water Layering Barrier" (結界水莩, Kekkai Suihyō) which is one of the known Water-orientated barriers. Its durability is very high, capable of withstanding powerful techniques, although it shattered from a direct Tailed Beast Ball. Since the element is water, any barrier made from this element is very flexible, which grants it adaptiveness to adjust to the different sizes and forms to contain all kinds of matter. Despite the fact the barrier shattered from a Tailed Beast Ball, it was able to contain the Three-tails for most of the fight.
Aside from being a master specialist of Fūinjutsu, Mētsuki sought another method to cope with her inability to learn many physical arts and became a master of illusions. The potency of her chakra manifests by showing that she’s capable of even soothing an enraged Tailed Beast. She can imbue her seals to share Yin chakra with others to become the "consciousness of a network" by creating a link for telepathic communication. As someone with the body of water, Mētsuki relies on Water to cast Genjutsu. Since water can be everywhere, and being a primary user of the element, her Genjutsu can seamlessly overtake the senses of her victim without them realising it. Especially in humid or misty areas, such as Kiri, the Genjutsu can be overwhelming. While this means Mētsuki has the potential to be a dominating force in the long run, her inexperience in battle still hinders her. Her inability to accept the reality of her own capabilities, sealed behind mental barricades, is an ironic mirror of the sheer mental strength she can hold over someone else's mind.