5701 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Yoko Tsuno

Yoko Tsuno


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Yoko Tsuno stories are one of the classics of Western European adventure graphic novels. It has been running since 1969 as drawn and written by Roger Leloup.

These Belgian stories are primarily published in French and German. Historically, they received comparatively little exposure in English despite their quality. *However*, Cinebook has been publishing good translations since 2007, releasing about one a year.

Having been created for comics magazine Spirou, they are a good example of the ligne claire style of drawing. It was common in Franco-Belgian comics of that time.

The ligne claire exemplar is Tintin comics, and Leloup is a former associate of Hergé. The art in Yoko Tsuno is unusually detailed and researched, particularly for vehicles and buildings.

Yoko and her world

Of particular note is the heroine. Not only were female or non-White protagonists vanishingly rare in Franco-Belgian adventure comics of that time, Yoko is a pulpishly super-competent adventurer from day one.

Whilst originally envisioned as a sidekick for another series, the appeal of the character meant that she was reinvented as a major adventure/exploration heroine by the time the first stories were released, and given her own sidekicks.

Yoko Tsuno’s adventures take place in a world similar to the real Earth. Yet, a lot of sci-fi activities taking place in secret – including space aliens and time travel. This entry includes a primer about the alien/space travel aspects. See our entry on Yoko’s friend Monya for a primer about time travel.

Yoko Tsuno face closeup

This article uses my own translations for the graphic novel titles and the story-specific vocabulary. For instance the French name for the planet Vinéa is rendered as “Veneya” for an Anglophone audience, and Tsuno Onoué’s first name was rendered as Onweh (Ohn-way).

This entry is based on everything save the Le pic des ténèbres novel, which I haven’t read.


Background

  • Real Name: Tsuno Yoko (katakana – ヨーコ・ツノ – and one imagines that the kanji would be 都農 陽子 ).
  • Other Aliases: Yoko has been nicknamed “Daughter of the Wind” by some Japanese scientists due to her father’s impressive research in typhoon destruction.
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Tsuno Seiki (father), Tsuno Masako (née Ichida, mother), Morning Dew Tsuno (adoptive daughter), Ichida Izumi (cousin), Ichida Tōshio (uncle, deceased), Ichida Yukiyo (aunt, deceased), Tsuno Onweh (grandfather, deceased), Tsuno Hikoro (née Lai-Chi, grandmother, deceased), Chizuka (married name unknown, née Tsuno, aunt), Hiroki (married name unknown, née Tsuno, aunt), Ichida Monya (adoptive cousin), Ying (a Chinese cousin in Hong Kong).
  • Group Affiliation: She, Vic and Pol are sometimes called the “Trio of the Uncanny”.
  • Base Of Operations: Implicitly Brussels.
  • Height: 5’5” Weight: 110 lbs.
  • Eyes: Dark brown Hair: Black


Powers & Abilities

Ms. Tsuno is a highly intelligent, observant and quick-thinking woman. She excels at an improbable array of skills.

Her brains and bravery are her primary assets. Yoko is the sort of protagonist who wins by figuring things out, taking clever — if very risky — initiatives, and coming up with cunning plans that actually work.

Her primary qualification is as an electronics engineer, but she also demonstrated superior skills as :

  • An aikika .
  • A swimmer and SCUBA diver.
  • A first aid technician.
  • A sailing hobbyist.
  • A helicopter pilot.
  • A jet airplane pilot.
  • An archer.
  • An audio engineer.
  • A motorcyclist.
  • A glider pilot.
  • A laser cutter operator.
  • A parachutist.
  • A pilot of small Veneyan aircrafts.
  • A windsurfer.
  • A hang glider and ultralight pilot.
  • And a chess player.

Technologic

Back in the early 1980s her rotary wings qualifications were for the Aérospatiale Ecureuil , the Bell JetRanger  and the Aérospatiale Gazelle . But she never had difficulties adapting to unfamiliar aircrafts.

She also had a dozen days of full-time technical training about Veneyan cruiser-sized FTL  spaceships. Plus many hours of “flight” experience with a Veneyan frigate-ish spaceship.

Yoko Tsuno flying a hang glider

Ms. Tsuno was originally a hardware person. She started studying computer science in 1985 since that was necessary to pilot a heavily computer-assisted mini-jet, the Kolibri. In later adventures she developed an excellent expert system for playing chess. This quite possibly was a personal project to consolidate her programming skills.

She is also highly fluent in French, English and Indonesian, plus of course her native Japanese. She later learned German, the two major forms of Chinese, and Flemish. During a time travel adventure she was mind-taught Balinese, which in the present seems to be a dying language.

Other assets

Yoko can fight pretty well, but chiefly employs soft techniques and isn’t too hard to knock out. Her main form is aikido, mostly used for evasion and throws to keep her opponents from harming her. Most of her throws are actually basic, reliable judo throws that can be used in the field.

Yoko’s aikido-style disarming techniques are excellent, particularly against handguns. If her opponent is dazed or unaware (for instance after having been thrown, or if she ambushes them) she can do various karate atemi . These can take down even a strong man, but in less favourable circumstances her blows tend to be ineffective due to her low body mass.

Yoko Tsuno does judo

Ms. Tsuno has a strong personality, ample reserves of stubbornness, and obvious decency and generosity. She thus tends to make loyal friends who trust her. Yoko has a good track record at winning people to her side in tense situations – including some opponents.

Her father is also admired for his achievements among Japanese engineers and scientists. They will usually and correctly assume that his daughter must be a person they can trust. For some reason, law enforcement agencies tend to get along well with her and to trust her.

Yoko has on occasion used her zazen  training to hide her thoughts from technological mind probes. Our game stats assume she could use the same techniques to resist mind control. In DC Heroes terms these are her Powers combined with high (for her Genre) Mental and Spiritual Attributes.

She’s also real good with kids. She loves children, and kids love her back and easily trust her.


The Trio of the Uncanny

Yoko was hired as an audio engineer by TV producer Vic Vidéo, and they were accompanied by their cameraman Pol. The three were sometimes called the Trio of the Uncanny, as their reporting led to eerie adventures.

Vic and Pol are essentially Yoko’s sidekicks, as they aren’t as extraordinarily competent as she is.

Yoko Tsuno's Seawind 3000 amphibious aircraft

Yoko’s Seawind 3000  landing on a lake and getting ashore.

The freelance Trio soon worked as agents for hire rather than stumble upon adventure as part of their television work. Their excellent work for MI5 in 1975, which started because Yoko was the lightest highly-qualified glider pilot whom the British could find, instantly gave them an enviable reputation in certain circles.

Half of their missions take place for their Veneyan friends and particularly Khâny, who greatly trusts their ability to solve problems.

Vic

Vic is a smart, courageous but responsible guy. He’s athletic and, by any real-life standard, very competent. Still, he wouldn’t cut it as a cinematic  adventurer like Yoko does.

Though Vic doesn’t mind danger, he’s probably the most reasonable and grounded member of the Trio. He isn’t enthusiastic about Yoko diving headlong into peril.

Over time Vic and Yoko developed a close friendship. They appear to have been a couple since the mid-1980s.

Vic is a good driver, and a solid motorboat operator (and sailor, and windsurfer). Furthermore he’s a good pilot of most everything – gliders, prop, rotary, jet, heavy transport…

Vic was even taught to fly computer-assisted U2  military intelligence planes during an adventure (or, technically, a unique Swiss evolution over the U2 called the Albatross). He has dozens of hours at the yoke of a Kawasaki C-1  troop transport airplane.

Vic later learned to pilot Veneyan starships, up to and including the Ryu frigate. He also has a good general scientific knowledge, perhaps because of all the science documentaries he produced.

Though he’s thoroughly ethical, Vic isn’t a pacifist in the same way Yoko is. He will use deadly force if that is the least bad solution.

Pol

The bumbling Pol was originally the comic relief. But he can prove surprisingly resourceful, and may well be the one whose horse sense saves the day. As time went by he stopped being bumbling, though he’s still somewhat clumsy and incidents-prone – and pessimistic.

Though he’s generally grumpy, he has simple interests. Money, good food, beautiful women, not getting killed or maimed. Pol is every bit as benign as the other two and is always willing to help anybody in need.

He proved surprisingly good with a rocket launcher and knew how to handle a H&K MP5. Presumably that comes from military service, which was still done seriously in his youth. Pol was also trained to operate the micro-missile launchers in Monya’s supplies.

He’s a solid radio technician. Furthermore, Pol apparently learned the trade of a flight engineer and navigator, serving as Vic’s co-pilot. Pol is in a relationship with Mieke, a florist he met in Bruges in 1545 and who accompanied him to the present.

Vic and Pol occasionally and jokingly call Yoko “mousmé” (mooh-smay). This is a dated French slang term for a young woman (a bit like “lass”) that is derived from the Japanese musume.

Bring a few toys

The Trio originally had a station wagon (a Citroën DS21 Break ) filled with video recording equipment. This is because their job was initially television reporting and documentaries (which back in the 1960s was cutting-edge, exciting modernity). They would often pack additional equipment such as SCUBA diving suits, or other supplies adapted to their current projects.

By pooling their resources if necessary they can deploy sophisticated equipment. For instance in 1986 they were flying a monoprop recon drone with live infrared video feed. It was closer to a big RC plane than a modern military drone, but still… 1986.

Yoko Tsuno's Tsar experimental aircraft

Czar experimental anti-gravity aircraft.

Their stuff is usually reconnaissance gear or vehicles, and their adventures frequently involve airplanes.

Bring a few toys – super-tech gear

When they are working for the Veneyans, they are usually issued advanced alien gear. This includes vacuum suits, laser cutting torches that can be used as beam weapons, high-performance antigravity light atmospheric flyers, etc.

Their Veneyan friends will also issue them with light headset enabling telepathic communication, to overcome the language barrier.

During time travel expeditions, Monya will usually equip them with paralysis pistols. These are energy weapons that stun senseless for about 15-20 minutes depending upon body mass.

Yoko and Vic eventually borrowed one of Monya’s tech scanners. It looks like sci-fi binoculars and can analyse unknown technology. They have this when they’re not working with her.

The Trio and their associates originally never carried weapons, though they might have to procure some during their adventures. This slightly relaxed as time went by, and they increasingly took Veneyan torches with them.

Still, weapons usage remains uncommon and chiefly done to get past obstacles and destroy robots. Having to shoot aggressive animals is a rare occurrence and not the preferred approach. Killing people the absolute last resort.

Bring a few toys – Yoko and the jets

During the 1980s, an associate of the Western German intelligence services let Yoko keep as payment an experimental mini-jet, the Kolibri (“Hummingbird”). It is a sort of miniature jet fighter with exceptional in-flight agility.

The Hummingbird can jettison its engines to become a glider. There is even a vehicular parachute so it can land on a dime in glider mode. It is a two-seater, but one doubts that the combined weight of the passengers can exceed 120kg or so. The Kolibri has two underwing pylons, usually used for fuel tanks for long flights.

Though it is not armed, the Germans had originally equipped the pylons with pods holding mini-missiles. These are capable of reliably intercepting enemy missiles between the Kolibri’s 5 and 7.

Yoko Tsuno flying her Colibri mini-jet

Kolibri prototype mini-jet.

Much later, Yoko was gifted a Seawind 3000. This is a modern light amphibian plane with a dorsal propeller. In 2012, she and Emilia McKinley did unsupervised test flights for a unique Russian anti-gravity plane, nicknamed the Czar. This was presumably on the strength of their experience with Veneyan anti-gravity flyers.

Ms. Tsuno also owns a cutting-edge FTL Veneyan frigate, which she christened the Ryu. It is staffed by a powerful AI whom she called Akina. Both Yoko and Vic have learned to pilot and a friend of theirs, the flying humanoid mini-robot Myna, apparently lives aboard the Ryu.


History

A question of time

Yoko Tsuno exists in a sort of sliding time scale. As of this writing she is listed as having been born in 1969, which is the year of her creation as a character. Originally she was probably born in circa 1948 (her mother Masako was 13 in 1943), making her 22-ish during her early adventures.

She doesn’t age much over decades of graphic novels, and now seems to be about 28.

The first four stories in the fourth graphic novel, Electronic Adventures, actually take place before the first graphic novel, The Trio of the Uncanny – but were collected later. They also present Yoko as a more action-ish heroine than the graphic novels will, and the tone was more humourous.

Roots of Yoko

Yoko Tsuno grew up on a small fictional island in Japan, called Reverie Island by the locals. Her family was traditionally in the pearls cultivation business. They built a coastal manor over several generations.

Ms. Tsuno is actually part-Chinese. Her grandmother Lai-Chi was from an impoverished Chinese family. Lai-Chi was sold to Onweh Tsuno, then in Lai-Chi’s native Hong Kong, as a servant. He wed her after returning to Japan. To dampen the scandal of a Chinese woman joining the family, Lai-Chi’s name was changed to Hikoro.

Yoko Tsuno flying a special jet into a typhoon

Yoko and Aoki flying Mr. Tsuno’s typhoon-breaker jets.

Yoko’s dad Seiki, presumably born in the 1920s, is the youngest of Hikoro and Onweh’s three children. He’s the only one who remained on the island. His two older sisters married away as soon as they could. That was because Onweh’s obsession over growing a perfect pearl, which he called the Spray of Dawn, was destroying the familial business.

Seiki became a geophysicist and married one Masako. Much of his work was in universities on the mainland, asthe island’s only industry was fishing. Nevertheless, Seiki established his geophysics lab on the ancestral property to remain close to his mother.

After Hikoro’s death, Onweh essentially retired from life. He lost interest in the world and his family and lived as an hermit on his proeprty.

Daughter of pearls

Some years after the second World War, Masako and Seiki had a child. Though Masako wanted a son it was a daughter, whom she named Yoko. Yoko turned out to be an active, curious and turbulent child. When she was five, she accidentally entered the forbidden house of her eremitic grandfather.

Unexpectedly, meeting his granddaughter made the scary old man return to the world and his family. He even helped raise little Yoko. He taught her about sea life, calligraphy and other familial skills. Onweh also introduced her to Buddhism when she accompanied him to one of the ancient temples on the island.

Yoko Tsuno training in archery as a girl

The monk Aoki teaching kyudo to a young Yoko.

When she was 8, little Yoko asked Onweh for a special pearl. Thus, the very old man taught her the basics of pearl farming. He also prepared a set of five oysters, using the last five experimental seed nuclei remaining from his old obsession with the Spray of Dawn. He had Yoko tend to these for the usual five years.

Weeks later, a typical hare-brained childhood scheme of Yoko’s band of friends nearly resulted in the drowning of a small child. He had insisted upon accompanying them at sea on their makeshift “secret raft”. Always a good swimmer, Yoko rescued the kid in the nick of time.

Aoki

Yoko became the friend of a buddy of Onweh, Aoki. A Zero  pilot during the war, Aoki had become a monk after a failed attempt at dying a kamikaze.

As Yoko showed interest in martial arts-based sports education, Aoki had her take regular aikido courses. He was himself an instructor in kendo  and kyudo . Aoki agreed to train Yoko in kyudo given the strong interest the little girl had in the discipline. He also built a small training bow for her.

As the energetic kid wanted more, he eventually gave her an education in age-appropriate kendo and judo techniques, and zazen. After she insisted, he added commando stealth training that had been given to his unit during the war, derived from ninjutsu.

A scene from ancient China

Yoko and friends in ancient China

Kyudo in particular taught the previously hyperactive and impulsive kid to focus and grow up. Yoko was also an attentive and hard-working student in school, as she did not want to depend on a husband later on.

Yoko spent some of her annual holidays in Borneo, where her older cousin Izumi ran a logging company. This company chiefly employed elephants to move the logs, and Yoko was taught to work with an elephant named Gunda when she was 10. She also mentioned a cousin in Java, but it was probably a continuity mistake between the two islands.

Spray of Dawn

As Onweh was aged 81 and near death, Yoko recovered the last surviving oyster from the set prepared when she was 8. Her grandfather’s last-ever pearl-farming experiment had worked. The oyster held a huge transparent pearl – the Spray of Dawn had finally been grown.

Onweh had everyone swear secrecy about the invaluable jewel so as not to attract thieves. But Tsuno-san passed away not long after seeing his old life’s dream come to fruition, which greatly affected his grand-daughter.

After a youthful romantic disappointment, Yoko decided to leave her provincial area. She attended an accelerated college course in electronics in Tōkyō. After three zestless years, she was an engineer.

Meanwhile her father, whose research in earthquake detection had been a boon for Japan, received ample governmental funding to develop means to prevent typhoons.

Shortly after she got her diploma, Yoko discovered that the Spray of Dawn had been stolen. Her father had had a copy done to protect the original, but the jeweller had made two copies to dupe him. The scoundrel then fled Japan to sell the invaluable Spray of Dawn in Hong Kong.

Though she was barely 20, Ms. Tsuno left for Hong Kong. There, she cleverly repossessed the pearl. Her inability to accept herself as a thief, and subsequent revelations about the jewel and its role, let Yoko depart Hong Kong as a grown woman. She left her childhood memories and debts behind her.

Trio of friends

Ever since she was a teenager, Ms. Tsuno had wanted to travel to other countries. She was already fluent in English and presumably Indonesian.

Interested in research in electronics done at a Brussels university, she moved there. Apparently she couldn’t join the project right away. One assumes that immigration and security issues delayed that by months. She started doing odd jobs to have a revenue, and by that point was already speaking a flawless French.

During her early months in Europe Yoko :

  • Was invaluable in helping the Brussels police stop well-organised and technophilic robbers.
  • Helped an unemployed welder find a good job.
  • Stopped a man who had stolen a strength-amplifying exoskeleton .
  • Thwarted an attempt at terrorism using hacked postal rockets in Austria.

Yoko Tsuno and family working on the Tsar aircraft

Front: Morning Dew and a Veneyan doll droid ; back: Yoko and Vic refuelling the Czar.

In 1971, Yoko helped test the security of a Brussels electronics labs by breaking in.

Her ingenious intrusion was spotted by two employees of the Belgian National Radio-Television as they were leaving work. These were the dauntless TV producer Vic Vidéo and his usual cameraman, Pol Pitron. The two men apprehended her, only to discover that it wasn’t a real crime.

Admiring the remote-control rig that Yoko had built for her test burglary, Vic hired her for his team. He and Pol were frequently doing TV reporting in difficult areas, and a resourceful electronics engineer would be invaluable to help them film. Plus, they needed to hire an audio engineer anyway. Yoko took the job.

As it turned out, this was the beginning of a series of fantastic adventures.

Lands of adventure, part 1

Days later, as they were shooting a science documentary about underground rivers, the trio accidentally discovered a hidden civilization of blue-skinned aliens. These were the survivors of the planet Veneya.

Yoko saved them from an evil energy intelligence. But the Trio had to leave the grateful Veneyans. The air within the aliens’ underground bases was slightly toxic for humans, preventing a lengthy stay. During this adventure they became good friends of Khâny, a Veneyan woman with whom they would often collaborate.

More adventures followed, as the trio :

  • Discovered the secret history of the so-called Satan’s Pipe Organ in Southern Germany. During this adventure they met the young but famous organist Ingrid Hallberg, who became a close friend of Yoko.
  • Prevented a conflict between Veneyans and Terrans — and kept the existence of the Veneyans a secret — by shutting down the Forge of Vulcan.
  • Uncovered a traitor at an atomic research centre, who used bees to smuggle out microfilms.
  • Stopped a criminal who had forced the inventor of a sophisticated arachnid robot to become his accomplice.
  • Worked for the British intelligence services on an incredible operation to recover secret documents lost in Afghanistan during the 1940s.
  • Was recruited by the Veneyans to accompany them to the M33 galaxy  (the Triangulum) to establish whether their homeworld, thought lost two million years before, had again became habitable. There, they proved indispensable in retaking control of the planet as the aliens restored the Third Sun of Veneya.
  • Determined who was stealing Ingrid Hallberg’s blood in Rothenburg and replacing it with artificial blood – and the amazing underground surgery that this betrayed.
  • Returned to Veneya to help analyse alien life forms resembling terrestrial ones, and discovered the nature of the Titans.
  • Struggled along with Yoko’s father and the monk Aoki to destroy the artificial typhoons created by Seiki-san’s sworn rival before they would hit Japan.
  • Returned to Veneya to discover the secret of the light on Ixo. Ixo was an ice satellite on which the weapons of mass destruction from Veneya’s ancient past had been discarded, but where some mysterious activity was taking place every 5 years.

Lands of adventure, part 2

But that’s not all ! The trip also :

  • Assisted Monya, a girl from the post-apocalyptic XXXIXth century. Monya was on a time-travel mission to prevent the invention of the contraction bomb, a technology that would destroy the Earth of her time.
    After Yoko travelled back to 1943 and discovered the link between her family and the antimatter technology powering the contraction bomb, the mission was accomplished. Monya stayed in the present, and Yoko’s cousins in Borneo adopted her as their daughter.
  • Investigated a seeming curse and haunting in Scotland, unearthing the sordid conspiracy and vengeance beneath. Yoko saved the life of one Cecilia, who was left a millionaire heiress after the case. Cecilia would later hire Yoko to solve another mystery.
  • Discovered the City of the Depths on Veneya. There, robot archangels forever prevented the growth of children to forestall a war planned two million years ago – but an evil queen stole their charges to create an empire.
  • Thwarted the catastrophic destruction of a supertanker by Wotan’s Fire.
  • Destroyed the Cannon of Kra, a World War Two Japanese super-heavy artillery piece refurbished to threaten South-East Asia with nuclear shells.
  • Discovered the secrets of the two Dragons of Hong Kong. During this case Yoko adopted as her daughter a Chinese orphan, Morning Dew – as the little girl’s last relative, her aged grandfather, would die soon. Morning Dew, who originally only spoke Cantonese Chinese, became bilingual in English in an amazingly short time.
  • Helped Monya save a dancer from Bali’s past, whom Monya’s attempts at saving XVIth century Indonesian art from destruction had condemned to death.
  • Saved the last surviving mini-robots of the space city of Keefa before it would crash on Veneya. At the conclusion of this case Yoko had her own starship, the Ryu, and Myna, one of the mini-robots, joined its crew.
  • Shed light on the mystery of the Kazuky-Watanabe corporation ownership. This occurred as Yoko worked as a translator for her father’s sworn enemy on an antique train in Germany. During this case, Yoko met KGB representative and fighter pilot the Countess Olga, who became her ally after initial hostility.
  • Travelled back to the XVIth century in Bruges to close a temporal paradox involving a painting of Yoko and Monya, the Devil’s secrets and the Black Plague.
  • Aboard the Ryu, reconnoitred the taboo planet Ultima in the Veneyan system, and helped with a strange reincarnation at the Gate of Souls.
  • Rescued Sin-Yi, the third wife of Emperor Zhen Zong , before her murder in 1021 at age 6. Sin-Yi was adopted by Yoko’s newest friend Lin-Po, a nurse living near Guilin and among the famous hills of the area.
  • Soon returned to the Guangzi of the XIth century, where they ended up uncovering the secret of the dragon at the Pagoda of Mists.
  • Neutralised the threat of the Iron Temple deep in the Amazon after being recruited for a chess challenge. The Countess Olga was instrumental in that, helping unlock the Seventh Code. During this case the Trio met teenage pilot Emilia MacKinley.
  • Returned to Scotland to work for Cecilia, with Emilia as her co-pilot. They then reactivated the Handmaiden of Lucifer, and agreed to return her to the Forbidden Zone.
  • Recovered the Maleficent Amethyst in 1934, and arranged events to prevent tragedy in Emilia MacKinley’s family – as they knew beforehand they would.

Veneyans, our alien friends

History

Veneya (Vinéa in the original French) is extremely similar to Earth. It lies two million light years away, in the Triangulum galaxy (M33). However, the 2 suns in Veneya’s system were not stable and drifted too close. This resulted in a gravitational tug-of-war.

The heat from the stars sucking each other’s outer layers scorched Veneya. This forced the population to emigrate in underground cities where they lived for thousands of years.

Eventually, Veneya started getting sucked toward its merging suns. A titanic project was launched to abandon the planet, but the steadily worsening gravity well and solar wind did not help.

Yoko Tsuno and a Vinean shuttle

Recent Veneyan shuttle.

Huge ships were assembled one after the other in orbit. But though a hundred were planned, it was over before the 12th could be built. Most of the population in the ships were children, who had priority. All were kept in magnetically-induced suspended animation.

The 11th ship reached Earth after two million years, about 400,000 years ago. Earth was remarkably compatible, but Veneyans had become unable to live on the surface after so many generations underground. Furthermore, they breathed a slightly different atmosphere.

Deeper underground

It was decided to take everything underground — including the spaceship after taking it apart — then have most everybody return to suspended animation. The suspension system would biologically adapt them to life on the surface.

This process would take hundreds of thousands of years. Though it wasn’t explained, a likely hypothesis is that having spent two million years in suspended animation immensely slowed down treatments.

There also seems to be a cultural bias against waking people up and having them live underground just like on Veneya. The goal is to wake them up when they can live freely on the surface and not a second before.

Small numbers of Veneyans were woken up to run the undergrounds installations, living and dying as the rest remained asleep. Two Veneyans became close friends of the Trio – Khâny, who has some seniority among her people, and her kid sister Poky.

Both were originally close in age, but Khâny was woken up well before Poky was. Thus Khâny looks, to human eyes, to be in her mid-30s whereas Poky is still a little girl.

Biology

Veneyans are basically blue-skinned humans, and biological differences seem very minor. Their atmospheric mix is slightly different from Earth’s and will in time prove toxic to humans, but even that might be a product of their underground life.

Two-seater Vinean flyer

Typical Veneyan two-person flyer.

Their psychology seems also basically human. Still, there are implications that they have a greater degree of psychic sensitivity, explaining their telepathic technology. There is also a loose implication that their lifespan is much greater than humans’.

What exactly makes it difficult for them to live on a world’s surface was never explained. Khâny and Poky never evidenced any problem. Perhaps it is a sort of agoraphobia, and only the individuals who are the least agoraphobic are awakened from suspended animation.

If so this might explain why the treatment is so long. Thought patterns are immensely slowed down in suspended animation.

Technology and organisation

Veneyans have a low active population. It’s closer to a big village or a small town and they generally know each other. They greatly depended on a central computer to manage their installations and particularly the suspended population.

Yoko Tsuno was forced to destroy the energy intelligence inhabiting the computer. It had gone evil and was subtly enslaving the awake Veneyans. Presumably, the Veneyans had to awaken more people to compensate.

Veneyan tech is typical space opera stuff –

  • Lightspeed spaceships.
  • Personal beam weapons (looking like pens connected by a cable to a cigarette pack-sized battery).
  • Artificial intelligences made of accumulated energy.
  • Simple artificial telepathy (that can be used to duplicate and/or transfer the personality and memories of persons).
  • Humanoid robots.
  • Antigravity vehicles.
  • Sleeping berths where two hours of sleep refresh like 8 normal hours would.
  • Etc.

A Vinean shuttles hangar

Underground Veneyan shuttles hangar.

As they awoke more people due to the circumstances, they resumed scientific progress which had halted for almost 2.5M years due to the tiny active population. This made it possible to improve their vehicles, but also to employ point-to-point FTL  tech.

Back to the Triangulum

Veneyan FTL flight employs a sort of energy tunnel loosely comparable to a black hole. Within it shuttles can do one million light years per month of subjective time. The passengers will be kept in magnetic suspended animation.

In 1975, the space station sent to establish such a tunnel between the 11th ship’s destination and Veneya’s system arrived to its destination in Saturn’s orbit. That was 400K years after the spaceship since it had to “spin” its tunnel whilst travelling.

After a year of testing, the Veneyans decided to launch an expedition to their home system. Since most Veneyans were still uncomfortable operating overground, Khâny recruited Yoko, Vic and Pol as a reconnaissance team.

Once back in the Veneya system, the Veneyans and the Terrans discovered that the homeworld was still around. The red sun had died and exploded before the blue one did. Then the blue one had become stable and turned yellow by absorbing gases from the dead red one.

The shock of the red’s explosion had kicked Veneya to a stable and safe orbit around the yellow sun. It seemed potentially habitable since the catastrophic solar events had occurred millions of years ago.

Yoko Tsuno's Ryu space frigate

Yoko’s Ryu frigate.

As it turned out Veneya was now tidally locked, with an ice side and a scorched side. But there was still some hope that a temperate band would be habitable. The Trio discovered that there indeed was an habitable zone… and that it was already inhabited.

The Veneyan dedicated themselves to restoring part of their homeworld to habitability and establishing contact with the locals. The bulk of the population was kept suspended on Earth as the adaptation to surface life process continued.

Their Terran scouts would prove very useful in :

  • Solving a number of issues with the locals.
  • Discovering the legacies from Veneya’s history after the departure of the last evacuation ship.
  • Finding out what had happened on several colonised moons and planets in the Veneya system, such as Ixo, Shŷra or Ultima.

Description

Yoko is a slim — 50kg at most — Japanese female in her mid-20s. She’s eternally wearing her late 1960s hairstyle held by a headband. Her French and her English are better than most natives’, with a rigorous grammar.

Yoko’s wardrobe has evolved normally as the decades progressed. But in formal occasions she sometimes wears a traditional ladies’ kimono. Though she has been living in Belgium for decades, her clothing and interior decoration maintain a Japanese flair.

Ms. Tsuno tends to swear in Japanese. But she has occasionally used her improbable “by the thousand kimonos !” exclamation in French. Since the flow of the phrase is identical to much more common and way more vulgar French swearing, the “thousand kimonos” thing is probably a polite euphemism.

Yoko Tsuno and Pol Pitron

She is a gearhead, and will often get herself a cool set of wheels. In 1973 that was a then-cutting edge Japanese mini-motorbike, in 2012 it’s a Lotus Elise  (mostly paid for by her father). She will be enthusiastic if she has an opportunity to fly a cool plane.

Unlike many action heroes, Yoko frequently changes her clothing to stay fresh and clean – except of course during lengthy expeditions in the field where she cannot bring much luggage. She prefers traditionally feminine clothing, and somehow never has any difficulties operating in a tight skirt and heels.

Yoko being photogenic and skinny, she once did a fashion photoshoot. This was presumably a consequence of making a new friend who happened to work in this industry.


Personality

Yoko is a nice and very positive heroine. She is unusually kind and friendly, will always help and defend the innocent, and seeks to serve the common good. She uses the minimum amount of violence that can reasonably be deployed, and certainly doesn’t want to injure or kill anybody.

She will never do anything bad. For instance she completely refused to desecrate a tomb, an action which few adventurers would hesitate to conduct. She genuinely cares for people. She will shoot attacking animals if she has to, but the death of any sapient  opponent is something she considers a grave personal failure.

Her bravery is amazing. She will unhesitatingly dive into adventure and danger with the firm intent to do good and protect folks. Yoko never just minds her own business, and keeps getting involved in dangerous situations. Her friends have long since learned to just roll along, since she’s too determined to be convinced not to.

In fact she can get imperious. She is also extremely independent, and terrible at following any order with which she disagrees. On the other hand she is unusually trusting toward strangers, though it generally works out well for her.

Yoko Tsuno is a serious person. She quips a bit, but is very facts-based. Likewise, while she’s very kind, she’s also highly goal-oriented and has something of a temper. Yoko can take blatantly unreasonable risks when she’s investigating something or she’s pissed off.

The latter is easily achieved through racist remarks. These were not uncommon in her early career, back when Japan was perceived as exotic and mysterious in the West. Corrosive sarcasm will also probably be part of her response.

Friends and foreigners…

Friendship is very important to Yoko. She wants (or perhaps even needs) to be everybody’s friend, and is uncommonly loyal toward those who reciprocate.

Yoko Tsuno in an ultralight among pteranodons

These are not stories with a lot of bad guys who are bad because they’re evil and evil is bad. Hence, Yukio’s policy of open mind and open hand will often play in her favour by having opponents reconsider what they are doing.

Tsuno accepts that sometimes a bad guy is just a bad guy, but is visibly disappointed when somebody interesting refuses to be her friend.

In the early stories, written in the early 1970s, Yoko still has various cliché Orientalist  sayings. Yet she is deliberately kept mostly culture-neutral and even gender-neutral – an adventurer and do-gooder who happens to be a Japanese female rather than the other way around.

The Orientalist stuff is clearly a product of the information then available about Japanese cultures. It quickly recedes as a better understanding of the country and its people becomes available to the author.

Yoko continues to respect various concepts such as loyalty toward her country, respect toward her parents and elders, etc. more than most Westerners do. There’s also a strong implication that she cannot lie to an older family member under any circumstances.

Yoko Tsuno in a small boat runs into a sea monster

However, she also stated after a dozen years of Belgian life that she had come to feel every bit as European as she feels Japanese.

In 1985 she stated that she wasn’t sufficiently old and wise to consider herself a full adult. Hence the symbol on her plane – a red half-circle with a red horizontal bar underneath. The half-circle — the top half the rising sun on the Japanese flag — represented the women of Japan, and the line underneath where was Yoko was at that point of her maturation.

… and family

Tsuno’s crew is closer to an extended family. It comes complete with children, since her daughter Morning Dew and Khâny’s kid sister Poky are about in the same age and have frequently been involved in the Trio’s adventures. Vic, Pol and Seiki Tsuno are the only recurrent male characters, with most of the cast being female.

Circumstances perennially conspire to have Morning Dew and Poky accompany the adults in the field, though it is occasionally possible to do the sensible thing and leave them safely behind.


Sharing

The links to follow us and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter are at the bottom of this page.



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Yoko Tsuno

Dex: 04 Str: 02 Bod: 02 Motivation: Uphold Good
Int: 06 Wil: 07 Min: 05 Occupation: Engineer
Inf: 04 Aur: 05 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 015 HP: 035

Powers:
Iron Will: 02, Mind Blank: 02

Bonuses and Limitations:
Both Iron Will and Mind Blank are Skilled Powers, and require an Automatic Action to work during any given Phase.

Skills:
Accuracy (Social interaction with children): 05, Acrobatics (Climbing): 04, Acrobatics (Dodging): 02, Animal handling (Elephants): 03, Artist (Photography/video): 03, Charisma: 05, Detective (Police procedure): 06, Gadgetry: 05, Martial Artist (AV, incl. Techniques): 05, Martial Artist (EV): 04, Medicine (First aid): 03, Scientist: 04, Thief (Stealth, pickpocket): 04, Vehicles: 06, Weaponry (Archery): 05

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Yoko’s adventure take place in a Genre with realistic Gadgetry rules, where inventions are a major undertaking.
  • Martial Artist (EV) can only be used against targets who cannot see the blow coming, or do not have time to react.
  • Martial Artist (EV) can also be used as EV for disarming attempts – and without restrictions.

Advantages
Buddies (Vic Vidéo, Pol Pitron, Monya Ichida, Myna the mini-robot, Emilia MacKinley), Credentials (Yoko has root privileges on all automated systems in the City of Depths, on Veneya), Edge (BODY), Familiarity (SCUBA diving, Buddhism lore, Ichthyology, Oyster pearl farming, Audio engineering, Television work, Veneyan technology, Parachuting, Chess), Iron Nerves, Languages (French, Japanese, German, Cantonese Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Balinese, Indonesian), Local Hero (admirers of Seiki Tsuno).

Connections:
Khâny of Veneya (High), Ingrid Hallberg (High), Lin-Po (High), Countess Olga (High), Cecilia (High), MI-5 (Low).

Drawbacks:
Dependant (Morning Dew), Dependants (Vic and Pol, 5 points), Edge (STR).

Equipment:

  • HUMMINGBIRD MINI-JET [STR 04, BODY 07, Flight: 09, Gliding: 06, Radar sense: 17], occasionally with ANTI-MISSILE PODS [BODY 02, AV 12, EV (Scattershot): 05, Ammo: 04, Limitation: AV is limited to targeting missiles within the Hummingbird’s rear cone].
  • XXXIXth century tech-scanner binoculars [BODY 01, Detect (Energy, metals (both are Discerning)): 04, Detect (Translator): 09, Gadgetry (Identify Gadget): 08, Life sense: 05, X-Ray vision: 04].

When travelling with Monya, Yoko will usually be issued a Stun Pistol [BODY 01, Mental blast: 07, Limitation: Mental blast only affects living beings, Mental Blast only for Bashing Combat, Mental Blast cannot result in Knockback].

When the Trio is adventuring on Veneya or its solar system, Khâny normally provides them with Veneyan equipment. Common equipment includes :

  • TELEPATHY HEADSET [BODY 01, Telepathy: 04, Limitations: Telepathy cannot be used for mental combat].
  • LIGHT PROTECTIVE SUIT [BODY 06, Cold immunity: 01, Flame immunity: 01, Lighting immunity: 01].
  • VACUUM SUIT [BODY 07, Cling: 04, Cold immunity: 01, Flame immunity: 01, Lighting immunity: 01, Radio communications: 14, Sealed Systems: 12, Limitations: Cling only works on magnetic surfaces such as starship hulls].
  • Laser cutting torch [BODY 02, Heat vision: 09, Limitation: Heat vision has a Range of 01 AP, Drawback: the battery will eventually run out, but a cutter can be used for continuous work for about an hour, Advantage: torches can be operated with unmodified DEX as they just involve pointing a pen-like tool at the spot ; they also work fine underwater].
  • FLYER [BODY 06, Flight: 09]. A very light and compact one- or two-person aircraft with VTOL capabilities.

Vic Vidéo

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Uphold Good
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: TV producer
Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 013 HP: 015

Skills:
Martial Artist: 03, Vehicles: 04

Advantages
Buddies (Yoko Tsuno and Pol Pitron), Familiarity (SCUBA diving, Veneyan technology, Chess), Expertise (Television work), Language (French, Flemish).

Connections:
Belgian public television (Low).

Drawbacks:
Dependant (Yoko, 0 pts).


Pol Pitron

Dex: 02 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Uphold Good
Int: 02 Wil: 02 Min: 03 Occupation: Camera operator
Inf: 02 Aur: 02 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 006 HP: 010

Skills:
Artist (Photography/video): 04, Gadgetry: 03, Vehicles (Land): 03, Weaponry (Firearms, heavy): 03

Bonuses and Limitations:
Gadgetry only for maintenance, repairs and power user operations.

Advantages
Buddies (Yoko Tsuno and Vic Vidéo), Familiarity (SCUBA diving, Television work, Veneyan technology, Beekeeping, Radio technician, Air navigation, Chess), Language (French, Flemish).

Connections:
None demonstrated.

Drawbacks:
Dependant (Yoko, 0 pts), MIA toward good food and pretty women.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Yoko Tsuno graphic novels by Roger Leloup

Helper(s): Ethan Roe ; fr.wikipedia for identifying the Seawind 3000

Writeup completed on the 1st of September, 2013.

Subscribe to our MINI-NEWSLETTER !

One bare-bones e-mail per month. Plain text. Short. To the point. Learn more.