Akiko comes from a nice conservative middle-class Japanese family. Her father does something dull but lucrative for one of the big Japanese car manufacturers that have an overseas base in San Paro. Like all nice conservative middle-class Japanese girls in Prentiss, she went to a good school and got good grades. College beckoned, but her parents were surprised when she said she was taking a year out to go back to Japan and discover her roots. Surprised, but pleased.
While they had brought her up correctly, she had grown up in San Paro, not Japan, and had adopted too many San Paro ways. Some of her friends, while all local Prentiss kids, were a little too much on the wild side for her parents' tastes, and this city that the company had sent them to live in had a way of corrupting everyone that comes into contact with it. They hoped seeing something of the culture she came from would calm her down a little, and appreciate the heritage she belonged too. They hoped, more secretly, that she might meet a nice Japanese boy over there, and worked with friends and relatives in Japan to draw up lists of suitable suitors that Akiko might be introduced to while she was there.
Akiko did go to Japan. She did learn something of the heritage she came from, and she did bring something important back with her. Only it wasn't a nice Japanese boyfriend or an engagement ring. It was a genuine Japanese samurai katana sword, and the skills to know how to use it.
Even before she went to Japan, Akiko had been hanging out on the warehouse club scene on the Waterfront, while her parents thought she was out seeing a movie or having a study date with one of her classmates. She liked the vibe, but a lot of the other kids hanging around the same scene bored her, and, from what little she saw of them, the Blood Roses - especially the inner circle that orbited around Jeung and Charlotte - just struck her as arrogant and shallow-minded poseurs.
Over in Japan, she hung out in the clubs there - part of her reason for wanting to go in the first place - and saw the original Ronin Style scene, but was filled only with the same restlessness that had driven her out of San Paro in the first place. She travelled on, into the country, where she encountered a very different Japan from the one she thought she'd come here to find. She found herself a teacher - daddy's credit card helped ease any concerns the teacher might have had about taking on so unconventional a pupil - and, as in so many other things, she proved to be a keen pupil and astoundingly fast learner.
By the time she got back to San Paro, her destiny seemed almost mapped out for her. Her friends had formed the Tigers, and the Blood Roses and other parasites of the same kind were on the rise. Her contempt for the Blood Roses had only increased in her time away. The Ronin Style scene in the Tokyo clubs was bad enough - a culture appropriating parts of its own heritage without understanding what it truly means - but the Blood Roses' aping of the same moves, and getting them even more badly wrong at the same time, was insufferable.
Some of her friends in the Tigers were doubtful about her participation - quiet little Akiko, running around town and chopping bad guys up with a samurai sword? - but Stu Phoenix saw the hard look in her eyes and invited her to show him what she could do with that fancy pigsticker. A couple of minutes watching her in action in a training gym, and she was in, on his say-so. Two nights later, after a run-in with an out-of-district gang who were looking for protection payoffs from some of the tourist joints at the Clearview Marina, when one of the gang ran off minus his left hand, the rest of the Tigers got to see the new Akiko in action. After that, no-one had any other objections.
Her parents know she's changed since she came back from Japan. She's quieter, and less wild now. They don't know the half of it.