Is It Possible for Text in a mysql Query to Not Honor Collation?

     

I've seen several questions asked on this topic but here's the short of the long: I have a db created in phpmyadmin that's using utf8_general_ci collation and rows in some tables can have either English or Japanese text. I am displaying out these rows using a php mysqli query but am getting gibberish out from it.


The legwork I've done includes the following:


      
  • Adding in a meta tag for the char set for the HTML header
      meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF8"

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  • Explicitly telling mysqli connection to use UTF-8 via set_charset() and also sanity checking it with character_set_name()

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  • Verifying the collation of the database/pertinent tables/columns

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  • Adding in some Japanese text extraneous of any mysql queries to verify the browser can render it

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  • Making sure the php file(s) are UTF-8 encoded

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  • Verifying the Japanese input is being taken properly to the database and in the php

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  • Sanity check the database with a comparable test database using utf8_general_ci collation (in case the problem db/table/column was originally made with a different collation and changing it caused existing rows to be garbled)

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  • Verify the database collation and charset in the information_schema table such that charset is utf8 and the collation is utf8_general_ci

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  • In the mysqli query attempt to convert the pertinent column to utf8 (this likes to throw an error