I’ve been willing to write about something on a weekly basis for a while. It would have to be about Anime, Gaming or Japanese Language. Think I’d like to avoid going into the subjective matter of [Why I enjoy this show] for now, so that leaves Gaming or Japanese Language. Hmm. I’ve been struggling in Fire Emblem: Fates Conquest Chapter 26 on Lunatic for the past month. That is it, I guess. I’ll do a better write up on my Hoshido Campaign. Then we have Japanese Language, but there are plenty of better sources over the Internet.
Then, what should I do? Mix them!
For now we will start with a weekly article named 「お名前は？」 (onamae wa?, a polite way to ask someone’s else name in Japanese), where I’ll pick one currently airing Anime series and go through its characters names looking for something neat. There are only three rules that I’d like everyone to keep in mind:
- I’m not a Japanese Language professional. This is largely something for entertainment purposes. While I’ll try my best to convey the meanings of each Kanji and their combinations, I’m probably going to mess up and miss something every once in a while.
- This is an analysis purely based on the character name and maybe something else already shown in the series. I won’t be digging through any original work unless noted.
- What I say here is by no means a representation of whatever authors originally planned, unless noted.
By now we have barely entered the second week of Spring 2016, so there aren’t many characters around (NO, I’m not doing Mayoiga. At least not now). I will also skip Bungou Stray Dogs because I want to save it for later. So today I’ll open with Kiznaiver. You can check more info about the show here on MyAnimeList. First episode was quite interesting, give it a try.
Alright, let’s jump straight into action.
Katsuhira “Kacchon” Agata
Kacchon (as he is called by his uh… friend? No. Think acquaintance is a better term to describe Kacchon and Chidori relationship, at least for now) is our protagonist. By now the only things we know is that he has a high tolerance to pain and is pretty much apathetic to the outside world. But if we ask him お名前は？ we will have 阿形勝平 (Agata Katsuhira).
阿形 (a.gata) is formed by these two Kanji:
形 is usually used to describe a shape, form or style of something. You have 人形 (nin.gyou, literally Human Shaped) as Doll or 地形 (chi.kei, literally Earth Shape) to describe Terrain Features or Topography. So the question is, what kind of shape is our dull friend? (No offense, Katsuhira-kun!)
阿 is used in 阿る (omone.ru), an uncommon verb meaning to flatter. No matter how we look, he doesn’t really looks like some embodiment of flattery. Same applies to fawn upon and this is coming from someone who loves white hair (who doesn’t?). Then we are left with a corner, a nook, a recess, all ways to describe something that is recluse. Possibly shadowy, obscure. Definitely not a very warm and inviting place. This… kinda suits our friend here, I guess. So we could see 阿形 (a.gata) as the one who who has a shadowy form, without much presence, left in the dark corner. Ohhh, this looks neat!
But we can go deeper. We have the technology! All the possibilities for 阿 describe above are related to its Kun’yomi (omone.ru, kuma). On this case though, the name uses of its two On’yomis (a, o). If you have no idea of what I’m talking about, basically On’yomi are reading imported from China and Kun’yomi are the ones developed in Japan. It goes further than that and you can read this small article here in Tofugu if you want more info!
Where were we… oh, right. The other reading. In this case, 阿 is read [a]. Do you know what else use this reading? 阿呆 (a.ho), a beautiful word meaning idiot, fool or simpleton. So we could see 阿形 as the embodiment of foolishness? Maybe.
Speaking of different readings, I’ve been holding the most basic possibility until now. There is an actual word 阿形 (a.gyou), which means Open-mouth Form, used to describe statues, or something like this. You can see that it uses an On’yomi for 形. As a trivia, most words in Japanese are formed by kanji using the same kind of reading. So all On’yomi or all Kun’yomi. There are exceptions for sure and this rule is simply exploded on naming. We even see here that an actual word 阿形 (a.gyou) uses both On’yomi for its kanji, while 阿形 (a.gata) uses a mix of On’yomi and Kun’yomi. Not something relevant to our case, but might be in the future!
So our best shot at the moment is 阿形 being an embodiment of foolishness. You know how also said that?
It may be obvious by now, but 愚鈍 (gu.don, can be a noun or an adjective) means stupidity; silliness; asininity; imbecility; dim-wittedness. This is the Fifth Sin, assigned to Agata by our enigmatic Sonozaki. Again, I can’t guarantee this is the author’s intention, but it does fit very well!
Alright, done with his Surname, lets move on to his name:
勝平 (katsu.hira) is formed by these two kanji:
勝 is always related to victory. Kancolle fans will recognize it from 勝利 (shou.ri), the Victory message after a battle. Remembering what we discussed above (and if you know Hiragana), you can probably already discern that in Katsuhira the reading used is Kun’yomi. We’ll leave 勝 for now.
平 has a variety of usages, ranging from 平等 (byou.dou) equality, to 平社員 (hira.sha.in) ordinary employee or 平和 (hei.wa) peace.
Quick detour here:
While 平 is used for flat, Taiga Aisaka name is actually 逢坂 (Ai.saka) 大河 (Tai.ga). Sorry folks. Japanese word for this kind of flat is ぺちゃんこ (pe.chan.ko) or ぺったんこ (pettanko).
If you add 島 (shima), meaning Island, to 平和 (hei.wa), you will get a Peaceful Island, which happens to be the Surname of one of the coolest male characters ever made, 平和島 (hei.wa.jima) 静雄 (shi.zuo). His ancestors couldn’t really predict someone pesky as Izaya, the only one able to shake our Hero. (Have you finished Durarara S3? You should.)
Ok, back to Kiznaiver protagonist. Both kanji in 勝平 (katsu.hira) uses Kun’yomi. So nothing to find here. So flat victory? An ordinary, common victory? Or a victory for peace? We are getting into something here. How about victory through peace? How did our little Kacchon deal with his bullying? How would he win? Yup. By doing absolutely nothing. By not fighting back. Through peace.
From the point of view of observers, you can’t really call being robbed of your money or getting punched and kicked to pulp a proper victory, but hey, this guy here doesn’t feel any pain. He just let whoever wants to pick on him do their things and leave. As soon as they leave, there is no conflict. A not so exuberant victory (ordinary victory, anyone?) achieved through peace. Again, this could be a coincidence.
So there we go, 阿形 (a.gata) 勝平 (katsu.hira), main protagonist of Kiznaiver:
The embodiment of foolishness who achieves victory through his own definition of peace.
Wonder how much longer Kacchon needs to fall before realizing that this might not be the best course of action. Until then, hope you guys enjoyed this reading as much as I did have fun into researching and writing. Give Kiznaiver a try and see you guys next weekend!