Today we’ll start all the way from the zero! Wait. Does that mean we will go back to our first post on Katsuhira-kun from Kiznaiver? Alright. Kacchon is…
Wait. No? Oh, ok. Glad that wasn’t the case. We should leave our past behind, you know?
Our time travel today will lead us to Natsuki (ナツキ) Subaru (スバル), main protagonist of Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu, an adventure fantasy anime currently airing on Spring 2016. Due to how unreliable (or not?) these time travel things are, it is recommended to have watched up to Episode 5 to avoid data file corruption on your Save Point.
Subaru “Basuru” Natsuki
Subaru-kun is a Japanese boy who happens to be in this new world which is at the same time just as he expected as an avid otaku while also having some lacking premises like him having some overpower ability or even a basic equipment set! Anyway, he later figured out that he has an ability, though he isn’t really into details yet. Basuru (as he is called by Ram) is always ready to make good puns and professional remarks on recurring cliches on this Light Novel setting that became very popular since Sword Art Online, the Parallel Fantasy World.
Yeah, yeah, I can hear you: “This has existed way before SAO, you douchie!”. First, I know that. Second, if you used a harsher word than douchie, shame on you! Oh, what is it? This isn’t what you are worried about? His name doesn’t have any kanji? Don’t be stupid, why would I pick a character whose name doesn’t have any kanji if this is a weekly post exactly about…
しまった。(shimatta; expression denoting that something went outside your planning or expectations. Depending on the situation it can range from “Oh dear, now I’ve done it!” to “Oh crap!”, “Damn it!” and “Fuck!”.
So yeah, ok. For those who aren’t really into Japanese language, let’s make a quick lesson here. From Wikipedia: The Japanese language uses three different systems for writing. There are two syllabaries—hiragana and katakana—which have characters for each basic mora (syllable.) Along with the syllabaries, there are also kanji, which is a writing system based on Chinese characters. You will also see a lot of ローマ字 (rouma.ji, latin alphabet. NOT romanji, ok?) in Japan daily life, though it is not officially part of the Japanese Language itself.
平仮名 (hira.ga.na; smooth kana) is the simplest, roundest one.
片仮名 (kata.ka.na; fragmentary kana) has a lot of sharp edges, but is also quite simple.
漢字 (kan.ji; chinese character) are the rest, featuring around 2-3k more commonly used in Japan, but to a total of 13.000. In China, the most complete compilation has over 85.000 characters and while most of them aren’t even used anymore, it is still a massive number.
Hiragana were developed from 万葉仮名 (man.you.ga.na, you can read more here) and were at first mostly used among women. The famous 源氏物語 (gen.ji.mono.gatari) was written by a female author almost exclusively in hiragana, for example. Eventually male authors also started using it, while katakana and chinese characters were still the norm for official documents. Today everything is used in a mixed way and katakana has been reserved for special uses such as recently borrowed words, names in transliteration, some animals and to indicate emphasis.
Speaking of which (or should we say… speaking of witch?), recently a friend asked on Twitter “why is(Flying Witch) written in hiragana even though both are foreign words?”.
Hmm. This could be a stylish-way to depict it. If I had to point out something, this is a story about witches, who are… you know, women. And when you think about witches, it does make you think about old times. Well, hiragana was used mainly by women in the old times, so it fits nicely. Also, using katakana would wield
Damn. Sorry, I got distracted. Just a second, let me kill myself.
Subaru “Basuru” Natsuki
There we go. Luckily our save point today was right here. So Natsuki (ナツキ) Subaru (スバル) is written using katakana. At first I was surprised, but on Episode 5 even Subaru-kun itself wrote it like that:
So, this time we are doing it in a different way. We will try to look for kanji who could fit into his name and see if we find anything interesting. 行きましょう！(i.kimashou; let’s go!).
First his Family Name: Natsuki (ナツキ). Some ways to write it are:
- 夏季 (natsu.ki; summer season. It is usually read as ka.ki though).
- 夏木 (natsu.ki; summer tree)
- 夏気 (natsu.ki; summer spirit)
- 夏輝 (natsu.ki; summer radiance)
- 奈月 (na.tsuki; which seems like an odd way to say “Which month?”. Maybe parents were wondering about the date where the baby was conceived)
- 懐 (natsuki; feeling, heart, to miss someone, to become attached to, to recall)
- 成都希 (na.tsu.ki; hmm… a hope to become something bigger, important?)
Focusing on Natsu for now. There is a lot of summer. The seasons play a big role in Japan, so it is very common to have parents use it when naming their kids. I can’t really relate Subaru-kun to Summer though, so let’s focus more on our 6th one, 懐.
Surely, 懐 has a lot of usages, but the ones we are looking for have to use natsu. So we have 懐かしい (natsu.kashii, dear, desired, missed. You have heard this A LOT in Anime. It is the default expression for when you see something that momentarily brings you back to the good old times), 懐かしむ (natsu.kashimu; to yearn for someone or something, to miss), 懐く (natsu.ku; to become emotionally attached), 懐ける (natsu.keru, to win another’s heart). All of those could fit in one way or another into what we have seen so far in Re:Zero, especially 懐く, as over the time Subaru grew emotionally attached to this new world. Not only to Emilia-tan, but to everyone so far he has encountered. I guess this fits for Natsu. Let’s go for [ki] now.
Here we have a way bigger variety of kanji. I’ll reduce our list to these few here:
- 気 (ki, spirit, mind, heart, intention, nature)
- 機 (ki, chance, opportunity)
- 奇 (ki, strange, unconventional. We spoke a bit about it on my post on Akeno Misaki from Haifuri)
- 来 (has a lot of readings. The ones with ki are related to coming back, to induce, to bring about a state)
Why don’t we pair it up with our selected 懐 (Natsu) and see which one looks better? Please note that a kanji combination doesn’t have to be an actual word to be a valid name, so the meanings below are just educated guesses.
- 懐気 (natsu.ki; the feeling of becoming attached to someone or somewhere)
- 懐機 (natsu.ki; the chance of becoming attached, maybe he couldn’t feel like that before coming to this world?)
- 懐奇 (unconventional way of becoming attached, by getting involved in robbery, killing, helping kids and even sewing clothes)
- 懐来 (natsu.ki; becoming attached has finally happened. When read as 来 (rai), this kanji is associated with the future, which has a nice ring to Subaru).
These look pretty good. Let’s head over to his Given Name, Subaru (スバル). Some ways to write it are:
- 昴 (subaru; the Pleiades. The meaning on this varies a lot throughout the world, as you can see here. In Japan it means “cluster” or “coming together” (I know what you just thought about, you hentai freak).
- 澄晴 (su.baru; clear, lucid)
- 素晴 (su.baru; this is a reduction of 素晴らしい (su.ba.rashii; wonderful, splendid, magnificent. Yup, it is the same as in この素晴らしい世界に祝福を！)
- 珠遥 (su.baru; a gem from somewhere far off in the distance)
Well, some neat stuff right away. Don’t think we will need to go much deeper than this. I like number 4 a lot, as it fits with the idea of him coming from another world. Being unique here, he could also be considered a gem among the regular citizen.
As you can see on 珠, it doesn’t even have a regular reading as [su], only [shu]. This also happens a lot when coming up with names in Japanese. And in 遥 we pick only the main part of its kun’yomi reading, haru.ka.
While we think about which Natsuki and which Subaru is best, some trivia about this week in Anime Spring 2016.
In Haifuri Episode 5 there was this scene here where you’d need some fancy knowledge of Japanese to understand what was going on. Well, at least that is what I understood, I might be wrong as well.
While the provided English Subtitles pointed the crew laughing over she saying Euros, in fact it was over which pronoun she used to denominate herself. On the above scene Mii-chan said either:
- 儂はユーロしかない。(washi wa yuuro shika nai; I only have Euros).
- 私はユーロしかない。(wasshi wa yuuro shika nai; I only have Euros).
On 1, 儂 means I or me but it is used by elderly males. On 2, 私 has tons of readings, as watashi (common usage), watakushi (humble, private affairs), atashi (female variant), among many others. Problem is, Mii-chan might have used wasshi and this variation is mainly used for working men. This could be just her messing up pronouns or even something as deep as her surname Friedeburg being the name of famous German Admiral, Hans-Georg von Friedeburg and thus she would address herself as an old man.
Alright, enough detour. Let me die again.
Subaru “Basuru” Natsuki
Alright, back to our save point. Thinking now, I wonder if suicide triggers his power too?
So which kanji were the best for Natsuki (ナツキ) Subaru (スバル)? My choice for our restarting boy is 懐奇 (natsu.ki) 珠遥 (su.baru):
An unique gem who came from a distant land to find himself growing attached to this new world.
If you think another combination would look better, leave it in the comments! Re:Zero looks great so far. As I said here, you might be missing good stuff if you didn’t pick it up! Up to Week 3 I ranked it as my 5th Favorite on Spring 2016. Thanks all for your time, hope to see you all next weekend.