Hello, Kyra here! This is onegai! #2. Objective is similar to onamae wa?, but characters appearing here were requested by readers and are not restricted to current airing Anime.
Actually, it’s time for a 自問自答 (ji.mon.ji.tou; wondering to oneself, soliloquizing).
Do I have it in me to spare my time for free to answer this request? Do I feel like I can’t stand by and watch as my reader sadly see his plea refused?
No. Definitely not. If anything, that would only please me.
Can I do it as a way to entertain other readers who might be wondering about this same character, then?
No. 知らん(shi.ran; informal expression equivalent to our “couldn’t care less”).
Then what if this request was made by a friend, should I do it as a token of our friendship and moments on Twitter?
No, I think nothing of what happened in the past.
No matter how much I think about it, I can’t think of a reason to take this request.
Ok, contrary to our guest today, I can’t deceive anyone: I was eager to write this as soon as I received this request. Today we’ll be exploring 貝木(kai.ki) 泥舟(dei.shuu), our favorite money lover conman from Monogatari Series! The above soliloquy was adapted from this great scene on Monogatari Series: Second Season, Episode 21. To avoid being tricked into spoilers, it is recommended to have watched… well… everything about Monogatari that has been animated so far, but mainly Nise, Koi and Hanamonogatari.
This request was made by @Fenris_Lupus, thank you!
Deishuu “Suzuki” Kaiki
What do we know about 貝木(kai.ki) 泥舟(dei.shuu)? It is hard to not love this man. Gloomy personality, eloquent talk and proud to be pride-less. If this isn’t perfection, what could else could it be? Kaiki is an expert into the art of lying and tricking others for the sake of his most beloved treasure in this world: money (unless we end up knowing more about his relationship with Tooe Gaen in the future). Let’s go ahead and ask his name and hope he doesn’t try to lie to us. お名前は？
Family Name: 貝木 (kai.ki)
When Kaiki and Araragi first met on Karen Bee Arc (Nisemonogatari Episode 3), he described his (Family) name as 貝 from 貝塚(kai.dzuka) and 木 from 枯れ木 (ka.re.ki). Araragi hesitated for an instant before saying his own name, only to be interrupted by our conman before he could explain its kanjis. That aside, Kaiki choice of words were very unusual. Indeed, Kaiki written as 海気 (kai.ki; sea breeze), or 海記(kai.ki; something like memory from the sea) would sound way more common but we all know that wouldn’t do for this guy. Other more suitable options could be 怪奇(kai.ki; mysterious, weird) or even something edgy as 回忌(kai.ki; anniversary of a death).
貝塚(kai.dzuka; shell heap, midden) is a very interesting word. This is the first occurrence of a dzu in this blog, so I should point out that it is read as [zu], although in hiragana it is written as づ instead of ず. Shell heap originally and still describe mounds of clam shells that accumulated over years of human action. After having a nice seafood meal, the leftover shell would be dumped in a certain place and over the years, one after the other, a huge mound of shells would form. Nowadays it also extends to any kind of waste products relating to daily human life, from animal bones, to human excrement, vermin, shells, etc.
枯れ木(ka.re.ki; dead tree or dry wood) is a more direct one. 枯れ comes from 枯れる(ka.reru; to wither, to die), mainly used for plants but also to say that one’s personality or ability have matured (not necessarily to the point of withering). We have seen 木 (ki; tree, wood) already in Makoto Kowata – onamae wa? from Flying Witch, although using [ko] as a reading.
So what can we tell about this choice of words? A lot. As we have seen, 貝塚 is literally a pile of waste. Just a huge load of empty shells, no life, accumulating endlessly. A place where you can dispose of whatever you used after you are done with it. Totally befitting for our man here.
As for 枯れ木, it can be both to depict that despite showing some awesome running skills (enough to outmatch Kanbaru in Hanamonogatari Part 2), Kaiki is already a middle-aged man not in his prime anymore; or that over many years as a conman his personality has matured into what he has become today. This dead tree idea was also used as background when he first met Araragi in Nisemonogatari Episode 3, in front of Kanbaru’s home.
So if you imagine a withering tree on top of a mound of shells, you can really feel a gloomy aura that is easily associated with our comrade here. But this is just us using the references that Kaiki himself gave. There is more to it in his name.
What does this guy loves the most? Money. Unfortunately we usually have to work for it, right? I mean, even his kind of job requires some effort. On his soliloquy in Monogatari Second Season Episode 21, he keeps emphasizing that he really needs a reason to work. It is almost as if he would be satisfied if money could grow out of trees. Wait a minute. Maybe?
As we have seen above, 貝 means shellfish and is featured in related words like 魚介 (gyo.kai; seafood). But shells also played a much bigger role in Ancient China. Archaeological evidence shows that shells were regarded as an object of value since before 1000 BC. So what? This idea is reflected in 貝 being used as radical in a lot of currency and trade words like 買う(ka.u; to buy), 貸す(ka.su; to lend) or even our beloved 通販(tsuu.han; GLORIOUS online shopping). Although this idea was kept on the kanjis that would eventually be imported into Japan, shell as a currency wasn’t. Instead, arrowheads, rice grains and gold powder, as well as hemp cloth, were the ones used for this purpose in Japanese trading.
The above explanation was given to point out that 貝木(kaiki) could also be interpreted as a tree of money. And this fits Kaiki so much. Remember that withering tree on top of a mound of shells? Now it is a withered tree on top of a mount of (used) money. He keeps complaining about needing more money because he uses it all in a glimpse. So isn’t this scenery just a picture of himself, thirsty for more money on top of all that he already had and used? Or rather, you could also picture it on top of the empty shells of everyone he deceived?
Speaking of which, there is more. When you think about a 貝(kai; shellfish), there are many living beings that come to mind and they are separated into two kinds: mollusks and crustacea. If you think about mollusks, it could be clams, oysters, mussels. If you think about crustacea, it could be shrimps, lobsters or… crabs.
She finally showed up, Senjougahara. I won’t go over everything that happened, but I think it is easy to picture idea. A crab shell just being tossed away after having all its meat (value) sucked away. Which is an interesting way to depict Kaiki and Gahara first interaction. Gahara being afflicted by the Crab oddity comes in later, but I think this is still a nice related note. You could also point out that a crab devoid of its innards is much lighter than before, but this would force too much, as there were other explanations for the later weightlessness of our heroine.
To finish up his Family Name, 木 also appears in 阿良々木(a.ra.ra.gi). In other words, in 貝木(kai.ki) we can see both Hitagi and Koyomi together, side by side. Well, as much as Senjougahara family suffered, you could say that this couple wouldn’t have formed without Kaiki (well, he was only one of the five conmen who tricked the household, but still…). And then once again during Koimonogatari events, Kaiki is the one who saves the day, soothing Nadeko-chan and allowing Hitagi and Koyomi to stay together.
Given Name: 泥舟(dei.shuu)
Hmm. Deishuu. Sounds elegant, in my opinion. 泥 has two main uses: mud and thievery. In mud it pass both the concept of water + soil combination, but also the idea of a dire situation, hard to escape. As for thievery, we have words like 泥棒(doro.bou; thief, burglar) or こそ泥(koso.doro; thief, also used as 泥 alone), all staple in basic Japanese vocabulary. Considering Kaiki’s occupation, this is not exactly the correct term. As Senjougahara herself describes him to Araragi in Nisemonogatari Episode 3, Kaiki is a 詐欺師 (sa.gi.shi; imposter, swindler, cheater). Nevertheless, 泥 brings the idea of stealing something into the table, so we can’t really deny it.
As for 舟, at first glance not much. This is a variation of the much more common 船 (fune; boat, ship). They both have the same meaning, but the On’yomi reading (remember we spoke about this in Katsuhira Agata – onamae wa？) is different. So we have 船長 (sen.chou; captain of a ship) and 舟運 (shuu.un; transportation by ship). I can’t really spot anything by looking at 舟 isolated, so let’s put it back with 泥.
There is an actual word, with a different reading, 泥舟(doro.fune), meaning a boat to transport mud. Once again I can’t see anything here, but there is another meaning: a boat made of dried mud. Yes, exactly as you might be thinking now, it wouldn’t really work very well. And this is part of a Japanese folktale named かちかち山 (kachikachi.yama; roughly Fire-Crackle Mountain) in which, among many other things, a tanuki villain ends up being tricked into using a 泥舟(doro.fune) and sinking. In Japanese Culture, 狸(tanuki) are usually depicted as boisterous and alcoholic, like Shigaraki from Gugure! Kokkuri-san, but in this story the tanuki is a trickster, much like our friend Kaiki. Spoiler alert, he does end up dead in most versions of this tale, so Kaiki should stay alert. You can read a short English version of this folktale here. Key point here is that upon contact with water, the dried mud soften and then the ship collapses. We all know how cold and selfish Kaiki is and that he probably wouldn’t soften easily but as we have seen over the series, Kanbaru might be exactly that soft spot. If it ever comes a time when he has to choose between his life or Kanbaru, I wonder if we could see Kaiki’s 泥舟(doro.fune; mud boat) sink?
There was a relevant man named 泥舟(dei.shuu) in Japanese history and I got really excited upon seeing that he was part of the 幕末の三舟(baku.matsu no san.shuu), the Three Shu of the Bakumatsu Era, three important figures of the late Tokugawa Era. Considering Kaiki had studied together with Oshino Meme and Kagenui Yozuru (plus Tadatsuru Teori and Izuko Gaen as senpai), if there was a way to link each of these figures to those three, it would be amazing! But well, despite looking into it and trying to come up with something, not this time… sorry.
In Monogatari Series Second Season Episode 21, Senjougahara contacts Kaiki in order to hire him to deceive Nadeko, at the time a Snake God.
During this conversation, Kaiki identify himself as 鈴木(suzu.ki), trying to avoid Hitagi. You are probably aware that this is a fairly common name in Japan, but in this case, even the kanji choice was exactly the most common one. Well, considering that Kaiki’s intent here was to try to pass up as someone’s else, this would be the right call. I won’t go much deeper here as there doesn’t seem to be anything relevant. He describes his name as suzu, as in a bell on a collar, and ki like giving a blunt answer. And this is exactly what is. 鈴 means bell, especially those rounded ones we often see in Anime. As for 木, it comes from the expression 木で鼻をくくる(ki.de.hana wo kukuru; to give a blunt answer). The point here is that explaining 鈴 as a bell is quite straightforward, but choosing 木で鼻をくくる is clearly intentional to bring the idea of blunt answer into play, as he was trying to finish that phone call quickly and avoid getting into trouble by whatever Senjougahara had in mind.
Shall we review our friend here?
貝木(kai.ki) 泥舟(dei.shuu), the withering tree of money standing on top of all the ones he already deceived, but always craving for more until the day his mud boat sinks.
Thanks for your time, hope you guys enjoyed this. Also special thanks to @Fenris_Lupus for requesting it. If you have a request, feel free to leave it in the comments or send me a tweet on @kyradesuyo.