Hello, Kyra here! This is Onamae wa? #6, our weekly encounter where we pick Anime character’s names and look for anything interesting in them.
Today I’ll be welcoming you all to the 僕の漢字アカデミア(boku no kan.ji akademia)! Hope you guys are ready for some intense preparation training and… uh? A transfer student? What has this blog become, an Anime setting? Whatever, enter and do your 自己紹介(ji.ko.shou.kai; self-introduction).
H-hello! My name is 緑谷(midori.ya) 出久(izu.ku) and I’m the main protagonist from Boku no Hero Academia, an action shounen anime currently airing in Spring 2016 and…
Enough Midoriya-kun, pick a seat and open your kanji textbook on page 6. For the sake of today’s class, it is recommended to have watched up to Episode 7 of this show to avoid getting hit by my Spoiler Overflow Quirk.
Izuku “Deku” Midoriya
So what do we know about 緑谷(midori.ya) 出久(izu.ku)? He didn’t naturally manifest a Quirk, but ended up becoming the successor of the legendary hero All Might and thus able to become a student at Yuuei Academy. Due to his early lack of ability, Izuku suffered a lot of bullying, especially from his childhood friend Katsuki, but actually never gave up on one day becoming a hero. Let’s see if there is any hidden Quirk on his name… お名前は？
Family Name: 緑谷(Midoriya)
緑谷(midori.ya) is a very recurring name in Japanese, following that same post-Meiji Restoration pattern that I spoke about in Machi Amayadori and Natsu Kunai – onamae wa?. Right away you can link 緑(midori; green) to Izuku’s hair, eyes and even his Hero uniform. We can squeeze a bit more of it though.
緑 as green is a relatively new use. This is because blue and green used to share the same kanji: 青(ao). This may look weird for some people, but there are actually a lot of languages that don’t have different words for these two colors. In Japanese, 緑 as green only started in the 平安時代(Hei.an.ji.dai; Heian Period, 704-1185 AC) and educational materials only started officially distinguishing green and blue after World War II. The reason I’m telling this is to show that 緑 doesn’t normally bring the idea of immature or unripe that would usually be associated with green in other languages, this role being reserved to its original kanji, 青(ao).
So if we can’t call Izuku immature, which word could we use? What kind of green is Izuku? Turns out that 緑 brings a new idea that is more positive than its predecessor, 青(ao): freshness. Now this is a much better word to describe Izuku. Surely, we could get away by describing him as immature, but the idea that he is just a newborn, fresh Hero, specially considering that he was just recently blessed with its Quirk, seems way more refreshing (HAH).
As a last note on this 青/緑 relation, and this is more of a quirk (PLEASE STOP) than something relevant, All Might uniform is mainly blue and he is being succeeded by Izuku, whose uniform is mainly green.
谷 is used to describe valleys, ravines, canyons and similar terrain formations that features one thing in common: a gap between two high points. Here we could try to see the gap that separated Izuku from his dream of becoming Hero. Or even that he was walking down the canyon while the other ones were already up there, but he would still keep going on.
Another interesting point is that 谷 also carries the meaning of, albeit not very used, to reach an extreme, to be in a dilemma. It is far more common to see 極 being used in this case. All Might ability, One for All, is all about reaching extremes, even more for someone who went through a rushed training in order to fulfill only the minimum requirements for receiving such power.
Given Name: 出久(Izu.ku)
出久(izu.ku) adds quite a bit to our fresh Hero. 出 is very common in Japanese (13th of 2500 most used kanji in newspapers), easy to write and read, featuring a nearly endless list of possible meanings, although all are somewhat related to leaving or releasing. Some interesting verbs using its 訓読み(kun.yo.mi; Japanese reading) are to burst, to break out and to exceed while on its 音読み(on.yo.mi; Chinese reading) we would see coming out and emerging. In one way or another, we can find relations to Izuku in these.
While 久 is not as popular as 出, I’d say almost everyone reading this should know one word using it: 久しぶり(hisa.shiburi; expression meaning it’s been a while). 久 brings this idea of long time or old story, appearing in words like 久遠(kyuu.en; eternity) and 永久(ei.kyuu; perpetuity, immortality). This words can be linked directly to Izuku most recent acquisition, One For All. This ability is passed down to the next generation, accumulating learning and power, continuing to exist for the eternity.
Looking above, when you put 出久 together it gives the idea of waiting a long time to emerge, which is quite exactly the situation that Izuku went through during his childhood.
This nickname is great, because it reflects the very essence of this blog. Kacchan and Uraraka-chan have two different takes on it, each reflecting their own view. By the same idea, whenever I’m coming up with ideas for each weekly post, it is above anything influenced by my subjective conceptions.
Anyway, let’s take a look on each of them. Both 出 and 久 have a lot of different readings. One possible combination is でく(deku). First let’s see what Kacchan thinks about it (Episode 7):
Rude! But yeah, he has a point. The word he is referring to is 木偶(de.ku; wooden figure, puppet, fool, good-for-nothing). As a trivia, this is a special reading for both 木偶: neither is read as [de] or [ku] normally. Because of what Kacchan thinks about Izuku, this is the idea that comes to his mind.
Now let’s see Uraraka-chan’s point of view (Episode 6):
Here she is referring to 出来る(de.ki.ru; to be able to, to be good at). In a slang way, you could shorten it to 出来 and force a く(ku) reading to 来, which isn’t a normal way to read it, but we have 来る(ku.ru; to come, to approach, to grow) and it has a similar intonation to 頑張る(gan.ba.ru; to persevere, to persist). Similar to Kacchan, here Uraraka is pouring her own feelings into coming up with a meaning to Deku. Personally love this approach. Perseverance is a word that summarizes well the whole concept of Izuku. Even his inherited power, One for All, is characterized by persevering through ages.
Just to make it even clearer, if Izuku was chubby, I could also call him Deku on a reference to でくでく(dekudeku), an onomatopoeic word meaning plumb or fat. In other words: it all depends on the speaker’s intention.
Shall we review our class today?
緑谷(midori.ya) 出久(izu.ku), the fresh Hero whose main strength is perseverance.
Thanks for your time, hope you guys enjoyed our class. Boku no Hero Academia might have taken too long to portray Izuku’s initial struggle, but I’m really enjoying it. If you haven’t seen Episode 7 yet, the final scene was intense, I recommend it! See you all next weekend!