Hello, Kyra here! This is makasetekure! #1, first post of a new series. I was both surprised and happy when a friend requested to collaborate with this blog by writing about his beloved character. This is only the overall 10th post here, so it is very exciting to think about this blog ever growing into something like a Name Research Club in the future! Without further ado, I’ll leave you guys in the care of our guest writer today. Have fun!
Nice to meet you, 皆さん(mina.san; everyone. Hey, you should know this!). My name is Comun, first guest writer here at Kyra Desu Yo! I’m sure some of you may know me as Twitter’s (self-proclaimed) No. 1 Enoshima lover, so I guess there is no point beating around the bush on which name we will be analyzing today. Let’s learn about the wonderful gyaru whose charisma was enough to turn the world upside-down: 江ノ島 (e.no.shima) 盾子 (jun.ko) from DanganRonpa.
The DanganRonpa franchise has quite a few interesting names I would like to talk about, such as Hajime Hinata (日向創), Gandamu Tanaka (田中眼蛇夢) or Peko Pekoyama (辺古山ペコ), but today, we will be looking exclusively at Junko and some characters whose names are closely tied to hers. We are going to have the DanganRonpa 3 animes next season, so I might collaborate for an onamae wa? on one of those characters when it comes to that. I’ll do my best to keep on par with the blog so, Kyra-san, 任せてくれ! (maka.setekure, a common expression meaning something like “leave it to me” or “count on me”).
Due to the nature of the DanganRonpa series, spoilers are unavoidable. I must warn that this text contains heavy endgame from both the first game and the light novel DanganRonpa/Zero. I will put a [SPOILER][/SPOILER] tag when we get to the /Zero stuff but DR1 spoilers will be through the entire text. If you want to read it, just select the text between the tags. To avoid the despair of The Biggest, Most Awful, Most Tragic Spoilers in Human History, we recommend all students to have finished the first game or at least have watched its anime adaption.
So, what do we know about 江ノ島 (e.no.shima) 盾子 (jun.ko)? She was an extravagant young girl with tremendous beauty and charisma to which it attracted everyone’s attention. This leads up to her appearing in multiple magazine covers and earning the title of 超高校級 (chou.kou.kou.kyuu; Super High School Level, translated as Super Duper High School in the Zetsubou Project Fan Traslation and as Ultimate in the official localization) のギャル (translated as Supermodel in the fan translation and as Fashionista in the localization). Junko is also the leader of the Super High School Level Despair (超高校級の絶望; chou.kou.kou.kyuu.no.zetsu.bou), being personally responsible for all the despair that’s been casted upon the world. Now, let’s start figuring out all secrets in her name before she gets bored. お名前は？
Family Name: 江ノ島 (e.no.shima)
江ノ島 (e.no.shima) is composed by two kanji 江 and 島 linked together by the possessive particle の, giving the name a meaning of “island of the bay”. The particle の is usually written in hiragana in regular sentences, but for names, it’s preferred to use katakana or the kanji 乃.
Neither of these two words is particularly relevant to Junko’s character, but they are perfectly descriptive to something else: a small island on the Kanagawa Prefecture (神奈川県; ka.na.gawa.ken) that shares the name 江の島 with our character. This small island connects the Katase River (片瀬川; kata.se.gawa) to the Sagami Bay (相模湾; sa.gami.wan), therefore the name “island of the bay” couldn’t be more appropriate for this place.
Enoshima has many touristic attractions, such as botanical gardens and a lighthouse open for visitors, but I believe its most notable attraction is its religious tourism. Enoshima has a great amount of shrines dedicated to the goddess Benzaiten (弁才天), who is said to have pulled this island from the bottom of the sea herself. Benzaiten, often shortened to Benten, is the only female member among the Seven Lucky Gods (七 福神; shichi.fuku.jin) and is revered as the goddess of everything that flows. Water, time, words, speech, eloquence, music, knowledge, anything. If it flows, it under her jurisdiction. Other (less reliable) sources describe her as the goddess of entertainment.
So, how can we link Benzaiten to Junko, aside from the fact that they are both superior beings meant to be worshiped? Well, Benten’s “flow” motif relates directly to Junko’s main reason for seeking despair: her hatred for stagnation. Junko perceives the world as boring and wants to make it flow into new and more interesting (her opinion, not mine) directions.
Junko’s disdain for boring people was internalized as desire not to be boring herself, which caused Junko to highly value herself as entertainer and creating her “personality switch” charade as a way to constantly keeping herself interesting. That not only ties with Benten’s minor status as goddess of entertainment, but also stablishes Junko’s very personality as something that flows. Enoshima herself is under Benzaiten’s blessings.
On an slightly unrelated note, I was planning on pointing out on the map how Enoshima is really close to Kamukura, but during this research I realized that the city’s name is actually Kamakura and I’ve been misreading it for years. [SPOILER] That kinda weakens my plans for a post about Hinata in the future, but Hajime Hinata is still a good enough name for me to work with. [/SPOILER]
Given Name: 盾子(jun.ko)
As Kyra already explained on onamae wa#7, 子 is commonly used as the last kanji in many girls’ names, so it’s not really that relevant. The important part here is the shield kanji (盾). Due to her role as the secret mastermind in the first game, she needed an unassuming name, something we could never guess “this girl is evil” just by looking at it. It couldn’t possibly be something ridiculously in-your-face, such as being named Owari on a game where the protagonist is named Hajime (although that case was just a red herring). As a defensive weapon, usually associated support and pacifism, a shield is definitely an appropriate word for that role.
Of course, there is more to it than that. As you can see above, the word 盾 can also mean pretext. That’s a rare usage of this kanji though, as the preferred word for “pretext” is 口実 (kou.jitsu). The average reader would think of a shield much before they would think “pretext”. Still, the first hint of Junko’s true nature is there.
Another really important point to look at is that the name Junko is actually pretty common, but most commonly spelt with 純(pure, innocent, chaste) instead of 盾. The rejection of the 純 kanji is a strongly meaningful naming choice, but one that can be completely understood as soon as Mukuro makes her self-introduction. Despite both translations put Junko as a regular fashion model, Junko’s talent in the original version is gyaru (ギャル), which brings a whole different context. If you want to know about gyaru culture in-depth there is a good reference in The History of the Gyaru, but I will explain here the more relevant parts. Traditional Japanese society values quiet, shy, chaste and submissive girls, the type known as 大和撫子 (yamato.nadeshi.ko). The gyaru style was a early 90’s fashion trend that went directly against that. Gyarus are cheerful girls who wore flashy clothing/make-up and behaved much “wilder” than the average Japanese girl. The gyaru subculture wasn’t afraid to show off their sexuality (which reflects on how openly lewd Junko is) and valued fun over what the conservatives would call ‘dignity’. The gyaru ideology itself could be summed up as a denial of old concepts of purity. A denial of 純.
That line of though leads to the worst mistake in Mukuro’s pathetic acting career, when she talks in her first Free Time event about how, despites her looks, she really values her own (or Junko’s, depending on your interpretation) chastity. That’s the most non-gyaru thing she could have said. But that’s a topic for another day, as we have it to discuss the most important reason why the 盾 kanji was chosen for her name.
When combined with word 矛(hako; halberd), this kanji forms the word 矛盾 (mu.jun; contradiction). There is quite an interesting story about the origin of this word, but everyone who played the first Phoenix Wright game on a DS knows that already, so I won’t waste our time explaining it. If you don’t know it, there is a short version in Story behind 矛盾, but I personally think Ace Attorney explained better than any other source I found.
So, how does contradiction relates to Junko Enoshima? Well, that should be obvious. Junko is someone who hopes for despair, who seeks pleasure in things that hurt her and feels the most alive when she is close to death. The best example of that is the climax of DanganRonpa/Zero: [SPOILER] Junko uses this very word 矛盾 to describe the pleasure she felt while she tramples over her beloved Yasuke’s dead body with the most sorrowful tears in her eyes. [/SPOILER]. I’m sure she must have felt the same contradictory joy when killing Mukuro, but unfortunately we could not see that. As far as we know, the only people Junko killed with her own hands were the one she loved the most and that’s a contradiction on its own. You could argue that she also killed all the executed students, but that was just following the rules, so it doesn’t count. Those were not Passionate Killings.
That was everything I had to say about the name Junko Enoshima, but aren’t we missing something? What about the other side of 矛盾? If Junko is the shield, who is her halberd? For that, let’s try taking a look at her beloved 残姉さん (zan.nee. san, a pun between “残念; zan.nen; disappointment” and “姉さん; nee.san; older sister”) Mukuro Ikusaba.
Mukuro is Junko’s older twin. Mukuro was stronger and more athletic, but lacked her sister’s brains and beauty and didn’t have any notable traits aside from her fascination for the military. When both girls were 11, she ran away during a family trip to Europe and joined the mercenary group Fenrir for 3 years. Her time on the battlefield earned her title as the 超高校級の軍人 (chou.kou.kou.kyuu.no.gun.jin; Super High School Level Soldier). Unlike her sister, Mukuro isn’t particularly evil, she is just blindly obedient and the ones she is obedient to are highly destructive. To put it shortly, she has a soldier’s mentality. Now, let’s take a quick look at her name.
Family name: 戦刃(ikusa.ba)
Our soldier’s name is composed by war and blade. Names can’t really get more straightforward than that. So, instead of discussing what war blade means, let’s think about why would twins have different last names. I can think of 2 plausible possibilities for that:
a) Enoshima is a stage name. I really can’t think of it being the other way around. Junko is kind of a public figure, first as a freelance model in many magazine covers and later as the world’s destroyer. It’s only natural for her to use a stage name, especially considering how she considers Mukuro’s soldier talent “ugly”. Mukuro, on other hand, was a soldier in an organization that, as far as the general public is concerned, doesn’t exist. Mukuro has no reason to use a fake name, as she has no reason to make her name known by the public.
b) Their parents divorced. Usually, when Japanese parents with more than one child divorce, each parent gets the guardianship of one of the children and the child under the mother’s tutelage has to change their last name to the mother’s maiden name. The most famous examples of divorced brothers in anime I can think of are Yamato Ishida and Takeru Takaishi from Digimon Adventure 01 or Katsuya Jonouchi and Shizuka Kawai from the original Yugioh, pictured below.
For her given name, we have only hiragana. I guess they chose to keep it like that to accommodate two puns on the same name. The first and more obvious option for her name is 骸 (corpse). The meaning here is obvous, as that’s the state in which we first met her (or so we believe in chapter 5). The other alternative is the reason why even mentioned her in the first place: the む in her name could be written as the 矛 in 矛盾. In that case, what we have left isくろ. The only kanji option I know for that would be 黒 (kuro; black), which is the true hair color hidden behind Mukuro’s twin-tailed wig.
However, canon has Mukuro’s name in hiragana, which means combining their names to create the contradiction would result in the improper む盾. I guess Mukuro is a failure even at that. If we stretch that idea even further, we could associate this to how Mukuro doesn’t particularly care about despair, as her side of the contradiction is written in the way that requires the least dedication.
That’s all for Junko Enoshima and Mukuro Ikusaba, but are still not done yet. Junko hid her identity behind a mascot persona throughout the games, so we will be looking at him as well. The self-proclaimed headmaster of Kibougamine, Monokuma.
Monokuma’s name is a simple portmanteau between モノクロ (monochrome) and クマ (bear). The monochrome part contains a trial-related pun, as クロ (black) is a slang for “guilty” (as many of you might know from the localization’s unfortunate choice of translating this word as “the blackened”) and シロ (white) for “innocent”.
This name gets another layer in Another Episode, where we meet Monokuma’s creator, 最中 (mo.naka), who tends to spell her own name in katakana to denote how close it is to Monokuma. Of course, Monokuma’s character was created much before Monaka’s, so her name can only count as an in-universe reason for Monokuma’s.
As a bonus, we will talk about a special character from DanganRonpa/Zero, as she is closely tied to Junko. This contains the most MAJOR SPOILERS imaginable for the novel, so be warned.
DanganRonpa/Zero’s protagonist: Ryouko Otonashi.[SPOILER] Junko’s fake identity created by Yasuke Matsuda after forcibly inflicting her with anterograde amnesia in order to “save her from despair”. By the way, Yasuke’s name is composed of 夜 (night) and 助(help, save), fitting perfectly someone who fought to protect Junko from her own darkness. [/SPOILERS]
Family name: 音無
[SPOILER] Those kanji combine to form the word 音無し(oto.na.shi), which means “silence” or “wait-and-see”. There aren’t any easy to spot connections between name and the character, but I guess silent would be a good word to describe the state of Ryouko’s mind whenever she forgets everything. [/SPOILERS]
Given name: 涼子
[SPOILER] 子 was taken straight from Junko, but 盾 was replaced 涼, a kanji indicating freshness and pleasantness. Ryouko is, by all means, a new Junko, with her contradictions removed alongside with her ability to store memories. You could also say Ryouko’s condition is always refreshing her brain, but that’s not a situation where the kanji 涼 works. The word for that kind of refreshment is 晴らす(ha.rasu). [/SPOILERS]
Shall we review our Class Trial results?
江ノ島 (e.no.shima) 盾子(jun.ko), the wicked gyaru hiding an endless flow of contradictions.
戦刃 (ikusa.ba) むくろ (mukuro), the dead warrior who only follows despair for her sister’s sake.
モノクマ (monokuma), a bear who judges the innocent and the guilty.
音無 (oto.nashi)涼子 (ryou.ko), [SPOILER] a fresh new Junko with her contradictions silenced. [/SPOILERS]
Thanks for your time and I hope you enjoyed our investigation. I really want to thank Kyra for the amazing work he has been doing in this blog and for giving me this opportunity to talk in such detail about my dear waifu. Special thanks also to Taichinchin, a famous DanganRonpa fantranslator, for proofreading I have no idea when I’ll be writing here again, but I really hope to see you guys on a future makasetekure!. Goodbye!