Hello, Kyra here! This is Onamae wa? #16, our weekly encounter where we pick Anime character’s names and look for anything interesting in them.
Family restaurants are a traditional part of Japanese modern culture, be it on fictional works or reality. Cozy atmosphere, good prices and no need to wear fancy clothing, could it get any better? Well, it can, if you are having your meal together with this amazing trio.
Our guests today are 犬塚(inu.zuka)公平(kou.hei), 犬塚(inu.zuka)つむぎ(tsumugi) and 飯田(ii.da)小鳥(ko.tori), protagonists of Amaama to Inazuma, a heartwarming slice of life show currently airing in Summer 2016. For the sake of this meal, it is recommended to have watched up to Episode 3 to avoid crying due to spoilers, and we all know this show requires a lot of tears every week, so keep that in mind.
犬塚(inu.zuka)公平(kou.hei) is a high school math teacher and single father. We don’t have details on what happened to his former wife, but it has been only six months since she died. He cares a lot for his daughter and so far the show has managed to portray this very well and our tears are a testament to that. お名前は？
Family Name: 犬塚(inu.zuka)
犬塚(inu.zuka) isn’t a very popular surname, but it is used nowadays nonetheless. 犬 stands for dog, appearing in related words like 犬(inu; dog) and 犬小屋(inu.go.ya; kennel). There are very interesting expressions using this kanji, like 犬も食わない(inu mo ku.wanai; literary not even a dog would eat), used to say that something/someone is avoided or disliked by anyone. You’d expect 犬猫(inu.neko; literary dogs and cats) to describe a bad relationship, but in fact it is used to say that something is trivial. If you do want to say that two people don’t get along, the expression you’d be looking for is 犬猿(inu.saru; literary dogs and monkeys). Back to 犬, it can also be used as a pejorative term, similar to loser or useless. 塚 brings the idea of an artificial mound or hill, like the one we have seen in Deishuu Kaiki – onegai!. Although often used in names, as 塚田(tsuka.da), 塚野(tsuka.no) and 塚本(tsuka.moto), this kanji has a not very good connotation to it, as it is often related to tombs and 塚穴(tsuka.ana; grave).
On the scene above Tsumugi-chan used the word 誕プレ(tan.pure). It comes from 誕生日(tan.jou.bi; birthday) and プレゼント(purezento). This is actually Kouhei’s first birthday since his wife died and it was shown during this scene that she had even marked it on the calendar together with Tsumugi-chan. I was actually surprised to see that he still managed to hold the tears in during a moment like this.
Combining 犬 and 塚 would give a meaning of a mound of dogs or something darker as a mound of dead dogs. But if you really wanted to offend, 犬塚 could stand for a bunch of losers or even a huge amount of useless effort. I doubt we will ever see this being related to Kouhei, even though the idea of useless effort could become handy depending on how the plot develops. Just to spice it up, here is a scene from Episode 1, when Kouhei remembers his wife:
- 犬塚(inu.zuka)キバ(kiba) from Naruto series (2002).
- 犬塚(inu.zuka)信乃(shi.no) from Hakkenden: Touhou Hakken Ibun (2013).
- 犬塚(inu.zuka)キューマ(kyuuma) from Kakumeiki Valvrave (2013).
Given Name: 公平(kou.hei)
公平(kou.hei) is a fairly simple name, both in writing and reading. 公 is often used to describe that something is public, as in 公園(kou.en; public park) and 公務員(kou.mu.in; public servant). 平 appeared in Shokugeki no Souma – onegai! bringing Souma-kun common learning by experience and in Katsuhira Agata – onamae wa？ as not doing anything, being overly peaceful. 平 can also be used to describe someone who is a novice at doing something, which could be related to Kouhei still learning his way about daily housework.
Together, 公平 means fairness, impartiality and justice, attributes which were displayed when dealing with the Clay incident on Episode 3. One could argue that his job as a teacher also played a role there, but I’d say it is more correct to look the other way around. He is naturally a fair, polite person and this is even emphasized by his worries about getting involved with Kotori-san or to burden her family by visiting her family restaurant.
- 出水(izu.mi)公平(kou.hei) from World Trigger (2014).
- 上野(ue.no)公平(kou.hei) from Nazo no Kanojo X (2012).
- 沢木(sawa.ki)公平(kou.hei) from Detective Conan Movie 02: The Fourteenth Target (1998).
What do we know about 犬塚(inu.zuka)つむぎ(tsumugi)? She is a pre-schooler, likes Magical Girls and Hamburger Steak. She has a very close relationship with her father and seems to be a good girl at the daycare. On Episode 3 we saw how strong is her sense of justice, a direct resemblance to her father character. Shall we take a look at her given name?
Given Name: つむぎ(tsumugi)
Uh, oh. A non-kanji name! 久しぶりです(hisa.shiburi desu; It is been a while). There is a direct kanji for it, 紬(tsumugi), which means pongee, a type of cloth originally made from silk, although nowadays it can also be made of other materials like polyester. As this word ends with i, another possibility is considering つむぎ as a noun and looking for a verb by swapping i for u, which in this case gives us tsumugu, or 紡ぐ(tsumu.gu; to spin, to make a yarn). Once again its main use is related to tailoring, but it can also appear as a metaphoric way to say that someone is telling a story.
On the scene above from Episode 2, Tsumugi-chan couldn’t understand what is going on because Kotori used uncommon words. First one was 拇印(bo.in; thumb print) and the second one was 血判(kep.pan; seal of blood). Despite her age, I’d expect Tsumugi to know the words thumb and blood, so going only by the subtitles the real feeling ends up lost when translating it, which is unfortunate.
- 琴吹(koto.buki)紬(tsumugi) from K-On! (2009)
- 織原(ori.hara)つむぎ(tsumugi) from Happiness Charge PreCute! Movie: Ningyou no Kuni no Ballerina (2014).
- 白羽衣(shira.u.i)つむぎ(tsumugi) from Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki (2015)
飯田(ii.da)小鳥(ko.tori) is a high school student and daughter of a restaurant owner. So far we know that she is afraid of knives, although we don’t really know why. It seems she also doesn’t have good cooking skills, but on Episode 3 she managed to follow her mother written instructions quite well. It is still unclear what really motivates her into inviting Kouhei and Tsumugi over, but she exhales goodwill and a heartwarming aura. お名前は？
Family Name: 飯田(ii.da)
A family restaurant whose owners have 飯田(ii.da) as their name? Well played. Both 御飯(go.han) and 飯(meshi) mean cooked rice or any meal in general. The expression 飯が食えない(meshi ga ku.enai; literary unable to have a meal) is used to describe someone who can’t make a living and there is also 飯の種(meshi no tane; literary source of meal) which means source of incoming. This can be taken both metaphorically or literary, as rice was once used as currency in Japan. 田 has been explored a few times here, as in Futaba, Youko and Teru – onamae wa?. Nothing much to expand here, as this name is quite straightforward and easily related to Kotori-chan.
The whole scene above may seen weird for someone new to Japanese culture. Is it just rice, why is she so happy about it? First point is the whole context here as she didn’t even know how to make rice, so this was a huge victory for her. Second one is that rice in Japan isn’t one more thing in the table, but for a lot of people it is considered the main dish. Third one (very subjective) is that it is indeed delicious! During my time in Japan I remember many days when I’d just warm up some rice and it by itself. Good times!
- 飯田(ii.da)奈々(na.na) from Rail Wars! (2014)
- 飯田(ii.da)綾乃(aya.no) from Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo (2012)
- 飯田(ii.da)天哉(ten.ya) from Boku no Hero Academia (2016)
Given Name: 小鳥(ko.tori)
小鳥(ko.tori) is a very recurring name for girls in Japanese culture. Although 鳥 might look scary to write at first glance, both kanji are easy to write and read and its explicit meaning gives a very adorable aura fitting to naming a baby. We have seen 小 last season in Futaba, Youko and Teru – onamae wa? and recently in Hikari Kohinata and Futaba Ooki – onamae wa?. 鳥 means bird, both alive as birds/chickens or its meat. Related words include 鳥肉(tori.niku; chicken meat) and 鳥籠(tori.kago; birdcage).
- 南(minami)ことり(kotori) from Love Live! School Idol Project (2013)
- 音無(oto.nashi)小鳥(ko.tori) from The iDOLM@STER (2011)
- 神戸(kan.be)小鳥(ko.tori) from Rewrite (2016)
Sweetness and Lightning
甘々と稲妻(amaama to ina.zuma) is a very interesting name. I spoke a bit about the symbol 々 back in Saya Sasamiya and Kirin Toudou – onamae wa? and here it works the same way, doubling both the reading and its idea. Although the official English name is Sweetness and Lightning, 甘 conveys a lot of meanings, ranging from sweetness, naivety, easy going, sugary. It is heartbreaking to think that this show could be named Naivety and Lightning, representing how Tsumugi-chan is still unaware of her mother’s fate and how her father struggles to not make her beloved child cry.
What about 稲妻(ina.zuma; lightning)? Well, the main idea here is something that flashes instantly in a huge impact, only to disappear afterwards. This could be related to Kouhei’s deceased wife, but we don’t really know how she died. But hey, there is more. And this is where things get interesting. Let’s take a look at 稲妻(ina.zuma):
You really want me to believe that a kanji that means rice and another that means wife just randomly appeared in a show like this? Yup. I don’t believe it either. There is a lot to digest here. Is this related to his former wife? Or could this be a reference to Kotori-chan? Their very first meal together was all about rice after all. If it is Kotori, it doesn’t necessarily imply in a love relationship between them. She could just be, literary, the rice wife, or something akin to a mother when it comes to meals, as she is already filling that space (Tsumugi is steadily seeing her like that).
Another point is that いなずま(inazuma) is very similar to いない妻(inai tsuma), which means absence of a wife. All in all a very well crafted title, in my opinion.
Let’s review our guests today!
犬塚(inu.zuka)公平(kou.hei), the inexperienced single father.
犬塚(inu.zuka)つむぎ(tsumugi), the girl whose story is spinning very fast.
飯田(ii.da)小鳥(ko.tori), the little bird that brings rice into the table.
Thanks for your time, hope you guys enjoyed your reading. Amaama to Inazuma is one of my favorite shows this season and I highly recommend it, though you should be prepared to cry. See you all next weekend!