Hello, Comun again. You might remember me from the now sadly innacurate Junko Enoshima – Makasetekure!. Today I’m back for another 任せてくれ!/ お名前は？and once again it’s a DanganRonpa one. This season brought us the DanganRonpa 3 anime to give closure to the Kibougamine saga before the main series can move on to something else. Of course, this being DanganRonpa, it carries the series brand of insane design choices innovation with it having two separate animes airing on the same season and intercommunicating with each other.
While 未来編 (mi.rai.hen; Future Volume, officially known in the West as Side:Future) and 絶望編 (zetsu.bou.hen; Despair Volume, officially Side:Despair) have fairly different casts, the two share a few characters and I’m here to talk about the arguably most important of them: 超高校級のアニメーター(chou.kou.kou.kyuu.no.animeetaa; Super High School Level Animator) 御手洗 (mi.ta.rai) 亮太 (ryou.ta). If your NG Action is reading spoilers, we recommend you to have watched up to until the 11th episode of each Side.
御手洗 (mi.ta.rai) 亮太 (ryou.ta). In Side:Despair, our lately introduced main character is presented as a hikkikomori animator who overworks himself because he believes in his anime’s power to create hope. He also has a deal with the Super High School Level Impostor, who took his identity so that he doesn’t need to go outside. In Side:Future, we see him as one of 未来機関 (mi.rai.ki.kan; Future Foundation) leaders trapped in the killing game. He keeps his strong sense of justice and became very loyal to Tengan. He probably doesn’t have too much time to waste, so let’s ask him: お名前は？
Family Name: 御手洗 (mi.ta.rai)
The first kanji in Mitarai’s name is an interesting one. 御 is a prefix used in various words in other to add a higher degree of politeness, humbleness and elegance to your sentence. Although this kanji was more heavily used in the past, nowadays is usually replaced by its hiragana forms お or ご. Some examples of words that are more usually written with 御 are: お金 (o.kane; money), お前 (o.mae; you), お茶 (o.cha; tea), お腹 (o.naka; stomach), ご飯 (go.han; rice, meal), お菓子(o.ka.shi; candy) and many others. The other 2 kanjis in his name are 手, meaning hand, and 洗, used in 洗う(ara.u; to wash).
By putting the three of them together, you get the word 御手洗 (mi.ta.rashi). Mitarashi are special fonts placed in front of Shinto temples for the worshippers to purify themselves by washing their hands or mouths before entering. The word is also used a short for 御手洗団子 (mi.ta.rashi.dan.go), which are dangos covered in glazed shoyu.
Another word of interest here is お手洗い(o.te.ara.i; bathroom). This word is usually written in the way presented above, but in some official signs, like mall and airport signs, use the word on its shortened kanji version 御手洗. However, this kind of signs are getting rarer nowadays though, because of requests from the actual Mitarai family, who didn’t like being called toilets for some reason. In cities where there are a lots of Mitarai, bathroom signs have been completely replaced byレストルーム signs.
That’s all the nice trivia I have about Mitarai’s name but how does any of that relates to the character? Well, out of all his kanjis, the most relevant one is 洗, because it’s used in a very particular word: 洗脳 (sen.nou; brainwashing). We have never seen Mitarai washing his hands, but he sure washed some brains. In fact, his own fatal flaw which lead to the huge pile of suffering that was his character was his belief that it was ok to use brainwashing if he was using it for good.
There’s another detail very interesting about his name and personality, but one I was not sure it was intentional because it’s based on an expression I thought didn’t exist in Japanese. As you know, Mitarai gets very panicky when the subject of his actions in Side:Despair is brought up. He strong denies his involvement with the brainwashing videos, saying he was only making anime to create hope and (rightfully) blaming Junko on everything that happened. Most Christian countries have an expression for this act of absolving yourself of responsibility or future blame: to wash your hands of something. While the most common equivalents for that expression are 関係を絶つ(kan.kei.wo.ta.tsu; sever connections) or 携わらない (tazusa.wa.ra.na.i; not taking part), the expression これから手を洗う carrying this meaning does exist in Japanese.
Others 御手洗 (mi.ta.rai):
- 御手洗(mi.ta.rai) 史伽 (fumi.ka) from Seikon no Qwaser (2010)
- 御手洗 (mi.ta.rai) 藤吉郎 (tou.kichi.rou) from Deeper Samurai Kyou (1999)
- 御手洗 (mi.ta.rai) 翔太 (shou.ta) from The Idolm@ster (2011)
Given Name: 亮太(ryou.ta)
The first kanji in Mitarai’s first name is 亮, the same one Kyra chose in Akira Hayama and Ryou Kurokiba – onamae wa?. Funnily enough, here it is read as Ryou, despite being the name he chose for Akira instead. As already explained, the kanji carries two meanings, both related with Mitarai’s character. Let’s start with clear.
The word “clear” usually makes us think of light or of something untainted. This certainly defines Mitarai to a certain extent. Despite his extremely questionable methods and their tragic results, his intentions were always the most pure. The DanganRonpa series is one filled with characters that hold the concept in high regards and out of all of them I believe Mitarai’s was the one that was most challenged. He was bullied to the point he couldn’t leave home anymore, but in spite of that, he still managed to find value (read: anime) in the world he lived and did his best (read: overworked himself) to make it a better place. Even after his techniques were stolen and he was forced to play a crucial part in the end of the world, he still didn’t give up his hope and joined the Future Foundation, where he gaining a leading role in the process of recovering culture in the reconstructed world. Pretty much nothing good ever happened in Mitarai’s life but he still kept his hopes for a better world shining untainted.
As for “help”, it could refer to Mitarai’s unending desire to help the world by making hopeful anime. However, on a more negative note, it could refer to how helped Junko and whoever the mastermind in Side:Future is by creating the brainwashing techniques used in their respective despairing animations.
The next kanji is name is 太, already explained on Dazai on Spring 2016 wrapping up – onamae wa? and Tanakeda – onamae wa?. So, how does the words “fat” or “abundant” relates to Mitarai? Well, it doesn’t, Mitarai is very skinny and didn’t seem particularly rich. However, we all can clearly tell this word’s connection to another nameless character who is also referred as Ryouta Mitarai through the anime: the 超高校級の詐欺師 (chou.kou.kou.kyuu.no.sa.gi.shi; Super High School Level Impostor, adapted to Ultimate Impostor in the localization).
One thing I would like to add about the word 太い: despite meaning “fat”, it’s not an insulting word. On the contrary, it’s a respectable word implies wealth and physical strength. That’s why 太 is so common and well-liked for male names. I think you can get the idea by thinking about how sumo is a very honorable sport in Japan. Of course, it’s still completely possible to insult someone for being fat in Japanese, but the word you use for that is デブ.
This concept fatness being associated with abundance might be reason why the Impostor was introduced disguised as Togami in the second game. Also, during the game, Hinata makes quite a few comments that can be misinterpreted as insults to western audiences, but are actually sincere and respectful comments about “Togami” aura of grandeur. It’s more admiration than mocking really.
Now that we entered the subject of the Impostor, why don’t we move a little bit back and check how 亮 fits him? If we think “clear”, we can think clear meaning “transparent, colorless”. It sure checks for someone with no sense of identity. He has name, no family and believes he can only exist by becoming someone else. His true self is completely clear.
As for “help”, let’s a take a look at his behavior in DanganRonpa 2 and how it compares to the Togami he was impersonating. Aside for his obsession with food, there was one critical difference between the fake and the real deal: the Impostor is a fundamentally nice person. Togami is the kind of person who believes he shouldn’t approach commoners, but his impersonator is too much of a good person to properly play this role. He quickly takes the leader role, always listens to Hinata’s troubles and takes all measures he can to keep every single student safe. His whole role in 2 is to help.
- 渡(watari) 亮太(ryou.ta) from Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (2014-2015)
- 亮太(ryou.ta) from Hotarubi no Mori he (2011)
- 美墨(mi.sumi) 亮太(ryou.ta) from Futari wa Precure (2004-2005)
There some other very popular Ryoutas, like Ryouta Kise from Kuroko no Basket and Ryouta Kawara from Hatoful Boyfriend, but they are written with different kanji: 涼太. Check my Junko text to see what 涼 means.
Hello, Kyra here! Glad we received yet another detailed research on a Danganronpa character by our guest writer, @ComunCoutinho. I’d expected a series like this to be filled with interesting names, so I’m glad I had someone stepping in to cover it, as I couldn’t fill it in my watching list for Summer 2016.
Thanks all for your time, hope you enjoyed your reading!