Hello, Kyra here! This is Onamae wa? #27, our weekly encounter where we pick Anime character’s names and look for anything interesting in them.
Memefaces. We all love them and every season there is at least one show that will provide us with endless screenshots of reaction faces enough to spill out of our hard drives. But on Fall 2016 the burden of the Memebringer has fallen on the hands of a perfect bearer. I figured out I should invite her over before she gets famous, as she is already way too cocky.
Our guest today is 烏丸(karasu.ma) 千歳(chi.tose), main protagonist of Gi(a)rlish Number, a slice of life anime about 声優(sei.yuu; voice actor/actress) in the Anime Industry, currently airing this Fall. Due to how this industry works, it is recommended to have watched up to Episode 2 of this show to avoid becoming a spoiled kid, like our guest.
First glance at 烏丸(karasu.ma) 千歳(chi.tose) will reveal a cute college student starting her career as a voice actress. Thing is, if you could hear 1% of what is going through her head, you would either punch her in the face or leave her talking by herself. Chitose-chan seems to be a heavily spoiled girl, one of those who are bound to crash Soon™. Let’s see if we can find anything in her name. お名前は？
Family Name: 烏丸 (karasu.ma)
烏丸(karasu.ma) is fairly normal reading, using both 訓読み(kun.yo.mi), although on 丸 we don’t see Maru, but rather Ma. There are very interesting points here, so let’s start checking each kanji individually.
烏 is the kanji used in many bird-related words like 烏(karasu; crow, raven), 烏揚羽(karasu.age.ha; a black butterfly) and 烏鳩(karasu.bato; a black pidgeon). Crow and Ravens are actually two different things, and I suppose the proper word for Raven would be 渡鴉(watari.garasu). I emphasize this here because isolated 烏 is much closer to Crow than Raven. And boy, if Chitose were to be one of these two, she would be the former.
Thus even though here on Episode 2 Chitose is painting a black image on poor Yae-chan, we all know that she is the black-hearted here, and 烏 brings this idea into play. While ravens are more likely to hang out in wilder areas and woodlands, crows just go wherever they want. Like Chitose. They are opportunistic birds, feeding off anything. Like Chitose. They have a rounded tail. Like C… wait, no.
This same parallel can be drawn from 烏賊(ika; squid), which is also famous for its inner black ink. A funny trivia here is that 烏(karasu; crow, raven) is only one step (stroke) away from 鳥(tori; bird). I don’t know details about Chitose’s past so it is hard to farfetch some deep meaning like she lacking only one thing to become a regular bird. Anyway, move on!
Second kanji here is 丸, which we saw a bit when talking about Hanamaru-chan from Love Live! Sunshine a few weeks ago (link). Quoting from there:
丸(maru) gives the general idea of roundness or perfection. It is a very important suffix in Japanese naming, used for swords, ships, armor, musical instruments, pets and many others.
Both are quite on point here. Either you can see 丸 as emphasizing that Chitose is a perfect crow or just as a pet, also further indicating a link to this bird.
Her family name can also be read in a different way, 烏丸(u.gan), a variant kanji for 烏桓(u.gan), nomadic people that inhabited northern China during around 200 AD. Read a bit into them but it doesn’t seem to exist a link between Chitose and them.
- 烏丸(karasu.ma) 大路(ou.ji) from School Rumble (2004-2005)
- 烏丸(karasu.ma) 京介(kyou.suke) from World Trigger (2014)
- 烏丸(karasu.ma) ちとせ(chitose) from Galaxy Angel 4 (2004).
Wait. Woah! This last girl has the same name as our guest today. Let’s check her profile and…
Despite a polished and loving manner, she is actually counterproductive socially and quite bloodthirsty at times.
Although generally a nice and sweet girl, Chitose vacillates between wanting to make friends with the Angels and wanting to kill them.
Given Name: 千歳(chi.tose)
千歳(chi.tose) is a very common name and this is the staple kanji for it. You can often find it in kana only (ちとせ) as well.
千 means 1000, present in words like 千仞(sen.jin; bottomless, great depth) and 八千(hassen, 8000 but also used as many). This one was briefly covered when we talked about Chika-chan from Love Live! Sunshine (link here).
歳 is the standard kanji for age-related words, sometimes sharing this purpose with 年. Some words include 幾年(iku.nen; number of years), 御歳暮(o.sei.bo; end of the year) and in the daily life question 何歳ですか？(nansai desuka?; how old are you?).
As expected, 千歳(chi.tose) then means millennium / one thousand years, sometimes used figuratively to describe a long time from the point of view of the speaker. There are many cities, stations, schools and people named 千歳 in Japan. As I said, it is very common. While researching some Japanese forums about it, I ran into a father who was worried about naming her soon to be born child as 千歳 because people would make puns like:
何歳ですか？(nansai desu ka; how old are you?)
千歳です！(1000 years old!)
This sound silly, but you could sort of understand, although grammatically incorrect, the expression 何歳ですか？ as Which 歳 are you? I’m Chi歳! Add up that reading it as Chisai sounds similar to 小さい(chii.sai; small) and you can make endless puns.
As far as how to connect this name to our Chitose, no idea. I thought about joking that she would need 1000 years to learn a few life lessons but I think this won’t take that long. One possible point was using it figuratively to point out how she was only able to hit endless minor roles before the events of Episode 1-2 (the Anime is an original work, as the Light Novel covers a period before what is currently happening in the Anime). Although that opportunity/occasion idea was presented above, I couldn’t find a single word where this would be shown. As a last resort, we could cling to the idea that 千歳(chi.tose) is a very common name, a very much needed reminder to our heroine that she isn’t special at all.
- 池田(ike.da) 千歳(chi.tose) from Yuru Yuri (2011)
- 千歳(chi.tose) 洋(you) from K (2012)
- 烏山(karasu.yama) 千歳(chi.tose) from D-Frag! (2014)
Wait, again? We did miss one kanji as here we have 烏山(karasu.yama) instead of 烏丸(karasu.ma), but either way very similar. Back in D-Frag! the student council president was infamous for her roughness. Difference here is that she wouldn’t hide her black side, while our guest today does so in a fashionable manner.
Let’s review our guest today!
烏丸(karasu.ma) 千歳(chi.tose), a beautiful and pretentious black crow looking for the perfect opportunity to soar.
Thanks for your time, hope you guys enjoyed your reading. Gi(a)rlish Number is a very funny show (so far) and most importantly, has plenty of memefaces. Hopefully things will go wrong soon so we see some interesting development. See you all next weekend!