Hello, Kyra here! This is Onamae wa? #28, our weekly encounter where we pick Anime character’s names and look for anything interesting in them.
We knew something was wrong. And yet we dared to venture into this show. Wait, my bad. Exactly because we knew things would go down this way, we picked this one. While the concept of Would you like to become a 魔法少女(ma.hou.shou.jo)? isn’t something new, it does usually bring our weekly dose of suffering.
Our guest today is 姫河(hime.kawa) 小雪(ko.yuki), main protagonist of Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku, a fantasy anime currently airing this Fall. Due to how many candies are earned from reading this post, it is recommended to have watched up to Episode 4 of this show to avoid spoilers, pon.
姫河(hime.kawa) 小雪(ko.yuki) is an eight grader that has admired the idea of Magical Girls since early on and, most importantly, didn’t change her mind upon growing up. This created an environment where she wouldn’t have other people to talk about her hobby. Through the ソーシャルゲーム(soosharugeemu; social game) managed by Fav (?) she felt as close as possible to her ideal of being someone who would help others, as a Magical Girl. She is among the 16 (as of Episode 4. Well, 14. Heh.) who were recently chosen to receive magical powers and thus became Snow White. Let’s check her name before we go any further. お名前は？
Family Name: 姫河(hime.kawa)
姫河(hime.kawa) is a variant of the much more common 姫川(hime.kawa), featuring 河 instead of 川, which I’ll cover below. It can also be found as Himegawa quite often.
姫 is the main point here. By itself it is read as Hime, meaning princess or any young lady of noble birth. It also carries the idea of something girlish, small, cute. In certain situations it is also applied to prostitutes, as in 寵姫(chou.ki; one’s favorite mistress). This last idea aside, it is very appropriate for Koyuki, someone who is, despite not being from a noble bloodline as far as we know, the embodiment of noble values. Plus small. And cute. Sometimes this word is used interchangeably with 王女(ou.jo; princess), but if you want to be picky, 王女 is reserved for a daughter of a king, while 姫 is a more general term. Not to be confused with 御嬢(o.jou; respectful way to address someone else’s daughter), which is often heard in Anime. To further throw similar words on you, 女王(jo.ou) is one of the many ways to refer to a Queen.
Oh, right. Back to Koyuki’s name. 河 is a less common kanji for the concept of river/stream, in contrast to the usual 川. Read as 河(hoo), it means the discarded tiles / cards in board games. Both 川 and 河 (usually the later) are used as a suffix to name rivers in Japanese, like 荒川(ara.kawa; literally rough, wild river) or 利根川(to.ne.gawa). This last one is considered one of the “Three Greatest Rivers” of Japan, the others being 吉野川(yoshi.no.kawa) in Shikoku and 筑後川(chiku.go.kawa) in Kyuushuu. Tonegawa is nicknamed 坂東太郎(ban.dou.ta.rou), where 坂東(ban.dou) is a archaic alias for Kantou region and 太郎(ta.rou) is a popular given name for an oldest son.
All this river talk brings us to 姫川 (hime.gawa), a river in Nagano. This name comes from 奴奈川姫(nu.na.kawa.hime), part of Japanese Shinto Cosmology. Her interactions with the god 大国主(oo.kuni.nushi) are the precedent for the traditional exchange of letters as a courting ceremony in ancient Japan. Once again, this is purely trivia. The show takes place in N-city, which happens to share initials with Nagano but otherwise nothing. The point here is that the origin of Himegawa goes one step further from just a lady of noble birth, but also one beautiful enough to charm a god.
No others 姫河(hime.kawa), but plenty of 姫川 (hime.kawa):
- 姫川 (hime.kawa)友紀(yu.ki) from The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls (2015)
- 姫川 (hime.kawa)マキ(maki) from Digimon Adventure tri. 1: Saikai (2015)
- 姫川 (hime.kawa)エレナ(erena) from Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle (2011)
Given Name: 小雪(ko.yuki)
小雪(ko.yuki) further emphasizes the petite & cute theme of her Family Name. As Himekawa, it is a classic name, with simple reading and is associated to the weather or environment.
We explored 小 a couple of times in 小田切(o.da.giri) from Sansha Sanyou (link), 小日向(ko.hi.nata) from Amanchu! (link) and 小鳥(ko.tori) from Amama to Inazuma (link). Nothing much to add here, it denotes something small.
When checking 雪(yuki) from Momokuri (link) I pointed out how it brings the idea of purity. This is the main link here to our guest today. The official site denotes Koyuki as a Mahou Shoujo お人好し (o.hito.yo.shi; softhearted, easy mark, pure, naive). This was clear since the beginning, although the events on Episode 4 made it much more obvious. By adding 小, instead of reducing the idea of this naivety from 雪, we only accentuate it even more, by shrinking her concept in face of the harsh reality.
小雪(ko.yuki) exists as a word, bearing two meanings. First one is simply a light fall of snow. The second one is a more specific term, usually read as 小雪(shou.setsu), a period of time in the 二十四節気(ni.juu.shi.setsu.ki), a 24 division in traditional East Asian lunisolar calendars. 小雪 usually comprises the term between November 22th and December 7th. By the way, Episodes 9 and 10 will take place during this period.
Now that we have 雪(yuki) introduced, we can finally make the obvious link to 白雪姫(shira.yuki.hime), the Japanese name for the german (?) fairy tale Snow White, from which comes the Magical Girl name of our guest today. In fact, 白雪姫 itself can be read as 白雪姫(ko.yu.ki) without much stretching, being a reasonable reading in Japanese. Thus Snow White draws from both her Family Name and Given Name, while being just another face of her Given Name. Woah!
- 高峰(taka.mine) 小雪(ko.yuki) from Happiness! (2006)
- 榊原(sakaki.bara) 小雪(ko.yuki) from Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! (2011)
- 綾瀬(aya.se) 恋雪(ko.yuki) from Zutto Mae kara Suki deshita.: Kokuhaku Jikkou Iinkai (2016). Here using 恋(romance, in love) instead of 小. Fancy guy.
Let’s review our guest today:
姫河(hime.kawa) 小雪(ko.yuki), the half noble, half naive, pure as white snow, magical girl.
This show has a lot of good [Onamae wa?] material. 颯太(sou.ta), Koyuki’s best friend, uses kanji for sudden and big/thick, which could be linked to his/her power of resizing his/her sword. Ruler has 王, the kanji for monarchs, in her Family Name. Swim-Swim’s Family Name could be understood as a Hill as calm as the sea, a link to both her personality and power to dive into anything like water. There is much more, but unfortunately I can’t cover them all here.
Thanks for your time, hope you enjoyed your reading. Mahoiku is an interesting show, though it is not among my favorites in Fall. A good idea is setting up a betting pool among a few friends to see when each girl will die.See you all next weekend!