Hello, Kyra here! This is Onamae wa? #36, our weekly encounter where we pick Anime character’s names and look for anything interesting in them.
Following last week’s post on Asuka, today we continue to explore names from Kitauji Brass Band. I originally planned to talk about Reina as well today, but it turned out that each of them had enough material for individual posts.
Thus our guest guest today is 黄前(ou.mae) 久美子(ku.mi.ko), main protagonist of Hibike! Euphonium 2, second season of a school drama Anime currently airing in Fall 2016. For the sake of this post, it is recommended to have watched up to Season 2 Episode 11 to avoid spoilers.
黄前(ou.mae) 久美子(ku.mi.ko) developed interest in music because of her sister, Mamiko. Not exactly by her solo will, she started playing the Euphonium and has, as of current time in the show, been doing it for seven years. Midori and Asuka, on Season 1 and 2, respectively, have said that Kumiko is similar to her instrument of choice. Hmm, why is that, I wonder.
The euphonium is a non-transposing instrument known for its distinctive tone color, wide range, variety of character and agility.
Throughout the series we saw Kumiko taking part in many mini-arcs, most of the times because she was dragged into the problem under the pretense that you are good with this. By being able to adapt into various situations, like an Euphonium, Kumiko is able to harmonize with people of different backgrounds and personalities. Turns out that she is/was very good with it indeed and, on top of that, she grew substantially over the course of story. Let’s check her name out! お名前は？
Family Name: 黄前(ou.mae)
黄前(ou.mae) uses regular readings and fairly common kanji, but otherwise seems to be a rare surname, being the 19.967º in the ranking of most used surnames in Japan (which is not good, if you are in doubt) according to this site. While the accuracy of this information can’t be measured, it is still fairly presumable that it won’t be near the Top 10.000.
黄 is present in many words, as expected its main idea being the primary color 黄色(ki.iro; yellow). On the context of Euphonium though, the most striking word is 黄金(ou.gon; Gold).
Granted, when talking about awards, the terms are 金(kin; Gold), 銀(gin; Silver) and 銅(dou; Bronze). Well, on this last one, 銅(dou) actually means Copper, but 青銅(sei.dou; bronze) is mostly made of Copper, and for the sake of using a single kanji, 銅 is a better representative than 青(which has various meaning, but all unrelated to metal).
Back to Kumiko and Gold. On the very first scene of S1E1 we were presented a girl who didn’t really care much for the competition itself. Not that she would be careless per se, but it wouldn’t bother her deeply inside, heavily contrasting with Reina, of course.
Nevertheless, the idea of being awarded Gold has the power to move mostly everyone. On the slide above we see the different moments when Kumiko won Gold over the three competitions featured so far in Euphonium. Full subjective mode here, but I’d argue that on S1E1, the most striking emotion is Surprise for achieving Gold; on S1E13, Hope that precedes a Happening; and lastly, on S2E5, Tension that precedes a Happening. While first case obviously differs greatly from second and third one, the nuance between Hope and Tension was very much made clear by Kyoto Animation.
前 is the 27th most used kanji in Japanese newspapers, easily written and present in daily life words like 名前(na.mae; name) and 午前(go.zen; morning, A.M). It can both describe something that precedes or something that is in front, in the same way that before is used in English. It is also present in a word that ties well into one thematic explored in Euphonium, mentioned last week when talking about Asuka’s original family name: 前進(zen.shin; advance, drive, progress).
By putting both kanji together, 黄前(ou.mae) could mean the one who stands before the Gold, a reference to Kumiko’s growth into someone who is now driven by a goal. It can also makes you wonder about all sort of things when comparing Kumiko before and after discovering the beauty of working hard towards an objective.
There are no other characters named 黄前(ou.mae) in Anime.
Given Name: 久美子(ku.mi.ko)
久美子(ku.mi.ko) seems to be regarded as old name, mostly because the structure of X + 子 has been on decline recently. Either way, it is one of those that has a clear meaning, as we will see below.
We have seen a bit about 久 in the second most popular post, [Onamae wa? #6], featuring Deku from Boku no Hero Academia. From there I quote:
While 久 is not as popular as 出, I’d say almost everyone reading this should know one word using it: 久しぶり(hisa.shiburi; expression meaning it’s been a while). 久 brings this idea of long time or old story, appearing in words like 久遠(kyuu.en; eternity) and 永久(ei.kyuu; perpetuity, immortality).
As for 美, we saw it on [Onamae wa? #11], Mikumo from Macross Delta; and [Onamae wa? #19], Usami from Konobi. On most name forums people like to emphasize that 美 isn’t restricted to physical beauty like in 美人(bi.jin; beautiful woman), but also elegance as in 優美(yuu.bi; refinement, elegance) and impressiveness as in 美談(bi.dan; moving tale, impressive tale).
子 appears here every so often, so here is a quote from [Onamae wa? #34] on Reoko-sama from Bubuki Buranki:
We have seen 子 in this blog multiple times, including in last week’s closer look at Shimomura-kun from Ajin, which you can read here. The idea is simple though, as it usually means child and as stated before is used in the pattern [Whatever + 子] like in 海子(umi.ko; Child of the Sea) or 秋子(aki.ko; Child of Autumn).
By putting these three together, 久美子(ku.mi.ko) means the child who will be eternally beautiful. A very pompous name, I’d say, but that depicts well the love of her parents. And well, we can’t really deny Kumiko’s charm.
Speaking of which, her sister is named 麻美子(ma.mi.ko), swapping 久(eternity) for 麻(paralysis, numb), thus meaning something like the child who possess a numbing beauty. Or you could remember that 麻(asa) is also used for Cannabis, so it would be the child who is as beautiful as weed. Hihihi.
Kumiko is also the reading for 組子(kumi.ko), meaning member of a group, which is very fitting for her. Despite not having a formal role in club administration, she did an outstanding job in helping to stabilize the band through the numerous conflicts that rose over the course of the show.
Others 久美子(ku.mi.ko) in Anime:
- 山口(yama.guchi) 久美子(ku.mi.ko) from Gokusen (2004)
- 埴渕(hani.buchi) 久美子(ku.mi.ko) from Saki Achiga-hen: Episode of Side-A Specials (2013)
- 小森(ko.mori) 久美子(ku.mi.ko) from Kamisama Kazoku (2006)
黄前(ou.mae) 久美子(ku.mi.ko), the eternally beautiful girl who stands before the Gold.
Thanks for your time, hope you enjoyed your reading. Sadly only a few episodes left on Euphonium, but nonetheless excited for the ending. Next time we will conclude our exploration by checking Reina’s name. See you all next weekend!