Hello, Kyra here! This is Onamae wa? #37, our weekly encounter where we pick Anime character’s names and look for anything interesting in them.
Our guest guest today is 高坂(kou.saka) 麗奈(rei.na), main character 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 12 to avoid spoilers.
高坂(kou.saka) 麗奈(rei.na) enrolled in Kitauji for two reasons: the conductor named Taki-sensei and the man named Taki, who happen to be the same person. Most of her story was developed already by Season 2 Episode 12 with her open confession left answered, although you never know what could happen on S2E13. Anyway, to the despair of many, she was (seemingly) never in love with Kumiko. Well, at least not on the way those people were feverish wishing. Let’s check her name out. お名前は？
Family Name: 高坂(kou.saka)
高坂(kou.saka) doesn’t seem to be a popular name in Japan, as according to this site it features in the 1.118th place among most used ones. Well, when you think that there are over 100.000 surnames, that may seem ok though. As there are various ways to write a name using this reading, we will just focus on this specific case here.
高 was last seen in [Onamae wa? #23], when we covered 高海(taka.mi)千歌(chi.ka), leader of Aqours in Love Live! Sunshine, associating it with Chika’s usual high spirits. But what about now? A word that could resonate with Reina would be 高尚(kou.do; high, noble refined), a perfect fit for her aura of greatness.
A common word with 坂 is 坂道(saka.michi; hill road), which is a very recurring term in Japanese songs and settings. Not only it describes a terrain feature, but also creates metaphors for abstract ideas like ascension or going downhill, overcoming a hurdle or failing to do so. Another interesting expression is 女坂(onna.zaka), formed by 女(onna; woman) and 坂(saka; slope, hill), which means “the easier of two slopes” equivalent in meaning to “lesser of two evils” from English.
Tying up both ideas grants us 高坂(kou.saka) as a very high hill and from what we have seen through the course of Euphonium story, Reina chose, indeed, a steep, strenuous hill to climb. Aside of the abstract idea here of Taki-sensei, this surname mostly reminds me of 大吉山(dai.kichi.yama), the hill that Reina and Kumiko climbed in Season 1 Episode 8 and once again on Season 2 Episode 11.
There is a very interesting trivia about a certain feature of this place, shown on the both episodes, but that will pass unattended by most people.
The board reads お別れ植樹(o.waka.re.shoku.ju), something like Parting Tree, as translated by Crunchyroll. お別れ(o.waka.re) is the act or occasion of bidding farewell and there is a tradition in Japan of celebrating important dates by 植樹(shoku.ju; tree planting). Found some info about it on this website here (Japanese only) and from there I quote what is actually written on the board:
Rough translation: [Uji Municipal Kadou/Hanamichi (???) Middle School – Shouwa 56 Graduating Students Parting Tree]
However, upon searching for this school, nothing would appear. Revising the image I noticed that the person from the above website actually wrote the name of the school wrong. Instead of 花道(kadou ou hanamichi), it was supposed to be 菟道(To.dou; name). Also, Shouwa 56 is equal to 1981 in our Gregorian Calendar. (You can read more about the Japanese Date System here).
Then a clearer translation would be: Uji Municipal Todou Middle School – 1981 Graduating Students Parting Tree. (The official site for this school is here, nor that there is anything relevant there for the context now). Before actually finding this hint of it being about School Graduation, asking a few Japanese friends about it actually provided a different idea, that it would be something related to a close friend passing away due to the お別れ term itself being more prominent on the board.
You can find more comparison shots of locations in Euphonium and their real life equivalents in 北吹, a Japanese fansite about the series, also in this blog that depicted a lot about Season 1 Episode 8 location; and lastly the marvelous coverage of most of the area involved in Season 1 in this post here: Pilgrimage to Uji for Hibike Euphonium.
Given Name: 麗奈(rei.na)
麗奈(rei.na) brings back the idea that we saw last week when talking about Kumiko’s name: parents using kanji that denotes beauty in the name of their child. The difference here is that this one feels much more exotic. Reina also means Queen in Spanish and believe me, this may also be considered when naming kids in Japan. Yup. It is serious like that.
Although 麗 is a 常用漢字(jou.you.kanji; the 2136 characters considered regular by the Japanese Government), it is used as much as others in the same category. While we all know the word kirei, it is often found in Hiragana only as きれい rather than 綺麗(ki.rei; beautiful). Other words include 麗しい(uruwa.shii; lovely, beautiful) and 麗句(rei.ku; elegant phrase).
奈 also appear as a Jouyou Kanji, but it is probably in slightly better situation than 麗. In one hand, it is featured mostly in obscure words like 奈落(na.raka; hell, very bottom, worst case) and 奈良漬(nara.duke; vegetables pickled in sake lees), but it appear in the name of famous places like 奈良(nara) and 神奈川(ka.na.gawa), thus being a kanji closer to the daily life of Japanese. Well, you can also point out that it is simpler to write. Either way, should point out that both kanji will be easily recognized by any Japanese person, regardless of it being common or not. 奈 appears in many interrogative expressions like 奈何(ikan; how, in what way) and 奈辺(nahen; where), but these aren’t common themselves, which makes it a even more elusive kanji.
By putting both together we get… I’m not sure, honestly. It is hard to convey a meaning to 奈. Maybe we can go straight into how beautiful can this child be? or beautiful in many ways. The most important trait here is that these two kanji possess a much refined aura, in my opinion. While 久美子(ku.mi.ko) featured an old style of naming, here we have 麗奈(rei.na) using something that goes against the traditional. Like Reina in Euphonium.
高坂(kou.saka) 麗奈(rei.na), the beautiful girl climbing a steep hill.
Thanks for your time, hope you enjoyed your reading. I wonder if Episode 13 will treat Reina well. Hopefully she can get to the end of that hill! As we approach the end of the 2016, I wish everyone well. May 2017 be great for all of us. See you all next year!