Hello, Kyra here! This is Onamae wa? #41, our weekly encounter where we pick Anime character’s names and look for anything interesting in them.

You should be watching this show.

Our guest today is 安楽岡(yasu.ra.oka) 花火(hana.bi), main protagonist of Kuzu no Honkai, a school setting drama Anime currently airing in Winter 2017. Nothing much to spoil here as this post only considers episodes 1 and 2.

安楽岡(yasu.ra.oka) 花火(hana.bi)

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安楽岡(yasu.ra.oka) 花火(hana.bi) is our main protagonist. Since long ago in love with her childhood friend Narumi, she chose a school in order to get close to her beloved, now a teacher, only to find out he was seemingly already in love with Akane, a co-worker. Plot happens and she ends up going out with Mugi, who shares a similar fate, as he loved Akane, his former private tutor. For starters, let’s check her name. お名前は?


 

Family Name: 安楽岡(yasu.ra.oka)

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Hmm. 安楽岡(yasu.ra.oka) is a fairly obscure name. Usually when I say a name isn’t popular it still happens to be among the 10.000 most used in Japan, but this time we have one that doesn’t even make into the top 30.000 ones. Every source (like here and here) I checked shows something between 100-200 people in all of Japan and most of them in Gunma Prefecture.

安 is a very basic kanji, featured in everyday words like 安い (yasu.i; inexpensive) and 安全(an.zen; safety). The first one is nowadays mainly understood as cheap and inexpensive, but can also be used to describe calm and peace, the original meaning in Chinese. Furthermore, in specific cases it also brings ideas like careless and frivolous.

楽 appears in a word every mahjong lover should know: 楽しい(tano.shii; enjoyable, fun) and as a verb in 楽しむ(tano.shimu; to enjoy). There is also an expression widely used in the entertainment industry that you probably heard plenty of times: お楽しみにしてください(o.tano.shiminishitekudasai), something akin to ‘please look forward to it!’. Other than those, 楽 is used in many words related to music as in 楽器(gak.ki; musical instrument) and 楽団(gaku.dan; orchestra, band). Curiously, 楽(raku; comfort, ease) ties very well into some of the above mentioned meanings of 安.

Aside of a variant kanji for 丘(oka; hill), 岡 isn’t used in many common words. That being said, it is still widely known because it appears in the name of a plethora of places such as 福岡(fuku.oka; lit. Blessed Hill), 静岡(shizu.oka; lit. Calm Hill), 高岡(taka.oka; lit. High Hill). Considering that pattern of surnames describing environment that we recurrently see here on [Onamae wa?], I expect the above to be of no surprise to frequent readers.

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A peaceful, comforting hill. Episode 1

Once aware of each individual idea, 安楽岡(yasu.ra.oka) can then be understood as a peaceful, comforting hill. A place where you can climb and have an overview of the circumvents without being disturbed. A place where you can feel safe, but still being able to keep a good sight of whatever you want to see. Hmm. I wonder if it is too stretching to tie this to Hanabi getting together with Mugi. Truthfully, their relationship isn’t something serious (yet?), but I find it hard to argue against it being a situation created to comfort both of them, a place to find peace from the fact that your beloved ones are getting out of reach. But still, instead of being a peaceful room or cave, you choose a hill so you can keep watching them from afar. In a different approach, their position as a couple in a peaceful hill is how outsiders perceive them, while only those who are really there at the top knows the truth of what is going on. Overall a lot of food for thought in this name only!

As a side note, another source (here, Jap only) prompts 安良岡(yasu.ra.oka; Peaceful and Pleasant Hill) as the original name, from which 安楽岡 derived. Additional forms include 安羅岡 (yasu.ra.oka; Peaceful… Silk Hill? Hmm. Cheap Silk Hill would be perfect for a store!) or 安樂岡(yasu.ra.oka), which carries the same idea as Hanabi’s family name, but a former writing form of 楽.

No others 安楽岡(yasu.ra.oka) in Anime!

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Given Name: 花火(hana.bi)

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I was 99% sure we had explored 花火(hana.bi) already in [Onamae wa?] but there was only a briefly mention of Hanabi from Shakunetsu no Takkyu Musume in [Onamae wa? #30]. Also contrary to my preconception, this name doesn’t appear in ‘Top X Female Names in Japan’ or similar lists (like this one or this one). Both kanji are very straightforward though.

As expected, the most common word for the first kanji is 花(hana; flower). Related words include 花瓶(ka.bin; vase, not necessarily for flower) and 花見(hana.mi; lit. to watch flowers, referring to the tradition in Japan to visit parks during early Spring). 開花(kai.ka; blooming) may describe either the concrete idea of flower blooming or used metaphorically when talking about business or people.

火 is present in everyday words like 火(hi; fire) and 火曜日(ka.you.bi; lit. Fire Day or Tuesday if you prefer). It often appear as a radical, as in the left portion of 炊く(ta.ku; to cook), also bringing the idea of fire and heat. All its most common readings (hi, bi, ho and ka) are very used. I recently stumbled upon the word 火口, which could be not only 火口(ka.kou; volcanic crater) or 火口(hi.guchi; origin of a fire), but also 火口(ho.kuchi; tinder, touchwood).

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花見(hana.mi)? Check.

As many of you are probably aware, 花火(hana.bi) exists as a word, meaning fireworks. While these artifacts can feature various patterns, most of them could be summarized under the description of a flower of fire, the literal meaning of 花火(hana.bi). Here we can draw many possible aspects, though not every one of them would apply to our Hanabi-chan here. Beauty? Yup. Explosiveness? Hmm, not sure. This ties a bit into that unusual meaning of 安 as careless and reckless that we saw on her Family Name, but as of Episodes 1 and 2 this can’t be linked to our protagonist, though we might see this side of her as the story develops.

Her Family Name also ties greatly into her Given Name. As we constantly see in Anime, people tend to find these miraculously peaceful hills during Firework Festivals, so much that it is hard to disassociate these two.

Another interesting aspect of fireworks is the concept of transient beauty, a staple in Japanese imaginary since Heian period. Things like 花見(hana.mi; flower watching) and 花火(hana.bi), two incredibly popular activities in Japan, involve cheering extremely short-lived moments. We could then point out to how at the very beginning both Hanabi-chan and Mugi were also pursuing a fleeting relationship, short-lived but fiery. On the other hand, contrary to fireworks and flower, these two are continue to burn, maybe stronger, after blooming.

Others 花火(hana.bi):


 

Wrapping up!

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安楽岡(yasu.ra.oka) 花火(hana.bi), the girl who climbed a hill seeking for a fleeting peace while dangerously playing around with fiery emotions.

Thanks for your time, hope you enjoyed your reading. Fireworks are like emotions. Beautiful and warming, but dangerous: one slip when dealing with those and you might get yourself badly hurt. I wonder how long until we start seeing this in Kuzu no Honkai. This is personally one of my favorites so far in Winter 2017 and I highly recommended it. See you next weekend!

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