Hello, Kyra here! This is Onamae wa? #45, our weekly encounter where we pick Anime character’s names and look for anything interesting in them.
“Do yourself a favor and watch this”. (Kyra)
Our guest today is 岸井(kishi.i) 野の子(no.no.ko) from Ryuu no Haisha (The Dragon Dentist), a fantasy Anime featuring two 40min~ episodes, which premiered yesterday and it was so amazing that I decided to cover it here. Hopefully we can find something good! This post considers only Episode 1, so try to watch it before reading in order to avoid spoilersmushi.
Before we dive into her name, here is a basic summary of the plotline, straight from the Official Website, in case you haven’t watched it yet:
The story takes place in Dragon Country. Nonoko is a newly appointed dentist and her mission is to protect the dragon, the guardian of the country, from tooth-cavity bacteria.
One day, amid increasingly fierce battles with the neighboring country, Nonoko finds on the dragon’s tooth an unconscious boy soldier from the enemy country.
When I first read the premise, even before watching the official trailer, a legitimate feeling of “this seems pretty unique uh” surrounded me. Granted, I thought it would be one of these educative Anime promoting oral hygiene but alas, having watched the first episode I’m glad to have been completely wrong.
Alright, back to our guest!
岸井(kishi.i) 野の子(no.no.ko) is a 15-years-old Dragon Dentist. She used to be a cook at a tavern but ended up taking a test because she heard she would be able to eat fresh white rice every day were she to become part of the group responsible for keeping the Dragon’s teeth clean. And boy, this girl loves rice.
Although still a newcomer, Nonoko’s hard working attitude and ability made her be the one to take care of Bell, the other main character. That or maybe because she was the one who saved him. Oh, just noticed that newcomer is often written as 新米(shin.mai), which literally means New Rice. Hah! For now let’s see if there is anything interesting on her name. お名前は？
Family Name: 岸井(kishi.i)
Contrary to my initial expectations, 岸井(kishi.i) is a rather rare name, standing at the 6.539th place country-wise, with roughly 1.400 bearers. Considering that it falls perfectly into most basic premise of Family Names, describing the environment, I’d foresee it being rather popular on coastal areas but it seems I was wrong.
Although 岸 might be related to beach due to 海岸(kai.gan; beach, coast), its main idea is actually coast, ranging from 岸(kishi; bank, coast, shore), to the abstract 彼岸(hi.gan; a Buddhist holiday in Japan) and the man made 岸壁(gan.peki; wharf, pier, quay). We will get back to this.
We talked about 井 when exploring Natsu, the bear from KumaMiko (Spring 2016) in [Onamae wa? #5] and also a little bit on Mitsumune from Mayoiga (also Spring 2016) in [Onamae wa? #10]. On that first one I illustrated through a very common Family Name in Japan, 井上(i.noue), the above mentioned premise of describing the surroundings when creating a name for Family. When preceding, 井 often brings the idea of a well (that water thing) and when attached to the end of a name, the concept of community.
By checking 岸井(kishi.i) as a whole, you can now see that it would be a perfect name to describe a coastal community or town. And here you might think: these guys are actually flying, there is not a single way to track this name to the environment where Nononko lives. Well, think again.
As seen above in screenshots from Episode 1, the whole town follows the same wharf/pier model that we see in coastal cities in our world, except for no water. Floating high, hanging from under the dragon’s mouth, this city is a carbonated copy of a coastal community, making this name fitting not only for Nonoko, but for everyone who lives there.
Others 岸井(kishi.i) in Anime:
- 岸井(kishi.i) 左馬之助(sa.ma.no.suke) from Onihei (Winter 2017)
This seems to be the only other character in Anime with this Family Name. Samanosuke is a close friend of Heizou who appeared on Episode 2.
Given Name: 野の子(no.no.ko)
野の子(no.no.ko) has a very straightforward meaning, although I couldn’t find much information about it. Given its structure, it is safe to say that it is an old name.
野 brings two main ideas. First, being outdoors or unaffiliated, as in 野原(no.hara; field) or 在野(zai.ya; out of office, in private), sometimes stretching into 野生(ya.sei; wild) or 野蛮(ya.ban; savage, barbarian, rustic), which you could link to outdoors as well, in a sense. The second idea is opposition, as seen in 野党(ya.tou; Opposition party in politics).
の here is playing the role of 乃, a possessive particle. Think of something like “of” or “from”.
子 by the end of a name was seen here many times, lastly in Akko from Little Witch Academia (Winter 2017) in [Onamae wa? #42].
Putting all these together, you get 野の子(no.no.ko), the rustic or wild girl. Or even the kid who opposed the current rules. As of the end of Episode 1, this last one would be a perfect fit not for Nonoko, but for Bell, as we see him questioning the traditions of the Dragon Dentists. Remaining question is whether Nonoko will also start opposing those or if she will hold on to her beliefs. Putting that aside, rustic/wild is mildly appropriate, as she seems to be very carefree and not as stiff as some other characters.
Others 野の子(no.no.ko) in Anime:
- 小笠原(o.gasa.wara) 野乃子(no.no.ko) from Gakuen Alice (Fall 2004)
- すぎさき(sugisaki) ののこ (nonoko) from Shooting Star (Manga, 2006)
- 山田(yama.da) のの子(nono.ko) from Tonari no Yamada-kun (Movie, 1999)
Uh… old stuff. These were also the only three Nonoko in MAL library. Quite rare!
A term you will hear a lot through Ryuu no Haisha is mushi. In Japanese, Cavity and similar tooth decay situations are called 虫歯(mushi.ba), which literally means Tooth Bugs. You can then further add 菌(kin; germs, bacteria) to create 虫歯菌(mushi.ba.kin), a general term used for the creatures in this show. The spherical ones are called 夜鳴き虫(yo.na.ki.mushi), meaning crying bug and you can check that because they emit this annoying sound on the first scene post Opening Theme. Right after meeting Shibana, some sparkling ones appear. Those are the 光虫(hikari.mushi), literally Glittering Bugs.
Later into the episode, as Nonoko teaches the ropes to Bell, she introduces him to many other variants. The small ones are named あぶく虫(abuku.mushi), which might come from an alternative reading of 泡(abuku; bubble, foam). The pointy ones are named 鏃虫(yajiri.mushi), meaning arrowheaded bugs. Lastly, 天狗虫(ten.gu.mushi) is probably a reference to Tengu, a recurring supernatural creature in Japanese folklore. On another note, while the Tengumushi clearly resembles some sort of insect, the transformation that Shibana goes through by the end of Episode 1 resembles more a spider than an insect. (No, spiders are not insects).
Another interesting word is Yomigaeri, which could be written as 甦り(yomigae.ri) or 蘇り(yomigae.ri), meaning the one who was resurrected or the one who has been brought back, a reference to the fact that they were (supposedly) resuscitated by the Dragon.
岸井(kishi.i) 野の子(no.no.ko), the girl who (might) shake her floating wharf community.
Thanks for your time, hope you enjoyed your reading. I loved this! Would gladly drop any of the current airing shows if it meant a full cour of Nonoko and Bell. If you haven’t yet, make sure to give Ryuu no Haisha a try and let me know if you enjoyed it. See you all next weekend!