Hello, Kyra here! This is Onamae wa? #51, our weekly encounter where we pick Anime character’s names and look for anything interesting in them.
Best girl returns.
Our guest today is 弁天(ben.ten), formerly 鈴木(suzu.ki) 聡美(sato.mi), a supporting character of Uchouten Kazoku, a drama Anime that had its first season aired on Summer 2013 and now returns, almost four long years later, for its second one. This post considers the whole Season 1, so beware of spoilers!
弁天(ben.ten), 鈴木(suzu.ki) 聡美(sato.mi)
It might sound repetitve because last week I also said that I loved the featured character but I really cannot help saying it again here. Benten-sama is both powerful and beautiful, exhales authority and elegance, and is voiced by glorious 能登(no.to) 麻美子(ma.mi.ko). Speaking of which, I had a very strong deja vu on the scene below from Episode 1 of Alice to Zouroku, another show airing this season. Miriam is also voiced by Mamiko, can fly and has a high class aura similar to Benten.
Before joining the Friday Fellows, Benten-sama was named 鈴木(suzu.ki) 聡美(sato.mi). We should check that first. お名前は？
Family Name: 鈴木(suzu.ki)
鈴木(suzu.ki) is the second most popular Family Name in Japan, second only to 佐藤(sa.tou). Compared to the usual names we see here, this is rather odd. Think the only other name close to it was Tanaka from either when we explored Asuka from Euphonium on [Onamae wa #35] or the protagonist of Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge on [Onamae wa #12].
鈴 is mostly known for 鈴(suzu; bell), although there is also another word for bell, so it might be useful to point out the difference.
One might be tempted to describe the difference in size, but it is more about the structure and format. On the left we have 鈴(suzu; bell) and on the right, 鐘(kane; bell). The left one is directly related to Shintoism, while the other is featured in a variety of contexts, including both Shinto and Buddhist traditions. This kanji fits well into the overall Shinto theme of Uchouten Kazoku and our girl here later becoming 弁天(ben.ten) (more on this further below).
木 has been covered here a couple of times but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned here about how we have 木(ki; tree), 林(hayashi; woods, thicket) and 森(mori; forest). And then I found this one:
It is in theory read as ジャングル(janguru; jungle). I said in theory because this is just a kanji created by visitors of the 漢検漢字博物館(kan.ken.kan.ji.haku.butsu.kan; Kanji Museum), a marvelous place that I visited in Kyoto a few days ago.
Back to Benten, 鈴木(suzu.ki) means bell wood or bell tree, its meaning tracing to suzu bells hanging from the eaves in Shinto Shrines (which are themselves made of wood).
Others 鈴木(suzu.ki) in Anime:
- 鈴木(suzu.ki) 梨香(ri.ka) from Hataraku Maou-sama! (Spring 2013)
- 鈴木(suzu.ki) from Yuu☆Yuu☆Hakusho (Fall 1992)
- 鈴木(suzu.ki) 京子(kyou.ko) from Shirobako (Fall 2014)
Given Name: 聡美(sato.mi)
聡美(sato.mi) describes Benten so perfectly it hurts. As a Family Name it was originally written as 里見(sato.mi; a Clan name), but it is widely used as a Given Name, with many kanji variations.
聡 is present in words like 聡明(sou.mei; wisdom, sagacity) and 耳聡い(mimi.zato.i; fast learner). Uh… we are talking about a human being who learned how to fly as a Tengu. No further comments.
美 evokes beauty and was lastly explored here when we talked about Kumiko-chan from Euphonium on [Onamae wa #36]. It also appears in words related to Art, as in 美術(bi.jutsu; Art). This is relevant as Art is one of the many aspects directly linked to the name Benten (more on that further below!).
- 新山(nii.yama) 聡美(sato.mi) from Hibike! Euphonium 2 (Fall 2016)
- 葉加瀬(ha.ka.se) 聡美(sato.mi) from Mahou Sensei Negima! (Winter 2005)
- 連坊小路(ren.bou.ko.ji) サトミ(satomi) from Kakumeiki Valvrave (Spring 2013)
弁天(ben.ten) is short for 弁財天(ben.zai.ten), a Japanese Buddhist Goddess and also part of the Seven Gods of Fortune. These guys were recently seen quite well in Noragami Aragoto, although the focus was mostly on 毘沙門天(bi.sha.mon.ten) and 恵比寿(e.bi.su). Contrary to Noragami where both Bishamonten and Benzaiten are featured as women, the original depiction states that 弁財天(ben.zai.ten) is the only female member of the Seven Gods of Fortune. And this brings us to the 金曜倶楽部(kin.you.ku.ra.bu; officially translated as Friday Fellows), a fraternity composed by seven members, each taking up the name of one of the Seven Gods of Fortune. Guess who is the only female member? Benten!
弁財天(ben.zai.ten) is considered the goddess of Arts and eloquence, fluidity, wisdom and beauty. Well, say no more. These are all characteristcs of Benten. Here we can see how her former name, 鈴木(suzu.ki) 聡美(sato.mi) ties into her role as Benten in the Friday Fellows and how that name was clearly meticulously crafted to suit the plot.
鈴木(suzu.ki) 聡美(sato.mi), the human girl who tamed the wind with her beauty and wisdom, becoming close to an avatar of 弁財天(ben.zai.ten) herself.
Thanks for your time, hope you enjoyed your reading. Being able to listen to Benten-sama every week once again is indeed a divine blessing. I have no idea what to expect from Season 2 but whatever happens, I’m counting on Benten to do it in a charming and eloquent way that isn’t very easy to find. See you all next weekend!