Hello, Kyra here! This is Onamae wa? #54, our weekly encounter where we pick Anime character’s names and look for anything interesting in them.
This story was made possible by a kanji mistake. Be grateful!
Our guest today is 木春(ko.haru) 由乃(yoshi.no), main protagonist of Sakura Quest, a slice of (work) life comedy (?) Anime currently airing on Spring 2017. Nothing much to spoil here, but this post considers only events up to Episode 5.
木春(ko.haru) 由乃(yoshi.no) is our friendly, positive-looking protagonist. After failing a number of job applications, she finds herself being dragged away from the big city and straight into the middle of nowhere, which in this case goes by the name of 間野山(ma.no.yama; lit. a field between mountains). She has a thing against being called 普通(fu.tsuu; normal) and fate thus happily gave her a job that is definitely not 普通 in a place that, while representing a starky reality in Japan’s countryside of today, is still far away from being called 普通. Let’s move on to her name, although I must warn you that today we might be short on things to find. お名前は？
Family Name: 木春(ko.haru)
At first glance 木春(ko.haru) doesn’t seem like an eccentric family name. Common kanji, regular readings and it even ties into the recurring Seasonal theme that we see every so often here. It is then surprising to see that it is probably one of the rarest surnames featured here, occupying an incredible 65,311th place in Japan (source, Japanese only), with barely a few dozen users. In a given forum thread (source, Japanese only), an user reminds of how starting a name with 木 isn’t a good idea because when writing on horizontal it might get confusing, as 木春 could be mistaken by 椿(tsubaki; camellia or tea produced in the mountains). Wait…
Wait a moment… Tsubaki? Haven’t we seen this name before?
Hah! Thus it is exactly because of a kanji mistake in a name that this story is even happening. Considering how rare 木春 seems to be and how later on the staff complained that the writing space was too narrow and also something about someone’s calligraphy being bad, it is rather understandable to see 椿 being mistaken by 木春.
Curiously, 椿 appears in many words that are the polar opposite of 普通(fu.tsuu; normal), such as 椿事(chin.ji; unusual occurrence) and 椿説(chin.setsu; novel idea), two words that tie extremely well into the overall plot concept of Sakura Quest and especially into the role that Yoshino-chan plays.
In a sense, the difference between my first reaction to 木春(ko.haru) and all these things I found out after looking into it are similar to the reactions that some people had towards Yoshino. “You seems just like a normal girl”, but as the story progress we can see that she is instead a rare find. So yeah… congratulations Yoshino-chan: your Family name isn’t 普通(fu.tsuu) at all.
We have seen 木 plenty of times here, so I’ll go directly to 春, a kanji mostly known for the word 春(haru; Spring). This is a very emblematic word not only in Anime, but in Japanese culture in general, because of the importance of this season. 春(haru) can also be associated with puberty and sexuality, evident in the title アオハライド(aoharaido), from 青春ライド(Ao Haru Ride). Oh, and it just occurred to me that 木(ki; tree) and 春(haru; Spring) together and you get a ‘tree of Spring’ and when talking about Japan there is no doubt that the first image you get in of a 桜(sakura; Cherry Blossom). Hmm. Am I allowed to say that the name of this show being Sakura Quest might not be a coincidence then? Hmm. I guess not. Ok, it is just a coincidence. Maybe.
As expected, no other 木春(ko.haru) in Anime!
Given Name: 由乃(yoshi.no)
Contrary to 木春(ko.haru), 由乃(yoshi.no) feels like a very unique name. While both readings are very simple, 乃 is not a very common kanji, although we have explored it already on [Onamae wa #2], when checking Captain 岬(misaki) 明乃(ake.no) from High School Fleet.
由 is usually related to significance or origin. Common words include 自由(ji.yuu; freedom, liberty) and 理由(ri.yuu; reason, pretext). This reminds me of 自由自在(ji.yuu.ji.zai; unrestricted, completely in control), an expression that I first met while reading the visual novel Your Diary, where in a given scene, a character described a friend’s bouncing breasts as 自由自在(ji.yuu.ji.zai). Other words include 由来(yu.rai; source, history), 由緒(yu.sho; history, pedigree) and 由ありげ(yoshi.arige; meaningful, suggestive).
乃 is one of those hard to draw a meaning in a name context, as it is mainly used solely for the purpose of adding the sounds ‘no’ to a name without adding further significance. Just keep the idea of possessive particle in mind.
As we clamp both together, we get 由乃(yoshi.no), the one who is full of X, where X meaning will depend on how you view 由. Either you can see our protagonist being driven by 自由(ji.yuu; freedom) and bringing the foolness of a youngster or as a person who is driven by a 理由(ri.yuu; reason). Probably both, to be honest. As of Episode 5 we see Yoshino-chan growing attached to her new job and to the city itself, something that couple with her optimistic attitude seems to be sowing good seeds for the future of Manoyama.
- 島津(shima.zu) 由乃(yoshi.no) from Maria-sama ga Miteru (Winter 2004)
- 我妻(ga.sai) 由乃(yu.no) from Mirai Nikki (Fall 2011)
- 川上(kawa.kami) 由乃(yu.no) from _summer (Fall 2006)
Different readings on second and third one, but same kanji!
木春(ko.haru) 由乃(yoshi.no), the optimistic one who relies on both the freedom of Spring and on a strong reason to keep moving forward.
Thanks for your time, hope you enjoyed your reading. Enjoying Sakura Quest so far. As this is a 2-cour show, there is still a lot of development to happen so we should refrain from comparing it to “you know what” until we get further into it. See you all next weekend and remember to double check your kanji!