Hey, Kyra here! This is Kotoba #7, a weekly glance over interesting expressions and words found in Anime and other medias.
As mentioned in Kotoba #1, whereas [Onamae wa] series focus on characters’ names, [Kotoba], as the the word 言葉 (kotoba; word) implies, aims to deliver lightweight trivia and/or further explanation about unusual vocabulary that very often happens to appear in Anime.
出会いの矢先 (deai no yasaki)
Episode 3 showed us the beginning of the troublesome relationship between the members of Kazemai Kyudo Club. The word 出会い (deai) nowadays has a lot of romantic connotation attached to it but it can still be used to describe those fateful encounters that forever change your life. Following the trend to use expressions containing the kanji 矢 (ya; arrow), we then have 矢先 (yasaki), a word for arrowhead, target or the very moment that something happens. While the club members getting together was indeed a nice meeting, it is clear that the title is referring specifically to Masa-san coming into Narumiya’s life and subsequently joining the club as a coach.
合わない筈 (awanai hazu)
At first glance I quickly thought that they had broken the chain of episode titles related to Japanese archery but a few minutes of research gladly proved me wrong.
The original expression is the slightly different 筈が合わぬ (hazu ga awanu). Here, 筈 (hazu) is that nock at both ends of a bow that is used to hold the bowstring. Then we have the verb 合う (au) which in this case means to fit. 合わぬ (awanu) is just a fancy negative form of 合う (au). Thus we have
筈が合わぬ (hazu ga awanu), a nock that won’t fit.
As Tommy-sensei mentioned earlier in the series, many expressions were derived from Japanese archery and this one is no exception. 筈が合わぬ (hazu ga awanu) is used to describe when two or more people don’t get well together. Although that had been displayed already in a previous episode, this mismatch between Otogi and the others was the main focus of Episode 4. You might be thinking “Nice!” but this was not the best part of this title.
The author chose specifically to change the word order and show it as 合わない筈 (awanai hazu), which still retains the original meaning but now further implies something else. Besides describing the concrete idea of a nock in arrows, bows and even parts of ship’s structure, 筈 is also a grammatical term in Japanese language used to convey the idea of expectation. 筈合わない筈 can then be understood as “It wasn’t supposed to fit”.
So this magical title managed to mash a saying derived from Japanese archery, a reference to a concrete actual event in Episode 4, a reference to the unfriendliness between some of the club members and also hint at the development in their relationships by the end of the Episode 5. If you are not applauding by now, please do so.
矢の使いで (ya no tsukaide)
This is a variant of another expression, 矢の催促 (ya no saisoku). Both mean almost the same thing: to incessantly request something. Of course this was a reference to their pressing requests of actually training archery since the beginning of Episode 4.
Other than that, I want to believe that they intended a link between 下僕 (geboku) and 矢の使い (ya no tsukai). Which link? Alright, let’s go through this.
These b-beautiful t-shirts feature the word 下僕 (geboku), an archaic word for manservant (just to clear any misunderstandings, a manservant is not a slave).
Up there I said that 矢の使いで (ya no tsukaide) meant almost the same thing as that other expression. The reason is that 矢の使い (ya no tsukai) refers more specifically to an errand-boy/girl, messenger or envoy that either incessantly requests something; or one that quickly carries on his assign task. The idea here is pointing out his or her swiftness by associating it with an arrow. Wait a moment… errand-boy?
So these guys evolves from mere 下僕 (geboku) to fully fledged 矢の使い (ya no tsukai) in a mere episode. Horray!
There are some further interesting interpretations here. The structure of X + の使い in 矢の使い is not unique. A notorious example is 天の使い (ten no tsukai; angel) which translates into messenger from heaven. You might associate angel with 天使 (tenshi) and as you can see it actually is just a contraction of the above expression using a variant reading for 使.
Another recent example that you might remember is 魔法使いの嫁 (mahou tsukai no yome), where you have 魔法 (mahou; magic) and 使い (tsukai; user) to create the word for mage, sorcerer and variants.
Following this idea, we could interpret 矢の使い (ya no tsukai) as a very fancy way to say those who use arrows or even servants of the arrow. That is a long away from being mere 下僕 (geboku). Moreover, one can even say that by promptly doing their assigned tasks like 矢の使い (ya no tsukai; swift errand-boys), these folks managed to become one step closer to becoming proper 矢の使い (ya no tsukai; archers).
This promotion was further emphasized by the symbolic trashing of their t-shirts in favor of the uniforms by the end of the episode. Seriously, I love these titles.
弓引く理由 (yumi hiku wake)
I believe the actual expression here is only 弓引く (yumihiku) which literally translates into drawing a bow. But as you probably expect already by now, it is not just that. 弓引く (yumihiku) also means to oppose or to defy your superiors.
This was shown twice over the course of the episode, first with the first-years from Kirisaki refusing to follow the unwritten rules of senior-junior relationship that so often appear as a theme in sports Anime. Then we had Masa-san talking with Tommy-sensei about how he had chosen to oppose his grandfather and master.
As for the rest of the title, the most common reading for it is actually 理由 (riyu; reason, motive). Choosing to use this unusual reading induces me to quickly associate it with 言い訳 (iiwake; excuse), as if symbolizing how people chose arbitrary reasons / excuses to oppose others. When you parallel the reasons as to why the twins opposed their seniors, to why Shu opposed his seniors and to why Masa-san opposed his mentor, one can really get a sense that defiance comes in various flavors.
藤原 (fujiwara) 愁 (shuu)
One last thing, as I’ll probably not cover Shuu’s name in a [Onamae wa] post. His name is written using the kanji 愁 (shuu). I’ll leave a few words here so you can draw your own conclusions about whether this name was intentionally picked or not: 郷愁 (kyou.shuu; nostalgia), 愁傷 (shuu.shou; grief, sorrow), 憂愁 (yuu.shuu; melancholy, gloom). Yup. Brace yourselves!
Thanks all for your time, hope you enjoyed your reading. Once again Tsurune consumed the whole post. If you enjoyed this, you might want to take a look in [Kotoba #6] where I covered the titles of Episodes 1 and 2.
After three weeks away I’m still catching up on other series so hopefully next week I’ll be able to cover expressions and words from other Anime. Tomorrow we will continue our exploration of names from Fall 2018. See you all then!