What’s In A Name?

Edit: Cytrus of Yaranakya pointed out that Shu’s name uses and extra syllable, and is thus Shuu and not Shu. This renders the homophones I commented upon useless when it comes to his name. You should check out his post which is far superior than to mine.

So as of late I’ve picked up learning Japanese again, and unlike the two semesters I took in college, I’m forcing myself to actually learn the Kanji this time around (which has been very rewarding in and of itself). However, as I was studying I came across the figure gai (外) which can mean ‘outside’.1 This had occurred soon after I had finished watching Guilty Crown, so immediately I thought of Tsutsugami Gai (恙神 涯). Gai was always on the outside of Shu and Mana’s relationship, even after his resurrection, not to mention that he always kept an emotional distance from Funeral Parlor in order to not compromise himself as their leader.

However, the kanji character used for Gai is 涯 and not 外, the former means ‘horizon’ or ‘shore’2 – and where was it that Mana and Shu found Gai? Oh right, a shore. Interestingly, even though the kanji for Gai isn’t the one I was studying, the fact that they are homophones allows for numerous connections to be made; there’s nothing inherently contradictory using both meanings of Gai as he was both an outsider and discovered on a shore (not to mention he had his own personal ‘horizons’ in a metaphorical sense). An even better example is Shu (集), whose name, as his step-mother explains, means group. However, Shu can also mean ‘lord’ (主) (as it is by the Japanese Orthodox Church; Shu awareme yo translates to ‘Lord have mercy’)3 as well has ‘hand’ (手). Shu was not only seen as the lord of the school, but was meant to be the Adam of Mana’s new creation (oh gosh, the theological monsters that anime can concoct), and he himself forged a new hand with his own void, in which he would slowly take on the diseases of others, becoming a Christ-like figure as opposed to the more tyrannical 主 he was previously.

Names are powerful things, and carry with them a history that we are usually unaware of; I had no clue just how many names in English had some sort of Biblical connection until I had converted to Orthodoxy. Some of them are more obvious, such as Michael, Susan, David, etc., but others are more subtle. The name Irene4 comes from the Greek word eirēnē (εἰρήνη) which means ‘peace’, the phrase ‘Ειρήνι πᾶσι’ meaning ‘Peace be unto all’ as Christ announced to His disciples after His Resurrection (this phrase is also said multiple times by the Priest during the Divine Liturgy). My own name Nicholas5 comes from the Greek word Νικόλαος which means ‘victory of the people’ as it is a combination of νίκη (victory) and λαὸς (people). However, I kept my name after I was baptized because of St. Nicholas of Myra, my patron saint, and for anyone who knows the life of the actual Santa Claus understands why it is entirely appropriate (his feast day is this Thursday, December 6th).

On a more anime related note, I wonder just how many more connections one could pull if they actually knew Japanese (which isn’t the majority of us, but certainly not all), and how much subtlety one misses on an episode-by-episode basis. I know, I know, 日本語を勉強する!6

Footnotes and References
1 At least according to Genki. Kanji power lists the definitions as: external; other; to remove.
2 http://jisho.org/kanji/details/%E6%B6%AF
3 http://www.orthodox-jp.com/maria/English-index.htm
4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irene
5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas
6 ‘Study Japanese!’ though I’m sure there’s some tense I’ve failed to conjugate to.

Picture References
1 – http://www.emptyblue.it/post/2011/11/17/Guilty-Crown-Prologue-complete-Inori-is-a-bit-scary-sometimes.aspx