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Gougai! Gougai!

HOLY SHIT PEOPLE, IT'S NOT BAD ENOUGH WE'RE GETTING AN UTENA EXHIBITION RIGHT NOW

THEY. ARE. MAKING. A. NEW. MUSICAL. NEXT. YEAR. START LOSING YOUR SHIT RIGHT NOW

#1 | Back to Top05-04-2011 01:01:23 PM

randomprojects
Juri Jeerer
Registered: 12-07-2009
Posts: 42

Theme Naming

This has bugged me for a while now: in Utena, most of the named characters have some sort of plant component in their names, especially first names (except for Akio - morning star/Lucifer, Dios - god, Tokiko - not directly involved with the duels and seems normal, Mamiya - real Mamiya is catalyst for Nemuro's transformation into Mikage but also not directly involved, Tatsuya - not really involved in duels, Aiko, Yuuko - neither are involved in the duels - and Mrs Ohtori, I think). I think this is significant, but there are a few I couldn't quite figure out; I'm very interested in all your interpretations in this matter!

For reference, I'll post the Japanese kanji names of the characters, for those who have them:
Utena and Anthy don't have kanji names, only katakana, but I believe the general consensus is that Utena means the calyx which protects the anther and stigma (which is the basis for Anthy's name?)

Kiryuu Touga: 桐生冬芽. The meaning for 冬芽 (winter bud) is referenced in the episode "the Love that blooms in winter", and imo refers to his slow realization that Akio's life style isn't truly what he wants, as well as his feelings towards Utena.

Saionji Kyouichi: 西園寺莢一. I believe there were discussions about how he shuts himself up in a wall of innocence/naivety and refuses/denies the far-from-ideal reality that he sees? Since 莢 means pod, I think it's referring to this flaw of his (ie. he's shutting himself in a 'pod' of innocence).

Arisugawa Juri: 有栖川樹璃. 樹璃 could be read as "tree glass" in my (limited) understanding of Japanese, and I think it sums up her personality rather well. A tree tends to evoke a strong, reliable image, but glass is brittle, cold and fragile. On the outside, Juri is strong, capable and cool, but her emotional state is fragile.

Kaoru Miki: 薫幹. 幹 is could mean the trunk of a tree, or a foundation of a group. It's interesting to contrast his name with Kozue's (梢), which means "the top of a tree". This is one of those I'm having a bit of trouble understanding - maybe it refers to him being the foundation of their piano skills when they were young? And maybe 梢 symbolizes Kozue's dependence on her brother (this sounds a bit off...)

Kiryuu Nanami: 桐生七実. 実 ('mi') could mean fruit or nut. I also have trouble understanding the significance of this, but it might be a contrast to Touga's bud? Maybe while you can only maybe see a glimpse of Touga's true intentions (like you can't see the flower if it hasn't bloomed yet), Nanami shows her feelings pretty much on her sleeves (the end result of most plants usually result in a seed/fruit/nut, so with her you can see right through what she thinks of you)? idk...

Mikage Souji: 御影草時. Souji is represented by 'grass time' as opposed to 'commander' (総司), which I thought it was. The time reference ties into his 'frozen memory' and inability to move on, but I'm less clear on the interpretation on 草 (grass). Perhaps it implies people who are unable to move on from past experiences are common like blades of grass? Btw, Nemuro is represented as 根室 ('root... room'? I'm not too confident on the meaning of 室...) Maybe the root part is an allusion to his computer-like tendencies, wanting to reduce things to their basic roots.

Shinohara Wakaba: 篠原若葉. I think Wakaba is a symbol that new drivers use to notify others that they're newbies, in a similar vein one might way that they're still green? Also the character 葉 ('ba' of 'wakaba') means leaf, maybe referencing to her young and fresh energy, and implies that she's not very special (in most plants, the flowers, not the leaves, are the attractions; the leaves are just there to complete the picture.)

Takatsuki Shiori: 高槻枝織. 枝 could mean sticks/branches, and 織 means to weave. I guess maybe it refers to her manipulations of Juri, but also suggests that she's quite delicate and/or fragile - she seems to have a low self esteem? emot-confused

Tsuchiya Ruka: 土谷瑠果. 瑠 is a type of jewel (Lapis lazuli I believe), while 果 could mean fruit. I have no idea what the symbolism of this is (aside from uh, matching his hair color). Lapis lazuli can also be commercially synthesized, perhaps signifying his use of deception in order to achieve his goals (the 'fruit' of his actions).

Ohtori Kanae: 鳳香苗. If I'm not mistaken, 香苗 could be read as 'fragrant young sprout', and maybe references her (supposed) position of eventual power once she becomes Akio's wife (we know how well that turned out). It might also suggest that she needs someone to tend to her to grow well - too bad she only has Akio and Mrs Ohtori...

Sanoda Keiko (苑田茎子) and Tsuwabuki Mitsuru (石蕗美蔓): not gonna lie guys, I have no ideas on these two. Mitsuru's plant component (蔓) seems to suggest vines, but I can't think of an explanation for it. I don't know what the 茎 for Keiko's name mean emot-frown

My Japanese is rather lacking, so if there's anything that is wrong, please don't hesitate to point it out!

Last edited by randomprojects (05-04-2011 01:30:27 PM)

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#2 | Back to Top05-04-2011 02:01:07 PM

CoffinBreaker
Rose Bride
From: Here and Now
Registered: 10-28-2010
Posts: 117

Re: Theme Naming

Ah, I have been waiting so long for a thread about this...My kanji isn't that great (I've been avoiding studying it out of intimidation emot-rolleyes ) but I think Nanami's name itself is meaningless ("seven fruit/sea/life" doesn't really make much sense, even for SKU) but in Japanese media it's a general prissy girls' name.

Ohtori is the Japanese rendering of fenghuang, the Chinese phoenix; which fits Akio rather well, considering.

As for Miki and Kozue, it seems to me that the trunk of a tree would stand for the more responsible one, while the top of a tree would be much less stable, but they're still just different parts of the same thing. school-freud Just harkening a guess.

All in all, I wouldn't be surprised if they were just coming up with plant-related names, since plants are an integral part of the series' symbolism.


You don't need to understand Revolutionary Girl Utena to understand it.

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#3 | Back to Top05-04-2011 05:53:25 PM

randomprojects
Juri Jeerer
Registered: 12-07-2009
Posts: 42

Re: Theme Naming

Ooh, so Nanami is kind of a stock 'Libby' name in Japan? That's really nice to know emot-keke (Yeah, because for the life of me I couldn't figure out what fruit/seed/nut stands for in terms of her character - but with this understanding, it fits!) I kind of also suspect Kanae is a generic name for nice/quiet girls...

And I agree with your interpretation re:Miki and Kozue, and I think it might also be implying that they need each other to be whole (or at least, they're fixated on the idea. Miki wants to retain the happy, innocent times he had with Kozue, and is obsessed with finding his Shining Thing, which is supposed to be a substitute of Kozue's innocence; meanwhile, Kozue is obsessed with keeping Miki's attention on her and no one else).

I'm still kind of curious about Tsuwabuki's name, because the kanji used for 'Mitsuru' seems uncommon in a boy's name, at least to my knowledge.

(Btw, Mari was written with kanji that means "jasmine flowers"... wonder if that's significant?)

Oh, and if anyone was curious, Chida Tokiko is 千唾時子 (time child), Mamiya is 馬宮 (... horse palace?), Kazami Tatsuya is 風見達也 (standard boy's name), Aiko is 脇谷愛子 and Yuuko is 大瀬優子 (standard Japanese girl's names; love-child - ok that sounded wrong - and gentle-child respectively.)

Last edited by randomprojects (05-04-2011 06:04:09 PM)

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#4 | Back to Top05-20-2011 12:48:53 PM

Leeg
Juri Jeerer
From: Spain
Registered: 02-10-2010
Posts: 49
Website

Re: Theme Naming

Shinohara Wakaba: 篠原若葉. I think Wakaba is a symbol that new drivers use to notify others that they're newbies, in a similar vein one might way that they're still green? Also the character 葉 ('ba' of 'wakaba') means leaf, maybe referencing to her young and fresh energy, and implies that she's not very special (in most plants, the flowers, not the leaves, are the attractions; the leaves are just there to complete the picture.)

This image supports that:

http://ohtori.nu/galerie/d/25484-1/Movie_Screen_0985.jpg

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