Sesshoumaru's Mother's Name

Until I started browsing Tumblr, I didn’t realize that there had been somewhat of a fan consensus on Sesshoumaru’s mother’s name.  Looking back, it seems that the fan name has gained quite a bit of traction, being used at least since 2009.  But as a reminder:

Sesshoumaru’s mother has no official name.

The only thing Sesshoumaru’s mother is ever called in either the anime or the manga is “Gobodou-sama” (御母堂様) by Jaken, which is a very humble way of addressing a superior’s mother.

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Due to the fact that “Gobodou-sama” is a rather uncommon word, it is generally what the Japanese fandom uses to refer to her.  And until I came to Tumblr, I’d just assumed that the English fandom was content to call her “Sessmom” or “Fluffette” or something.

But then I started seeing a lot of pictures of her tagged “Inu-kimi”, and sometimes “Irasue”, and started wondering what that was all about.  I soon came to realize that she, like Inuyasha’s father, had gained a fan name.  However, instead of some weird contraction of her title, Sesshoumaru’s mother’s name seems to have come out of thin air.

And means “dog yolk”.  What the hell?  (“Irasue” is just meaningless syllables and looks to be a misspelling of “Urasue”)

While I can at least see where “Inutaisho” came from, “Inu-kimi” is a bit more of a puzzle.  Was someone trying for “Inu-kami” (犬神), but misspelled it?  (And that character combination would be pronounced “Inu-gami”, anyway)

Did they look up the word “monarch” in a Japanese dictionary and find “kimi” (君), and were trying to go for something like “dog monarch”?  If they really were going for “犬君” for their “Inu-kimi”, that character combination is actually pronounced “Inu-kun”, and is the Japanese fan nickname for Inuyasha himself.  It is also masculine.

Actually, it seems to be a popular pattern of coming up with fan names in the Inuyasha fandom.  The logic seems to go, “Well, we’ve already got a character named Inuyasha, which is a combination of two dictionary words, so surely the combination of any two dictionary words will render us a valid name!”

Buuuut it doesn’t work like that.  Well, sometimes it works like that.  Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru both have names that are comprised of two dictionary-form words, after all.  But how about Kouga?  His name is a combination of the words “hagane” () and “kiba” ().  “Shippou” is “shichi” () plus “takara” ().

This is because almost all Japanese kanji have at least two readings: the “kun-yomi” and the “on-yomi”.  The “kun-yomi” is sometimes called the “Japanese reading”, and is generally the way a character is read when it appears by itself.  The “on-yomi” is also known as the “Chinese reading”, and is the way a character is often read when it’s part of a compound word.

There’s a lot more that can be said about how to properly construct a Japanese word that I won’t get into here (but may make a separate post on later).  But as a general rule, mushing together the default dictionary forms of two words is going to be wrong about 80% of the time.

In the end, if the fandom has found a consistent way to tag and search for a character with no official name, more power to them… I guess.  But “Inu-kimi” makes even “Inutaisho” look like a sensible word by comparison.

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