What’s in a Name?
Something’s been bothering me about Momonosuke for a long time, his name. In Japanese, Momonosuke’s name is written as モモの助 where the first two characters モモ or ‘momo’ are written in katakana instead of hiragana. We’ve discussed these Japanese writing systems in the past but just a quick refresher, hiragana is used to phonetically represent words of (basically) Japanese origin. On the other hand, katakana is used to phonetically represent words of (basically) foreign/loan words.
See where I’m going with this? Why does Momonosuke, son of the overly aesthetic Japanese male figure Oden, bear a name with katakana when it seems for all the world, hiragana (or kanji!) make the most thematic sense for his name?
It could simply come down to the fact that Oda-sensei felt it looked better on paper. And that would render a lot of this thought process unnecessary. But just for fun, let’s consider that it’s not just a stylistic choice. We already know that Oda-sensei specifically uses katakana for the word ‘taiyou’ (meaning ‘sun’) when fishpeople talk about the sun because those living below don’t have a clear concept of it. Even Jinbe’s ‘Pirates of the Sun’ crew was named using katakana. So Oda-sensei has established a history of carefully choosing his use of Katakana.
The first thought that came to mind was that Oden’s desire to open Wano extended to the naming of his son. By giving his son a name with characters used for foreign names, was he issuing a challenge to Momonosuke to accept foreign cultures?
This might be part of the reason but it’s definitely not the entire picture because there are plenty of characters in Wano with katakana-based names. For example, Momonosuke’s mother Toki who travelled from 830 years in the past before meeting Oden *also* has a name written in Katakana. So…is Momo’s name a tribute to his mother? Yes, this is *another* possibility! …BUT! Yet again, it doesn’t seem to be the only reason.
Characters who are clearly meant to be despicable like Orochi, Kanjuro, and Fukurokuju *also* have katakana names or names with partial katakana. On the other end of the spectrum, characters who are clearly meant to be interpreted as ‘good’ like Sukiyaki, Ashura Doji, and Ushimaru *also* have Katakana in their names.
So what’s going on!? What’s the pattern? I’ve gotta admit, it doesn’t look like there’s much behind the decision other than a stylistic or ease-of-reading choice even though we clearly have characters like Kinnemon or Jibuemon whose names are specifically a mixture of kanji and hiragana.
But what if… What if this naming has some connection here to Wano’s past or even its foundation?
We know that a song holding meaning to Oden is ‘Tsukihime’ or ‘Moon Princess’. The importance (or at least connection) of the moon to One Piece’s world as we know it has been well-documented by this point. Enel’s cover story in Volume 36 strongly suggests that the winged people of the moon descended to the earth below. We also know that these people populated various places of the earth depending on where they landed, be it the clouds (Skypiea, Bilca) or the blue sea (present Jaya). Although winged people don’t seem to be present in Wano, was there a point where these cultures met and joined together? If wings are recessive genes, this could explain how wings vanished from the population.
In other words, is the katakana used in names of Wano citizens a symbol of distant ancestors who descended from the moon, that is to say, a foreign culture? This could also possibly explain why some citizens of Wano are extremely tall or, like Orochi, have large heads.
Right or wrong, it’s interesting to think about! Like most mysteries in One Piece, we’ll have to wait and see!
Weekly Shonen Jump #35 Ch.986
One Piece Vol.49 Ch.472
One Piece Vol.82 Ch.817
One Piece Vol.95 Ch.964
These past few chapters have been huge on Kaido development!
・He wants to take over Wano
・His endgame is a world covered in war
・He clearly has aspirations for Yamato
But this chapter brought us what I consider one of the biggest developments for our antagonist, the inklings of a past that ‘created’ the current Kaido due to betrayal.
In fact, Whitebeard also suggested to us that he was left with bad memories of a pirate crew filled with members that don’t like taking orders from others.
I can’t help but think this is related to anything other than the events at God Valley. What happened there!?
Weekly Shonen Jump #36･37 Ch.987
One Piece Vol.95 Ch.964