One of my many interests when it comes to linguistics and especially also literature is that of personal names, when writing a story or a piece of media, the author(s) will some times create names that either are puns, homages or otherwise have significant meanings to either the personalities of the characters, or their role in the plot of the story.

Video games are no stranger to the concept of name-puns and have interesting etymologies in terms of what the author intended, the localisation process of games that are rich with a distinct cast.

We see this with the Phoenix Wright series, where the characters have names that relate to aspects of their roles in the narrative of the series and the individual episodes, likewise in the Game Boy Advance role-playing game series, Rock Man EXE, known as Megaman Battle Network in the West, we see various characters with names routed in computer technology or general references to their being.

The game itself is heavily founded the already internet-embedded information age of the early 00s, and the EXE series sees the hero, Netto Hikari, the young hero of the series, and his digital friend and navigation programme ("Internet Navigator= NetNavi"), Rock Man, which more or less is the game's excuse to feature digital superheroes fighting off digital villains, whose operators, the game's term for anyone who owns a navigation programme and in turn is its master and helps it during battles. A game very much made in the image of the monster collection craze akin to Pokemon, Digimon, Monster Farmer and so on that peopled the late 90s to mid-2000s.

Capcom already their famous platform game franchise, Rock Man (also known as Mega Man in the west), and in decided to use this robotic hero as the model for their new battle-RPG series for Nintendo's handheld machines.

Proceeding into the analysis of the names themselves, there are going to be obvious spoilers in terms of characters, and as such the rest of the article will be about the importance of the names in relation to the grander scope of the narrative of the various games. I apologise if the vastness of the cast can seem overwhelming to the uninitiated.

The names are given in the traditional Japanese order of surname first, and the localised names are mentioned in brackets. I will comment on the localised names as well, if there is anything worthy of note in terms of the puns.

Hikari Family:

Hikari Netto ("Lan Hikari"):

光 – “light”
熱斗 - “passionate, heat” + “dipper, battle”

The hero of the game. 熱斗 is homophone with ネット (“computer network”). I noted the meaning “battle” because of how 斗 has been archaically used in the past as a contraction for 闘 (battle, tou). The localisation Lan literally refers to LAN, a computer network critical to local connections.

Hikari Saito ("Hub Hikari"):

光 – “light”
彩斗 - “colouring” + “dipper, battle”

The deceased twin-brother and navigation programme of Netto, essentially a posthumous brain-upload given digital form.  彩斗 is homophone with サイト (“website”). "Hub" here refers presumably to an Ethernet hub, likewise a critical component for internet reception.

Hikari Haruka ("Haruka Hikari")

光 – “light”
はる香 - “haru” (phonetic script) + “fragrance”

The mother of the twins. はる is written in hiragana and such has on its own no apparent meaning, but usually is written with kanji such as 春 (“spring season”). Her forename is pronounced similar to 遥か (“distant”).

Hikari Yuuichirou ("Yuichiro Hikari")

光 – “light”
ゆういちろう - “yuuichirou” (phonetic script)

The father of the twins, and also the computer scientist who transformed Saito into Rock Man. The forename is also written in kanji as 一朗, whilst literally “help” + “one” + “cheerful”. I am not sure where the source for this name stems from. Perhaps after an employee at Capcom?

Ijouin Family:

Ijouin Enzan ("Eugene Chaud"):

伊集院 - “that” + “gather” + “temple”
炎山 - “flame” + “mountain”

The initial rival and then later friend of Netto, possessing a cooler mind in comparison to the hot-head, Netto. 伊集 is based off the similar sounding 委譲 (“transfer”), 炎山 w. 演算 (“calculation”). His forename can literally be glossed as “mountain of flames,” and as such the connotation of heat/fervour matches that of the 熱 in Netto’s name. Eugene is probably to match phonetically that of Ijouin, and Chaud is derived from a French word meaning hot/warm in reference to the literal meaning of Enzan.

Ijouin Shuuseki ("Shuseki Ijouin"):

伊集院 - “that” + “gather” + “temple”
秀石 - “excellence” + “stone”

秀石 is homphonous to 集積 (“integration”).
The wealthy and estranged father of Enzan. Both his son’s forename and his own can be couple with 回路 (“circuit”, kairo) to produce computer-mechanical related words. Strangely enough his name is rendered the same as in Japanese.

Friends of Hikari Netto and Hikari Saito:

Sakurai Meiru ("Mayl Sakurai"):

桜井 - “cherry blossom” + “well”
メイル - “meiru” (phonetic script)

The girlfriend of Netto, whose name Meiru, メイル, is homophone with メール (“e-mail”), fitting in with the computer puns. The English localisation is literally just rewriting it to sounde lyke a Middle English name.

Ooyama Dekao ("Dex Oyama"):

大山 - “big” + “mountain”
デカオ - “dekao” (phonetic script)

Netto's friend, rival and would-be-bully, whose hulking frame puts him in contrast to his tiny little brother, Chisao. デカオ could be taken as a combination of でかい (“humongous”, dekai) and the common male name ending 男・雄 (“male”, -o).  Dex being short for Dexter was presumably used purely for its similarity to the Japanese name.

Ooyama Chisao ("Chisao Oyama")

大山 - “big” + “mountain”
チサオ - “chisao” (phonetic script)

A truly little little brother of Dekao. チサオ, mirroring that of his big brother, is derived from 小さい(“little”, chiisai) and the same male name suffix. The name remains as is in the English version.

Ayanokouji Yaito ("Yai Ayanokoji")

綾小路 - “figured cloth” + “lane” (“small” + “road”)
やいと - “yaito” (phonetic script)

Pint-sized rich girl. やいと is probably based off the same-sounding 灸 (“moxa cautery”, “chastisement”), thus referring to her caustic attitude and the fact that she is the scion of a respectable, wealthy family. Her name is shortened in the English version.


Oozono Mariko ("Miss Mari"):

大園 - “big” + “garden”
まりこ - “mariko” (phonetic script)

The class-room teacher of Netto and his friends. The name まりこ can be spelled variously, but the last element is nearly always 子 (“child”, ko), common suffix for female names. まり can also mean “ball,” though this merely seems to be a rhyme with her twin-sister ゆりこ (Yuriko), whose name is also written phonetically rather than in kanji. Her name in the English version is simply rendering it shorter and akin to the English female name, Mary, also adding the honorific miss to give the formality of being a teacher.

Higure Yamitarou ("Higsby"):

日暮 – “twilight” (“sun” + “livelihood”)
闇太郎 - “darkness” + “thick” + “son”

Fitting names for an eccentric character whose fishy nature is apparent at the start of the game where he pretends to be a maths-teacher, but later reveals to be a member of the criminal WWW organisation, where most of the villains in the series stem from. 太郎 (tarou, “thick” + “son”, thick here in the sense of healthy) is typically given as a suffix to the name of the eldest son of a family. The English name is yet another Anglicization of the Japanese original name.