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Fun With Names: Ryuugamine Mikado (竜ヶ峰帝人)

Fun With Names, Episode 1: Ryuugamine Mikado from Durarara!!

Welcome to the first ever Fun With Names, where we will be exploring the hidden messages layered into the names of characters and series, starting off with the protagonist of Durarara!!, a dialogue-heavy, supernatural adventure featuring intense gang warfare in Tokyo's Ikebukuro District.



Before I begin, I'd like to clarify that I prefer to stick to the system from which a name comes. Japanese names are written and spoken with the family name first before the given name, so that's how I'll be presenting such names.

The series follows Ryuugamine Mikado, a high school student moving to Tokyo from the countryside at the request of his best friend, Kida Masaomi. Excited to be moving away from the dreary monotony of the countryside, Mikado has high expectations for the big city. On his first day in Ikebukuro, he catches a glimpse of a supernatural phenomenon which has inspired rumours throughout the district - a headless motorcycle-riding apparition known as "the Black Rider". With more mysterious phenomena occurring in the district, various residents of the downtown Tokyo district find themselves being roped into some of the strangest occurrences.

Cover 2 Drrr

Ryuugamine Mikado's name is an intensely layered story which feeds into the overall Durarara!! universe in ways that are incredibly entertaining on a surface level, but also mind-blowing once you dig deeper. Characters in the series often chime in about how his name really sounds like that of the main character of a story, but dig into the plain first impression he gives. That gives contrast - contrast because as the viewer, we're well aware that Mikado is this tale's protagonist, but the other characters do not.

Ryuugamine Mikado

In the synopsis above, I mention gang warfare in the happenings in Ikebukuro in the series, due to the fact that in this show's lore, Ikebukuro was once rocked by an intense war between the Blue Squares and the Yellow Scarves. Colour Gangs are a well-used trope and motif in Durarara!!, alongside better-established organised crime units like the Yakuza. However, characters in the show are aware of a third gang called the Dollars, characterised by the lack of a colour despite being a Colour Gang. The Dollars are a completely decentralised gang, no one knows who the leader is, not the general public, nor the members themselves. The gang is joined through the internet and for the most part, people can join without necessarily needing to engage in gang activity. This is how it gathered more members than any other organisation in the show.


Here's where things get wild: Ryuugamine Mikado was the leader of the Dollars the entire time. The plain protagonist character with the protagonist-esque name who doesn't seem like much of a protagonist was behind the biggest organisation in Ikebukuro and no one else knew. This is where his name truly shines.
Ryuugamine Mikado is written 「竜ヶ峰帝人」in Japanese. His surname, Ryuugamine (竜ヶ峰) translates to "Dragon's Peak", while his name, Mikado (帝人), is apparently the same as "mikado" (帝), an archaic Japanese word used for "Emperor" and the emperor's estate. Mikado's name is written with both the characters for "Emperor" and "person" (人), which makes it look more like an actual name (帝人).

So what we have so far is that "Ryuugamine Mikado" can be translated as "Dragon's Peak Emperor" - with English word order, it's "Emperor of the Dragon's Peak". In the context of the show, this is everything, as it nods to Mikado's status as the leader of the Dollars - he exists at the very peak of this dragon that is the Dollars. The consequence is simple: our protagonist whom no other character could see as a protagonist despite having the super-cool name of a protagonist is actually the protagonist - he leads the most influential faction in the entire show!

For more on Ryuugamine Mikado's name, please check out the link below - there's more on the nature of the characters used to write the name. It is also where I got this information from so show them love, they're cool.
The Meaning Behind Ryuugamine Mikado's Name


anime fun with names Op-ed lists Ryuugamine Mikado

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