Inspired by this question asking about the Fire Sisters' boyfriends' ridiculous names, here's another question about the bizarre names that Nisio Isin assigns his characters.

I'm trying to find any hidden meanings in the name "Zerozaki Hitoshiki (零崎 人識)" that relate to his character or part in the story. This character is from the Zaregoto series. The character is a knife-wielding serial killer whom the narrator meets in the second novel and describes as his own mirror image. His name is so ridiculous that even other characters in the book find it ridiculous. I looked up the kanji and the first kanji can be read as "rei", which has a meaning related to "zero". The second kanji is the same kanji that appears in common spellings of the names "Yamazaki" and "Kanzaki". The rest of it just puzzles me. I'm wondering if there are more hidden meanings that relate in some way to his personality or his part in the story.

  • The kanji has an alternate kun'yomi pronunciation of "ぜろ (zero)." Note that for names, sometimes the on'yomi or kun'yomi for kanji are not enough, because of that, there's what is called 人名用漢字 which are a set of kanji that have alternative readings when used in names. A common example is 田中, which can be pronounced Tanaka, Nakata, Hiroka, Yanaka, and so on. – кяαzєя Sep 11 '14 at 14:44
  • @ʞɹɐzǝɹ So that's why I so often see names written with apparently weird kanji and annotated with furigana. My knowledge of Japanese is extremely minimal, so this question might be trivial, but I think that 崎 is the same character used in names like "Yamazaki"--could that be part of the joke too? – Torisuda Sep 11 '14 at 21:18

As @ʞɹɐzǝɹ mentions, the kanji can be read as ぜろ ("zero") and has the meaning "null" or "cipher", as well as "overflow" (as in the word こぼれる). can be read as さき ("saki") which can become "zaki" under rendaku. It's the same kanji we see in common spellings of the names "Yamazaki" and "Kanzaki" (山崎 and 神崎). I believe this might be to make the word sound more like a real name, like adding Mc- or -son to English words ("Grumpy McSnarlson").

人識 ("Hitoshiki"), the character's given name, is written with the kanji for "person" (hito) and "know" (識) (also seen in the word shiru). Again, I believe the 識 character is just to make the name sound more like a name. The fact that he kills people may lend some significance to the 人 kanji.

  • 2
    I'm hoping people will see this answer, think "Geez, that's awful. I can do better than that!", and post better ones. – Torisuda Sep 14 '14 at 20:29
  • Nishio Ishin does a lot of wordplay in his works. If you take notice his pen name, it's actually a palindrome when romanized. To make the palindromic elements more apparent, it's typically written as "NisiOisiN." – кяαzєя Oct 14 '14 at 1:23

I'm not sure about the Zerozaki part. But looking at just the pronunciation, "shi" in Hitoshiki can also be rendered as 死{し} meaning "death", and as Torisuda mentions, "hito" means person, so together they make "person's death". Furthermore, Hitoshi is an actual name, but Hitoshiki is not and "shiki" can be rendered as 死期{しき} which means "time of death".

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