Cardfight Coalition

Names and Etymology EP2: Ainu, Language of the Spirits

Remember this thing? Yeah I said I would do one when Tribe Force came out but eh this and that happened, but better late than never right?

Today’s guests are those suffering WIND.

Time for another language lesson! Today we’re looking at the references to the Ainu in Yugioh, which there have been more and more in recent years, because Konami seems to be into that sort of thing lately. Probably also because the theme(s) related to Ainu in Yugioh are kinda popular, even with their poor treatment due to being WIND.

But what is Ainu anyway? Well, Ainu are one of the many indigenous peoples of Japan, living primarily in what is modern-day Hokkaido and parts of Russia. Like any group of people, they had their own language; customs, and religion, parts of all three which have made it into the society of modern Japan. For more information about the Ainu, go google or wiki them, our primary purpose today is about the Ainu language, and references to it used in the names of certain Yugioh cards.

Yugioh’s main source of Ainu comes from two themes, Gusta (Gusto), and Reijuu (Ritual Beast). The two themes themselves also incorporate a lot of Ainu ideas in their backstory and playstyle. The ability to commune and become one with nature as well as with spirits of / from nature are key concepts in the Ainu religion. The base concept of the Ainu religion is that within everything in nature resides a spirit, known as a kamuy in their language. Sound familiar? Yes, this kamuy is in fact the namesake of ガスタの希望 カムイ, known in English as Kamui, Hope of Gusto. As his name suggests, Kamui really was the hope for the Gusto tribe, as he survived the Lswarm War, and passed on the teachings of the tribe for generations to come, eventually founding the Ritual Beast tribe. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, since we have one more Gusto member to talk about before moving on to the Ritual Beasts, and that is Kamui’s descendant who premiered in Primal Origin.

After their long silence and seemingly having been wiped out due to Poisonous Winds, people assumed the Gusto were a lost cause, so imagine everyone’s surprise when early news of Primal Origin hit and all of a sudden we got a new Gusto card! This card was of course ガスタの神裔 ピリカ, known in English as Pilica, Descendent of Gusto. Now I don’t know how many of you bothered to google the word Pilica (or maybe you knew this already since you’re a geology buff), but apparently Pilica is a river in Poland. Now you might ask yourself, what the heck does a river in Poland have to do with the Ainu? Well the answer is, it doesn’t, since that’s not really what the Japanese for this card’s name is telling us. ガスタの神裔 ピリカ directly translates to Gusta’s Divine Lineage Pirika. Shin’ei, or what I translated as divine lineage, is a term commonly used to refer to the blood descendant of royals, often that of emperors. Pirika is an Ainu word, meaning beautiful or good, while Pirika Kamuy is a term meaning the “good spirits” that reside in all things. These are the kamuy that bring blessing and goodness wherever they go. As to why the English name references a river in Poland, well, that’s a question that will be left to the ages won’t it. Of course, one could make the argument that the original Japanese name had always meant Pilica instead of Pirika, since they’re written the same way in Japanese, but then, this article would now have no point, and you might as well stop reading and not waste any more time.

As a random side note, there is a Mt. Kamuy in Hokkaido with a river named Pirika running from it.

Anyway, moving beyond our two Ainu representatives in the Gusto tribe, we move into the Ritual Beasts, which are just full of Ainu words. Our first mention is of course, the first revealed Ritual Beast Tamer, 霊獣使い レラ, the card we at the Org have tentatively named Rera the Ritual Beast Tamer. Now I’ve seen a lot of talk (complaints) online about how we kept it as Rera instead of changing it to Lera or Laila or something, but by now, you probably understand why right? That’s right, Rera is an Ainu word, and we certainly wouldn’t want more Polish river incidents to happen, that would just be silly. Rera is the Ainu word for Wind, fitting, for a tamer of a Wind tribe that descended from another Wind tribe.

Next up, let’s talk about the actual Ritual Beasts themsleves, Apelio, Petolphin, and Kannahawk. These three are fairly straightforward, as far as naming go. Ape is Ainu for fire, pet is Ainu for river, and kanna is Ainu for thunder. Petolphin even has the extra fun of being wordplay with dolphin in Japanese, how delightful. With SECE, we were also introduced to a fourth Ritual Beast, one in the form of Pirika’s pet penguin’s grown up form, Rampenta. Ram is the Ainu word for heart, while penta is combination of penguin, and –ta, a popular suffix for pet names in Japanese. It’s too bad that SECE didn’t have a Pirika-Rampenta fusion to go with it, but perhaps Crossover Souls will deliver?

Finally, we move on to the last currently known member of the Ritual Beasts, 霊獣使い ウェン, a card we have tentatively named Wen the Ritual Beast Tamer. Wen is Ainu word meaning evil or wicked, and Wen Kamuy is a term meaning wicked spirits that cause disaster and disease. Poor Wen’s fate that can be seen in El Shaddoll Wendigo was already revealed to us on her reveal. Makes one wonder why the makers of those fake Wind El Shaddoll Fusions didn’t even do the most basic of research.

So with that said, this ends today’s Names and Etymology episode, so let us wait for how the TCG will wow us in Secret Forces!

Next one is gonna be back to jewbots and their stuff, stay tuned, hopefully this one will be out sooner rather than later.


Number III, Eva is a master in the art of Blurography and a firm believer in not sleeping just to translate moonrunes for a card game.

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