Unraveling the Mysterious Meaning of Kira in Japanese

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Have you watched Death Note? Get ready to embark on a linguistic adventure, unraveling the riddles behind the name “Kira” and its meaning in the Japanese language.

Throughout this article, we'll explore its origins, variations, and references in popular culture. Let your curiosity flow and join us on this fascinating journey!

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What does Kira mean in Japanese?

Since most people search for Kira from Death Note, let's start with him. In the anime this name "Kira" was chosen as a pun on the English word "killer".

When translating Killer into Japanese, we have the word kiraa [キラー] but the name of the protagonist of the Death Note series is spelled only Kira [キラ]. It is worth mentioning that matar, derived from “kill” in English, is kiru [キル] in Japanese.

In the Japanese language, the word "Kira" (キラ) actually translates as "shining" or "shimmering". Its origin is related to the verb and onomatopoeia "kirakira" (キラキラ), which expresses an intense glow, like that of the stars or the light that is reflected in water.

The name Kira therefore carries an air of mystery and charm, conveying the idea of someone or something that shines brightly and stands out. Light Yagami chose this name because in addition to being an assassin, he also wanted to stand out and shine as the God of that world.

Kira is one of the ideogram readings [煌]
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Kira beyond Death Note

The name Kira is also prominent in Japanese popular culture, being used in several works and iconic characters.

One of the most notable examples is the character Kira Yoshikage, from the manga and anime “JoJo's Bizarre Adventure”. This villain, with his glossy name, is a mysterious and charismatic figure who lives a double life.

Kira from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure uses [吉良] in his name. This is a common choice for a surname or a given name in Japanese. The word is made up of two kanji characters:

  1. 吉 (ki) - which means "good fortune" or "auspicious"
  2. 良 (ra) – meaning "good" or "excellent"

Thus, 吉良 (Kira) can be interpreted as something that brings good luck, is auspicious or has good qualities. Here are some other characters who are also named after Kira:

  1. Kira Sakuya - a character from the anime/manga "Angel Beats!" who is known to be a skilled fighter.
  2. Kira Daidouji - A character from the fighting game "Arcana Heart" who uses magic to fight.
  3. Kira Yamato - the protagonist of the anime "Mobile Suit Gundam SEED", who is a pilot of giant robots.
Uncovering the mysterious meaning of kira in Japanese
Uncovering the mysterious meaning of kira in Japanese

Variations of the Meaning of Kira

Although the “Kira” version is common, the name can also be spelled in other ways, depending on the intention or desired meaning. Some variations include:

  1. 希良 (Kira): Here, the kanji 希 (ki) represents "hope" or "wish", while 良 (ra) retains its meaning of "good" or "excellent". In this way, the name carries the idea of hope and kindness.
  2. 綺羅 (Kira): In this variation, the kanji 綺 (ki) and 羅 (ra) are used to express "beautiful" and "precious" or "rarity". The name, then, evokes the idea of something beautiful and rare, like a treasure.

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