The Super Secret Origin of Kiai Aneminal


Kiai Aneminal (pronounced [ˈkiː.aɪ] [əˈnɛm.ɪ.nəl]) made her first appearance in a textbook doodle.  I honestly never was one of those kids who liked to deface books, but this student manual was a personal copy in which it was incouraged to write, so Jon Anderson and I had a lot of fun turning the illustrations into comics.

This particular illustration had to do with a lesson on resisting peer pressure, and the original depicted teenagers at school with one offering cigarettes to another.  I changed it into a science-fiction scene of mutiny.

This was in my third year of learning German, which influenced the “Kyei” spelling of the name.  Three years laters I had also started learning Japanese, at which point I wrote a story for Kiai and changed the spelling of her name to “Kyai.”  This shift in spelling was based on the Japanese word 「気合」 which essentially means “battle cry.”  Unbeknownst to me at the time, there is also the girl's name 「希愛」 which is pronounced the same.  This is particularly fitting with the theme of the story since a couple of the name's possible translations are “rare love” and “wish love.”

Years later after I had earned a degree in Japanese, I revisited the story and changed the spelling of the heroine's name to “Kiai” to fit more logically with it's linguistic inspiration 「きあい」[1], as “Kyai” could too easily be mistaken for 「きゃい」[2] (not to mention, I have grown weary of people intentionally misspelling their children's names with a misplaced Y).

I don't recall exactly how I settled upon the surname of “Aneminal,” except that it was basically a mumbling of “animal” and somehow went well with “Kiai.”

When I originally wrote the story, I also drew a picture of Kiai which was a little too close to its original inspiration (and a bit wonky looking too), so I now omit it from the story's page.

  1. きあい is romanized as kiai ([ˈkiː.a.ɪ]).
  2. きゃい is romanized as kyai ([ˈkja.ɪ]).