Hiura wearing bear foot sandals
A.k.a. the so-called main character. I originally intended her to be tomboyish and cool, but somehow she ended up being the way she is now. (I’m glad if someone finds the current version cool, but I’m not so sure if I think that way myself.)
She has such a charming personality though that it pretty much makes up for the aforementioned lack of coolness.
… But you chose that course yourself, too?
First off, a disclaimer:
I am not claiming to have any deep or extensive knowledge of Japanese language, names, or kanji. I’m just really enthusiastic about them. I have studied the language for several years as a hobby, but I do not consider it a specialty of mine. It’s a hobby.
Feel free to point out any mistakes.
So, back on to the topic.
The name written in kanji
Most of the other characters call Hiura by her surname (“Hiura”, that is), but let’s talk about her given name “Ran”. In the earlier stages of this project the whole cast had Finnish names, the main character being named “Kielo” – a word meaning lily of the valley.
Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis)
When I switched to Japanese names I simply translated “Kielo” to the corresponding Japanese word “鈴蘭”, Suzuran. The name remained that way for a relatively long time, during which I almost always called her by a shorter nickname “Ran” in my mind. (The shorter the better, and I like the sound of that word.) Before long I started to prefer the idea that instead of a nickname it was her actual name. Hence I changed the reading to Ran, while maintaining the original kanji. So – as I see it – the word still means lily of the valley, even if the reading became irregular. (Incidentally, I am also quite fond of irregular readings.)
As far as I know, not many characters in manga or other comics have French braids. And I shouldn’t have drawn a character with them either. Especially not the main character… Even if you try to draw them carefully they still end up looking wrong. Or maybe it’s just me and my lack of skill. In any case, it was a mistake.
That said, it’s not like I’m going to change the character design at this point – not even the hairdo. It has already become a plot point of a kind. Not a particularly important one, but a plot point nevertheless.
There are also a few alternative hair styles that often appear in related art but rarely in the webcomic itself.
This is what the character design should have been from the beginning. But on the other hand, if her hair would be constantly loose, there wouldn’t be the gap between braided and loose versions…
This also happens to be one of the few drawings that I’m content with even after a relatively long time. The Twitter version with text can be found here. And the line art is on Tumblr in case anyone is interested.
She will only make one or two brief appearances in the comic, and only in flashbacks, but I really like drawing her. Both because of the hair style and because of the clothes. And expressions. (She is way more “cool” than the high-school Hiura.)
The middle-school version of Hiura
- The monkeys on the pattern of the hoodie in the prologue were cute, weren’t they? They also happened to be quite tedious to draw (I know they don’t look like it), so you most likely won’t be seeing them in the future chapters.
But you can always re-read the prologue.
- The gray textures in Hiura’s hair and eyes in the webcomic are modified versions of a photograph of snow falling horizontally in the wind
- You may have noticed that her braids are of different lengths. That’s on purpose. Both on my and on her part. Which is not to say there is any deeper meaning or symbolism behind it. (There isn’t.)
A sketch that serves no other purpose here than ending this post.