The rare name Ayanami

Rei Ayanami of "Neon Genesis Evangelion"
Rei Ayanami

A few months ago, I was contacted by a reader whose birth name was Ayanami.

The name was inspired by Rei Ayanami, a character from the mid-’90s anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, which “[did] for anime in Japan what The X-Files did for cult sci-fi in America.” The now-iconic TV show quickly grew into a franchise involving films, video games, and products.

The character’s first name, Rei, may have been chosen as a reference to Sailor Moon character Rei Hino; her last name, Ayanami, was taken from the name of the Japanese WWII naval vessel Ayanami. The Japanese word ayanami refers to a “twill wave” — a wave with a twill-like pattern, apparently. (The more familiar Japanese word tsunami means “harbor wave.”)

The reader who got in touch with me was wondering about the single-year appearance of the name Ayanami in the U.S. baby name data in 2015. Why that year? And, would it be back?

I don’t have a solid theory about 2015, but I do think there’s a strong chance the name will re-emerge — perhaps in the yet-to-be-released 2019 data, as mid-2019 is when Netflix added Neon Genesis Evangelion (the original series, plus two of the movies) to its library.

What are your thoughts on the name Ayanami?

Sources: Rei Ayanami – Evangelion – Fandom, Neon Genesis Evangelion – Wikipedia, 15th Anniversary: The Cultural Legacy of Neon Genesis Evangelion, ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ comes to Netflix June 21st

2 thoughts on “The rare name Ayanami

  1. 2015 was when the original Neon Genesis Evangelion was supposed to take place and was the 20th anniversary of the anime’s release. DVD/blu-ray sets were released that year, although not sure if that was only in Japan. The final tie up movie was also supposed to be released in 2015, but was delayed. It definitely would have been all over the internet that year.

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