When will Akutagawa start calling Atsushi by his name?
Akutagawa has been making a point of calling Atsushi a “man-tiger” (”Jinko”, 人虎) or “you” (貴様, “Kisama” which is a very rough and rude way of addressing someone and can also be translated as “you bastard” or “you son of a bitch”, that sort of thing) since the first time they met.
We know that Aku doesn’t have a problem with remembering names (he calls Kyouka by her name, Higuchi is Higuchi for him, Dazai is Dazai-san etc. etc.).
Atsushi, naturally, gets special treatment.
When they first met Atsushi was Aku’s mission target, the one he was trying to retrieve for Port Mafia to get the promised huge reward for Atsushi’s capture. It was probably easier to think of Atsushi as an object, a mark, someone who is defined by and reduced to his ability (Aku might do it a lot with his marks, it’s easier to finish off someone when you don’t think about them as a person). Hence the “man-tiger”, “jinko” (as if it’s all Atsushi is).
Akutagawa might use this way of distancing himself from the people he’s supposed to kill or capture, to subconsciously protect himself from developing any feelings of sympathy for them.
But what about the second time they met? Third time etc.?
The reason “Jinko” nickname stuck with Atsushi and Aku made a point of never calling Atsushi by his actual name (and at this point it’s 100% deliberate, there’s NO WAY Akutagawa doesn’t know Atsushi’s name) could be because of resentment and jealousy that Aku felt after he learned that Atsushi is Dazai’s new subordinate, the one who is, in Dazai’s words, much better than Aku.
Why would he bother being nice to someone who (in Aku’s opinion) stole the attention and respect of the only person that matters, which Aku has been desperately trying to gain for ages, to no avail?
Now the question is, what kind of miracle (and it’ll take nothing less than a miracle at this point) needs to happen for Aku to change his attitude and to act friendlier with Atsushi and to be able to call him by his name?
(btw isn’t it funny that the ED of S1 of BSD is “Namae wo Yobu Yo” by Luck Life which means “I’ll Call You Name”. The lyrics are quite interesting, I’ve always wondered if it could be in any way related to Akuatsu. Wishful thinking, probably).
I could see several scenarios.
1. Atsushi saves someone who is really close and important to Akutagawa (Gin, there are no other candidates tbh). And dropping the “man tiger” nickname is Aku’s expression of gratitude, a “quod pro quo” of sorts because he doesn’t want to owe the man-tiger anything (or maybe he was lectured by Gin about it and had to agree).
2. Dazai tricks Aku into calling Atsushi by his name using some convoluted plan (HE WOULD, plus Aku doesn’t listen to many people but he might actually listen to Dazai once in a while).
3. It just slips out. And keeps slipping out. Again, and again, and a few more times. Until Aku gives up and just switches to “Nakajima” (not sure that he would want to be on a first-name basis with his former sworn enemy, so Nakajima would probably feel more natural to him).
I could see this kind of scenario if they keep being partnered to go on joint missions for a while, maybe after a couple of years or so.
”Atsushi” though …. might come after MANY YEARS of working together, saving each other’s asses over and over again, coming to realize that they do, in fact, care whether their partner lives or dies. I don’t see it happening anytime soon, although who knows, maybe Asagiri will surprise us all (fingers crossed but not getting too hopeful).
4. Aku does it on a dare from Chuuya or Dazai (provided he agrees to that dare, which is a bit hard to believe, but it depends on what’s at stake. Would a “favorite subordinate” badge from Dazai do the trick?).
5. If Akutagawa wanted something from Atsushi and the only way Atsushi agreed to it is if Aku dropped the “Jinko” nickname. Once again, the favor has to be HUGE for Aku to agree. After all, Atsushi made him promise not to kill people for half a year, he has more power over Aku than he himself realizes.
6. If Aku starts viewing Atsushi as an ally instead of an enemy / rival, and decides to drop the nickname all by himself. Now what needs to happen for Atsushi to gain that sort of change of heart in Aku is anyone’s guess.
7. Nothing changes, the nickname gets stuck forever, Atsushi will have to deal with it (he’s probably used to “Jinko” by now anyway). The only difference will be that with time, “Man-tiger” will (hopefully) stop feeling like an insult, but more of a nickname, sometimes exasperated, sometimes (maybe) dangerously close to an endearment.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” William Shakespeare