Pre-Release Theories: “Birusu” and “Uisu” Name Puns
Published by 11 March 2013, 11:00 PM EDT

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods officially hits Japanese theaters 30 March 2013, but preview screenings are launching in various locations this and next week. It is nearly upon us!

Something that is always incredibly fun with each movie is learning the pun source behind villain names, though they are not always completely obvious (especially to non-native Japanese speakers). Some end up being misinterpreted for years, such as Sauser from Dragon Ball Z Movie 5 — many fans claim up and down it is somehow a pun on “salsa”, but it in actuality comes from “Thousand Island Dressing” (Sauzan[do]-Airando Doresshingu), with comrades “Dore” and “Neiz” coming from “dressing” and “mayonnaise”, respectively.

So with Battle of Gods nearly within reach, what do we know about the pun sources for “Birusu” (ビルス), God of Destruction, and his attendant “Uisu” (ウイス)?

An early theory we at Kanzenshuu put forth was alcohol-related, where “Uisu” (ウイス) comes from the first three characters in “whiskey” (ウイスキー) and “Birusu” (ビルス) could be modified from “pils” (ピルス), which is shorthand for “pilsner“, a kind of beer. We reached out to Battle of Gods scriptwriter Yūsuke Watanabe on Twitter with this theory, and received a simple response of:


That’s not the source~!

OK, then: what is the pun source?!

Plenty of people have tossed out additional theories. A popular one is that both names somehow come from “virus”, which can be written in katakana as either ウイルス (uirusu) or ビールス (bīrusu) — that is certainly in the same realm as the character names for “Uisu” (ウイス) and “Birusu” (ビルス). An alternative theory amongst some fans has been “Bells and Whistles”, in reference to “Birusu” being a cat. While the theory does seem semi-plausible in English, it doesn’t hold nearly as much weight on the Japanese side, as the kana spellings aren’t very close at all, even for pun purposes. It seems a bit of a reach to get from “Bells” (ベル; beru) to “Birusu”, not to mention how much of a stretch it is to get from “Whistle” (ホイッスル; hoissuru) to “Uisu”.

Other folks have simply gone with transliterations like “Bills”, “Bilis”, “Wiss”, etc. Without a proper citation for a pun source, we at Kanzenshuu have thus far chosen to go with strict romanizations.

While we still do not know the official pun source yet, the smoke seems to be clearing just a bit. An official Nintendo 3DS LL (released as the XL internationally) hardcover case from PLEX clearly adapts the name in our alphabet as “Bills”.

However, this is a third-party product (albeit an official one), from the same general folks who have brought us now-standard-adaptations like “Gokou” and “Ginew”. Understanding this, we had to wonder, would there be any other official spelling?

As part of the Lawson & Mini-Stop promotional campaign, 100 sets of 5 “original clear files” have been announced as special presents to those that had been entered into a random lottery by providing receipts from purchasing at least two sweet items from either store. One of these clear files features alphabet spellings for both characters… presumably, anyway, since “Uisu” is covered up in the image provided. The spelling provided for “Birusu” is: “Beers”! This would be quite a simple name pun source, going right back to some of our original thoughts — a pluralized-“beers” would be written out in katakana as ビールズ. Drop the elongated syllable, swap the final syllable back to its base pronunciation, and you have “Birusu” (ビルス), a very common tactic Toriyama and movie production staff have used for movie villain names in the past.

Until an upcoming Chōzenshū or new movie pamphlet confirms the pun source from either Akira Toriyama or Yūsuke Watanabe, we are hesitant to go with, or claim, any particular one with 100% confidence.

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