One of the great mysteries in the game are the words “Wood Carbuncle” which are emblazoned on Satoru and Hotori’s clothes. The meaning of these words has eluded fans for a long time, but I believe I may have solved this long-standing mystery.
Theory 1: A Feeling of Discomfort
Theory 2: An Appreciation of Life
In jewelry, a carbuncle is “a red rounded gem”. If this is a reference to the “red and blue” theme and “carbuncle” refers to red, we can expect that “wood” refers to blue.
One way to make that connection is the 青木 (青:blue/green – 木:tree/wood). In English, this is known as the Japanese laurel. It bears red fruit about 1 centimeters in size, and it has purple flowers (red+blue). The plant is very hardy and can grow even in heavily shaded areas. The plant is dioecious, meaning it has separate sex plants with male flowers and female flowers. The berries are only present on female plants if there is a male plant in the vicinity. The berries are not eaten by wildlife and will stay on the tree for months, making it aesthetically pleasing for long periods of time.
Wood Carbuncle may actually be a reference to the red fruit of the Japanese laurel, which only develop in the presence of both a male and female plant. The fruit is the child of the tree, its “baby”. By extension, that means “Wood Carbuncle” is a reference to Self.
There’s also the “jewel” in the Insertion scene. While the scene was describing the candy being transferred from Keiko to Satoru’s mouth, it also doubles as a reference to sex and child birth. Incidentally, the candy is probably about the same size as the laurel fruit.
Theory 3: A Passion for Fashion
The last theory is that it’s simply the name of a clothing brand. But that’s too simple, right? So I reached out to Nakazawa and he replied:
What does “Wood Carbuncle” mean? Thanks!
Tweet by 中澤工（Takumi Nakazawa）- 22 Oct 2018 [permalink]
It has no deep meaning. It’s almost certainly the name of a preferred brand.
Well… I guess that settles it. Not everything has 3 layers of symbolism.