What does 魔晄 really mean and how is it read?

The FF VII Wiki lists Mako (Kanji is 魔晄) as meaning "magic light". I am assuming the furigana for this Kanji is 魔{ま}晄{こう} based on the English word Mako.

From my jisho search, it appears this Kanji 魔晄 does not exists in the system? I did not get any search results back. I did get several search results back for 魔{ま} which has many meanings relating to magic, spirits, sorcery, evil spirit etc. based on kanji and context. Searching for 晄 on jisho I get no results.


1 Answer 1


魔晄{まこう} is a compound invented for the game, which is why you won't find it in any dictionary.

The reason the second character is difficult to find is that 晄 is a rare variant of the more common 晃 ("bright, dazzling"). Even if I had never seen the character 晄, I would be likely to guess the reading こう by interpreting it as a 形声文字. It seems like a stretch to translate it as "magic light", but since this is a fictional term of art, some poetic license is probably appropriate.

Given the appearance of mako in the game, 晄 is probably intended to suggest brightness and brilliance. As you observed, 魔 suggests 魔法{まほう} ("magic") as well as the meanings of spirits in the context of the game.

  • Great explanation this makes a lot sense. I agree on the creative liberties with translating to "magic light". Is there a website of these variant kanji and the common kanji that they represent?
    – greg
    May 5, 2020 at 22:31
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    These sometimes fall under the category of 異体字 (variant characters) or 旧字 ("old" characters). I can think of one example of the former, 嶋 vs 島. Certain place names or families may utilise a variant character rather than the orthodox character for historical reasons. Perhaps an example you may be familiar with is the surname of the former CEO of the game division of Sony, 久{く}夛{た}良{ら}木{ぎ}, which preserves an 異体字 as the second character.
    – jogloran
    May 5, 2020 at 22:50
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    Here's a list of 異体字 that does happen to include 晄: wwwap.hi.u-tokyo.ac.jp/ships/itaiji_list.jsp Note that no such list is going to be exhaustive. There are tens of thousands of variant forms that exist, reflecting the great amount of variation in the script. Sometimes (but not always) the alternatives overlap with "simplifications"
    – jogloran
    May 5, 2020 at 22:59

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