KanjiThe name Kamui is composed with two kanjis. The first kanji being 神 which means 'kami' or 'god'. The other kanji being 威 which means 'takeshi' or 'authority'. The name only means 'God's Authority'. Once the kanjis are translated in english, it means 'Shin'i', not as 'Kamuy' because 'kamuy's' kanjis are カムイ.
One of the major themes of X/1999, as well as many of CLAMP's other works, is duality, even to the extent that they embed duality into the name of the series' protagonist, Kamui. Not only does the name "Kamui" mean "the one who represents God's will," but it also means "the one who hunts God's will." The name embodies, within one word, two apparently mutually exclusive actions—representing and hunting (or opposing). The name not only represents his status in the story as a messianic figure, one closely tied to "God's will", but his essential choice in the matter. Hinoto, a dreamseer who has visions of the coming apocalypse, explains the meaning of Kamui's name.
‘The one who represents God's will.' Your name... You are to gather those bestowed with God's might. You are the one who acts for God's power and purpose... You, Kamui, save the Earth. But... the name Kamui has another meaning. ‘The one who hunts God's will.' One who hunts those bestowed with God's might... You Kamui... Destroy the Earth. (volume 5)
While Kamui is the protagonist's name, the story also constructs it as a dual identity. Both aspects of the name must be represented so when Kamui, the character, chooses to embrace one aspect of the identity, another character, his twin star and best friend, Fuuma, loses his identity and becomes the other aspect of Kamui, even to the point of taking "Kamui" as his name. For the sake of clarity, those discussing the series may make a distinction between Kamui, the original, and the Kamui, formerly known as Fuuma, since written or spoken discussion lacks the visual clues inherent in both the manga and anime formats.
Position in the series
About the first third of the series is primarily concerned with not only the looming apocalypse but also with the choice Kamui must make. Unlike the other characters in the story (at least apparently), Kamui has the unique position in which he may choose which side of the conflict to represent—the preservation of humanity or its ultimate destruction—a choice that is embedded in the dual meanings of his name. The definitive beginning of the end hinges on the eventual necessity of him taking a side, one way or another.
God's Will: ChoiceThe "God's will" aspect of the name is rather suspect considering that God's will, or even gods' wills for that matter, are conspicuously absent from any of the action in the story. While the characters' individual powers and abilities may be either explicitly or implicitly tied to some supernatural manifestation, suggesting that God and gods do exist in some fashion, the driving forces behind the apocalypse, both physically and emotionally, are essentially human. "God's will" might be considered destiny, since destiny plays an important role in the story, but the story's visions of destiny are all filtered through interested parties who have a stake in the ultimate outcome of the conflict. Furthermore, one of the more important sources of information regarding destiny, Hinoto, is a known liar and manipulator whose word on matters must be taken very lightly. One indication of God's will in the story lies the titles of the opposing sides—the Seals and the Angels—which tie into the lore of Revelations in which the opening (or destruction) of the seals heralds another phase in the end of the world. Still, the narrative is less concerned with God's will than it is with the individual human wills of people on both sides of the conflict.
This leads to a rather interesting point—the name Kamui, as constructed in the story, represents both duality and choice. The important issue at stake is not what God, gods, or even the Earth desire, but what individual people desire. Both sides of the conflict are permeable, as evidenced by the eventual ability of characters to change sides (though this holds true only for the anime and manga) which speaks to both the duality of the characters and the importance of their choices. Do not all people face a similar conflict as Kamui in that they possess the dualistic capacity for good or evil and must constantly make choices in which side they will choose in any given circumstance? While there is certainly drama in the scale of impact Kamui's choice can potentially have on the world, his personal conflict rings true because it is an essentially human conflict.
Kamui's name speaks both to his destiny and to his identity within the apocalypse, but it also indicates his ability to choose, and thus carries with it the possibility for hope. As his mother says after he insists that tomorrow is not decided, "You're right. You may be able to change the future. After all, you are Kamui..."