R&J: Hey guys!
R: So, being with each other, we are constantly saying things off-handedly that end up really
surprising the other person about our culture. And one of the things that really surprised
me was when we somehow got on the topic of how anime characters are named. Most of us
already know a lot of the really famous characters, like Naruto: his name is actually a type of
Japanese food. You put it in ramen. Gohan from Dragonball Z; that means rice. Goku is
actually Son Goku, he’s named after a monkey king from a classical Chinese novel. But if
you’re like me, you probably didn’t know just how clever and carefully designed a lot
of these names really are. J: Many manga or anime character’s names
are not real Japanese names at all. Some of them are just made up words/names, and some
of them are just authors’ favorite names. And in some manga, like Death Note for example,
the author purposely avoids using real names, especially for criminals, because he doesn’t
want to inconvenience anyone who might have those same names in real life.
R: Even more than that, because Japanese is such a complex language when you get into
kanji, a lot of anime characters names are actually plays on words or puns, or the kanji
can have meanings that describe the characters themselves.
J: Yeah, it’s so obvious to us because we grew up with this language. So we can tell
like, “This is obviously not a real Japanese name,” or “This one sounds like an anime
name,” or “This one actually sounds like a sentence.” For example, using the Japanese
particle “no” in a name. R: So for those of you who don’t know any
Japanese, this particle “no” can be added on to the word before it to indicate possession.
So essentially in this case, it becomes an “ ’s” in English. So in Sailor Moon,
her name is Usagi. And most of us already know that that means rabbit. And then her
family name is Tsukino. And most of us can look at the word Tsukino and see that the
word “moon” or “tsuki” is a part of that name. But when you read her name in the
Japanese way, which is family name first, you get Tsukino Usagi, which actually sounds
like Tsuki no usagi. Which would be “The moon’s rabbit,” or more clearly translated
into English, “Rabbit of the moon.” In English we have a saying that there’s a
“man in the moon.” Because that’s what we see when we look at the moon. But in Japan,
they don’t see a “man in the moon,” they see a rabbit!
J: Or crabs. R: Or… or crabs?
J: Yeah, crabs. R: So Sailor Moon’s name is actually really
clever because it’s using a real Japanese family name to play on words and invoke the
image of Japanese folklore. And there’s another really good example
of this as well, and that would be Sakura Haruno from Naruto. In Japanese, her name
is Haruno Sakura. And a lot of us probably know what these Japanese words are. “Haru”
is spring, and “sakura” means cherry blossoms. So her name is actually literally a Japanese
sentence when you read it like this. It becomes “Spring’s cherry blossoms,” or more
clearly translated, “Cherry blossoms in the spring.”
J: It’s very obvious to me so it was very fun to see Rachel getting surprised by all
these names. R: Well, it’s really difficult for us to
tell in English, especially when the character names are transliterated into the English
alphabet. J: Well, yeah. So for example, the criminals
from Death Note. So, “Kiichiro Osoreda.” So when you look at his name, it’s spelled
like this. “Ki-ichi-ro.” And this kanji, “ki”—this means “strange” or “rare.”
And it’s literally rare and strange to have this kanji. It’s normally this kanji for
“ki” (Ki-ichi-ro) and this means “joy” or “happy.” So it’s almost impossible
for anyone in Japan to have the same name as them.
R: It might sound exactly the same when you say it out loud, but of course kanji is just
as important in a name as the way it sounds. J: Yeah, Kiichiro…
R: So, here’re some other minor characters from Death Note.
R: Mainichi Asaji, which literally means “Every day, next morning.”
R: Nusumi Yonegorou. Nusumi literally translated is “sneak a look.” It could be something
like a peeping tom. And this is a character who was killed because he raped a woman.
R: And this is a really minor character, but he’s probably one of my favorite characters
now that I know what his name is. His name is Kaneboshi Ginzou. And you’ll actually
learn these two kanji early on when you’re studying Japanese. The first one in this case
means “kane” or “money,” and then “boshi” or “hoshii” means “I want.”
So his name is literally “I want money.” And then his first name, Ginzou, means “I
create silver.” And this is a character who was killed because he was a loan shark
who committed violent acts to retrieve the money that he loaned out to people.
R: What about Bleach? J: Ichigo? Ahh… I don’t know what kind
of meanings the author gave to his name, but Ichigo… Ichi means “first” and go means
“protect,” so like I don’t know, his first priority is to protect something, or
he’s the number one protector of the Shinigami realm, or something. I don’t know.
R: Oh. I thought because his name was Ichigo, it meant “strawberry.”
J: You thought what?? Strawberry? R: I am absolutely positive there is a ton
of fanart out there with Ichigo with strawberries, or Ichigo as a strawberry, because I’m betting
pretty much everyone else makes the same mistake. J: Well, there’s actually a manga called
Ichigo 100% from Shounen Jump a little while ago.
R: So this is a love harem comedy manga, where the main character’s name is Manaka, and
that literally means “the center.” And the girls that he is in a love square? with—the
first kanji of their family names are the cardinal directions on a compass.
J: KITAooji from the north, and TOUjou from the east, and MINAMIto from the south, and
NISHIno from the west. R: What other Jump manga have you read?
J: Ahh, I don’t really read Jump, but watched Yu-Gi-Oh! when I was a kid.
R: Me too. J: You did?
R: Yeah. J: So, this is the kanji, how you write Yu-Gi-Oh!
And “yugi” means “a game” or “play/to play.” And “ou” is a king. So, the king
of the game. R: I didn’t even know Yu-Gi-Oh! had kanji
to it. I just thought it was like a weird… kinda dumb name. I mean, in the English version
it’s written with these hyphens. It doesn’t even look like a Japanese name at all.
J: Yeah. R: I watched the first season of Attack on
Titan, and Mikasa, the really cool, super strong woman? Mikasa is actually the name
of a Japanese battleship that was the flagship for Admiral Togo in the Battle of Tsushima.
J: Yeah, Mikasa. R: And if you’re interested in Japanese
history, I actually made a video about it. J: Yeah. Oh, speaking of battleships, actually
many characters from Evangelion are named after Japanese ships. And the main character’s
and his father’s family name is Ikari, which means “anchor.”
R: So they’re like anchoring everyone together. J: Yeah, kind of.
R: That’s really cool! R: So, you have Ayanami Rei, and Ayanami is
the name of a destroyer. Soryu Asuka Langley—she’s actually named
after THREE separate ships. Soryu is the name of an aircraft carrier, Asuka is the name
of a torpedo gunboat, and Langley is the USS Langley.
Akagi Ritsuko is- Akagi is the name of an aircraft carrier.
And Katsuragi Misato, Katsuragi is also the name of an aircraft carrier.
J: Yeah and there’s also Fuyutsuki and other you know, just minor characters.
R: Right. And of course there are a ton of anime and manga characters who have names
that aren’t even anywhere close to real names in real life. Although oftentimes their
names still do have meanings, or they’re puns or something like that. So for example
you have like One Piece, so Luffy, Usopp, and Zoro… Then like, for Dragonball Z you
have like Bulma, Krillin… J: Vegeta.
R: Vegeta. J: But recently some parents named their children
after manga or anime characters. R: Right, and those are called “kirakira”
names and we’re actually going to make a video about that in the future.
R: So, I hope you guys found this interesting and you learned some new stuff like I did.
We actually have a couple anime that we really like where a lot of characters have really
interesting names so we’re going to make full videos just for those anime. And if you
guys have your favorite characters and you want to know what the meanings of their names
are, then please ask us down in the comments! And I apologize in advance if they’re not
interesting. But if there’re enough of them then we’ll make a full video on those, too,
to answer all of your questions. J: Thanks for watching!