Are anime character names realistic?

Having a unique name can be a blessing or a curse depending on what the name is. Names follow people throughout their lives and can affect how others see them. Some parents play it safe and name their children something classic like Ashley or Tyler, and this is not unique to the West. Japanese parents also try to give their children names that are unique, but still fit social expectations. However, this rule does not apply to anime, where characters are often given names that are puns or based on the abilities they have, such as the cast of my hero academia Y sailor moon.

Japanese names are usually made up of kanji, which is one of the three writing systems used to form the language. Kanji can be combined to create more complex words and names. In Europe, surnames were usually based on occupations or whose son was whose: Johnson, Wilson, Weaver, etc. Japanese names were usually based on where a person lived or what clan they belonged to. Many Japanese surnames come from nature and places found in Japan, such as Yamanaka (the middle of the mountain) or Kawaguchi (the mouth of the river).

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Anime and manga allow this idea to be taken to the extreme, but realistically, many names found in anime would not be used in everyday life. sailor moonTsukino Usagi’s is an example of this. His name is a pun on the legend that there is a rabbit that lives on the moon making mochi, with 月 Tsuki being “moon”, field not which means “field, civilian” and うさぎ which means “rabbit”. Collectively, the name could be translated as “civilian lunar rabbit”. The pun comes from the sound the full name makes when it’s all said together. Do not の is a possessive particle in Japanese, so the name sounds like Tsuki-no-Usagi, “moon rabbit”.

While there are certainly people by the name Usagi, it’s not something one would normally name their child. Another example of a name that sounds legit but is actually unrealistic is Kurashita Tsukimi from jellyfish princess. Tsukimi 月海 is made up of the kanji for moon and ocean, but is considered a “kirakira name”. Kirakira names are ones that are not only unusual but use kanji pronunciations that most people would not use or use at all. They are the Japanese equivalent of giving special spellings to names common in the West, such as spelling Caitlyn as Keightlynn. Kirakira is an onomatopoeia meaning “bright” or “bright”. Numerous anime names fall into this category as they can be considered strange or unusual.

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Tsukimi Kurashita from Princess Medusa

Some of the most infamous kirakira names involve Pokémon. One child was named Pikachu 光宙, and the kanji for light and space were used. Another was called Mewtwo, written as 弥有ニ. Some names have even been legally banned after parents attempted to name their children using them, one of which was Akuma, which roughly translates to “devil.” Legislation against these names has increased over the years.

While it is safe to assume that names like Vegeta and Luffy are not common or everyday Japanese names, some series set in more realistic settings make it difficult to determine whether a character’s name is a common Japanese name or one made up by the creator. For the most part, most names found in anime and manga are not used as real names, although there are a few exceptions. There will always be parents who try to name their children with something special to make them stand out, no matter where they are in the world.

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