Anime Character Names

Anime Character Names

Introduction

Today we’re going to take a look at the wacky world of anime character names. Now, I know you’re probably thinking that the names of characters don’t matter all that much, but you’d be wrong. We can actually learn a lot about certain characters just by knowing their names.

Sometimes character names simply serve to make it easier for viewers to keep track of who’s who, other times they can be simple jokes, and occasionally, there are names which make everything else about the character make sense once you figure it out.

To cover this topic, I’ll be breaking it down into three different sections, physical characteristics, color palettes, and character attributes. And, as we’ll see, some character names don’t just fall into one of these categories.

Physical Characteristics

Names which reference the physical characteristics of their respective characters are by no means exclusive to anime. In fact, this is extremely common in Western cartoons as well, but we just don’t notice pay much attention to them because they’re in our native language.

So, before getting into examples of this in anime, let’s take a look at the series SpongeBob SquarePants. Just about every major character in the series has a name which explains what kind of animal they are. Squidward Tentacles is a squid, Patrick Star is a starfish, Mr. Krabs, is a crab etc.

But, what does this look like in anime? Basically, exactly the same as it does in Western cartoons. Often the most easily recognizable of these names belong to characters who are themselves animals, or animal-like.

For example, in One Piece there’s a recurring character named Hachi. You may already be familiar with his character, but if you’re not, can you guess what type of animal he’s designed as? If you guessed that Hachi is an octopus then you’d be correct.

So, how can we know Hachi is an octopus without even seeing him? Simple, his name, Hachi, means eight in Japanese, which is the number of arms octopus have. Now, I’m not saying that we should be able to determine what a character looks like just from their name alone, but names like this make it easy to keep track of different characters.

Another example from shounen is Kisame from Naruto. Same is the Japanese word for shark, which makes complete sense once you see Kisame’s character. He looks very shark-like, carries a sword called Samehada (shark skin), uses water-style jutsu, and summons sharks.

However, while names which describe the overall physical attributes of a character are fairly common, what’s even more common are a subset of these names which only describe the color palette of characters.

Color Palettes

One of the most obvious character names which ties into their color palette is Aqua from KonoSuba. Aqua’s color palette is blue, as you would expect from someone named after water. It also helps that her name isn’t in Japanese, so it’s even easier to recognize.

But, what if her name was in Japanese? What then? Well, fear not, because the Japanese word for Aqua is simply Akua. And, in case you were wondering, there is an Akua in anime. She’s from Love Tyrant and has blue hair as well as her name implies (you’ll notice that by color palette I tend to mean simply hair color).

While I can’t think of a character named a variant of Aqua whose color palette isn’t blue, there are other names, like Sakura, which don’t always work out.

Sakura Haruno from Naruto is an obvious example of this name working, since her hair is pink just like sakura (cherry blossoms). However, it’s more of a stretch to say that this type of naming convention still holds completely true when we look at the Sakuras from Madoka Magica and Fate, who are red and purple respectively.

Kyouko Toshino, Akari Akaza, Chinatsu Yoshikawa, and Yui Funami from the anime series Yuru Yuri
Kyouko, Akari, Chinatsu, and Yui

But, fear not. Just because the name Sakura doesn’t always work out, there are still other names which do, like Akari Akaza from Yuru Yuri. Her hair color is red, which is exactly what the word aka means in Japanese. That’s right, both her first and last names have the word red in them, just in case you weren’t completely sure.

And, in some cases, such as in Prisma Illya, you’ll have characters given names by other character specifically because of their color palettes. Chloe von Einzbern is known to her friends as Kuro (black) because she’s a “dark” version of Illya, literally.

Character Attributes

Now it’s time for the more interesting role of anime character names, and that’s to describe character attributes that aren’t purely physical. And, this is where we’ll see some characters I mentioned in the previous two sections making a comeback.

Take Aqua for example. Yes, her name being Aqua matches up with the fact that her color palette is blue, but what’s even more important is that it signifies she’s a water goddess. Just from her name and character design we, the viewers, know she’s a water goddess long before Kazuma does, which is just one of the many jokes in the series.

Likewise, I mentioned that not only does Kisame look like a shark, but he uses water-style jutsu and can summon sharks. The fact that his name has to do with sharks foreshadows this even though we don’t actually see him use these jutsu for quite a bit of time after he’s introduced.

And, similar to Kisame, we have Squalo from this week’s episode of JoJo’s Part 5. Squalo is Italian for shark, and his stand, Clash, is a shark-like stand. Unfortunately that logic won’t work on most of the other characters from Part 5 since they’re mostly named after various types of food.

Yuusha, Fai, Mei, and Seira from the anime series Endro~!
Yuusha, Fai, Mei, and Seira

Then, we also have characters like Yulia “Yuusha” Chardiet from Endro~! All of Yulia’s friends call her Yuusha, which turns out to be a pretty good nickname for her considering it means hero, which is what she is. This is basically like how Goblin Slayer is named Goblin Slayer, her name is simply her title as well.

Even if we didn’t know that Yuusha was a legendary hero, it would be implied simply by her name. But, like the rest of the names I’ve gone over in this post, Yuusha’s is still pretty basic. So, what about a name that has a bit more nuance?

This is where my favorite character, Mayoi Hachikuji comes into play. Her first name, Mayoi, can be written as the word for lost. This is significant due to her former status as an apparition known as a lost cow (or lost snail). But, that’s not all!

Her last name, Hachikuji, is also a reference to her character. As previously mentioned, hachi is the word for eight, but ku is nine, and ji is temple. So, all together her last name reads as “89 temples” which is a reference to the 89th temple being considered unlucky in Buddhism.

Further, the characters for hachi and ku in her name can be read as misfortune. So, basically everything about her name points to how she’s unlucky or lost in some way, which makes more and more sense as the story of the series continues to unfold.

Conclusion

And, that’s all I have to say regarding the names of characters in anime. So, let me know what some of your favorite clever anime character names are in the comments. Mine is obviously Mayoi Hachikuji, but I’m interested in hearing some of your picks which might not have made their way into this post.

Oh, and since I just remembered this one, Usagi Tsukino from Sailor Moon. Usagi is the word for rabbit, which references her hairstyle, and Tsuki is the word for Moon, referencing her role as Sailor Moon.

If you enjoyed today’s post or found it interesting in any way, let me know by clicking the like button ❤ down below. And, make sure you follow me over on Twitter @DoubleSama so you don’t miss out on all my latest content.

Finally, I’d like to thank HeavyROMAN for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about how to become a supporter and the benefits you receive for doing so, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

Loading Likes...

2 Replies to “Anime Character Names”

Leave a Comment

Bitnami