, a foreign character will normally speak Japanese flawlessly, unless the plot depends on a language barrier.
In Hollywood movies and generally in the Anglophone world, the rule is that if the Translation Convention
is in effect, the actors will affect an accent that will seem to match the audience's expectation of what the character should sound like in English. If they don't, we can usually assume they're talking in their own language or whatever functions as the lingua franca
(common language) for the purposes of the plot.
Foreign characters in anime generally don't speak with accents except very rarely emphasizing different syllables and pronouncing vowels in words that are usually dropped, which is no stranger than the usual local dialect conventions.
This boils down to the fact that most voice actors are native Japanese, and probably prefer to avoid accents that are too "out there" even in the rare situation where they know a second language well enough. There's also the important fact that the aforementioned Hollywood convention is not shared by all countries. Many cultures, Japan included, tend not to use foreign accents or dialects unless it's actually important for the plot/character, etc.
Bonus points if these foreigners also speak a few lines in their supposed native language with an incredibly thick Japanese accent.
Sometimes foreigners are given a regional
accent instead of the formal version; however, this is more a shortcut to show the character's personality.
This is usually a convention more of animation, as manga only demands a high-class Babelfishing
for printed dialogue. See also Not Even Bothering with the Accent
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Anime and Manga
- An example that particularly sticks out is shown in The Dagger Of Kamui, in which the main character, a nineteenth-century Japanese native named Jiro, travels to the U.S. and seems to have no problem speaking with anyone, up to and including Native Americans and Mark Twain.
- This is especially odd in Shadow Hearts: Covenant. Since the game takes place during WW1 the other characters decide that they should refrain from using Karin's obviously German name (Koenig)...but don?t even bother to explain why she both understands English in the first place (and Russian, and Japanese, and French...) and speaks it without even the hint of an accent.
- Let's not even get started on Joachim's or Hilda's (of From the New World) lack of a Hungarian accent, despite being from a castle just outside Bistritz, a village in the formerly Hungarian Transylvania. Even better, let's not start on the fact that Keith (From the original) did have a painfully awkward one in his one spoken segment the translators bothered to dub.
- Shenmue 2 takes place in Hong Kong and China, but the main character Ryo Hazuki from Japan has no trouble speaking to anyone.
- Freelancer is an interesting reversal of this trope, where Junko speaks perfect English despite being
- In Black & White, every character in the game, regardless of their assumed tribe (ranging from Norse to Aztec to Japanese) speaks in one of several delightfully varied accents from the British isles.
- In the Street Fighter franchise, Americans Cody, Charlie and Guile, British Cammy, Jamaican Dee Jay and unknown-nationality M. Bison speak with Japanese accents. In Street Fighter IV, everybody has an American accent save for Zangief, El Fuerte, Cammy and Rose in the English dub. SFIV comes with the option to hear many English speaking characters either speaking English or English with a heavy Japanese accent!
- Yoh from Starry☆Sky ~in Spring~ displays an amazingly extensive Japanese vocabulary, despite having spent most of his childhood and teens in France.
- In the Japanese version of Metal Gear Solid, nearly every character spoke with the same accent. With the English dub, Mei-Ling was given a pseudo-Chinese accent, Liquid spoke with a British one, Dr. Naomi had an Ivy League one and Nastasha had a Russian one. When the dialogue was redubbed for the GameCube's Twin Snakes version, almost all of the characters spoke with straight American accents.
The use of accents was significantly cut back in Metal Gear Solid 3 and completely (and jarringly) eliminated in Metal Gear Solid 4, which is set in a number of worldwide locations where absolutely everyone speaks completely unaccented Japanese/American English. When playing through such Ripped from the Headlines locales as "the Middle East" and "South America", this starts to feel especially weird.
- In the American version of Trauma Team, Naomi Kimishima and Tomoe Tachibana both speak perfect English without accents, despite both characters hailing from Japan.
- In Power Stone, a series of fighting games for Dreamcast (and later PSP), the characters are from different countries and nationalities, but they speak Japanese.
- Taken Up to Eleven in Sakura Wars: So Long My Love. Although it takes place in New York City, EVERYONE, even the burglars, speak fluent Japanese. Averted in the English dub.
- In Inazuma Eleven, all the foreign characters, (with the exception of Dylan of Pegasus, the team representing the United States, who peppers his sentences with Gratuitous English) speak perfect Japanese for no explained reason whatsoever. While justified for the Japanese Hide Nakata, all the others have no excuse. Fubuki (from Hokaido), speaks regular Japanese as well - though curiously that doesn't apply to his teammates, and Kogure(from Kyoto) and Tsunami (Okinawa) also noticably lack accents. Rika (Osaka), however, averts it wholesale, using a thick to the point of stereotypical Kansai accent.
- Ronin Galaxy: Despite being on the Moon in the future, the places the characters visit are clearly reminiscent of Japan and so are the people. Though there isn’t any language barrier between anyone; specifically with Giancarlo, Taylor and Leona, who are foreigners.