"I can't even hazard to guess as to what they were trying to say with that title..."
"Babbity Rabbity and her Cackling Stump is the stupidest title ever written by man or beast and of course when I wrote it, I never—I had not, at the point, when I gave Ron that title, I didn't imagine for a second that I was actually going to write the story."
The confusingly-named Fruits Basket is named after a Japanese kids' game also called "Fruits Basket". Makes logical, if not grammatical, sense. The problem comes from Japanese at one time lacking a tu syllable - it's tsu or to - with the result that so many English words ending in t get an extraneous final -s when transliterated into Japanese. In particular, "fruit" has issues in the fact that Japanese does not have distinct R and L consonants; furuuto is the transliteration of "flute", so "fruit" is stuck with furuutsu.
The meaning behind the title of Angel Beats! doesn't become clear until the final episode. Angel, the female antagonist received Otonashi's heart ("beats"); both literally in a heart transplant while she was alive, and metaphorically in the afterlife when he falls in love with her. "My soul, your beats." Before then, there's only the weak explanation that one character is an angel and some other characters are musicians.
Boogiepop Phantom got scrambled in localisation. The original Japanese title was "Boogiepop Doesn't Laugh" (alternately, "Boogiepop Never Laughs").
Samurai Champloo sounds like it but actually makes some sense. Champloo or rather Chanpuru is a Japanese dish made from a mix of regional foods, just like how the anime mixes Edo-period and modern elements together. Interestingly, both the dish and the main character of the anime are from Okinawa.
Fullmetal Alchemist just plain makes more sense in the original: the word translated as 'full metal' is a pun in Japanese, meaning steel but also stubborn (an adjective that suits Ed very well). Its Japanese title, Hagane no Renkinjutsushi (commonly abbreviated to "HagaRen"), would translate to the far more comprehensible Alchemist of Steel.
Many of the chapter titles make very little sense without context. "Four Arms to Killing You" and "Superchunky from Hell" for example. The former involves an Arrancar with four (later six) arms trying to kill Kenpachi Zaraki. The latter is about a giant blob-shaped hollow coming from Hueco Mundo to aid in Aizen's attack. Superchunky even became the huge thing's Fan Nickname. In the Bleachcharacter data books there are sections to translate the titles.
El-Hazard: The Magnificent World Given the loose Arabic feel of the series, it is likely that "El Hazard" (pronounced El "Ha-ZARD") is a bastardization of Scheherazade, the teller of 1001 Tales of the Arabian Nights. Each episode is described as a "night." The first episode is "The First Night." Given this, it is likely to have taken Makoto 3 years until the epilogue to find a way to get back to Ifurita; or 1001 Nights. It could also be a reference to Lovecraft's Mad Arab Al-Hazred, who wrote the Necronomicon, knowledge that man should not know. There certainly is enough Lost Technology in the series that mankind would have been better off not creating. Although the El- prefix is actually Spanish, as in El Cid, the noted Spanish general.
Speaking of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, "Lyrical" is her rarely used incantation, (she stopped using it after the first episode of the second season), she's a Magical Girl and her name is Nanoha.
Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch. Pichi pichi is both the onomatopoeia of a fish blowing bubbles and a phrase describing a Genki Girl like the heroine, Lucia. Pitch refers to the Magic Music used in the series. Still, that's like naming an action film ''Man With a Gun Bang Bang Sound."
Bubblegum Crisis: As the creators explain, a bubblegum crisis is a bad situation that just keeps expanding until it pops and leaves a mess all over the place. They may have been thinking of 'Sticky Situation'.
Sailor Moon: The Sailor Soldier's Magical Girl costumes deliberately resemble the common Japanese school girl uniforms, popularly known as "sailor fuku" that are patterned after traditional sailor's uniforms. The resemblance is mostly in the shirt collar and scarf. The show even referenced this in one episode of The Ninetiesanime when Usagi used her Disguise Pen to become an actual sailor. Actually, the officially translated full title is "Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon," just to throw in a few more nouns there.
Later anime arcs tack on "R", "S", "Super S", and "Sailor Stars" to the series title. R is said to stand for Rebirth and Romance, S refers to Super, according to eyecatches, as in Super Sailor Moon. Super S refers to... Multiple Super Sailor Soldiers (i.e., the Sailor Team) while Sailor Stars? Probably all the Sailor Star Lights (alien Sailor Soldiers).
This trope also applies to too many attack names to count. There is nothing particularly illusionary about Shine Aqua Illusion, nor do Star Serious Laser and Star Gentle Uterus actually involve lasers and uteri. (Ew.)
Azumanga Daioh. The title refers to the author of the manga (Kiyohiko Azuma) and the magazine it was published in (Dengeki Daioh), as well as it being, well, a manga. A translation would basically go something like "Azuma's great comic for Daioh Magazine." The anime version calls it "Azumanga Daioh: The Animation", even though it's only accurate for the print version. It also sounds like "Azumanga da yo", which would translate to "It's Azuma's manga!". They play with this interpretation at the very beginning of the anime (they cut the phrase off, resulting in 'Azumanga da!').
Lucky Star doesn't seem to specifically refer to any star that is lucky, although there is quite a bit of symbolic use of a star within the series as a decorative motif, and there is an extended sequence where the characters discuss wishing upon a star. Possibly, it was referring to the Madonna song, which at least vaguely makes sense. Furthermore, the title is spelled Raki ☆ Suta, which is not the proper way to spell Lucky or Star, which ought to be Rakkii and Sutaa respectively. It is a little bit like naming your show "Lukky St'r" (just enough similarity to the actual words that the intended meaning is clear, but it still looks odd). It's just another example of the Fun With The Foreign Languages game so popular in Japan. The Lucky part came from Comptiq, the magazine it serializes; Lucky Channel is actually the name of their reader's column.
There is a scene where one of the characters wishes on a shooting star, but it doesn't appear until Volume 2 of the manga. The anime theme song also makes reference to meteorites.
Xxx Ho Lic sounds like someone hopelessly addicted to pornography, those x'ed jars of moonshine, or maybe Vin Diesel. It's actually supposed to evoke those little x's on the blank where you sign your name on official documents: therefore, "xxxHoLic" is more like "fill-in-the-blank-holic", or "ABC-holic". Many of the characters fit this description (workaholic, alcoholic, etc.). It's supposed to be pronounced as just "holic". It can also mean "addicted to the unknown" with the xxx being a "mystery".
Kiddy Grade makes sense when reviewing the background material, which states that the young-looking nanomachine-enhanced ES members are 'graded' in increasing orders of power as C, S, G (Copper, Silver, Gold). Ironically, the main protagonists are listed as the weakest of their organization... at first.
Serial Experiments Lain: Lain is our protagonist. The series spans a short manga and a Playstation game, the latter of which involves reading case files on Lain's 'progress' throughout laboratory tests. Also, each episode of the show can be seen as Lain experimenting with something new, progressing serially from the simple (trying out a new computer) to the mindblowingly, cosmically profound. Metatextually, the episodes can be seen as a series of experiments with storytelling technique, each one trying something different.
Kurau Phantom Memory: Kurau, the protagonist, merges with an energy being calling itself "Rynax", which is likely the phantom from the title. The new Kurau retains a strong sense of morality, since she still possesses all of the memories of her human part. During the course of the series she encounters other "Rynasapiens" who suppress their human memories and as a result have high disregard for life.
Cowboy Bebop: other than helping to set the mood of the show, a "cowboy" is slang for a bounty hunter and Bebop is the name of the ship the hero bounty hunters live on. And no, the title doesn't refer to a specific character. Bebop is also a type of Jazz and the opening theme song Tank is sort of an example of this style. Naming the show after music also works given how musically influenced the episodes are.
Triguncan make sense in context, though that context is debated (see below).
Code Geass: "Geass" is the main character's name for his Magical Eye powers (which is derived from geis or geas, a type of enchantment that heroes in Celtic mythology are often put under by goddesses or witches), but the "Code" part remained a mystery for one and a half seasons, until in episode 15 of R2, CC referred to her and VV's immortality and ability to bestow Geass as "Code". Yup, it was as simple as that. On the other hand, "R2" remains unintuitive and unclarified in the text, but Word of God states it refers to "reconstruction and revolution".
The title Transformers Armada refers to the eventual team-up of Autobots, Decepticons, and Mini-Cons to form a giant space fleet to fight Unicron... near the end of the series, making the title a total mystery for most of the time that it was in use.
Transformers Super God Masterforce. "Masterforce" is the transformation phrase used by the humans turning into Transformers. "Super-God" is a translation of the Japanese word chojin (超神). Jin is how the kanji 人 is pronounced; this sound is present in the Japanese words for both human and android, and thus symbolises the combination of humans and robots (in this case, Transformers) to form the ultimate lifeform. Thus, a more accurate but less impressive name would be Transformers: Super-Human-Robot-Hybrid-Soul Masterforce. Super-God Masterforce can also refer to the Godmasters, the aforementioned fusions of human and Transformer.
Armada's name in Japan is Transformers: Micron Legend. Referring to the ever-prevalent microns (Called Mini-Cons in America).
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle is certainly a chronicle, and "Tsubasa" means "wings", which fits the "search for feathers" quest that takes up the first half of the series and also, two of the main characters are named Tsubasa, although they're using their clones' names (Syaoran and Sakura) as aliases. Pay no attention to the fact that said clones got the names in the first place from the aliases their originals were using, it just gives you a headache. Although the titular reservoir appears halfway through, it seems a minor detail unworthy of title attention until the grand finale. The "reservoir" can also refer to how Sakura's memories are in feathers, so the "wings" are a reservoir of what is the plot to our story.
Yu-Gi-Oh! makes sense in the original Japanese, as it means "King of Games", and Yugi is the protagonist's name. The latter is probably the reason why the title wasn't simply translated along with the rest of the show - the connection between title and character name would be lost, and naming him "Kingof" would just be weird.
Flunk Punk Rumble, despite being the English title, sounds like it makes much less sense than the Japanese title (Yankee-kun to Megane-chan / Delinquent Boy and Glasses Girl). But if you consider that the aforementioned Manga concerns students trying to not Flunk from school, and that almost all of the characters are Punks / Delinquents and that the main characters often get involved with Rumbling, it makes at least some sense in context.
The full title is Koukyoushihen Eureka Seven, literally "Symphonic Psalms Eureka Seven" or officially "Psalms of Planets Eureka Seven". OK, Eureka is the name of the female protagonist, and the episodes are all named after songs, so the story can be regarded as a collection of "psalms" in that sense. The answer to Seven is a very submerged Title Drop: During the flashback explaining the origins of the Scub Coral they first remember a rocket that crashes. Its underwater wreckage shows "Eureka" on the rocket a screen later. The entire series of events began with a space mission named Eureka Seven.
The meaning in the Alternate UniverseMovie is spelled out much more explicitly: Eureka was the seventh girl who a cult experimented on to obtain knowledge from the Coralians/Image, so she was referred to by a serial number ending in "7" which was shorten to "Eureka 7".
Pumpkin Scissors is named after the postwar recovery organization the characters in the series belong to, so it makes sense that the series would be called that. Where the organization got its name from is that just as a pair of sturdy shears can cut through the thick pumpkin, so does the recovery unit cut through the hopelessness and corruption after the war.
Neon means "New One" in Greek so the title is New One Beginning/Creation/Origin Gospel in English. The Video games entry for NGE has a more detailed version. According to Sadamoto, the title came from wanting a similar name to the also confusingly titled Space Runaway Ideon.
The literal translation of the original Japanese title, Shin Seiki Evangelion, is "New Century Evangelion". Hideaki Anno has said that he chose the word "Evangelion" because it "sounded cool".
Daphne in the Brilliant Blue is pretty much this for awhile - it's not until episode 10 (nearly halfway in the series) that the 'Daphne' part is given any explanation whatsoever, and the full title still doesn't make a lot of sense until the final few episodes.
Yumeiro Pâtissière. Yumeiro literally means "dream-colored," and connects to the fact that the protagonist (the Patissiere) wishes to make dreams come true through her sweets.
I My Me! Strawberry Eggs. There's actually a pun in here. In Japanese the word "aimai" means "ambiguous" or "vague" which, given the plot, makes a good deal of sense.
Strawberry Panic! takes place in the Strawberry dorms and many characters end up in a panic about things.
Strawberry Marshmallow refers to the nicknames Nobue calls the girls, Strawberries, and the song Marshmallow, by Tamio Okuda.
Strawberry 100%. The incident that starts the series is the main character looking for a beautiful girl with strawberry-print panties he happened to see on the school roof.
Katekyo Hitman Reborn! , which complete title, Katekyoushi Hitman Reborn! means Home Tutor Hitman Reborn. To explain: a renowned Hitman becomes the protagonist's home tutor, and his name is Reborn!. Once you know that, the title can also be read "My Hitman Home Tutor, Reborn."
One Piece suffers from this, particularly because in many languages, including English, it can refer to, ahem, clothing. In-universe, it refers to the treasure that the protagonist and many of the other pirates in the series are trying to find, making it a rather apt title.
The "gray" of D.Gray-Man supposedly comes from the color motif of black and white in the series, and the fact that the hero ends up being neither with the Order, neither with the Noah (thus, "gray"). The meaning of the "D." has been made slightly less obscure by chapter 218 (it was apparently a part of Mana's name)
Ghost in the Shell: The 'ghost' part refers to the part of a person that makes them human, which, in a world where the entire human body, including the brain, can be replaced with cybernetic substitutes, is pretty important in separating cyborgs from straight-up robots. And of course, the shell more than likely stands for a cyborg body.
The Swedish title, however, is The Pale Death's Minute, a reference to a 1922 poem by Birger Sjöberg, which is about a funeral. Even knowing the reference, it still doesn't make sense.
In Danish the title is The Princess and the Crazy Knights, which was coined in the hope that it would remind people of Monty Python and the Crazy Knights (Monty Python and the Holy Grail). It didn't work.
One of the main reasons given for The Shawshank Redemption failing at the box-office was the opaqueness of its title: it makes perfect sense in context, but as "Shawshank" is a fictional prison, you have to have seen the movie or read the book to even know the gist of what's going on.
In one of the few happy cases of changing the film's original name in Mexico, the movie was renamed Dream of Flight, which is more appropriate.
Ditto for the Swedish title: Nyckeln till Frihet - "The Key to Freedom" (you know, hope.)
One can debate whether the Danish title is that appropriate, as it is called "A World Outside" (of the prison walls, that is).
The Brazilian title is a combination of the two above: A Dream of Freedom.
Then again, the title in Finland was "Rita Hayworth — avain pakoon" which is pretty much a spoiler to the movie plot, meaning "Rita Hayworth — the key to escape"
Love Actually, truncated from the line "Love actually is all around."
Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. The film is about dancers, and "Electric Boogaloo" is a style of funk dancing. In keeping with the theme of funny-ass names, the main actors of the film series also happen to be nicknamed "Shabba-doo" and "Boogaloo Shrimp."
Blade Runner. The term is the nickname used for bounty hunters who identify and kill renegade androids posing as humans. Is it because they live within the razor's edge between humanity and machine? Is it because they practice unsafe scissor usage? No, it actually doesn't have any deeper meaning. The filmmakers lifted the term from an unrelated book (about medical supply smugglers) because it sounded cool.
The Hudsucker Proxy, another Coen Bros. flick. So called because Tim Robbins' character acts as a stand-in decision maker (proxy) for Hudsucker Industries' executives and shareholders.
The soccer movie title Bend It Like Beckham confused many American viewers, who at that point had never heard of David Beckham. And many of those who had at least a vague idea of who he was had no idea what "it" was, or how Beckham bent "it."
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is actually a Vehicle Title, in that the title of the movie is the name of the (unexpectedly) flying car which is the primary MacGuffin of the story. The car itself was named by the owner's children for the noises that its engine makes.
The title of the British movie It's All Gone Pete Tong makes little sense unless you know it's an example of Cockney Rhyming Slang based on the name of the British DJ Pete Tong. Tong does appear in the movie As Himself, but the expression in the title is never explained.
Martha Marcy May Marlene. Martha is the protagonist's real name and "Marcy May" is what the leader of the cult she joins christens her upon her induction. Additionally, when answering the phone, all male members of the cult are instructed to use the name "Matthew Lewis" so as to avoid revealing their identities, while all female members are to go by "Marlene Lewis".
No mention is made in Chariots of Fire of fiery chariots. The title is about striving for high ideals. It's a reference to the hymn "Jerusalem", based on William Blake's poem "And Did Those Feet In Ancient Time". The hymn is sung at the beginning and end of the movie, but you'd have to really be paying attention to catch the line.
Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
I will not cease from Mental Fight
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England's green & pleasant Land
The confusion does not, however, extend to the English. While England doesn't officially have a national anthem, Jerusalem is one of the most famous national anthems it doesn't have. (Yes, it's complicated. God Save The Queen and Land of Hope and Glory are two other frontrunners.) Jerusalem is therefore exceptionally well-known as a result, making this about as obscure as an American film titled "Home of the Brave".
August Underground was originally going to be called Peter, but it was changed fairly late to a title that was the random combination of August (when filming took place) and underground film.
Five Across the Eyes - There are five main characters, and they're travelling through an area nicknamed "the Eyes".
Curse of Pirate Death - The villain, a Ghost Pirate, is nicknamed "Pirate Death".
They Might Be Giants, based on a play of the same name. Who are "they" and are they giants are not? The title doesn't have anything to do directly with the plot. It's taken from a short monologue in which the main character argues that people need to think of things "as they might be" rather than just "as they are." He references Don Quixote, stating that Don Quixote was mad because he thought the windmills were giants when he should have thought, "They might be giants." In other words, embrace open-mindedness and curiosity.
Upstream Color: The film is about a blue substance that inhabits a number of hosts throughout its life cycle. At one point, it's washed upstream and turns some riverside orchids blue.
In Straw Dogs 2011, David compares the locals to straw dogs, saying that the men are treated reverently when they are football stars in high school but are "trash" afterwards. Such feelings make sense, considering how he treats them later. Or throughout the film, for that matter. The original film gives no explanation for the title.
The Catcher in the Rye. Holden remembers the poem "comin through the rye", and thought the words "if a body meet a body" were "if a body catch a body". He imagined that he was in a gigantic field of rye where thousands of children were running around playing a giant game of itdoesntreallymatter. The field was on the edge of a cliff, and Holden had to catch any kids that got too close to the edge. Crazy, but there you go.
The Mocking Program by Alan Dean Foster is something of a subversion in that it makes perfect sense after The Reveal and is completely appropriate to the plot. Given how late The Reveal is in the story, however, one can't help but suspect the book would have benefited if it had been subject to It Was His Sled.
The Silence of the Lambs refers to Starling being haunted by the memory of lambs screaming as they were slaughtered, and Lecter's suggestion that saving Catherine Martin might help put an end to that.
In the novel, Lecter actually says the phrase "the silence of the lambs", but in the film, for whatever reason, he only ever refers to stopping the "screaming of the lambs".
The title of Stephen Fry's novel The Stars' Tennis Balls is from a metaphor used in The Duchess Of Malfi: "We are the stars' tennis balls, struck and bandied which way please them," meaning, "We have no control over our fate."
Wuthering Heights sounds a bit like gibberish to modern audiences due to the fact that the esoteric word "wuthering," meaning in effect "stormy," is not widely known. The book's title is the name of the inhospitable location of the story, and also refers to the volatile emotions of the plot.
A Clockwork Orange. The "clockwork" part clearly has something to do with the way the treatment makes Alex programmable, but Burgess has given several different explanations for what the title is supposed to mean:
The phrase comes from "as queer as a clockwork orange," a phrase Burgess claimed to have heard, but of which there is no record of ever being used before he wrote the book.
"Orange" is a pun on the Malay word for man, though there are no other Malay words used in the novel.
"Orange" refers to the human capacity for "color and sweetness." Oranges are natural, clockwork is not (like brainwashing).
Robert Ludlum's "The Propername Abstractnoun" Mad Lib Thriller Titles are notorious for sounding fancy while telling you nothing.
The Super Sentai Series in Japan is pretty guilty of this as it's impossible to translate most titles as anything but these.
Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger translates as Pirate Squadron/Taskforce/Team Gokaiger. Gokai meaning misunderstanding is a pun on Goukai meaning heroic and ger as in ranger which makes this series translate as Pirate Squadron/Taskforce/Team Misunderstanding Ranger/Misunderstandingger.
Battlestar Galactica. As silly as it sounds, it makes sense in context. The show is about a starship named Galactica, which is a battlestar, a portmanteau of battleship and starship. That, and it was the 70's.
In Finnish it is translated as Taisteluplaneetta Galactica ("Battle planet Galactica") which makes no sense whatsoever.
But then, taken literally, "Battlestar" is an even stranger name for a spacecraft than "Battleplanet." At least a planet can have people living on it.
In Russian the word "galactica" ("галактика") means simply "galaxy", which originally led to names like Battle of Galaxies or Battle for the Galaxy, as well as direct translation of Battle Star Galactica, which sounds rather weird. Eventually the series ended up known as Star Cruiser "Galactica".
The show Stella took its name from the original comedy group, which named itself after the unborn daughter of the club manager who booked their first show. It does not refer to any of the members (three men named Michael, Michael and David) or characters involved in the show, nor is it spoken at any point in the series. They do say it in several of the 26 short films, but only in reference to the name of their group/act.
The Mighty Boosh is named after a childhood memory of co-creator Noel Fielding, when a 6-year old Portuguese friend of Michael Fielding (who plays Naboo on the show) described Michael's large hairstyle as "a mighty boosh." Ironically, Noel's character Vince Noir has a large, distinctive hairstyle that is the subject of many jokes, while Naboo's hair is almost always covered by a hat.
The lyrics to the end credits theme of Frasier, "Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs", sound nonsensical, like any good jazz lyrics should. The title has been explained as referring to the "confused" callers Frasier gets on his radio show, as well as the situations he's in which can't be undone.
30 Rock is impossible to parse unless you know that it's an address: 30 Rock[efeller Plaza, New York, NY]* 10112 (also known as the location of NBC's studios). The abbreviation is famous in the TV business. And to be fair, the opening titles do make this fact explicitly clear, and the place is referred to as 30 Rock by characters on rare occasions.
Breaking Bad is likewise difficult to make sense of if you haven't run across that particular bit of slang (it refers to a good or at least conventional person suddenly going off the rails), however Jesse does use the term in the first episode.
Although not exactly a working title, in an episode of Top Gear (U.K), the trio of presenters attempt to build an electric car (I mean, how hard can it be?). They name their second prototype the "Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust". Admittedly, a more impressive sounding name than their first prototype, which was called Geoff.
Blue Oyster Cult (both the band name and most of their lyrics) appear to be an example. However, all of their trademark cryptic lyrics combine to form a long, sprawling mythology, as most of them are taken from Imaginos, a mock-mythic cycle of epic poetry created by Sandy Pearlman before the band was even started. You've heard of concept albums; Blue Öyster Cult was supposed to be a concept band.
The name of the band is an anagram of Cully Stout Beer, which the members of the band claim to have been drinking while they brainstormed. (The umlaut is just cool.) However, there's no evidence whatsoever that such a (redundantly named) stout beer ever existed.
The band name was parodied in Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Episode 3 (Baddest of the Bands), when Strong Bad has to come up with a name for his band, comprised of himself, Homsar, and the King of Town. Here, however, the words were selected at random, so the end band name is one.
Many Of Montreal's songs have titles that kind of make sense if you stand at just the right angle, squint a bit, and then give up and read some interviews. One of the most prominent examples is "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse (Chemicals)," which is apparently about how the enthusiasm for his music had, like Prometheus's fire, cursed him, estranging him from his wife, with whom he'd lived on a street in Oslo called "Heimdalsgate." Neither Prometheus nor Heimdalsgate are ever directly mentioned in the lyrics.
Panic! at the Disco's first album "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out" had a lot of examples of this trope: "London Beckons Songs About Money Written By Machines", "There's a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven't Thought Of It Yet", "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage", "Nails for Breakfast, Tacks for Snacks".
Many of their song titles and lyrics are actually book or movie quotes, and more impressively, they've even spanned two songs "Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off" is followed by the song "but it's better if you do" (creating a full line from the movie Closer).
Panic's sophomore album didn't fare any better: "Nine in the Afternoon" only makes sense after Word of God explains that they were stuck in a windowless rehearsal space and were trying to determine what time it was without the use of, you know, a watch or clock. Genius, boys. Genius.
As well as the rest of the tracks on "Pretty. Odd.", such as "From A Mountain In The Middle of the Cabins"?!
Many of the Decaydance bands, like Panic!, are known for this. The Cab ("Zzzzz") and Cobra Starship ("Send My Love to the Dance Floor, I'll See You in Hell (Hey Mister DJ)") are repeat offenders.
Fall Out Boy were obviously the main influence on all of these bands, considering such gems as "Reinventing the Wheel to Run Myself Over", "'Tell That Mick He Just Made My List of Things to Do Today'" (an inexplicable quote from Rushmore), "Seven Minutes In Heaven (Atavan Halen)", "Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying (Do Your Part To Save the Scene and Stop Going to Shows)", "I've Got a Dark Alley and A Bad Idea that Says You Should Just Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song)", "Don't You Know Who I think I am?", "I'm Like a Lawyer With the Way I'm Always Trying to Get You Off (Me & You)", "Disloyal Order of Waterbuffaloes", etc.
Speaking of Fall Out Boy- Bang the Doldrums, anyone?
Indie horror-rock band the pAper chAse fills their albums with such gems as: "Abby, You're Going to Burn For What You've Done to Me", "The House is Alive and the House is Hungry", and "Throw Your Body On the Apparatus". It's possible "The House is Alive and the House is Hungry" was based off the novel House of Leaves.
New York band Coheed and Cambria have put out four albums as of this writing. They are named, in order of publication: The Second Stage Turbine Blade, In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness, and Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow, and number one, Year of the Black Rainbow.
They all make sense, if you know the Coheed and Cambria mythos—album titles are the ONLY part that makes sense—
Second Stage Turbine Blade refers to Claudio's (Sanchez) dad's old job, according to Wikipedia. It also refers—as far as I can tell—to Coheed's arm blades, and the fact that this is the second time that he's used them.
In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3: it refers the planet of Silent Earth: 3 (presumably the planet Paris: Earth post-MonStar), and Inferno's Pioneers' struggle to keep themselves a secret, including a character being blinded, drilled through the hand, cut up, burned, and thrown in the streets—and rebuilt.
GAIBSIV: Vol One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness is a reference to Claudio's (Kilgannon) promise at the end of IKSSE: 3 to "Burn Star IV", the centre of the storyline's fictitious solar system. From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness is about the Writer (the character of the writer, not Claudio S.) writing his girlfriend into a story for fear of losing her, and he's soon inside the story, seeing it through his madness.
No World For Tomorrow is a continuation of Claudio K attempting to burn Star IV, and No World For Tomorrow is the fate of Heaven's Fence.
The band Jimmy Eat World. According to Wikipedia, the name came from the caption on a crayon drawing by guitarist Tom Linton's younger brother Ed in the aftermath of one of Ed's fights with their other brother, Jim, depicting...Jimmy eating the world. Linton saw A Good Name for a Rock Band and went with it.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Wikipedia says they got their name by tacking words onto a wall and picking them at random.
Bang Camaro got their name by finding the two sexiest words in the English language.
Though some might think it was meant to be deep, the Grateful Dead literally pulled their name out of a dictionary open at random.
Relient K loves this trope. They have albums called The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek, Two Lefts Don't Make a Right... But Three Do, and Five Score and Seven Years Ago. They can mostly be understood/explained. And then there's two songs: "Crayons Can Melt on Us for All I Care" and "The Only Thing Worse than Beating a Dead Horse is Betting On One." Again... understandable. Eventually.
The New Pornographers write their lyrics as Word Salad more often than not. Letter From an Occupant seems to be most famous for this.
Carl Newman's songs represent this. Dan Bejar's songs, on the other hand, only seem like Word Salad: It's often implied that there is some metaverse that has formed out of Bejar's lyrics.
The Mars Volta's lyrics also seem to be made of word salad (as well as their titles), but after a few late nights of research on the fan forums, you can begin to deduce the meanings.
Of course, in their case, the lyrics are literally supposed to evoke bizarre imagery in order to decipher the meaning of the song; they can still make your brain hurt, though.
Norwegian metal band Dimmu Borgir's album titles: Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, Godless Savage Garden, Spiritual Black Dimensions, Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia (possibly the worst offender), Death Cult Armageddon.
Tori Amos' "In the Springtime of His Voodoo", "Programmable Soda", and "The Power of Orange Knickers" kinda make sense after a few hours of studying and dissecting the lyrics.
The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band exemplify this trope. They were originally called the Bonzo Dog Dada Band, but Vivian Stanshall got tired of having to explain Dadaism to every other fan that he talked to, and proposed a name change.
65daysofstatic in band name, which has never been clearly explained, as well as such song titles as "The Distant and Mechanized Glow of Eastern European Dance Parties" and "Install a Beak in the Heart That Clucks Time in Arabic".
This is very common in post-rock.
A Silver Mt. Zion, Stars of the Lid, Labradford, God is an Astronaut, Explosions in the Sky, Gastr del Sol, The Sea and Cake, Do Make Say Think, Lounge Piranha...
Godspeed You! Black Emperor was the title of an old Japanese film about bikers.
Music is Music as Devices are Kisses is Everything.
Current 93 in general. It might make sense if you have a Ph.D. in religious studies.
Swastikas for Noddy
Cats Drunk on Copper
Black Ships Ate The Sky
How I Devoured Apocalypse Balloon
Aleph on Hallucinatory Mountain
Antichrist and Barcodes
This Autistic Imperium is Nihil Reich
Aleph is the Butterfly Net
Camper Van Beethoven's Telephone Free Landslide Victory (the band name may come off as one too, but it's actually a pun). One story has it that the album was originally going to just be Telephone Landslide Victory, but the "free" somehow got added in due to miscommunication, and the band went with it because they liked that it made even less sense than the intended title.
The title of the Vampire Can Mating Oven EP is sometimes mistaken for an anagram of the band name. In truth it's just word salad that's supposed to sound like it's an anagram of "Camper Van Beethoven". Most of the same letters are in both, but if you tried to rearrange the title back into the band name, you'd end up with something like "Camper Van Maiingtoven".
Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart looks like one at first glance, but it's actually an Album Title Drop from "Tania" (about Patty Hearst).
"Learnalilgivinanlovin" by Gotye. Almost a combo of this and Word Puree Title. But it still essentially makes sense though the reason it's all one word is unknown.
The Police had two albums titled with Gratuitous Spanish (Outlandos D'amour, which actually isn't correct Spanish, or French) and Gratuitous French (Regatta de Blanc ). For the third, they opted for a word salad, Zenyatta Mondatta (apparently two invented portmanteau words, hinting at Zen, at Jomo Kenyatta, at monde - French for world -... and Reggatta, the previous album). Rejected titles included Caprido Von Renislam (referring to the street, Catharina van Renneslaan, where the studio was located) and Trimondo Blondomina (suggesting three blonds dominating the world).
Muscle Museum was supposedly named by taking a dictionary word either side of Muse.
The King Crimson song "The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum" sounds like nonsense, and it is, but both the song and lyrics are word-associations with each word (or phrase, as in "The World's My Oyster") related to the next in some way. So while saying it "makes sense" might be overstating, it at least is explainable in context.
"Mother Hold the Candle Steady While I Shave the Chicken's Lip" - an instrumental improvisation, so it needn't make sense.
Pink Floyd. The name itself doesn't make any sense. There is no band member named "Pink" or "Floyd" (but see below).
Post-rock band Giraffes? Giraffes! (punctuation sic) love this trope. Song names like "Fucking ants man! Where they coming from? (Let's hang the Carroll footnoteitsists)" are generally a clue.
"Strawberry Letter 23" by Shuggie Otis, made famous by The Brothers Johnson. Despite sounding like pure word salad, the title means exactly what it sounds like: Otis' girlfriend had written letters to him, presumably 22 of them, on strawberry-scented paper.
The first two My Chemical Romance records ( I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love and Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge were chock full of these. The third one, slightly less. They blame it on Morrissey.
Honey This Mirror Isn't Big Enough For the Both Of Us, Headfirst For Halos, It's Not A Fashion Statement, It's A Fucking Deathwish, You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison, I Never Told You What I Do For A Living
Brand New on "Deja Entendu" and "Your Favorite Weapon"
Jude Law And A Semester Abroad, I Will Play My Game Beneath The Spin Light, Okay I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don't (a quote from Home Alone's film within a filmAngels With Dirty Souls), Good To Know That If I Ever Need Attention All I Have To Do Is Die, Last Chance to Lose Your Keys, Logan to Government Center (A reference to stops on Boston's subway system, sort of justified by the lyrics mentioning New England).
They continue it on later albums with titles like The Archers Bows Are Broken, and (Fork and Knife).
"Bruised Water" by Chicane and Natasha Bedingfield, named so since it's a mashup of Chicane's "Saltwater" and Bedingfield's "I Bruise Easily".
Nightwish has tons! "The Pharaoh Sails to Orion," "Ghost Love Score," "Deep Silent Complete," "Bare Grace Misery" and "Master Passion Greed," for example.
Canvas Solaris, a technical metal band from Georgia, names all their songs using seemingly random nerdy-sounding words/phrases and technical terms all thrown together. Examples include "Cosmopolysyndeton", "Conveyance of Flux", "Reticular Consciousness", and of course "Dark Matter, Accretion Disk, And Interacting Binary Neutron Star In A Self-Reproducing Inflationary Universe".
Chiodos seem to be fond of this trope. From All's Well That Ends Well we have No Hardcore Dancing In The Living Room, There's No Penguins In Alaska and To Trixie And Reptile, Thanks For Everything, and Bone Palace Ballet (and the Updated Re-releaseThe Grand Coda) brings us Lexington (Joey Pea Pot With A Monkey Face), I Didn't Say I Was Powerful, I Said I Was A Wizard, Teeth The Size Of Piano Keys and We Swam From Albatross, The Day We Lost Kailey Coast. The forthcoming third album Illuminaudio has Stratovolcano Mouth, Love Is A Cat From Hell and Hey Zeus! The Dungeon.
Daft Punk got their name from a review in newspaper.
The Swedish chiptune band Rymdreglage received complaints from international fans that their name is hard to spell and pronounce for non-Scandinavians, so they selected two English words at random from a cement mixer and came up with "Ninja Moped". They speculate on the name's meaning on their website.
Dance Gavin Dance has their share of strange titles, such as It's Safe to Say You Dig the Backseat, or And I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman, or why not Surprise! I'm From Cuba, Everyone Has One Brain.
younnat has song titles like "Cardiologists Decided Not To Go To Bed"
The video game cover band Armcannon has an album titled RETURN of the ATTACK of the LEGEND of PIZZOR.
Tommy Stinson's Village Gorilla Head, as well as it's title track. In one interview Stinson said that "Village Gorilla Head" was originally just a Working Title for the song, which he thought sounded like a cross between the Village People, Gorillaz and Radiohead.
Nirvana's seminal song "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Kurt Cobain took the phrase from some graffiti that a friend had scrawled on his wall: "Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit," which poked fun at Cobain for having sex with his girlfriend so frequently that he smelled like her deodorant. Cobain didn't know what Teen Spirit was, so he thought the phrase had something to do with youthful rebellion. He didn't find out the phrase's real meaning until after he'd written the song.
Imperial Teen's The Hair The TV The Baby & The Band sounds like a list of unconnected nouns, but actually describes what the members were doing during the five year gap between albums: One was a hair stylist, one was writing for television, one was raising a baby, and one was working on another musical project.
They Might Be Giants takes their name from a play, which was later adapted into a film as well. The main character thinks he's Sherlock Holmes and makes a speech about open-mindedness and curiosity in which he argues that Don Quixote should have thought that the windmills "might be giants" instead of being sure that they were.
There's also the title of their music video DVD Them Ain't Big Eye Ants - the title doesn't make any sense, but if you say it out loud fast enough it of course sounds like "They Might Be Giants".
A few of their albums titles, as well, such as "Mink Car" and "The Else".
Maximum The Hormone has a song called Chu Chu Lovely Muni Muni Mura Mura Purin Purin Boron Nurururerorero. It is about... rape.
Plaid got the title of their album Rest Proof Clockwork via "Blind Idiot" Translation - the phrase appeared in an instruction manual.
Post-Rock band Do Make Say Think were initially formed to compose music for a youth dramatic production - the elementary school classroom they rehearsed in had the verbs "do", "make", "say", and "think" painted on different walls, so they adopted that as their name.
The Buzz Of Delight, an early project of Matthew Sweet, got their name from a conversation between Michael Stipe and Linda Hopper of Magnapop (both of whom were friends of Sweet): Hopper was complaining about a buzzing light bulb in her kitchen and Stipe heard "the buzz of the light" as "the buzz of delight".
Radio Birdman named themselves after a mondegreen of "1970" by The Stooges: The lyric in question was really "Radio burnin' up above"
Dir En Grey, whose name is actually trilingual: "dir" in German is a second person dative pronoun, and "en" = "in" in French. Consequently, the band's name is probably best translated as "To you in grey," though the use of the dative "dir" makes the exact meaning of the name a bit ambiguous.
Loose Fur is actually an obtuse pun-based band name: they wanted to call themselves Lucifer but found there were already several artists laying claim to that name.
The Velvet Monkeys have a name that sort of sounds like an arbitrary combination of an adjective and a plural noun. However, their name is meant to evoke two very different rock bands from the 1960s: Velvet Underground and The Monkees.
Swirlies' album Blonder Tongue Audio Baton, titled after a graphic equalizer manufactured by Blonder Tongue Laboratories, which they used extensively during the recording of the album.
Modest Mouse has quite a few songs with Word Salad Titles: "Ocean Breathes Salty," "People As Places As People" and "Teeth Like God's Shoeshine" to name a few.
Ancient Ruler Dinosaur King DKidz Adventure - rather sensibly retitled Dinosaur King when released in English.
While the "Magic" part of it certainly makes sense, the latter portion of the title of Magic: The Gathering doesn't really mean anything at all. It was only added because "Magic" by itself was too broad a term to be copyrighted.
A card from The Spoils, called "Exploding Sock Puppet!", is a Word SaladShout-Out to the video game version of fellow card game Magi-Nation. The illustration is an actual sock puppet exploding, but the flavor text is "Taxi apple sponge! Skunks playing poker, basketball cheesesteak!" This gibberish was all that Magi Nation's protagonist could hear from the land's natives before they gave him some seeds to help translate.
BIONICLE's meaning was defined as a portmanteau of "Biological Chronicle" — the "chronicle" part has always been clear, but which part of "elemental-power wielding multicolor cyborgs fighting to awaken a comatose god" does "biological" refer to? 8 years into the story, it tuned out that god has been a Humongous Mecha who had housed the universe this entire time, and all the characters are part of his biology. Then you realize that the heroes are basically white blood cells, their canisters are medicine capsules, Mata Nui (the giant robot) was taken down with a virus, some of the lands inside him are analogous to organs, etc. Also, co-creator Christian Faber came up with the concept during a medical treatment.
Final Fantasy has become this retroactively. At the time of its development, Squaresoft was on the brink of bankruptcy and decided to go out with a bang, producing one big "final fantasy". To everyone's surprise, the game became a monster hit and went on to set the standard for nearly all J-RPGs that followed in its wake. Twenty-some years later and we're now up to Final Fantasy XIVand counting, and that's not including all the spin-off games, re-releases, and cross-media tie-in productions.
Some of the side-games have some impressively strange and difficult to understand names. Dirge of Cerberus refers to the main character's gun and symbol. Advent Children is an ironic comparison of Christ to Sephiroth (and there are also a lot of children). Revenant Wings might be referring to the lack of emotion of the winged-species, or perhaps the various undead winged-villains. It gets worse: Final Fantasy XV's old title Final Fantasy Versus XIII, and Final Fantasy Type-0. Who even knows what all that even means?
Agito XIII's subtitle was changed to "Type-0." Which also makes little sense. The word Agito would have referred to the title of a Savior in the game's mythology.
Not to mention that the Final Fantasy XIII games come under the collective title of Fabula Nova Crystallis (Latin for New Tale of the Crystal), despite having very little to with each other other than vague thematic connections.
The "Versus" part in Final Fantasy Versus XIII could refer to the game being Tetsuya Nomura's vision of Final Fantasy XIII, as opposed to Yoichi Wada's game.
Dissidia: Final Fantasy. "Dissidia" is the Latin word for 'conflicts'. The prequel is called Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy, wherein 012 is pronounced "Duodecim"; Latin for the number twelve. It's about the twelfth iteration of the "Groundhog Day" Loop, but the name makes absolutely no sense to people who don't have it explained to them.
Then there's the tie-in prequel, whose title reads Dissidia Duodecim Prologus 012 Final Fantasy. One assumes Square was by this point asking for mockery.
In and of itself, Pokémon sounds nonsensical, but is in fact short for Pocket Monster (or, to directly transliterate from Japanese, Poketto Monsutaa).
What's aggravating, the acute accent on the 'é' was added to emphasize the correct pronunciation — not "pokey" or "poke" as in "jab with a finger" — and it is still mispronounced.
That is, among English speakers, which makes sense since most of them probably don't know what an acute accent is. In languages that have the acute accent (French comes to mind), the mispronunciation is not made.
You know what's even more aggravating? When a official dub gets it wrong. The Latin American dub of the anime was one of those, which never pronounced it correctly, even though it should have known better as the Spanish language DOES uses acute accents.
Guilty Gear. While it is not about cogwheels or machinery with troubled pasts, the name itself refers to the protagonist who is a creature called a "gear" and is partially responsible for events that lead to the deaths of many people. In the first game it even receives a Title Drop, the protagonist referring to himself as such, in one of his endings.
The Neon Genesis Evangelion game called "Girlfriend of Steel" took place in an Alternate Universe where the Jet Alone project succeeded in creating metal mecha in competition with the Evangelion. The title likely refers to Mana, a runaway pilot of one of these mecha. It's possible that "Girlfriend of Steel" is a poor translation of the English term "Iron Maiden." There was a sequel to this, which changes the genre of the Evangelion-verse into that of a Dating Sim. However, it was a sequel in name only, as it had nothing to do with the first "Girlfriend of Steel" game. So when a manga of this second game was produced, in the West, it was given the title "Angelic Days."
Neon Genesis Evangelion itself can appear to be this is one doesn't know Greek since the "English" title is, in fact, a Greek title - the Word of God's translation of "Shinseiki Evangelion" - which is pretty close to literal; most native speakers of English and Greek, however, would have used Neo instead of Neon, though they mean the same (Greek for "new").
Similarly, the official name of the first game was "Koutetsu no Girlfriend" (Steel Girlfriend). Iron Maiden is listed on the back cover. The second game has both English names on the front cover, right below the kanji. The comic was likely changed for the American release, so they wouldn't be sued into a hole.
As stated above in Anime, Neon is "New One" so it becomes New One Gospel of Creation or directly as New One Origin Gospel. In either case it seems to be more accurate to the aftermath of episode 26.
Original title of Pathologic is "Мор. Утопия/Mor. Utopia" — Russian for "Pestilence. Utopia". It really makes sense in context, because the game is about plagued city and utopist ideas play very significant part in the plot. This is also a Shout-Out to he work Utopia written by Thomas More.
Narbacular Drop, the spiritual predecessor to Portal, had its name chosen because it would be easy to find in online search engines.
Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow. Parodied in Penny Arcade with rejected titles, such as Splinter Cell: Peanut Butter Monkey and Splinter Cell: Puppy Helmet. In some circles, Penny Arcade's point was accepted with such vigor that the game was more often referred to as Puppy Helmet than by its actual name.
Swedish PC Gamer jokingly referred to the game as Splinter Cell: Flundra Okänd, which translates to "Splinter Cell: [the] Flounder [is] unknown".
Makes sense if you play the game: "Pandora Tomorrow" is a code phrase used by the terrorists in the game as a Dead Man Switch; everytime the call is made, they delay the opening of Pandora's box (a weaponized virus set to go off at LAX) to tomorrow (if the leader is killed or arrested, the phone call isn't made and the weapon is released)
Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean. Not sure 'bout the wings bit, but the world once had an ocean that was swallowed by an evil god and now resides inside the Queen of Wazn. Yeah, this game was made on LSD.
The title of the prequel, Baten Kaitos Origins, before localization effectively shoved its predecessor aside. Baten Kaitos II: The Beginning of the Wings and the Heir of the Gods. Although both are sort-of explained, it isn't by the main story- it's explained in a sub-plot that takes place 1000 years in the past inside the player/guardian spirit/afterling/Marno's memories.
Would you rather have it as Phantom Kingdom? For those that don't know, that's the game's original name in Japan.
Valkyrie Profile: It's the profile of a valkyrie. Maybe several valkyries. "Profile" meaning "a short biographical account of somebody" in this case. It could also refer to the side view used for normal gameplay, since a view of someone from the side is called a profile view.
Metal Gear Solid. Metal Gear is the nuke-firing mech Snake must prevent the activation of, whose name isn't actually explained all that well to begin with (and the Metal Gear featured in this game is actually called Metal Gear REX). "Solid" refers to the lead character Solid Snake (whose name is meant to be a contrast between sneakiness and strength) and that it was the first game in the series to feature 3D graphics, and hence "solids". It was also the third installment of the series, following the first two MSX2 releases.
Syphon Filter. For some reason, the virus which plays a part in at least the earlier games is called the "syphon filter" virus, as though it was derived from something deadly to tank-kept fish. Late 1990s to early 2000 stealth games seemingly had a word salad title as a TRC. The Syphon Filter virus is able to target "...any specific demographics, ethnic groups. It can wipe out all continents, except those who are chosen to survive." A siphon sucks liquid from a place to another; a filter keeps undesirable elements away. The similarity? Cleansing.
Samurai Shodown, although it does have samurai and is a fighting game, it also has catgirls, ninja, fat guys, nature spirits, kabuki actors, and cranes disguising themselves as maids as playable characters. The samurai class was the warrior class, not the "we have to dress in a specific type of armor and use a katana" class. Granted, historically most ninja were not from the warrior class but it's still a fitting title because once you get rid of the class system, a samurai is simply a warrior.
The original title is Samurai Spirits. The implication is that they have the mindset of a samurai...be strong, be brave, fight to the death, stand up to evil, etc...but are not literally samurai. This makes sense, as the time period (the late 18th century) would be well beyond the era of bushido-bound loyal-unto-death noble warriors. One of Galford's prefight quotes even lampshades this: "My eyes are blue, but I have samurai spirits!"
You can also argue that this is an Artifact Title from the first and second Haohmaru-centric (well, kinda) games, as Haohmaru definitely is a samurai (well, kinda).
The "dominated mind" in question is Billy Kane, whom White brainwashes into fighting you.
Quite a few accompanying English titles from the Touhou series are like this. For instance, Phantasmagoria of Flower's View. Well, Phantasmagoria means something like a hallucination of some sort so it all boils to seeing flowers that aren't really there, which is somewhere around half-way to what the plot's actually about. And this is just the start and no, Shoot The Bullet is not about what you think it is about.
The average Touhou game title typically does not make any sense until after beating the game or fighting a certain boss and is rarely as simple as stated. Examples include Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, Perfect Cherry Blossom, Subterranean Animism, and Ten Desires. The few straightforward games include Great Fairy War and the incredibly flexible Mountain of Faith. Though this has led to many acronyms for the sake of simplicity, the fans love to play it up too (Concealed the Conclusion).
This led to a curious incident some where Westerners assumed that the fighting game Hisoutensoku was actually it's translation "Undefined Natural Law/Undefinable by Natural Law" because the latter is such a ZUN-worthy title.
Supplemental materials for the series also tend to use such titles.
Armored Core. "Nine Breaker?" "For Answer?" You can sort of justify them—"Nine Breaker" is an in-universe title given to a Raven who beats the #1 pilot in the arena, who's usually called Nine Ball, and "For Answer" is just an incredibly lame pun, as it's the follow up to Armored Core 4. But even then, they're still just weird, and they're still broken English.
BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger. Not a disaster movie about blue fire, but one of the names of the Artifact of Doom the protagonist possesses. As for the "Calamity Trigger" part; considering it's an Artifact of Doom, that would certainly trigger a calamity. Could also be explained by the fact that said protagonist is a part of an Eldritch Abomination that caused The End of the World as We Know It in the games backstory, and at the end of his story mode, he is thrown into some sort of time portal into the past with the other half of said Abomination, where she fuses with him against his will to become the Black Beast. Thus, Triggering a Calamity. (He gets better....sorta.)
Kingdom Hearts is starting to venture into this territory. The first Oddly Named Sequel subtitle was Chain of Memories, which described Namine's ability to break the links of memories between, and sounded pretty cool even before explanation. After Kingdom Hearts II, though, there was Coded, which did kinda make sense...and now we have the DS and PSP games 358/2 Days (phrased "Three-Five-Eight Days Over-Two") and Birth by Sleep respectively. 358/2 Days is feasibly explained by the game taking place over the course of, well, 358 days for two people. Birth By Sleep refers to the sleep (coma) of the main character Ventus, which led to the birth (awakening) of Sora as the protagonist of the events in Kingdom Hearts. There's also a Title Drop in the secret ending, when Ansem the Wise refers to those waiting for Sora to release them from their various fates as those waiting for 'their new beginning, their birth by sleep'.
The "3D" in Kingdom Hearts 3D stands for "Dream Drop Distance", and refers to "how deeply you drop into your dreams" or more clearly, "how far you fall into dreaming". It still pretty much qualifies, chosen principally to provide a Super Title 64 Advance.
There's also Reverse Rebirth (aka Riku mode) in Chain of Memories. There is a bit of logic to the title when taken separately, (Riku is descending from the top of the castle when Sora was climbing it and the Rebirth part should be obvious) but when you put it together it makes no sense whatsoever.
Actually this is a "pun" that got Lost in Translation — if you transcribe them into Japanese kana, Reverse and Rebirth can be written the exact same way (リバース, ribâsu, is a proper transliteration for both). Of course, the game uses two different transliteration to make sure it still makes sense, but even then, the Japanese pronunciations are very close if not identical.
The Ace Attorney series pulled out one of these to break up what was becoming a string of Colon Cancer titles: Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. It makes sense in context, as the game focuses on an "ace" attorney, Miles Edgeworth, who solves murders through investigations.
Silhouette Mirage: Reprogrammed Hope. Outside Japan, the title was shortened to Silhouette Mirage. This one makes sense in context. Silhouette Mirage refers to the two character alignments, the brawny Silhouettes and the brainy Mirages. Reprogrammed Hope is a bit stickier, but given that the game takes place inside a series of computer programs and that the protagonist is attempting to repair it, the elements are there.
Magic Planet Snack.
Fear Effect and its sequel Retro Helix. "Fear Effect" refers to the gameplay element in which your character's health and vulnerability are affected by fear. "Retro Helix" refers to a type of DNA that is connected to EINDS, an AIDS-like disease, in the game.
X3: Albion Prelude. "Albion" refers to the player ship of the (currently unreleased) X Rebirth, the Albion Skunk, while "prelude" refers to the fact that this expansion is a prelude to the gate system shutdown that precedes the thousand-odd-year timeskip between X3:AP and XR.
In Alpha Protocol, all of Steven Heck's names he give to operations in Taipei. Operation Turbo Panther. Operation Latex Turtle. Operation Angry Bees. Operation YYYEEEAAAHHH!!!
The World Ends with You's title is explained near the end of the game. The Japanese title, It's a Wonderful World, was also explained at the same point in the corresponding version. It's all about opening up as a person.
Ninja Baseball Batman. Yes, this is a real game, and Yes, it makes sense in context. But the Dark Knight is nowhere to be found in this game. Well, you see, the title is not referring to Batman, but a bat man, as in a man who caries a baseball bat. So in fact this game is Exactly What It Says on the Tin : Ninjas with baseball bats go around beating the shit out of things.
Drunken Robot Pornography, by Dejobaan games. It centers around fighting a series of visually-astounding and incredibly defective robots in an arena. The rest of the title is vaguely explained by the fact that the Big Bad was a former barman robot who gained sentience, and the 12 bosses are called also "Centerfolds". It doesn't affect the gameplay in any way (it can be described as first personBullet Hell) and the "Centerfolds" aren't humanoid in the least.
''Bravely Default". Word of God says that it's supposed to mean "Have courage and renounce the promises and responsibilities that are expected of you," and the translation of that used in the English version of the game is "Have the courage to think and act on your own. And have the courage to disobey." The English version adds another meaning to the title by naming one of the game mechanics after it ("Brave" to take an extra turn and "Default" to skip your turn and save it for later). Word of God also admitted that the Gratuitous English title was kept in translation because people had already become familiar with it.
The ZX Spectrum game Fat Worm Blows a Sparky. The player character is a worm, and "sparkies" are the ammunition it fires at bugs.
Mass Effect: The title doesn't actually have much to do with anything that happens in the games, but rather refers to how the universe's Phlebotinum causes an object's Mass to reduce to nothing, allowing Faster-Than-Light Travel, Artificial Gravity, and pretty much everything else that makes the universe work the way it does. Fortunately, this is quickly explained in the game's Star Wars-esque opening crawl, leading directly into the Title Drop.
Bob and George is a completed webcomic that for the first ten or so story arcs contained no characters named Bob and no characters named George. This is because it evolved from a filler comic that was shown while the author was trying to make a hand-drawn comic that ultimately failed three times and became one of the first Sprite Comics.
Some of Homestuck's chapter titles fall into this, such as 'penis ouija' and 'I'M PUTTING YOU ON SPEAKER CRAB'. However, the majority of them turn out to be Title Drops.
The Phoenix Requiem has no phoenix in it. And no requiem, for that matter. It is, however, about a guy who can't die (he keeps rising from the dead, essentially) and is a walking psychopomp.
RankAmateur refers to Mission Controller Talinar's newbie status as a military commander - before transferring to the Kizantikiran, she merely captained a civilian Pleasure Cruiser. It also refers to the fact that the artist has never done a webcomic before.
Vinigortonio. The name is a mashup of the names Vinicius, Igor and Antonio, even though only the first two are actual characters in the comic. Antonio is never mentioned at all.
Sluggy Freelance, the strangeness of which was Lampshaded time and time again in the comic itself for most of seventeen years, turns out to be a fair description of the strip's premise: the adventures of Sluggy, exiled God of Power, after striking out on his own as well as having been Arc Words for some time due to the machinations of time-spider Googol to ensure K'Z'K's ultimate defeat.
lonelygirl15. Fans from before the videos were hosted on lg15.com will know that lonelygirl15 was original protagonist Bree's screenname on YouTube and Revver, but she is never called that in the series itself. Also an example of Artifact Title.
Chaos Fighters has two examples: Cyberion Strike refers to the name of the attack launched by the Big Bad at the end and KIMIA which refers to potassium (kalium as of IUPAC official name) iodide which declared as being in MIA status.
Marble Hornets, in universe, is the student film that Jay and Alex were making. In reality, it is just the first two things the creators saw when brainstorming the title.
Many fans have pointed out that the 2000 novel House of Leaves, which shares many stylistic and atmospheric elements with the series, conspicuously uses the term "marble horses" at one point, possibly inspiring the title.
The title of Porkchop 'n Flatscreen! does seem weird, but it makes sense when you realize it refers to the, er, sizes of the two main characters (Porkchop = Ayane, Flatscreen = Mai).
Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force Go sounds like a parody of anime titles, the Power Rangers series, and a rip-off of Teen Titans all in one...and that's before you actually watch it and see that it is indeed a show about a team of robotic monkeys (and one human kid) who pilot a Super Robot and are called the "Hyperforce" for short (maybe related to "masterforce" from Transformers). The "Go" is just something they shout out as a battle cry (and possibly a pun of the Japanese word for "five", as there are five monkeys).
Winx Club: In the show, winx has no meaning—Bloom just made it up. (The 4Kids dub changed it to the term for fairy magic.) Apparently, though, it's derived from the English word "wings."
Evil Con Carne: "Con Carne" is the (sort of evil) main character's surname, though it's also Spanish for "with meat", possibly a reference to him not only being a Brain in a Jar but also having his stomach in a jar.
Every single show dog and show horse must have a unique name. This leads to... unusual names.
Also Thoroughbred racehorses, which gets odder because if a horse wins enough races, people allude to his name in naming his children. For example, one of Secretariat's sons was named "General Assembly."
Super Dimension Fortress Macross is kind of on the borderline, since the titular warship eventually becomes a mobile space fortress (in the sense of protecting a vulnerable group of civilians inside) which is capable of faster-than-light travel (hence "super-dimensional", transcending the dimensions). The "Super Dimensional" part may have referred to the huge size of the ship, which was stated to be a rather large Supervision Army warship. The Super Dimension tag was appended at the request of the sponsor to tie it in with two unrelated series that would run in the same timeslot after Macross had finished its run.
As for the "Macross?" That was a compromise between Studio Nue and a producer from the sponsor, who was a big fan of Shakespeare. Had he had his way, the show would have been Choujikyuu yosai Makubesu Another working title was Palace Robo Dockingham...
The second Super Dimension series, Super Dimensions Century Orguss also makes a bit of sense, as the plot revolves around a war between various alternate dimensions the main character piloting a mech called Orguss. The century part, less so, as the war only lasts for around 50 episodes.
The Japanese title was pretty straightforward Choujikyuu, which translates as "transcending space-time", as in physical concept, a rather fitting title to a SF show.
Plus, it allows the ship to be called the SDF-1, which is a play on the Japanese "Self-Defense Forces," the post-WWII Japanese military.
Super Heavy God Gravion is curiouser still, especially since the kanji for "superheavy" can also mean "overweight".
Sex Warrior Pudding. The original Japanese title is Family Restaurant Warrior Pudding, which is even more confusing, though less frightening. On the other hand, it becomes more understandable considering that "Pudding" here is a name.
Fate/stay night. One translated version, demanding a title that made more sense, came out as The Night that Fate Stood Still. This does not, however, explain the sequel, which is titled Fate/hollow ataraxia. Ataraxia means something like "tranquility" in Greek, making the title "hollow tranquility", or possibly "empty dream" (which does describe the situation perfectly).
"Fate" is often used as the name of the setting itself (as opposed to other Nasuverse settings like Tsukihime and Kara No Kyokai), which makes some of the titles (sequel Fate/Hollow Ataraxia, light novel prequel Fate/Zero, and Fighting Game spinoff Fate/Unlimited Codes) make more sense. Naturally, under this theory, "Stay Night" still requires some linguistic hoop-jumping...
Trigun is a non-sequitur, but far less mind-wrenching than the subtitle/genre description: "Deep Space Planet Future Gun Action!" The fact that this was perfectly accurate a descriptor of Trigun as anyone could come up with only makes things sadder. Various possible meanings of the actual title are hotly debated among fans. Some took the title to refer to the fact that Vash has three guns: the one in a holster, the cyberarm that turns into a gun in emergencies, and the Angel Arm cannon.
The original title of the Battle Angel Alita manga is Hyper Future Vision Gunnm, where "Gunnm" (properly pronounced "Gan-mu") stands for "Gun Dream", which makes sense, as we are talking about a hyper-violent dystopic manga. It might also refer to Gally's battle-and-gore fetish.
Ironically, guns are actually outlawed in the Gunnm universe, or at least the region where the story starts. Quite common elsewhere.
FLCL is supposed to stand for "Fooly-Cooly", which is a meaningless phrase that "sounded English" in the creators' opinion. Many people falsely interpret it as a slang term (or onomatopoeia) for groping a woman's breasts (probably from how Naota's father was going on an insane rant about the name while his grandpa was making the hand motions of kneading bread). The in-series explanation is that it's short for "FLictonic CLipper-Weber Syndrome", which is apparently the name of the disease that causes things to teleport out of Naota's head (which Haruko just made up on the spot).
What happens right after the rant is what may be the problem. Naota's father asks Naota what Fooly Cooly means, and Naota responds by saying he's too young to know that.
Geobreeders ...no justification for the title has been found.
The original meaning of "gender" was more along the lines of "class" or "kind"(hence the concept of noun gender), which makes perfect sense once they reveal that the Blue are mutant humans.
The dubbed eleventh season of Pokémon is referred to as Pokémon: Battle Dimension. Has absolutely nothing to do with other dimensions.
D.Gray-Man None of the main character's names starts with D. There's nothing particularly gray. There are men, though. The Noahs go kind of gray.... Word of God is that it's from early drafts: "Gray" was Allen's name and the "D" stood for the Akuma, which were "dolls". The author liked the names and kept them for the title. Alternatively, it could be a(n unconscious) Shout-Out to The Picture of Dorian Gray due to the Akuma ability to retain their (borrowed) human forms after mutating and doing horrible things in the service of the The Millennium Earl and the Noahs - at least for a while, but by the time they can no longer retain their old forms they don't care.
Another theory is that the D. stands for dolls, which was a potential name for the manga, Gray refers to the fact that people are neither white (good) or black (evil), but gray, and Man refers to humans.
Bakuman。 has this with manga within a manga: the various fictional titles of manga run in Shonen Jump range from "Cheese Okaki" to "God of Catalogs John". Of course, it doesn't help that you have no idea what those series are about.
The original Japanese title of the shoujo manga Mad Love Chase, Harlem Beat wa Yoake Made, translates as Harlem Beat Until Dawn. In the author's notes, Takashima cheerfully admits that she just liked the way it sounded.
The comedy troupe The Firesign Theatre tends to give their albums weird titles. Some of them (like Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers) fit this trope perfectly.
The weekly comic strip Tom the Dancing Bug fits the trope. The strip features neither anyone named Tom or any bugs that dance. Creator Ruben Bolling says that his strip needed a title to get published, so he wanted the stupidest possible title; he was then inspired by noticing a bug which appeared to be dancing on a ballpoint pen.
One of the titles in Marvel Comics' short-lived Razorline imprint was titled Hokum & Hex, which was a bit puzzling since there's no characters Code Named Hokum or Hex. Clive Barker, the creator of the Razorline comics, clarified in an interview with Wizard magazine that the title was meant to be descriptive; the comic was about magic (the "Hex" part), and was campy (the "Hokum" part).
Kawaii Quest Rainbow Cotton Candy Girls Ready Go, a laughably bad amateur anime that basically spoofs every single Magical Girl anime and fanime ever created. (And that video was just the intro. If you go to the creator's channel you can watch transformations and a commercial for this monstrosity.) Note the lack of cotton candy, rainbows, or any real quest...
Fuck The Jesus Beam and many of its chapter titles (for example "CHAPTER RAPE: SEX IS NOT RAPE").
The unbelievably disgusting Rectified Anonymity has a title completely non-indicative of its content.
Many ROM hacks made by Japanese people tend to have this.
My Immortal has nothing to do with the Evanescence song, grieving (the subject of the song), or anyone being immortal. Although most of the chapters are titleless, some randomly have song title names which in no way reflect the content of those chapters.
Naruto Veangance Revelaitons. The one time Ronan is shown specifically fighting for revenge is Chapter 8, shortly after "da cooger's" (first) death. Granted, Sasuke, like in canon, turned evil in the course of his quest for vengeance, but the title still makes no sense.
The Japanese release of Army of Darkness was called "Captain Supermarket". This sort of makes sense, since Ash starts out as an ordinary guy who works at an S-Mart and becomes more superheroic as the story goes on.
The title of Salvador Dali's French impressionist film Un Chien Andalou translates as "A Dog from Andalusia" (Andalusia is a region in Spain). The film is said to have been inspired by the non-sequitur nature of dreams as nothing in the film relates to anything else or was intended to appeal to rational analysis. As it was meant to be dream-like in nature, the film has the quality of being a total mind-bendingly weird.
Geek Maggot Bingo. That's not even the full title, either. The full title is Geek Maggot Bingo: The Freak From Suckweasel Mountain. Just...what?
Reservoir Dogs. Quentin Tarantino has given conflicting explanations for the title. In one, his girlfriend suggested that he watch the French movie, "Au revoir, les enfants" (Goodbye, children), and he misheard "Reservoir Dogs." Another explanation he gave is that the phrase is a slang term for rats, which is how he saw the characters. Of course, for all we know, neither story is true.
Straw Dogs was originally called The Siege of Trencher's Farm, a bland and overly descriptive title, so director Peckinpah created in informal contest for a new name. A friend suggested Straw Dogs, referring to the Chinese tradition of creating animal figures out of straw as religious offerings. Straw dogs were given special treatment during religious ceremonies, then discarded with the rest of the trash, mirroring the impartiality of the universe. However, even the producer of the film admitted that the term means nothing in the context of the film. The remake explains the reference in dialogue.
Sex Is Zero: A South Korean gross out/sex comedy roughly equivalent to "American Pie." It has been suggested that they were trying to get at something along the lines of "free love," but you really can't be sure.
The Room mostly takes place in a two-floor apartment, but no particular room is given any specific plot importance or thematic weight. A far more appropriate title could be The Building.
Writer/Director/Star Tommy Wiseau's rambling, barely coherent explanation is that he had the idea of a room people could relate to that was a place of privacy and safety where they could go to revel or brood. Of course, how this ties to the actual events of the film is still anybody's guess.
Greg Sestero, the actor who played Mark claimed that the film was originally written as a play, and all of the action would take place in a single room, which is at least a Word of Saint Paul.
99 and 44/100% Dead: a 1974 crime thriller. The title is a parody of the long-standing slogan of Procter & Gamble's Ivory Soap, which was advertised as "99 & 44/100% pure" and still has that written on the packaging.note Well, "99.44% pure clean & simple" Ivory has been a fairly small brand (well, small for P&G) since the middle of the 20th century, marketed mostly to Americans of modest means.
The Living Daylights (which takes its title from a line James Bond says) was called Death Has the Scent of Roses in Japan, which makes no sense as there are no roses anywhere in the film and no one says anything even remotely approaching that line.
8 1/2 was so named because it was Fellini's "eight and a halfth" film. The "half" film was a short.
The classic Frank Capra romantic comedy It Happened One Night takes place over several nights, and no one of them is more significant to the plot than any other. So what is the "It"?
A lot of the newer Bollywood movies borrow their titles from old songs. The title is generally loosely related to the actual movie (for instance a romantic movie might be titled based on a popular romantic song).
Band names that follow this trope (see Music, above and below) get spoofed in High Fidelity when the garage band that Barry joins late in the movie calls itself "Sonic Death Monkey". When they go to perform at Rob's release party for the former shoplifters' album, Barry mentions they are no longer called "Sonic Death Monkey", and are on the verge of being called "Kathleen Turner Overdrive". Then they avert it with their current band name:
Barry: But for tonight, we are "Barry Jive & the Uptown Five".
Johnny Sunshine Maximum Violence.
Automaton Transfusion. It's about teenagers battling zombies.
Nobody knows what the title of the serial killer film 10 to Midnight is supposed to be referring to. It's not even clear what time is being referenced: is it 11:50 PM or the range 10:00 PM-12:00 AM?
This one does make a bit of sense if one squints, though. "Chrysalid" is another form of the word "chrysalis," meaning the stage a caterpillar goes into when it changes into another form (i.e., a butterfly). The book deals with mutations, so a slightly less oblique version of the title would be "The Changed Ones." The American edition of the novel was re-titled Re-Birth.
The second volume of The Lord of the Rings is called "The Two Towers". Based on events in Book 3, it seems certain that one of the towers is Orthanc. It's less clear what the other one is. Of the four other towers mentioned in the novel, the two most likely candidates are Minas Morgul and Barad-dûr.
"I am not at all happy about the title 'the Two Towers'. It must if there is any real reference in it to Vol II refer to Orthanc and the Tower of Cirith Ungol. But since there is so much made of the basic opposition of the Dark Tower and Minas Tirith, that seems very misleading." (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien No 143, dated 1954)
It doesn't help that in the movie, Frodo and Sam don't take the pass of Cirith Ungol at all (it's moved to the next movie), so a character explicitly refers to "the union of the two towers" of Sauron and Saruman instead (Orthanc and Barad-dûr).
Monty Python's Flying Circus was selected from a long list of names produced in a brainstorming session involving the whole group. It has no meaning intended or implied. The name ideas that the individual members had come up with on their own (causing a somewhat acrimonious debate, and leading on to the brainstorming session) included such titles as Owl-Stretching Time (Graham Chapman's suggestion) and A Horse, a Bucket and a Spoon (Terry Jones's suggestion). Owl-Stretching Time and several others on that list were recycled as episode titles in the first series.
The title Monty Python's Flying Circus did come about from the various brainstorming, but there was a logical progression, as related by the Python's themselves in various documentaries. The "Flying Circus" part was the result of the BBC having to call the forthcoming series *something* for their internal schedule paperwork. BBC management took a cue from the way the Pythons rampaged through Television Centre and titled it "Circus", which ultimately led to the group coming up with "Barry Took's Flying Circus" (Barry Took was the Comedy adviser who brought the group to the BBC) or some similar variation. The group liked the "Flying Circus" part and thought the title should represent a shady con-man-type's attempt at a cheap variety show and cast about for a sleazy-sounding name. John Cleese eventually came up with the last name "Python" and Eric Idle suggested "Monty" (after a patron from a pub he frequented), which also sounded like the typical first name of a small-time theatrical agent.
Entirely lampshaded in The Office (US), when lead character Michael Scott (Steve Carell) finally shows his long-awaited dramatic film titled "Threat Level: Midnight."
Brian Eno does this a lot, with both titles and lyrics—the title of his first album, Here Come the Warm Jets, is fairly typical. One of his best examples, however, is a subversion: "The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch" which is not word saladnote the lyrics on the other hand... as "the Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch" was an actual black man from Paw Paw, Michigan by the name of A. W. Underwood who was supposedly pyrokinetic. (He was probably just rubbing phosphorous and doing a bit of sleight-of-hand to hide this.)
Much of CAKE's discography: Motorcade of Generosity, Fashion Nugget, Comfort Eagle, Pressure Chief.
Though Prolonging the Magic is full of breakup and torch songs.
Blind Guardian avoids this in their songs and albums, but makes up for that with "Drei Schuesse im Leberknoedel" ("Three Shots in a Liver Dumpling"). It's an epic video about a group of minstrels who, in a desperate attempt to get an evil king to listen to their music, compete against him and his minions in a bean-eating contest, a death-metal-listening contest, a drinking contest, and a sword-fight.
Dream Theater (who could count for this trope themselves) often name albums by taking a random phrase from a song in the album that they think sounds good. The exceptions to this are Falling Into Infinity (the phrase never comes up in any song on the album) and Systematic Chaos, which is a variation of the line "Insane random thoughts of neat disorder" from Constant Motion.
Perhaps "Falling into Infinity" could symbolize the fact that their careers and personal lives were pretty much in freefall due to Kevin Moore suddenly leaving the band right before the release of their previous album, Mike Portnoy being a raging alcoholic, James LaBrie almost throwing up his own larynx during a bad case of food poisoning, permanently damaging his voice in the process, and the whole band being royally Screwed By the Record Label.
The name "Dream Theater" itself came from a closed-down theater in California.
Chumbawamba has issued conflicting stories as to the origin of their name. One story is that one of the band members had a dream in which he had to use a public restroom and the restrooms were marked "Chumba" and "Wamba" and he didn't know which one to enter. A slightly less interesting one is that one of the band members sat down at a typewriter (no, not a computer, a typewriter) and closed his eyes and just started typing randomly, and they picked out that relatively pronounceable 11-letter string from among the gibberish. Officially, though, it doesn't mean anything, and they're rather happy it does: many other bands in their genre (anarcho-punk) formed at the time they did (the early 80s) have names that link them to that time and genre (Their official FAQ mentions how lucky the members of Thatcher On Acid were that she was in office for eleven years instead of eighteen months). "Chumbawamba", being nonsense, makes their name at once timeless (making it easier to put out new material that attracts new listeners) and genreless (allowing them to change direction without looking incredibly bizarre—can you imagine if a band called "The Disease" or something like that came out with "Tubthumping"?).
Hoobastank has also given conflicting stories for their name's origin, including a gas station in Germany and an old Chinese guy yelling gibberish insults at them. Wikipedia states that the name is meaningless and the band members just thought it sounded cool.
While a lot of band names seem rather arbitrary, bands in the Elephant 6 collective seem to take this to extremes. Neutral Milk Hotel and The Olivia Tremor Control spring to mind; it's been hypothesised that they were formed from reading out the results of a game of Scrabble. Jeff Mangum claims there's a deep, long story behind the name "Neutral Milk Hotel" but he doesn't want to tell anyone due to its personal nature.
The Fucking Champs! Their song titles include such wonders as: These Glyphs Are Dusty, I Am The Album Cover, Atop The Pyramid that is You, I Love The Spirit World And I Love Your Father, Crummy Lovers Die in the Grave, and can't forget Thor Is, Like, Immortal.
At least half (if not more) song titles of Guided By Voices, along with various side projects of their frontman Robert Pollard. Examples: "The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory", "Showbiz Opera Walrus", "Some Drilling Implied", "Burning Flag Birthday Suit", "Squirmish Frontal Room", "Man Called Aerodynamics", "14 Cheerleader Coldfront", "Glow Boy Butlers", "Soul Train College Policeman" (this could go on all day)
The title of the album Bee Thousand at least sort of has an explanation - Supposedly Robert Pollard passed a theater that was showing Beethoven, but on the marquee the title was misspelled as "Beethouen" note Most likely the theater just didn't have any v's left among it's sign letters. "Bee-thow-en" stuck in his mind, and then gradually turned into "bee thousand". Another motivation for the title choice was an obtuse Shout-Out - "Bee Thousand" sounds similar to Pete Townsend.
The bulk of Florida IDM musician Otto Von Schirach's songs and albums have word salad titles:
It Took the Night to Believe, by Sunn O))); instrumental.
Crooked Axis For String Quartet, by Earth; instrumental, with nothing resembling a string quartet involved.
"Deep Blue Something" was the exact response one of the founding members gave when put on the spot to come up with a band name.
Many Japanese musicians and artists, when they write an album title in English, can come up with some very weird things, such as Japanese Harsh Noise musician Variations of Sex's "My Cockis Beyond Good And Evil."
BT's "Deeper Sunshine", "Flaming June", "Mercury & Solace", "The Meeting of a Hundred Yang", "The Rose of Jericho", etc.
White Zombie produced a song called "El Phantasmo and the Chicken Run Blast-O-Rama". No, we have no idea either.
Example by Jimi Hendrix: "Spanish Castle Magic". It comes from a club called "Spanish Castle" where Hendrix used to play before he got famous.
By Pink Floyd: The album Atom Heart Mother. According to Word of God, it got its name from Ron Geesin pointing to an Evening Standard headline reading "ATOM HEART MOTHER NAMED" (it was about a woman fitted with a nuclear pacemaker or something like that), but otherwise it means nothing.
The Fall Of Troy loves these. F.C.P.S.I.T.S.G.E.P.G.E.P.G.E.P. still has no official meaning. (And the fan meaning was shot to pieces with the remake, F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X.) then there's The Hol[ ]y Tape, Cut Down All the Trees and Name the Streets After Them, Straight-Jacket Keelhauled, Semi-Fiction, etc. The titles on Phantom On The Horizon are justified in that the POV character is apparently going insane.
"The Hol[ ]y tape" is a reference to House of Leaves, as is "You got a death wish, Johnny Truant?"
Some early 16 Horsepower songs titles, like "The Denver Grab" and "Ditch Digger", really have nothing to do with the lyrics.
Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
Though this could just be NATO speak for YHF. ...Whatever that is. Ypsilanti Heritage Foundation?
Presumably a broadcast from a numbers station. Jeff Tweedy has expressed enthusiasm for the Conet Project, a collection of numbers stations recordings, and sampled a piece of the collection on YHF.
The production music company Pfeifer Broz. Music is really, really notorious for this trope. Their song names are literally words slapped together. How else can names like Absolute Anthropoid, Hubris Mine, Crown Detonator and Alpha Bag be explained?
Shudder To Think's debut album Curses, Spells, Voodoo, Mooses. Vocalist Craig Wedren is somewhat embarrassed about the title, and offers no explanation beyond "I was 17 and it seemed funny at the time". They may have just been going for the Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking effect.
Who the hell calls their band Lesbian Bed Death? Moreover, who chooses that name when the original lineup is all male?
Also worthy of mention is the death metal band The Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza.
Captain Beefheart: Trout Mask Replica, Ice Cream for Crow, Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)note The parenthesis in this one does actually have an explanation: Bat Chain Puller was (and still is) the title of an album he recorded, but then this recording was trapped in legal issues (and remains so to this day). So he decided to record a new album of the same songs, and call the rerecording Shiny Beast, with (Bat Chain Puller) as a reference to the album it was based on. And there is still the possibility that Bat Chain Puller may be released from legal limbo and published some day... - and that's just album titles.
Most of Versailles's song and album titles make relative sense. "DRY ICE SCREAM!! [Remove Silence]" is just incomprehensible gibberish.
Toad the Wet Sprocket took their name from a Monty Python sketch in which a newscaster mentions a band called Toad the Wet Sprocket. Eric Idle said that he deliberately tried to think of a name no one could ever possibly use. When he happened to hear Toad the Wet Sprocket's single announced on the radio, he said he nearly drove off the road.
Experimental musician Matthew Villani is quite fond of this trope. Song titles include "Here's The Waw Voice", "Off The High Dirve, Into The Empty Pool", "Loudness Capacity Test", "The Drunk Elephant's Night On The Sea", "The Fiery Lava Rains Down On The Dead Land", and "Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!". It seems that if his songs aren't this, they're given number series titles like "Experimental Midi #7", "Project Song #1", "Composite Song #2", or "Fantasy Music #3".
Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Both the band name itself (taken from an old Japanese documentary about a biker gang) and some of their album titles: All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling, Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada.
System of a Down's name comes from a poem that one of them wrote called "Victims of the Down" (which makes about as much sense).
Japanese Noise Rock band Melt-Banana is... well, they're called Melt-Banana, for starters. Their album Cell-Scape includes some impressively long word salad examples in its song titles, such as "Shield for Your Eyes, a Beast in the Well on Your Hand" and "A Hunter in the Rain to Cut the Neck Up in the Present Stage".
Rocket Juice & The Moon, a Supergroup featuring DamonAlbarn, Flea and Tony Allen. The band themselves don't know what, if anything, their own name means, as they didn't pick it - They finished the album without coming up with a band name, and opted to let the person who designed their album artwork come up with whatever name he wanted to put on the cover.
An instrumental track on one of Steppenwolf's albums was called "Hodge, Podge, Strained Through a Leslie." At least part of the title makes sense in context though - the song prominently features a Hammond organ played through a Leslie speaker.
Altar of Plagues's third album, Teethed Glory and Injury, is both an example of this trope and contains several more: "Twelve was Ruin", "Reflection Pulse Remains", "Scald Scar of Water" and "Found, Oval and Final" in particular.
TNA renamed 'The James Gang' the 'Voodoo Kin Mafia' so they could do an angle attackingWWE owner Vince Kennedy McMahon (VKM). The fact that the group had nothing to do with voodoo or the mafia and only marginally involved kinship didn't seem to matter. Later, "Voodoo Queen" Roxxi LaVeau was introduced as their valet in a vain attempt to justify the name; this didn't help as much as they thought it did.
Come to think of it, quite a few wrestling moves come off as this if you're unfamiliar with them. What's a "Northern Lights Suplex," for instance? Or a "Death Valley Driver"? Or a "Whisper in the Wind"? Or a "Shooting Star Press"?
The STO is a fairly common move but commentators always use the acronym instead of the full name: "Space Tornado Ogawa".
Several Japanese promotions, possibly due to poor understanding of English: Dramatic Dream Team, Wrestle and Romance (which became Wrestle Association R), and Big Mouth LOUD.
There was an English sketch comedy show entitled The Long Hot Satsuma. It lampshaded this trope by explaining, at the start of some episodes, that it was actually a cool, short, non-citrus-fruit of a program.
Some of the titles of Ross Noble's tours and DVD releases are quite random (reflecting his style) such as Sonic Waffle.
It was written to be performed as part of a Twelfth Night celebration that was part of the Christmas holiday at the time.
Note that the full title is Twelfth Night, or What You Will. In other words, call it whatever you like.
Super Robot Wars Original Generation is justifiable, but when the anime based on the game is called Super Robot Wars: Original Generation Divine Wars? That's gets to the point where the point of a long title becomes moot, as using the whole name will get you all of nothing, and putting in only parts of the title gets you googleplexed. (Don't even think of trying to search for SRWOGDW.) This is made worse by the fact that there is very little agreement between fans on where the spaces/colon(s) should go, not to mention the whole Super Robot Wars/Super Robot Taisen issue. Variations SRWOGDW, SRW:OGDW, SRW:OG:DW, SRWOG:DW, and SRW:OG DW, and a plethora of others, are seen.
It's not the only long name in the series. How about Super Robot WarsGaiden: Masoukishin: The Lord of Elemental?
No More Heroes features a Show Within A GameMagical Girl anime titled Pure White Lovers Bizarre Jelly. Parts of it might make sense, given that it's explicitly a moe series and the girls are named after berries, but the rest is word salad. Ironically, the similarly named Pure White Giant Glastonbury makes almost perfect sense, being about a white Humongous Mecha named Glastonbury.
The title for Speed Buster's theme, Mach 13 Elephant Explosion, also qualifies.
Alpha Black Zero: Intrepid Protocol fits this trope like a glove.
Hoyle Casino Games 2009 is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, until you get to the slot machine called Alien Disco Safari. There are aliens and disco, but no safari in sight.
The word symphony, depending on context, can imply harmony. And given that a major part of your quest is resolved with the harmonious merger of two worlds it makes some sense. It's been confirmed that the reunified world is called Symphonia before its name is changed to Aseria.
The same applies to Tales of Phantasia, there isn't anything called like that in the whole game. Later titles in the series avert this trope by using concepts important to the plot (Destiny, Rebirth, Innocence).
Beyond Oasis was released in Europe under the name The Story Of Thor. While it's a good game, there are no references to Thor in it at all.
Tetris Friends forces players to do this to name their Arena rooms. Room names are of the format <adjective> <adjective or noun adjunct> <noun>, with a separate list of words to choose from for each, as well as a button to randomize all three. (On the off chance more than room has the same set of 3 words, a number is appended to the end, without a space.) This tends to result in very silly names, such as "Drab Tomato Uprising" and "Cryptic Purple Hunters2". Very rarely does a room name actually make any logical sense.
Retieval Mankind's Batman is the name of one of the Pop Station handhelds. Good luck making any sense of this one.
Hotdog Storm, a 1996 arcade Shoot 'em Up whose title continues to confound gamers a decade and a half later. The only thing within the game even approaching an explanation of the title is the image of the squadron's badge on the title screen, which features a prominent illustration of a hot dog.
The Earthbound Reshuffler is a hacking utility that randomly changes around various things in EarthBound. Appropriately, each hack is given a subtitle comprised of two literally random words: Examples include Earthbound: Taco Puppy and Earthbound: Mug Friend.
The original Japanese title of the 8-bit era side-scroller The Astyanax was "The Lord of King".
Half-Minute Hero's Updated Re-release on Xbox 360 gained the subtitle Super Mega Neo Climax. The PC release took this further with Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy. It might have to do with said release being officially described as the "ultimate version" of the game.
The SHPDMBGWL4:PISSI&SOTA 64 DS (Super Hyper Paper Deluxe Mario Bros. Galaxy World Land 4: Partners in Sunshine Super Star Island & Saga of Time Advance 64 DS) fan game series is this taken to ridiculous, blatantly parodic extremes. The later games include:
Super Hyper Paper Deluxe Mario Bros. Galaxy World Land 4: Partners in Sunshine Super Star Island & Saga of Time Advance 64 DS 2: Mario's X-Cellent Mango Adventure through Sea-Bass World and Beyond
Super Hyper Paper Deluxe Mario Bros. Galaxy World Land 4: Partners in Sunshine Super Star Island & Saga of Time Advance 64 DS 3: One step beyond Mario's X-Cellent Mango Adventure through Sea-Bass World and Beyond: A Ducktale of Epic Proportions aginst an Evil Space Korean Government
Homestar Runner means nothing to someone who isn't familiar with the cartoons, but it's the name of the supposed main character. It originated when the brothers' friend imitated an old-timey baseball announcer and referred to a player as "the home star runner." The brothers found the garbled phrase hysterical.
The trope is parodied when Strong Bad names his "crazy cartoon" Sweet Cuppin' Cakes, because "Crazy cartoons usually have titles that have nothing to do with the cartoon itself." The one full episode of said crazy cartoon seen (a Christmas Episode) is titled "Cactus Coffee and the No-Tell Motel".
Less so, given the comic's recent Cerebus Syndrome. One possible meaning is that it refers to the Allied firebombing of Dresden in WWII, widely considered one of the greatest What the Hell, Hero? moments in history, likening it to the morally questionable actions of the main character in her attempts to bring about The Singularity.
Another theory is that it's named for the Dresden Codex. The frequent Mesoamerican motifs make this rather plausible, though the codex itself has yet to appear.
Dresden Codak is actually the nickname of the comic's author, Aaron Diaz. The title is best thought of as "Comics By Dresden Codak." Sure, the problem is now explaining a Word Salad Name, but Diaz said that it's just the name of the Dresden Codex plus Rule of Cool.
Octopus Pie is a story about two women in Brooklyn and their relationships therein, but it has no octopoda.
The supporting cast of Goats does intermittently include a goat; Jon Rosenberg explains: We had already named the strip Goats, so I felt the need to justify the name. Toothgnip was introduced [in the third strip]. (Thor's chariot is drawn by goats named Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder; Toothgnip is the spare.)
Antihero for Hire has a villain whose name is like this, in the form of called Baron Diamond who's actually named Baron Orange Earthsmantle Von Potatoflight. This is mostly so that Shadehawk can mock it.
Lackadaisy refers partly to the protagonist's attitude and partly to the name of the speakeasy where he works.
Mountain Time has nothing to do with Mountains or the Mountain time zone (though a handful of mountains do appear as scenery (and sometimes bit characters)). More notably, almost every comic on the site has a completely inane title, such as "Witchcraft for Skiers", "Cheesecake Bang Bang Chicken Avocado Woo Key Lime Pie", "Puddle Inaccuracies" and "Not a Gila Monster"—though, to be fair, it isn't a Gila Monster.
Penny Arcade. Throughout the whole series, there are very, very few references to pennies or an arcade. Gabe and Tycho are fans mostly of console games (and the occasional MMORPG).
However, it could be explained in context as a reference to coin operated "games" (certainly not video games) that were popular at the early 20th century. The cost of the games were in pennies, and the localities where they were placed were called "arcades" (and were the precursor of later Video Arcades). The other wiki has a short history of the name.
xkcd is not an acronym for some little-known computer protocol, it is merely a nerdy webcomic. That doesn't stop it from making several comics about what XKCD is or suggesting weird backronyms such as "eXcellence Kriegsmarine College of Demolitions" and "Xtreme Kansas College of Dentistry." See also Word Puree Title...
Word of God has it that Randall, before he even thought of a webcomic, wanted to come up with a short string he could search string that could only link to something to do with him (or to mojibake). This is still true... it's just that a lot more sites have something to do with him now.
In one of his books, he says that xkcd were random letters he chose for a domain name he had bought long before and kept for no particular reason.
Parodied on YouTube series Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show.
YouTube Poop. This is lampshaded in one poop where Linguini wonders why they call it that. It could refer to such videos allegedly being the bottom of YouTube's video barrel, but considering that some of them are comedy gold, this interpretation may or may not fit very well.
Æon Flux: It's the main character's name, but we have two very real words with real meanings just shoved into the title, and the fact that it's her name just seems like a half assed explanation.
Flux: –noun: continuous change, passage, or movement. Seems apt to describe the series or the lead character in that way, since there is next to no continuity in the series.
An in-universe example from Regular Show: "Planet Chasers: Starlight Excellent" (or Planet Starlight Chasers: Excellent) is an anime series that- quite literally- renders the viewer mindless.
Frisky Dingo. The title is entirely meaningless, although the writers eventually handwaved an explanation into the series. Note, originally the writers wanted to call the series "Whiskey Tango" but ran into legal problems as there was a band by that name. In frustration they "jokingly" said they may as well call it "Frisky Dingo." The phrase does end up coming into play in the last episode of season 1. It's the password to control the Anihilatrix. It's also lampshaded later, when someone mentions this, another person asks what it means.
Just for the record, "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" is a military aviation term. It means "Could you repeat that? I don't believe what I think I heard you just say." or more literally "What the F** k, Over?"
"Whiskey Tango", minus the foxtrot, also means "white trash" in military slang.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force. To quote from the Wikipedia entry: "The title of the show is largely a misnomer: the characters have no major affiliation with water aside from frequent occurrences involving their neighbor's pool. They are not teenagers per se, and have somewhat frequently issued conflicting statements regarding their ages. They are food (hence the reference to hunger), but rarely, if ever actually do anything about hunger, and are rarely shown acting as any kind of a force." The Movie sorta gives an origin to the phrase, but this is long after the show began; and like everything else, the canon erodes quickly into madness.
The title made more sense for the early version of the characters that appear in the Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode "Baffler Meal", where they were mascots for a fast-food chain called Burger Trench who sought to make teens hungry for Burger Trench. The "Aqua" part still didn't make any sense though.
Likely the "Trench" part, since the trenches are the deepest part of the ocean. Also, in the early episodes of ATHF, they are a detective team which refer to themselves as "The Aqua Teen Hunger Force".
The detective team story was a throw-away premise to get the show produced, since "a group of anthropomorphic food items fight crime" sounds like more of a show than "a group of anthropomorphic food items do a bunch of random things for 15 minutes." The title might have simply been part of that.
The Live Action episode, "Last Last One Forever and Ever" (which reveals that the show is essentially a script written by a struggling writer...or maybe not, this is an [adult swim] show we're discussing here.), has the gang moving out of their house. As they pull away, Carl sends them off by uttering "Truly, they were an Aqua Teen Hunger Force." Of course, even with the title now spoken in the show itself, there's still no clear meaning behind it.
The show's title has officially changed three, first to "Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1", later to "Aqua Something You Know Whatever", and then to "Aqua TV Show Show".
Robot Chicken. The title is only referenced in the opening sequence; the show appears to be the hallucinations of a chicken going insane from being forced to watch too much TV, with all the shows starting to blur together. The chicken's presence is hardly the point; indeed, the actual content of the show is generally restricted to non-stop silliness with action figures and masturbation jokes. The name Robot Chicken was chosen mainly due to the barmy image it projects; similarly to Monty Python (above) most of the other episodes are given similarly random titles that were originally considered for the show as a whole, then rejected ("1987", "Federated Resources", "A Kick In The Nuts", etc.). It's been explained that the name of the show came from when Seth Green and Matt Senreich saw the name on a Chinese restaurant menu.
Elephants Dream is about neither elephants nor dreams. The working title for the short film was Machina, which suits it much better.
Family Guy started out with deliberately irrelevant thriller-ish episode titles before abandoning them because no-one in the crew could keep them straight.
Early Merrie Melodies were named after a song used in the cartoon. For example, Porky Pig's first short was called "I Haven't Got a Hat," after the song of the same name - but the plot was a bunch of kids putting on a pageant at school.
King of the Hill has absolutely nothing to do with the children's game it was named after. It's just a reference to the main character's last name, and he's not even a "king" in any sense.
It is, however, appropriate in the idiomatic sense of the term. At least compared to his dysfunctional neighbors, Hank is the big fish in a small pond.
The name of the website Slashdot was chosen to make its address as confusing as possible when spoken: h-t-t-p-colon-slash-slash-slash-dot-dot-org. Not that anyone speaks the "http://" part aloud any more.
In Austria, someone managed to register the domain dotat.at. It became really weird, when the user account "dot" got email (try enunciating firstname.lastname@example.org). You might call it do-tat-dot-a-t though.
The name of the 1910s-1920s cultural movement Dada was allegedly chosen randomly from a dictionary. "Dada" means "hobby horse" in French, "Yes, yes" in Romanian and Russian, "Daddy" in some dialects of English and some other languages, and "nanny" in Hungarian, but also sounds like gibberish, which fits when you consider what Dada was.
Dada artist Marcel Duchamp created a sculpture titled "The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even". Though the piece does depict what appears to be a bride and her bachelors, any resemblance to the title ends there.
Amazon.com now lets you create a Pay Phrase, which is just a few random words of your choosing that, when entered on a product page, automatically purchase that product with preset billing and shipping information. Suggested samples include "YourName 's Fancy Eagles" or "YourName 's Hidden Amusement."
There is an freeware file extractor called "Free RAR Extract Frog". Yes, you read that right, Free RAR Extract Frog. There is a picture of a frog on the interface, but beyond that, no frogs.
Shoddy Knockoff Products often try to skirt around copyright law by changing a word into something that sounds similar, or trying to use synonyms. This is how products and brands like the Nintendo Poly Station (Playstation knockoff and not affiliated with Nintendo in any way), Arm and Hatchet (Arm & Hammer), Michael Alone (Mcdonald's), and Cavern Kernel (Calvin Klein) manage to exist.