Useful Notes / Names In Japanese

Names in the Japanese Language have the family name first, followed by the given name. This is the so-called "eastern" name order, not restricted to Japan, but common to East Asia as a whole, and, for historical reasons, Hungary.

In English, addressing someone by their family name is formal and can sound stilted if you're speaking to, for example, a classmate or co-worker. In Japanese, however, it's common to address acquaintances by their family name, and use of the given name is limited to when you're speaking to a child or someone you're very close with; it's overly familiar and therefore rude to address someone by their given name if you don't have a close relationship with them.

In most cases in Real Life, English-speakers saying Japanese names will put them into Western order. For example, the man called Tezuka Osamu in Japanese is known in English as Osamu Tezuka. This is not as often applied to names in other languages; otherwise, the leaders of China, North Korea, and South Korea would be referred to as Jintao Hu, Jong-Il Kim, and Myung-Bak Lee in the Western media.

Depending on Translation Style Choices, English-language manga and anime translations may or may not opt to shift name orders as part of the localization process. It is possible to find both straight and reversed forms of the same character names being used by different people on the Internet, and even on this very wiki.

Things also get interesting when anime and manga use non-Japanese names. Between cultural differences in how names are ordered and the ideas some Japanese writers have about what constitutes a "Western-sounding" name to begin with, there are some cases in which fans aren't clear on which name is supposed to be a character's given name and which is their family name.

  • The Gundam franchise, for example, features casts of characters with Western-sounding (or, in some cases, completely bizarre) names. These seem to be mostly given in Western order (for example, Kamille Bidan's parents are Franklin and Hilda Bidan), but occasional oddities crop up, such as nearly everyone being on First-Name Basis even in a military setting, which results in Char Aznable (named after Charles Aznavour) being referred to as "Captain Char." This is like saying "President Barack" instead of "President Obama". Or, for Rule of Funny, like saying "President Ronnie" instead of "President Reagan".
    • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 uses Western name order for Setsuna F. Seiei in spite of his mostly-Japanese Meaningful Name; then again, it's a codename and Setsuna is from Qurac, not Japan. Wang Liu Mei's name appears to be given in Eastern order.
  • Kallen from Code Geass has a Britannian father and a Japanese mother, therefore two names: Kallen Stadfeld with western and Kouzuki Kallen with eastern name order. Which name she uses in a given situation indicates which persona she's using as well.
  • Oddly enough, Viz's translations of the Naruto and Rurouni Kenshin manga use the Japanese style "family name first" format, while their English dubs of their respective anime use the reversed Western style. Two exceptions to this in Naruto are Rock Lee and Might Guy, who retain their Japanese name orders to also keep the puns in their names.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, people's names in the real world are in Western order. The characters inside the book, however, use the Japanese order.
  • Most names in Toward the Terra are given in Western order, except for those of the Seki family; Seki Ray Shiroe's family name is Seki (his father is addressed as "Mr. Seki") and his given name is Shiroe.
  • The American versions of Samurai Warriors games gives names in Western order (so, Nobunaga Oda and Yukimura Sanada). This is retained in the Warriors Orochi crossover despite the (Chinese) Dynasty Warriors characters having their surnames first.