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Opposites Theme Naming

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Opposites Theme Naming a variation of Theme Naming using a set of names within a work that create a theme by using words that are opposite to each other or act as foils to each other. Authors like to use themes to create a sense of unity or cohesiveness within their work. Some extend themes to the names of the characters, often beyond the similarities that would be expected for characters from the same culture or who all speak the same language. When the author does this, you have Theme Naming.

Using Opposites Theme Naming puts the named persons in strong contrast to each other. Sometimes it is used to set up the characters as enemies or foils to each other, though it may also signify that they balance each other in a way that is complementary and productive rather than antagonistic. Other times it simply serves to provide symmetry in the names without actually signifying anything about the personalities or relationships of the characters.

This often overlaps with Theme Twin Naming, especially with Polar Opposite Twins; and Couple Theme Naming, particularly if the lovers in question have an Opposites Attract thing going on, and Ironic Name.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Digimon:
    • Omegamon and Alphamon. Omegamon is white, Alphamon is black.
    • In Digimon Adventure, there are Angemon and Devimon, and Angewomon and LadyDevimon.
  • Haikyuu!! has several examples of Opposites Theme Naming.
    • The main characters Hinata Shouyou and Kageyama Tobio are often framed as foils and/or complementary forces that balance each other. Hinata means "sunny place" whereas Kageyama means "shadow mountain". Hinata is the loud, sunny, passionate red-head in contrast to black-haired and blue-eyed Kageyama's colder and introverted demeanor.
    • The kanji for "sun" in Hinata's name is also a contrast with Tsukishima's name which has the kanji "moon" in it. While they both play as middle blockers, Hinata is a short and impulsive player whereas Tsukishima is the tallest guy on the team and is very analytical. Their personalities are also opposites as Tsukishima is often unpleasant and snarky in contrast to always enthusiastic and friendly Hinata. Tsukishima also does not share Hinata's overzealous passion for volleyball, often calling it just an after-school club. They are also Book Dumb and Smart People Wear Glasses, respectively. Their sun and moon personality is Lampshaded in the series.
    • Another duo who has meaningful names that are opposites are Asahi and Nishinoya. Asahi's full name, Azumane Asahi, translates to Eastern Peak Morning Sun. He is a Gentle Giant who has the physical stature but also a glass-heart. Nishinoya's full name Nishinoya Yuu, on the contrary, translates to Western Valley Evening. He is the shortest person on the team but has a loud, blunt, and wild personality. Their names are also meaningful with their positions in the team. Asahi is a wing spiker who is deemed The Ace of the team, he jumps above (peak) and attacks. Whereas Nishinoya is the libero. He is often on the ground (valley) as his job is to keep the ball from touching the floor. He receives the ball and is the backbone of team's defense.
    • Karasuno team's wing spiker Tanaka Ryuunosuke has opposite names with their friendly rival Nekoma's Yamamoto Taketora. Taketora is referred as Tora by his close friends while Tanaka is called Ryuu by closest to him. Ryuu and Tora are the kanjis for "dragon" and "tiger" respectively, two animal motifs often seen opposite to each other in Asian cultures. Ryuu and Tora are similar to each other both in personality and appearance and initially clash and try to intimidate each other, later becoming friends.
  • Two agents in Kiddy Grade are named Dextera and Sinistra (right and left hand, respectively).
  • The two main characters of Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl are named Shiramine Ayaka (shira meaning "white") and Kurosawa Yurine (kuro meaning "black") − although, ironically, despite their names Ayaka is black-haired while Yurine is blonde. Their names also have the exact same number of syllables, with the first name written in Hiragana. And if you push even further (but it might be coincidental there), Ayaka has a last name ending in [ine] and a first name ending two [a]; Yurine has a last name ending with two [a] and a first name ending in [ine]. So you could say their very names highlight their paradoxical dynamic.
  • In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Kanna and her father Kimun have a Sky/Earth contrast, being named after storm and mountain deities respectively. It helps underline their Like Father, Unlike Son dynamic.
  • In Naruto, the Mangekyo Sharingan has the two jutsus Tsukuyomi and Amaterasu, named after the two Shinto goddess of moon and sun, respectively. Also, the Sharingan has the forbidden jutsus Izanagi and Izanami, named after the parents of the gods Susano'o, Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi. Izanagi is a Reality Warper, while Izanami directly counters Izanagi users.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Lumis (light) and Umbra (shadow).
    • The two famous dragons Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Red-Eyes Black Dragon play this trope twice. And their upgraded versions Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon and Red-Eyes Darkness Dragon. It's mentioned, that Blue-Eyes has more power while Red-Eyes has more potential.
    • Many other cards are have this kind of theme naming.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL: The tag team partners Gauche (left) and Droite (right).

    Fan Works 

  • Conjoined Twins Nora (noir/black) and Blanche (white) Olney from Shelley Jackson's novel Half Life. Their middle names are Gray and Grey respectively.
  • Lords and Ladies has a character whose mother tried to follow the tradition of naming daughters after virtues, but got very confused about it: her daughters had the names of virtues, so she reasoned that her sons should have the names of vices. Meanwhile, all her children completely lacked the traits they were named for. Her daughters had names like Charity (a miser), Hope (chronically depressed), and Chastity (a lady of negotiable affection). She named her sons after vices, such as Anger (a kind and nonviolent man), Bestiality (very kind to animals), and Deviousness (an honest and straightforward chap).
  • Richard Scarry's piglet twins are named Pig Will and Pig Won't.
  • The twin princesses Dawn and Eve in the Xanth series.

    Live Action TV 
  • Played for a bit of light-hearted comic relief in the 911 Tribute episode, "Indelible." A pair of suspects are named Mike White and Mike Black. Their nicknames, Black Mike and White Mike, respectively, coincide with their races, not their names.
  • Kath Day and Kel Knight of Kath & Kim. Kel tries to propose by asking Kath if she'd like to "turn Day into Knight".

    Myths, Folklore & Religion 
  • Hēibái Wúcháng ("Black-White Impermanence"), a duo of Shinigami in Chinese Taoist myths. The Black one is named Fàn Wújiù ("those who sin are unsalvageable"), while the White is named Xiè Bì'ān ("those who repent will have peace").


  • Transformers: Generation 1: The original Autobot Targetmasters are named for accuracy (Crosshairs, Pointblank, Sureshot) while the Decepticons are named for inaccuracy (Slugslinger, Triggerhappy, Misfire).
  • Sideways' Mini-Cons from Transformers: Armada are named Rook and Crosswise, but their Japanese names are Bright and Shadow respectively. However, they are both evil, though Sideways wears Rook (Bright) as a head when he poses as a benevolent Autobot and Crosswise (Shadow) when acting evil. In the toy's original release, it was the opposite way around (Shadow represented good, Bright evil), but due to an animation error in the anime wherein the animators accidentally used the wrong head, a running change was made to the toy to switch the Autobot and Decepticon faction symbols around.

    Video Games 
  • Devil May Cry
    • Trish's twin handguns are named Luce and Umbra ("Light" and "Shadow" in Italian) and are appropriately colored.
    • Dante's handguns are named "Ebony" and "Ivory".
    • Nero's primary weapons are named Red Queen and Blue Rose.
  • Diner Dash Adventures has Sibling Yin-Yang Minnie and Max. Max is a buff guy who surprisingly orders very little food, while Minnie is a tiny girl who is a Big Eater and always orders twice.
  • The two blue-skinned assassins in Ghost Trick are named Jeego and Tengo. Jeego's name comes from 'jigoku', and Tengo's name from 'tengoku', Japanese words meaning 'hell' and 'heaven', respectively.
  • Pokémon:
    • Plusle and Minun, named for positive and negative electrical charges.
    • The energetic Vigoroth ("vigorous") stands in stark contrast to its younger and older forms, the exceptionally lazy Slakoth and Slaking (as in "slacking off").
    • The two heroes of Kalos in Pokémon X and Y are Dexio and Sina, from the Latin for 'left' and 'right'.
  • Mario Mix has Hotmetal, named as such in contrast to Coldsteel, the character he is an Ex Py of.

    Web Comics 
  • Dawn and Dusk from webcomic Gene Catlow.
  • Minor character couple in The Wotch: Scott Winters and Julie Summers. This is doubly thematic: first the contrasting seasonal elements, but secondly, if you switch the last names you get the names of Cyclops from the X-Men and Julie from The Maxx. Whether this means anything, though...

    Western Animation 
  • Gargoyles has Demona and her daughter Angela. In an odd twist, the fact that they have opposite theme names is just a coincidence; when Macbeth gave Demona her name in 1040, he had no idea that Demona had an unhatched child who would later be named Angela; and when Angela hatched in 1058 and the Magus, Katharine, and Tom named her, they had no idea that her biological mother had been named Demona.
  • Johnny Test has a pair of secret agent partners named Mr. Black and Mr. White (who are Caucasian and African-American, respectively).
  • The Biskit twins in Littlest Pet Shop have names whose first letters coincide with the opposite sister's hair color (Whittney has black hair, Brittney has white hair).
  • In Miraculous Ladybug, Adrien and Luka are Foils and on opposite sides of a love triangle with Marinette. Their names mean "dark" and "light," respectively. (Which is also a bit ironic, since Adrien is a blond model and Luka has more of a Perky Goth look.)
  • Teen Titans gives us Más y Menos, Spanish-speaking superheroes with Wonder Twin Powers. Depending on the context, their names can be translated as "more and less" or "plus and minus" (the latter of which is displayed on their costumes). Their real names are unknown, however.