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Old 2012-12-31, 23:17   Link #1
Midonin
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Name? Surname? Nickname? (and Discussion)

There's something I've noticed in discussions that pertains to the way language is used, and if it affects our views on the series. For series with characters that have full names (which is to say, most of them, barring exceptions like Humanity Has Declined or Hidamari Sketch, each for separate reasons), does referring to a character by their first or last name indicate what you think of the character?

Since the Japanese language itself uses first names a sign of intimacy, I wonder if reviewers using the surnames of characters are also doing it to act in a more professional way, or if it's simply them imitating the characters in the show. One of the places I've noticed this is Sakurasou, where a noticeable portion of people refer to the heroine as "Shiina", and others refer to her as "Mashiro". Nicknames are some sort of area in between, likely indicating more familiarity, or a particularly snarky poster.

Chuunibyou is also an example. True, it doesn't make much of a difference in the flow of conversation if you refer to the characters as "Dekomori"/"Nibutani" or "Sanae"/"Shinka" (or if you're really into the alternate world like I was, "Mori Summer"), but I wonder if it changes how one views the characters. Are they someone you're observing like an experiment, or someone you're getting emotionally attached to?

I may be reading too much into something that means nothing in the first place, but as someone who tries to use first names whenever possible, I've wondered if this is a conscious thing. Words are a powerful thing, and how something is phrased can affect a lot.
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Old 2012-12-31, 23:55   Link #2
Obelisk ze Tormentor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midonin View Post
I may be reading too much into something that means nothing in the first place, but as someone who tries to use first names whenever possible, I've wondered if this is a conscious thing. Words are a powerful thing, and how something is phrased can affect a lot.
I think this is the case when you see my posts on Sakurasou thread. I just refer to the characters randomly with no “ulterior motives” at all . Most of the times, I just pick the names which are easier to type. For example, “Shiina” is easier than “Mashiro” :P.

Still, this is an interesting topic and it would be nice if there are other members out there who actually call anime characters by their first names or surnames with “deeper” intention.
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Old 2013-01-01, 01:01   Link #3
Random32
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Quote:
There's something I've noticed in discussions that pertains to the way language is used, and if it affects our views on the series. For series with characters that have full names (which is to say, most of them, barring exceptions like Humanity Has Declined or Hidamari Sketch, each for separate reasons), does referring to a character by their first or last name indicate what you think of the character?
Most of the time I go for most commonly used and/or least confusing. If there are a lot of names with equal popularity that aren't confusing, I'll pick at random.

For example, Okazaki Tomoya is Tomoya because Okazki Ushio and Nagisa also exist, so referring to him as Okazaki in discussion can lead to confusion. And Dekomori for Dekomori because it seems more popular in discussion than Sanae.
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Old 2013-01-01, 06:38   Link #4
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I feel like the name that gets used to refer to characters tends to be the name that is used most often. Japanese people might refer to those characters by the proper name, but I suspect most everyone else will tend to use the name that is given most frequently.

This also makes it very easy to talk about characters and have it be really obvious who you're referring to. If the character only goes by one of their names for nearly the entire series, then obviously it would be confusing to call them by their other name.

As far as which name people use being a potential indication of their personal feelings over fictional characters, I refer to my previous paragraphs. I suspect that their opinion of a character doesn't factor in when deciding which name to use.
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Old 2013-01-01, 20:00   Link #5
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For me, I don't really change the use of which name based on my opinion of them, however, I will use the Western naming convention (given name, family name) for some character and the Japanese convention (family name, given name) for others, depending on what sounds better to my ears. It's so arbitrary that I will refer to characters in the same series with different conventions, for instance, from Puella Magi Madoka Magica, typically refer to Homura as "Akemi Homura" (Japanese conventions), but use western conventions for the other girls (Madoka Kaname, Mami Tomoe, Kyouko Sakura, Sayaka Miki).

Another is another (see what I did there), example of this: I will refer to Mei as Misaki Mei, but most of the other characters, I use western conventions (Kouichi Sakakibara, Izumi Akazawa, Takako Sugiura etc)

As for Sword Art Online, For some characters, use Japanese conventions (Kayaba Akihiko, Nobuyuki Sugou, Konno Yuuki), but for others, I use Western naming conventions (Kazuto Kirigaya, Asuna Yuuki, Shino Asada etc.)

Steins;Gate: Japanese Conventions (Hououin Kyouma, Makise Kurisu, Amane Suzuha), Western Conventions (Okabe Rintarou, Mayuri Shiina)

Kara no Kyoukai: Japanese conventions: (Asagami Fujino, Araya Souren, Enjou Tomoe), Western Conventions: (Shiki Ryouki, Mikiya Kokutou)

Also, I've noticed that in English, Japanese historical figures born before the modern era tend to be referred to in Japanese conventions (Oda Nobunaga) while those born after are referred to in Western conventions (Isuroku Yamamoto).
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Old 2013-01-01, 20:18   Link #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midonin View Post
For series with characters that have full names (which is to say, most of them, barring exceptions like Humanity Has Declined or Hidamari Sketch, each for separate reasons), does referring to a character by their first or last name indicate what you think of the character?
That's not usually the case for me. I almost always use the character's first name to refer to them. Even where everyone is using the last name of the character. Or even where the given name is not so convenient (e.g. using Ryuunosuke instead of Akasaka). A case in point is if you come across any of my comments in a given manga chapter "discussion" thread on MAL's forums, you'll see me using the character's first name.

When it comes to full names, I also always use the Western naming convention of given name first and family name last; even if the characters are ethnically Japanese. The reasons for this being 1) for consistency with all characters, and 2) I'm referring to them in English - to me it makes more sense to call them that way.

The only exception is when I'm typing in Japanese (which I don't usually do ) - I'll use the Eastern naming convention.
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Old 2013-01-01, 20:27   Link #7
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I'm mostly with Traece here.

Whichever name the character is most commonly referred to in the anime itself is the name I tend to go with.

So in Madoka Magica, for example, you almost never hear "Kaname", "Miki", "Tomoe", or "Sakura". You hear "Madoka", "Sayaka", "Mami", and "Kyouko" way, way more often. So naturally I go with given names here when referring to these characters. Akemi Homura isn't quite as clear-cut (which might explain Spartan 119's approach here), but I think "Homura" is also more commonly heard than "Akemi" is in PMMM.

In other shows, though, characters are more commonly referenced by their family name, so in those cases I'm more likely to default to referencing them by family name.


But there are other factors here:

1) If two major characters share the same family name, then it makes sense to me to default to given name ("Yui" and "Ui" instead of "Hirasawa"; "Saki" and "Teru" instead of "Miyanaga").

2) If one of the character's names is exceptionally common and/or tends to make people think of a different character, I'll usually avoid it. And so that's another reason for me to use "Mami" and "Kyouko" instead of "Tomoe" and "Sakura".

3) Sometimes one name is just easier to remember the correct spelling for than the other. If so, I'll usually default to the easier-to-spell name, whether its given or family.
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Old 2013-01-01, 22:12   Link #8
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I confess that I often have a hard time remembering all kinds of names, even for series that I follow closely (happens often irl too, with some of my closer colleagues even). So I don't give much weight in how I call a character, so long as I can make an "easy to remember" yet grossly arbitrary mental note with it.
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Old 2013-01-02, 06:56   Link #9
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I use whatever name gets used the most (it feels a little weird otherwise). Take Kirito from Sword Art Online for example. It's really weird to refer to him as "Kazuto" after hearing the other characters call him "Kirito" almost every time throughout the series.

When it comes to writing full Japanese names, I prefer to use the Japanese convention. It simply sounds more... natural (they never use the English convention in anime/Japan unless they're trying to imitate foreigners).

Also, they never use the Japanese convention when writing foreign names, so why should we use the English convention when writing theirs?
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Old 2013-01-02, 07:19   Link #10
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As much as possible, I try to use a character's first name when referring to him/her for the sake of consistency. As far as I know, always use the first name (except for cases where I simply don't know). It wouldn't exactly make sense to deviate from a trend I established myself, I feel. Another thing is that it minimizes confusion if there are characters with the same surname.

Now, to answer the OP's concern, when it comes to referencing characters in a story, names serve purely as convenient labels for me. For a label to be indicative of a personal relationship, one has to acknowledge the other as a "person". While I can empathize with fictional characters to a degree, I can never entirely cross the line to the point where it affects how I label a character. People are people. Characters are just characters. The line between the two is something I always keep in mind.
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Last edited by Qilin; 2013-01-02 at 09:50.
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Old 2013-01-02, 09:29   Link #11
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I tend to use whichever name is used more often to refer to them in the series, but there are exceptions. I sometimes use the first name of a character over his last name when the first name sounds better (Example: Nadeko Sengoku. She's always called Sengoku by the main character, but it sounds a bit like a man's name. Nadeko is a lot cuter so I use that, and I'm not the only one), or as a mark of affection when I really like a character. I never do the opposite, however; the only time I use a character's last name is when it's used in the series, and never because I dislike that character.
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Old 2013-01-02, 10:36   Link #12
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Me too, I use to call characters with their more used name, first reason it is because usually, especially with large casts, I start remembering names only after reading them in the forum, take K as example, I still have problems . Except when I don't like how it sound (a bit differently from Kanon). So, since Kazuto doesn't sound good in my language, no matter if people use it or not I would not use it.
On the other hand, even if I really like a character I don't care if a name / surname / nick sound better or not. The best example is Inaba, her name is Himeko that could be easily shortened into Hime, a very befitting nick for her, it's even short and cute, but I prefer Inaba / inaban / dereban, because I'm more accustomed to.
Lastly, it's even because I'm sure people don't get me wrong while I'm writing about this or that character.
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Old 2013-02-03, 01:35   Link #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldlight View Post

When it comes to full names, I also always use the Western naming convention of given name first and family name last; even if the characters are ethnically Japanese. The reasons for this being 1) for consistency with all characters, and 2) I'm referring to them in English - to me it makes more sense to call them that way.

The only exception is when I'm typing in Japanese (which I don't usually do ) - I'll use the Eastern naming convention.
Unfortunately, many English language sites (Wikipedia, ANN, etc) also arrange Japanese names in the eastern order instead of the western order.

To use both the western and eastern orders of names are very confusing.
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Old 2013-02-03, 01:41   Link #14
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I do what the Olympics do.

Japanese in Western order. Korean and Chinese and others in Eastern order.

It has something to do with when Japanese were Westernizing themselves, they chose to switch their names when presenting themselves to non-Japanese.

But that's only when I write essays and such for people who may not know anything about Japan. When I'm in a fan community that I know knows about the original Eastern name order, like you guys, I use Eastern.
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Old 2013-02-03, 08:44   Link #15
Coldlight
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Originally Posted by stelok View Post
Unfortunately, many English language sites (Wikipedia, ANN, etc) also arrange Japanese names in the eastern order instead of the western order.
ANN actually uses the Western name order. It is in their guidelines for contributors that the western order be used.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anime News Network
  • If the character has a Japanese name, write it with the family name last (i.e. "Taro Tanaka" instead of "Tanaka Taro")
If you see a Japanese name on ANN in the Eastern name order, chances are the contributor didn't read the guidelines.
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Old 2013-02-03, 14:35   Link #16
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To be fair, after about 15 years of anime I still often fail at telling wether some characters japanese name is supposed to be their first, or last name.
Names are usually left untranslated, so any hidden meaning that might link them to their character is also not easy to spot.

So at first an anime chars name is pretty much a white piece of paper to me.

Japanese first names seem to suffer the same problem as first names almost all over the world: they are rather generic and fail at their intended purpose... to be a unique identifier for a single person.
Of course there is only a limited number of reasonable combinations that you can use for a name. But when there are 5 people with the same first name in a class (IRL), it will cause problems.
In anime, the artists will make sure there are no two characters with the same name in their show and they have more of a freedom to choose exotic ones too.
However, across different shows a lot of characters with the same first name will show up and it will feel slightly awkward. If all character has is a generic first name, he/she will either blend in with his/her other namesakes over time, or will have to be identified by some other unique feature. In which case the name was useless.

For this reason, I prefer characters with a full first and last name, even though I they are hard to remember.

On the order thing:
When used in an english sentence (such as translation) first name first, last name last... of course.
That way I know which is which no matter what, without having to decide if a name is supposed to be japanese, or western, or whatever notation anyone else may be using.
Otherwise, what will you do when westerners start using japanese sounding names, or the other way around? Or maybe they migrated to another country, but kept their names? How will you tell which notation to use? It may work with the olympics, because every name has a little flag next to it. But that is a luxury you won't encounter too often.
The notation is a part of the language, not of the name. The name only has the attributes 'first' and 'last'.

Last edited by Dhomochevsky; 2013-02-03 at 14:48.
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Old 2013-02-03, 16:20   Link #17
Akka
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midonin View Post
does referring to a character by their first or last name indicate what you think of the character?
In my case, plainly no.

First I simply, many times, don't really remember which one is which, so any attempt to purposedly use a "first name" or "last name" is doomed from the start

Second, anyway, even if I remember, I tend to completely ignore/disregard/don't bother with that. I simply use the one I'm most used to, or the one I prefer, which not only isn't consistent depending on the character, but also sometimes change with time.
For example, I use "Nibutani" because I like this sound better than "Shinka", but I use "Chitanda" because everyone call her like that. I use "Tomoya" or "Okazaki" in turn without any particular reason, but I only use "Kyō" to not mix her with her sister "Ryō" (and hence never Fujibayashi), I use "Kaname" despite her being called "Chidori" most of the time because I remember her as "Kaname" first, but I use "Sawa" only because I can't remember most of the time what her last name is.
As you see it's mainly a complete mess : I could use one, or the other, or both, for a reason, or a different reason, or no reason at all.

One of the reasons is that japanese is very poor in sounds, and after a while everything tends to sound the same to my ears. As such, after a while, it becomes rather blurry. Depending on the characters and sound, I can forget one of his/her names, or both, and/or not remember which one is the first name and which one is the last name.

Another reason is that the Japanese tend to both invert the reading (last name first, first name last) and have different societal standards (using the last name as a matter of course even with people you have class/work with).

So in the end... no, I have already often a hard time keeping track of the names, so there is absolutely no meaning behind which one I'm using ^^
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Old 2013-02-03, 17:47   Link #18
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That's difficult for me to answer, since I'm in a cultural twilight zone when watching anime. I don't speak Japanese (very well), and the naming conventions still aren't entirely natural to me, but I did pick them up. I can't say that I ignore first-/last-name status, but there are interfering characteristics.

Take this season's Kotoura-san. I'm fully aware that Kotoura is the last name, and that her first name is Haruka. I use Kotoura. Everyone in the show does. It's in the title. But if I were to use Haruka I feel... disrespectful, since the people around her don't use her first name, and they're certainly more entitled to use it than I am. It's strange; I sort of chuckle at the difficulties saying someone's first name causes anime characters, and here I am feeling the same embarrassment. Heh.

But if everyone uses first names in the show, so will I.

Sakurasou and Shiina Mashiro is an interesting example, because to me "Shiina" sounds like a first name. It's the interference from a language know better than Japanese. "Sheena" is a first name I'm familiar with, so hearing "Shiina" triggers a first name feeling, even though I know it's the last name. So, sometimes, cultural differences interfere, and my reactions get skewed in some way. With Madoka Magica for example, Tomoe Mami threw me for a loop, since I was used to "Tomoe" as a first name, and hadn't yet encountered it as a last name. So "Tome Mami" and "Mami Tomoe" felt equally wrong to me, since I'd want to start with the last name, but both names sounded like first name to me. (Not that it mattered much, since most the time I'd just say "Mami", anyway.)

So I guess that I pick up the naming convention from the show, but I do also pick up on the familiarity structure. However, I don't pick it up completely, since I'm not firm enough in Japanese. It's like being in a cultural twighlight zone, where I'm usually not confident enough to take initiative, and where I might mess up or get confused. Familiarity does factor in the names choose, but it's not straightforward, and mostly importet from the shows.

Very interesting topic. Thanks for starting this thread.
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Old 2013-02-03, 17:53   Link #19
Kudryavka
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
That's difficult for me to answer, since I'm in a cultural twilight zone when watching anime. I don't speak Japanese (very well), and the naming conventions still aren't entirely natural to me, but I did pick them up. I can't say that I ignore first-/last-name status, but there are interfering characteristics.

Take this season's Kotoura-san. I'm fully aware that Kotoura is the last name, and that her first name is Haruka. I use Kotoura. Everyone in the show does. It's in the title. But if I were to use Haruka I feel... disrespectful, since the people around her don't use her first name, and they're certainly more entitled to use it than I am. It's strange; I sort of chuckle at the difficulties saying someone's first name causes anime characters, and here I am feeling the same embarrassment. Heh.

But if everyone uses first names in the show, so will I.

Sakurasou and Shiina Mashiro is an interesting example, because to me "Shiina" sounds like a first name. It's the interference from a language know better than Japanese. "Sheena" is a first name I'm familiar with, so hearing "Shiina" triggers a first name feeling, even though I know it's the last name. So, sometimes, cultural differences interfere, and my reactions get skewed in some way. With Madoka Magica for example, Tomoe Mami threw me for a loop, since I was used to "Tomoe" as a first name, and hadn't yet encountered it as a last name. So "Tome Mami" and "Mami Tomoe" felt equally wrong to me, since I'd want to start with the last name, but both names sounded like first name to me. (Not that it mattered much, since most the time I'd just say "Mami", anyway.)

So I guess that I pick up the naming convention from the show, but I do also pick up on the familiarity structure. However, I don't pick it up completely, since I'm not firm enough in Japanese. It's like being in a cultural twighlight zone, where I'm usually not confident enough to take initiative, and where I might mess up or get confused. Familiarity does factor in the names choose, but it's not straightforward, and mostly importet from the shows.

Very interesting topic. Thanks for starting this thread.
Yea, I also noticed a lot of the girls in Madoka have what sound like first names for last names... Miki, Sakura, and Akemi...
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Old 2013-02-03, 19:31   Link #20
Midonin
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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
Very interesting topic. Thanks for starting this thread.
Welcome. In shows that can be filled with names, nicknames and fandom nicknames, how this naming plays into our perception is a topic rarely touched on. Even in the examples I gave, nicknames can still define how people perceive each other. Like Misaki in Sakurasou calling all her female friends with cute nicknames like "Mashiron" and "Nanamin". It's clear she wouldn't do that for anybody.
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