No Name (nnnslogan) wrote in cabad,
No Name

Japanese names and how to pronounce them.

In Japanese the emphasis is on the first syllable of names, not the second.
It may help you to think of each set of two syllables as a separate word,
with a sound like "tinker toys" or "peanut butter".

It's Akira (almost like AH-kee-DA), not uhKEERuh.

It's Akane, not uhKAWnay.

Kaneda is pronounced KAH-ney-DAH, not k'NAYduh.

Also, romaji doesn't have a silent "e" at the end of words.

Masamune is Mah-sah-mu-neh, not "maze immune."

The "u" in romaji is often either silent or almost silent.

Hokuto no Ken is not HoKOOto no Ken, it's Hok'to no Ken.

The name Sakura is pronounced SAh-Ku-RAh, not "s'KOOruh."

Sometimes the U sound in a word almost sounds like a W instead of a U, as in Testuo, which is not pronounced "tet-SOO-oh", but more like "Tets whoa!"

Exception: Sometimes inflection will make a character in anime put emphasis on the last syllable of a name.
In Super Dimension Fortress Macross you may often hear someone shouting "Hikaru" so that it sounds like HEE-ka ROO, almost like kangaroo, although the U sound at the end sounds almost like the double O in the English word "book", not the double O in "cool".

Notice that when you have the U sound utilized more extensively, you may hear more emphasis on another syllable than any of the ones containing the U sound, as in "urusai!"

The letter R in romaji sounds something like an L in some words, but also often sounds like a short D.
It's often just a click of the tongue when it's in the middle of a word.

Samurai is pronounced "SAH mu RAI" but the R is almost a D or a glottal L. It's not "Sam or I."

If dubs are going to keep Japanese names in anime, they need to teach the actors to pronounce them correctly.
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Good pronunciation is always nice to see. The new Akira dub benefits from it.

On the same note, I hate it when I'm watching something in Japanese, and the actors are struggling to pronounce English terms. The Japanese version of The Big O is awfully difficult to watch at times, thanks to this, what with the main character being named Roger Smith (or, as they'd have it, "Rojaa Sumisu").
It's best in Japanese shows when they sort of self-parody. There was a hilarious episode of Sakigake! Otoko Juku that used Engrish to good effect.

I'm impressed that the Witch Hunter Robin dub usually manages to get the pronunciations of characters' names right. They have slipped up from time to time, so I can't give them a perfect score-- I distinctly remember Sakaki's name getting the accent on the second syllable in one line of dialogue, for instance-- but most of the time, they stay true to the Japanese pronunciations.

In my opinion, the all-time worst mispronunciation of a name in an anime dub is in the Rurouni Kenshin OVAs (also known by the horrid re-title "Samurai X"), in which "Tomoe" is pronounced "TOH-moh".
Of course, I see by scrolling down that not everyone agrees with me on the pronunciation of names in the Robin dub. I agree, it has its faults, but it's still better than most of the dubs out there; they're surely closer, for instance, than the horribly mangled pronunciations used in Inuyasha's dub (kuh-GOH-may? gack!).

I could forgive the mispronounced names more if they got real actors for these things. Occasionally there's a good voice here or there, but usually they all sound somehow characteristically like anime dub actors. They all have this awkward, fake-sounding, over-emotive quality that never seems to fit the characters, and never sounds like the way real people speak, or like the way people in normal television shows and movies speak. It's obnoxious.