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New Feature: Best Anime With Terrible Titles

By November 29, 2012

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A common running joke about anime is how bizarrely some of the shows are named. It's a joke with a great deal of truth to it: would anyone not in the know thing that something with a name like C: Control - The Money and Soul of Possibility is a good show (or, for that matter, a great one)?

There's any number of reasons for the oddball-ness of anime titles. The single biggest: English and Japanese are remarkably unalike, and so what works in one language may come off as awkward in another. For proof of this, look no further than the way English-language films are often retitled for the Japanese market; my favorite story in that regard is how Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness was renamed ... Captain Supermarket.

Likewise, some anime are renamed for the sake of convenience when they appear in English. Romance anime Kimi ga Nozomu Eien ("The Eternity You Desire") was retitled Rumbling Hearts for its overseas release. Sometimes they split the difference: Sengoku Basara had Samurai Kings spliced onto the end of the name to explain itself for English audiences. Sometimes they just keep the original title because it's striking and memorable on its own terms: Tenchi Muyo!, or Yu Yu Hakusho come to mind.

Sometimes the changes are inconsistent between English territories as well. Makoto Shinkai's Children Who Chase Lost Voices (From Deep Below) derived its English title more or less directly from the Japanese version, albeit with some shearing-down. (Japanese audiences cotton to longer titles, for some reason.) But when released in the United Kingdom, the film became -- inexplicably -- Journey to Agartha. And there's still an ongoing debate as to whether or not Aa! Megami-sama! should be translated as Ah! My Goddess or Oh My Goddess!

Occasionally, Japan saves us the trouble by devising both English-localized and Japanese-native titles for the same property. What we call Ghost in the Shell is known in Japan as Kōkaku Kidōtai ("Mobile Armored Riot Police"). This was, and remains, a tactic used often for films from Hong Kong: John Woo's Hard-boiled sported both that title and a Chinese one that's even better: Hot-Handed God of Cops.

Check out our newly-minted list of best anime stuck with bad names, and feel free to make suggestions for future iterations of the list!


December 5, 2012 at 4:18 am
(1) Joseph Petek says:

I’m surprised you didn’t mention “Durarara!!” which is literally a nonsense word. Not the best title in my estimation.

December 5, 2012 at 9:46 am
(2) anime.guide@about.com says:

Well worth an addition!

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