Anime Underground

The Meaning Behind Your Favorite Anime Character's Names  

Anna Lindwasser
3.2k votes 1.8k voters 12.9k views 15 items

List Rules Vote up the most surprising meanings behind anime characters' names.

When it comes to anime, the attention to detail extends far beyond the vibrant illustrations and in-depth plotlines. Anime character name meanings often relate to either to a character's role in the story, their interests, or their personality. Because names can be written using a variety of kanji, one can theoretically turn a seemingly ordinary Japanese name like Yusuke into one that's thematically appropriate for the protagonist of Yu Yu Hakusho - a name that means "ghost." Some names are even more clever than that - Ryuuko Matoi from Kill la Kill has a name with eight different meanings. A character's name is as important as any other detail in revealing who they are, so let's look at some interesting examples.

Ichigo Kurosaki is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Meaning Behind Your Favorite Anime Character's Names
Photo:  Bleach/Studio Pierrot

"Dark destination" fits as the surname of a character who becomes a Shinigami, but Ichigo's given name is also rife with symbolism. For one thing, it follows the fruit theme running through his family tree. Ichigo can mean strawberry, while his sister Yuzu's name can mean yuzu, a kind of Japanese citrus fruit. His other sister, Karin, has a name resembling the Japanese word for quince. 

Another possible meaning is "one-five," which explains why Ichigo frequently appears with the number 15. A more significant interpretation is that "ichi" means "one" and "go" means "to protect," meaning he wants to protect one thing - his mother. As the series progresses, the circle of people he wishes to help expands. 

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Light Yagami is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Meaning Behind Your Favorite Anime Character's Names
Photo:  Death Note/Madhouse

There's a minor character in Death Note whose real name is Mail Jeevas, which is not a name. Still, the creators put a little more thought into the protagonist, Light Yagami, when choosing his name. His given name, Light, is written with the kanji for "moon" which is why at one point in the series, his followers gather in the moonlight to hold a cult meeting.

His last name, Yagami, means "night" and "god." This fitting name was suggested by Tsugumi Ohba's editor. 

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Himura Kenshin is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Meaning Behind Your Favorite Anime Character's Names
Photo:  Rurouni Kenshin/Studio Deen

Kenshin Himura actually starts life with a more ordinary name, Shinta. After impressing a swordsman with his compassion, he receives a new name, Kenshin. The "ken" means sword, while the "shin" means heart. His surname, Himura, means "dark red village" - likely an allusion to his blood-stained past.  

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Ochaco Uraraka's Name Is Straight-Up Adorable In 'My Hero Academia'
Ochaco Uraraka's Name Is Strai... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Meaning Behind Your Favorite Anime Character's Names
Photo:  My Hero Academia/Studio Bones

Just about everyone in My Hero Academia has a name relevant to their personality. One of the cutest examples is Ochaco Uraraka's name. Her surname means "bright and beautiful" (which she is!), while her given name can be read as "tea child." This explains why one of the fandom's most popular ships, Ochaco x Midoriya, is often called "green tea."

Besides that, her hero name, Uravity, is a portmanteau of her surname and the word "gravity" - a reference to her ability to make things float when she touches them. 

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