How Are Official Names For Anime And Manga Developed?
by Justin Sevakis,
Why is it that some manga series are sold under an English name in non-English speaking countries? My Hero Academia, for example, is called that in both the English and French releases. Other times, a manga gets an English title that isn't the same as the one used by English-speaking audiences. Delicious in Dungeon, for example, is known in Italy as Dungeon Food, and not whatever the equivalent phrase is in Italian. Why is this?
Japanese publishers and production companies tend to call all the shots when it comes to naming their shows for English territories. Most people in Japan know at least a LITTLE English. The manga artist or original creator often has some idea of what the English name of their series should be (and perhaps has worked that title into promotional artwork). The people in the licensing office almost certainly speak fluent English.
On occasions where an English title hasn't come up yet, the licensing office will often confer with the US publisher to come up with a name that would suit Americans. They might have a few suggestions already, and ask for input. The publisher will often come up with some notes and suggestions, and the licensor will take those suggestions back to the original creator. Those suggestions are usually completely ignored and the creators will insist on whatever weird English title they want.
For Non-English speaking areas, however, things get less regimented. Japanese people don't have to study Italian or German or French, and the chances that the creator actually knows that language at all are pretty slim. So, one of two things can happen. The first one is, since they have no idea about anything in that language, and the area they're being sold in is often smaller than English, the creators simply don't care as much. The licensors will usually have little input or oversight either. "We don't know that language, so please choose a title that's as accurate to the Japanese as possible." The publisher will simply come up with something that they think fits.
In other cases, the licensor will say, "The English title (or abbreviation) is the official overseas name for the property, so please use that."
Sometimes different areas of the world are assigned to different licensing offices, or even different companies to license the same manga or anime. When it comes time to decide the local names, it's quite possible that one will decide on a name, while the other will come up with a completely different name, and one hand simply won't be talking to the other. That sort of thing happens all the time.
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Anime News Network founder Justin Sevakis wrote Answerman between July 2013 and August 2019, and had over 20 years of experience in the anime business at the time. These days, he's the owner of the video production company MediaOCD, where he produces many anime Blu-rays. You can follow him on Twitter at @worldofcrap.
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