In various guides across the site, including the Episode Guide and Movie Guide, fully translated opening and ending credits can be found for each specific episode, TV special, feature, or movie. Translated credits have become a staple of the site and provide valuable insight into the series’ production. This general overview page is intended to summarize how typical episode credits are structured and how they can be interpreted. The page is broken up into three sections: Japanese name structures, name pronunciations, and the actual production credit structure itself.
Japanese Name Structure
To fully understand how credits are translated on Kanzenshuu, and where certain name pronunciations come from, it is important to understand how names are structured in Japanese. A traditional Japanese name is comprised of a family name (surname), followed by the person’s given name. This is the opposite of name structures in Western cultures, where the given name precedes the family name. In addition, Western names typically include a middle name, whereas in Japanese they are rarely used. For example, Akira Toriyama’s name in the traditional Japanese structure is written as “Toriyama Akira” (鳥山 明), where “Toriyama” is his family name and “Akira” is his given name.
As used in above and subsequent examples, “Yamada Tarō” (山田太郎) is a standard Japanese male placeholder name, equivalent to “John Doe” in English. It is also worth noting that in recent decades it has become normal when speaking or writing in English, or other Western languages, for Japanese people to provide their names in Western order. Therefore, unless noted otherwise, Japanese names written on Kanzenshuu are presented in their Western order (i.e. “Tarō Yamada”).
Japanese Name Pronunciations
The majority of Japanese names are typically written in kanji, which are characters of Chinese origin, but Japanese in pronunciation. The kanji comprising a name can have a variety of possible Japanese pronunciations, of which only one is the correct pronunciation for a given individual. This makes the pronunciation and romanization of Japanese names very difficult. For this reason, additional phonetic kana will occasionally be provided as a reading aid to clarify the pronunciation of a name. This kana is referred to as furigana, literally meaning “assign phonetic value”, and appears next to or above respective kanji characters. Furigana is most often written in hiragana, though katakana is used in certain special cases, such as with an onomatopoeia or loan word.
Unfortunately, in the case of credits, furigana is rarely used to clarify proper pronunciations. As with any language, Japanese also has numerous common family names, such as “Satō” (佐藤), “Suzuki” (鈴木), “Takahashi” (高橋), “Yamamoto” (山本), and “Inoue” (井上), just to name a few. While family names follow relatively consistent rules, given names are much more diverse in pronunciation and character usage. For minor, lesser known staff members, determining a given name can be complete guesswork. In these cases, unless an alternate pronunciation is specifically known, it is common practice to use the most commonly associated pronunciations for that given set of kanji. However, with so many different common pronunciations, even this leads to various sources referring to staff members by multiple names.
Veteran animator Tadayoshi Yamamuro (山室直儀) is a good example of a name that was misinterpreted for many years. His name was often improperly written as “Naoyoshi Yamamuro”, which actually became so confusing that he had two separate encyclopedia entries on Anime News Network. The issue is not so much that translators were getting it wrong, as both pronunciations are legitimate for this set of kanji, but rather that his name was never written with furigana until the early-2000s when numerous interviews with Yamamuro were published. More often than not his given name was translated as “Naoyoshi” because the 直 kanji is typically pronounced “nao”, and many translators simply left it as-is in the name as they had no reason to change it to a more uncommon pronunciation. If it were not for these interviews and his more significant involvement in the franchise, the actual pronunciation of his name may never have been known.
Listed below are a few helpful things to remember when trying to determine or romanize Japanese names:
- The majority of all family names are comprised of one, two, or three kanji characters.
- Female given names often end in the syllable ko, written with the kanji meaning “child” (子), or mi, written with the kanji meaning “beautiful” (美). Most often, if a male name ends in ko, it ends in hiko, using the kanji meaning “boy” (彦).
- Male names are typically never written in hiragana, as it is seen as feminine; in medieval Japan, women generally were not taught kanji and wrote exclusively in hiragana.
- Occasionally you will see a given name written in katakana, a writing system typically used for foreign words in Japanese. Hironobu Kageyama (影山ヒロノブ), the main vocalist for many of the themes used in Dragon Ball Z, is a good example of this.
- In Japan, names written in kanji are governed by the government’s rules on kanji use, which designate certain characters as acceptable to be used in Japanese names.
It should be noted that in contrast to most of the minor staff, the proper pronunciations for the majority of the main staff are known as they are properly documented in official interviews and guidebooks.
While some staff positions have been added and removed over the years, especially with the increased use of digital production practices, the main credit structure has remained relatively the same across the various TV series, TV specials, features, and movies. That is to say that all have had both opening and ending credits, which is still the norm within the animation industry today. However, it should be noted that some recent series, such as One Piece, have begun to drop the ending and instead feature all of the credits before the episode begins in an extended opening sequence.
The credit structure used by Toei Animation is actually quite simple; the opening is designated for main series credits and the ending is designated for episode-specific credits. That is to say, staff involved in the overall production of the entire series are credited in the opening and staff involved with creating that specific week’s episode are credited in the ending. Below is a breakdown of the credit structure typically seen in a weekly episode:
Opening Credit Structure
Series Planning & Production Staff
Background Music Composer
Series Animation Staff
Ending Credit Structure
Background Art Staff
Main Episode Staff
For information about specific staff positions and their respective duties, please check the Production Staff Positions & Roles page found within this guide.