Dragon Ball GT Evil Dragons

The so-called “Evil Dragons” (Jaaku Ryū) in Dragon Ball GT have quite different names than you may be used to. Traditionally among fans and on the internet, these Dragons were given names that correspond to the approximate Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese characters their names are written with. The problem with this stems from the fact that the Dragons are named after the Dragon Balls, themselves, which are also named/spelled with Chinese characters that have approximate pronunciations (as per the furigana written above the Chinese characters). Not only are the Dragons named for the Dragon Balls, but also for each number of the Balls, as well. Confused yet? Well, not to worry; we will start from the beginning, and lay it out step by step!

One of the biggest fan misconceptions about the names of these Dragons (which has unfortunately been aided and abetted by FUNimation’s English dub), is that they are all named as “—Shenlong” or “—Shenron”. As a matter of fact, they are not. Whereas “Shen Long” (given the Japanese approximation of “Shenron”) is Chinese for “Dragon God” or “Divine Dragon”, the Evil Dragons are named after the Dragon Balls, and thus do not follow quite the same pattern. While they keep the “Long” (“Dragon”) part of the name, they are actually named according to the number of stars in the Dragon Balls they sprang from. Remember, the Dragon Balls are named after the number of stars in each one, so that “Yi Xing Qiu” is (literally) the One-Star Ball. Thus, these Dragons are named in the pattern of “— Xing Long,” or “— Star Dragon”.

That only addresses part of the issue, though. Many fans also feel that the only correct way to write these names is with the Japanese pronunciation, rather than using the Chinese spellings as we just have. This argument does not hold any water if you examine the names more closely. Here is an example, using the One-Star Dragon’s name as it is written out:

As you can see, the name is written in Chinese characters with Japanese above the characters; this is furigana, and serves as a helper in pronouncing the word. This is usually included for children on more difficult or obscure kanji they may not have learned yet, but it is also handy when the kanji is shorthand for something longer, an aural pun, or a word from Chinese or Korean. While Chinese characters generally have the same or similar meanings in Japanese, they tend to have vastly different pronunciations, and thus a pronunciation guide is necessary for these Chinese words.

So what is correct? Technically, the names are spoken aloud in the series using the Japanese pronunciations above the Chinese characters. At the same time, they were only pronounced that way because the actors themselves were either unfamiliar with Chinese and may not have been able to produce the right sounds to pronounce the names correctly, or were specifically directed to use the Japanese approximations. Therefore, since the names are written with Chinese characters to begin with, and are intended to be pronounced as though they are Chinese, they should probably be romanized as Chinese, rather than Japanese (which would be something like a secondhand translation). Here is a chart showing the different names and pronunciations:

Stars Chinese Name Japanese Approximation FUNimation English Name
One Yi Xing Long Ī-Shinron Syn / Omega Shenron
Two Liang Xing Long Ryan-Shinron Haze Shenron
Three San Xing Long San-Shinron Eis Shenron
Four Si Xing Long Sū-Shinron Nuova Shenron
Five Wu Xing Long Ū-Shinron Rage Shenron
Six Liu Xing Long Ryū-Shinron Oceanus Shenron
Seven Qi Xing Long Chī-Shinron Naturon Shenron

The Chinese word for “two” is actually “Er”, which is carried through to the name of the Two-Star Ball, “Er Xing Qiu” (written in Japanese as “Aru Shin Chū”). “Liang” is closer in meaning to “pair” than “two”, so the reason for this change with this particular dragon’s name remains a mystery.

Those familiar with other Japanese words or phrases may start to pick up on the pattern of pronunciation differences by examining the names. For example, the Three-Star Dragon’s name begins with san, which is still the number three in Japanese. The Seven-Star Dragon’s name begins with qi, which has been adapted as the word chī over in the Japanese approximation, which is further adapted in the everyday Japanese language as shichi.

The new names provided to the dragons in FUNimation’s English dub of Dragon Ball GT have also been provided in the above table. While missing the point of the characters’ names, it may be worth noting that FUNimation created their own name pun series with the seven characters — going straight down the list in order, the first letters of each name spell out “S – H – E – N – R – O – N”, the approximation of “Shen Long” that FUNimation uses for the Earth’s Dragon in their English dub.