What's in a name?

When authors create characters, that's a question they cannot ignore. In the struggle for originality and meaning, it's uncanny that many of them actually end up using the same names. So just how much do these namesakes differ, or could they have something in common? We'll check out five of the most popular names in anime, and let you decide!

Kazuma


Credits to myanimelist.net

Kazuma won't be the first anime name to pop into your head, but it seems to have taken root particularly in the shonen anime genre. And this is no surprise, as its associated kanji often means "true harmony" or "first horse", making this a name very worthy of righteous male heroes.

Roll call:

Air GearMikura Kazuma (美鞍 数馬)
Kaze no StigmaYagami Kazuma (八神 和麻)
s-CRY-edKazuma (カズマ)
Yakitate Japan!Azuma Kazuma (東 和馬)

Yuki


Credits to myanimelist.net

It may sound generically Japanese, but Yuki remains a popular choice for both boys and girls in and outside the anime world. Depending on how the kanji is written, translations include "snow", "blessing", and "hope". Accordingly, characters with this name are likely to be gentle in nature, or cold and aloof. Yuki is also a cutesy short form for names like Yukito (Cardcaptor Sakura) and Yukiko (Persona 4).

Roll call:

Fruits BasketSohma Yuki (草摩 由希)
Hikaru no GoMitani Yūki (三谷 祐輝)
Suzumiya Haruhi SeriesNagato Yuki (長門 有希)
Vampire KnightYÅ«ki Cross (黒主 優姫)

Kaoru


Credits to myanimelist.net

Kaoru, a variant of the more feminine Kaori, means fragrance and is a surprisingly popular name for both genders (yes, boys too). Kanji choices include 薫/郁/芳 for males, and 馨/香 for females. Kaoru is marked with a hint of androgyny, so perhaps that could be why characters with this name tend to be somewhat unusual and a little misunderstood.

Roll call:

Ouran High School Host Club

Hitachīn Kaoru (常陸院 馨)

Rurouni KenshinKamiya Kaoru (神谷 薫)
The Prince of TennisKaidoh Kaoru (海堂 薫)
Welcome to the N.H.K.Yamazaki Kaoru (山崎 薫)

Rin


Credits to myanimelist.net

This name owes it all to versatility; almost every Rin has a different kanji for his/her name, and Japanese authors are still coming up with more. Meanings can range from dignified to jade and even... Phosphorus? Just like the meanings, characters with this name span the full spectrum, from boisterous kids to lonely ladies.

Roll call:

Ao no ExorcistOkumura Rin (奥村 燐)
Fate/stay nightTōsaka Rin (遠坂 凛)
InuyashaRin (りん)
RideBackOgata Rin (尾形 琳)

Akira


Credits to myanimelist.net

A household name even outside of Japan, Akira represents more than just TVs and DVD players. Commonly written as 明, Akira can be used for both genders, and carries meanings like "bright", "clear", and "intelligent". Outside of fiction, successful manga authors like Toriyama Akira, Amano Akira and Itō Akira share this name too, so perhaps names really do shape people!

Roll call:

Air GearUdō Akira (宇童 アキラ)
BakumanHattori Akira (服部 哲)
Higashi no EdenTakizawa Akira (滝沢 朗)
Special ATōdō Akira (東堂 明)
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