Or why we use Japanese names.
Warning: incoming wall of text.
When we first began scanlating Kingdom, we decided we would be using either Chinese or Japanese names exclusively for the sake of consistency. It makes no sense to use Japanese names for one character and a Chinese name for another such as what we saw being done on myanimelist or the anime wiki etc.
Points for using Chinese names included:
- The manga is set in China.
- Shin and so on are actual historical people who actually have pages on the Chinese Wikipedia.
Points for using Japanese names included:
- It’s a manga and Japanese pronunciation of all Kanji is actually provided and used.
- Some names are given solely in Katakana (i.e. the mountain tribes) and don’t use Chinese characters at all.
- Translator bias even though we’re chink.
- A mistaken belief that anime fansubs would use Japanese naming due to discrepancies in what subtitles would display and what the characters would say.
Regarding the fact that Shin and the majority of the cast are actual historical people, to the English speaking community, this information is largely inaccessible anyway so this point was rather moot. The fact that Sei is also Qin Shihuangdi, the first emperor of China is also largely known and easily looked up.
On the last point, due to being in Malaysia on work at the time we began scanlating Kingdom, verifying what fansub groups were using was difficult (5th slowest internet in the world tethered through my phone). We also didn’t really feel like poring through subtitle scripts to see what they used although we did download episode 20 or 22 later to find out what people were translating Ouki’s title as (see Chapter 8 post here). I almost shat myself when they said Ouki and the subtitles read out Wang Qi.
As a result, we’ve used Japanese names exclusively and will continue using them and don’t really feel this detracts much from the manga that anyone who can’t read Chinese will miss out on anyway.
A Further Note on Naming
Some astute viewers may have noted that:
- Chinese State names are used
- Ou Ki vs Ouki, Sei Kyou vs Seikyou
We’re using Chinese state names (Qin, Zhao, Wei etc.) because they are easily recognisable to any English speaking person with a slight interest in Chinese history. This is the only exception of Chinese naming we are using. Also, the Japanese pronunciation for Qin is Shin… yeah…
We introduce characters with the characters for their name split up (Sei Kyou) and then use them in dialogue as Seikyou. This is because while generally the entire name is pronounced, Family names become somewhat important a very long way down the track. Ei Sei remains somewhat the exception as everyone either just calls him your majesty or Sei.
If you somehow managed to read all that, give yourself a pat on the back and eat some watermelon.