Screaming and shouting (especially names and battle moves) is a well-known anime cliché and in this article, we are going to tell you why anime characters scream so much.
The reason for anime characters screaming is that most anime stem from manga, a still-image medium where the characters have to shout their names so that the readers know who they’re dealing with. Another reason has a lot to do with Japanese tradition as fighters would introduce themselves to each other before engaging in combat.
In the remainder of this article, we are going to elaborate on these two cultural aspects of Japanese history that got translated into the world of anime in a specific way. You’re going to find out about the historical roots of the name shouting, as well as how manga as a medium contributed to that phenomenon.
Why Do Anime Characters Scream So Much?
As we have already stated, screaming and shouting is a popular anime cliché, along with several other well-known ones. This is nothing obligatory, of course, and there are anime series (especially seinen ones) where the shouting is reduced to a minimum or is simply used when truly necessary, but it is a tradition and something that is most often seen in shōnen works.
Now, the reasons we managed to find for this are related to history and manga. Let us elaborate.
As far as anime is concerned, most anime are actually an adaptation of a manga; there are original ones, of course, but they’re not that relevant as they’re a minority when compared to the adaptations. Now, as you probably know very well, manga are usually (again, with exceptions) drawn in black-and-white and that is very important for this segment.
Namely, despite the quality of the drawings, it might become – at one point – confusing to follow the characters and the dialogues. This is especially true for fighting scenes, where it is not always completely clear who is talking and who is doing what. You’ll get there in the end, but not every panel will be completely comprehensible. On top of that, manga is a still-image medium, which further complicates things.
Now, in order to make the story more readable, the characters will often shout out their names or attacks to let you know who is talking or attacking; as you might have deduced, this is more pronounced during fight scenes between characters.
If you’ve ever read a manga, you’ll know what we are talking about and just how that yelling helps readers in following the plot more clearly. This is one of the reasons why anime characters shout so much; it is, as expected, most often associated with the shōnen genre of works.
Another reason has to do with societal norms in feudal Japan, as people had to shout their names to others who were not close by, but we’ll elaborate more on that in the next section.
As you can see, anime characters most often yell to introduce themselves or to attack. This is a common trait of all anime and is often heard. Although some of you might have thought it’s just a random quirk, as you can see, it has its reasons and explanations. Now, let us continue with the explanations.
Why Do Anime Characters Yell Out Their Names So Much?
Attacking is one thing anime characters often scream out. This seems to give them more power and, from a purely aesthetic point of view, looks quite epic if you ask us. But, attacks are not the only thing that anime characters tend to shout without pause.
This is mostly due to historical reasons and the samurai showdowns that went down in feudal Japan, which had not yet been a unified state at the time.
Duels between samurai were quite formalistic, somewhat similar in the formalism to European duels fought in the 18th and 19th centuries, so much, in fact, that one could say that the formal rituals were more important than the duel itself.
Now, Japanese culture has since evolved, but the remnants of these cultural traits have survived and can still be seen, especially in artistic representations.
This is why we mentioned both Bleach and Naruto as great examples. The former is set in the modern era, but has a lot of feudal elements and rituals within Soul Society, with the characters actually being like modern samurai or ronin. Naruto, on the other hand, is set in a feudal-like world of shinobi, where such formalism was quite important.
The actual practice in feudal Japan looked something like this (taken from a fictional epic that reproduced the ritual):
Ho, I am Kajiwara Heizo Kagetoki, descended in the fifth generation from Gongoro Kagemasa of Kamakura, renowned warrior of the East Country and match for any thousand men. At the age of sixteen . . . receiving an arrow in my left eye through the helmet, I plucked it forth and with it shot down the marksman who sent it.
As you can see, the reasons for the shouting are clear and are rooted in tradition. Sure, they might seem a bit archaic if you look at them from our point of view, but they’re an important part of Japanese culture so it’s only natural that we get to see them in anime as well.