Turns out a good way of getting people to buy your manga is by confusing them.
It’s become a bit of a controversial issue in the world of Japanese light novels over the past few years as more and more books have been released with extremely long titles, some as long as whole sentences or entire paragraphs.
But at least those long titles give you a ton of information as to what the story is about. The same cannot be said for some manga, whose titles are sometimes ridiculously brief, or make no sense at all.
The popular Japanese ranking site goo rankings recently held a poll with 2,610 Japanese netizens casting their vote for the manga series with the most mysterious titles. Here’s the final ranking:
#10. Mob Psycho 100
Jeden Tag mindestens einen Manga
Tag 723: Mob Psycho 100 1 & 2
Von @carlsen_verlag https://t.co/hX5fCBV1vi
JannySparrow 🐦📚📗 (@JannySparrow) December 24, 2017
Certainly a hard-to-figure-out-title no matter what language you speak. No, it’s not about psychopathic mobsters, it’s actually about a boy nicknamed Mob (mobu meaning “background character”) who wants to live an inconspicuous life despite his ever-strengthening psychic powers (hence the “psycho”).
Where the “100” comes from is still anybody’s guess.
I started rereading old manga while sorting out my old books. Reread and finals finished Chobits. https://t.co/NGTKmVlmLN
💪バラ💪bara💪 (@baramiyuli) October 23, 2017
Chobits is definitely a cool-sounding name, but not one that gives you any inkling as to what the story is about.
The main characters’ names are Chi (a robot girl) and Hideki (a Japanese boy), and nothing in their world is referred to as “chobits.”
So then where did the title come from? We’ll let the fan Wikia do the explaining:
In the series, the derivation of the name “chobits” is given as coming from their father, Ichiro Mihara, who used the word “chobi” to describe anything he thought was “small and hopelessly adorable”. Two chobi become “chobits”. The word “chobits” is an anagram of “Chitose Hibiya”, and is also the password given to Elda, Freya, Plum, and eventually Chi. The spelling of the title uses a mixture of hiragana (ちょびっ, Chobi[t]) and katakana (ツ, tsu). The mixed letters were chosen because a persocom’s password requires a mixture of hiragana, katakana, and/or Latin alphanumeric characters for increased security. Similarly, the password Chobittsu (チょびっつ, Chobittsu) for Plum, set by Hideki in episode 19 of the TV series, mixes katakana (チ, Ch[i]) and hiragana (ょびっつ, [y]obittsu?), although in Tokyopop’s English translation of the manga, the password is “Chobits” (with a capital “C”).
Ah. Of course. How could we have forgotten!
#8. 3X3 EYES
高田裕三先生の「３Ｘ３EYES 幻獣の森の遭難者 １巻」です。
オリオン書房 秋津店 (@Orion_Akitsu) August 13, 2015
This one might not be so bad for English speakers. Its called 3X3 EYES, and it’s about a girl with three eyes. Sure, there’s that extra “3” in there, but hey, not so bad, right?
But in Japanese the title is pronounced Sazan EYES (san or zan meaning “three”). First off this is a bit weird because what happened to the “n” at the end of the first san? And are we just not going to pronounce the “X” between them or what? And there’s also the fact that it’s called Sazan to be the transliteration of the English word “southern.”
Yeah, just a tad complicated, that’s for sure.
#7. Thermae Romae
Termae Romae 2 mejora, se aclara la trama de fondo, mucha historia, y muchos baños. Sorprendente. http://t.co/YF1514aowu
(@acolostico) July 12, 2013
For those unaware, Thermae Romae is a manga about a Roman man who is transported to modern-day Japan via a bathhouse, something both cultures share in common.
The title actually isn’t too bad. “Thermae Romae” is simply Latin for “Roman baths.” Sure, probably less than one percent of people who read this manga knew that before looking it up, but even if you don’t know what it means, the Latin-sounding words convey the flavor of the series nicely.
#わにとかげぎす #古谷実… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…
七浜凪💫 (@kasane_0109) October 13, 2017
This one hasn’t picked up much traction in the English-speaking world, hence its lack of an official English title.
Wanitokagegisu is about a Japanese man Yuji Tomioka who decides to turn around his lonely life as a useless night watchman, only to get a threatening, anonymous letter warning him that he will die within a year.
So then what is a “wanetokagegisu?” It’s a deep-sea-dwelling fish that looks like this:
▼ It’s called a “Sloane’s viperfish” in English. And I suppose it conjures
up the scary, night-dwelling image of the series? I guess…?
ポリバケツ@喪中 (@polybucket89) May 22, 2016
#5. Dead Dead Demon’s De De De De Destruction
Bon c’est officiel, Dead Dead Demon’s DeDeDeDe Destruction est un de meilleurs manga que j’ai jamais lu, au côté de… twitter.com/i/web/status/8…
Oeni / Iaphyre (@Oeni10) August 16, 2017
All of that stuttering in the title does certainly show how terrifying the alien UFO invasion over Tokyo is, but it’s no wonder that fans usually prefer to refer to the series as “DDDD” instead.
And in case you were wondering, no, it’s not any different in Japanese. The Japanese title is literally: Deddo Deddo Dēmonzu De De De De Desutorakushon.
#4. Pop Team Epic
How Absurdist Manga ‘Pop Team Epic’ Became a Phenomenon
(@GoBoiano) January 09, 2018
While the English title is fairly understandable, the original Japanese title is a bit of a tongue-twister: Poputepipikku.
And then, even when you do finally say it correctly after failing about five or twenty times, you’re still really no closer to understanding what it’s about.
Sure, the two main characters’ names – Popuko and Pipimi – are kind of hidden in there if you look closely (Poputepipikku), but then what’s all that other stuff about? We’re guessing nothing, really, and that goes along with the series’ absurdity and craziness just fine.
「タイトルが謎すぎる」漫画ランキング！！3位ノノノノ、2位デュラララ!!、1位は・・・！！ biku-soku.com/?p=345805 https://t.co/McA80lsyWW
びっくり速報！ (@biku_soku) January 11, 2018
Go ahead and take a guess about what the story of Nononono is. The title sounds like someone saying “no” over and over, so is it a horror story? But the cover itself is so bright and cheerful, so maybe it’s about forbidden love?
Nope. It’s about a woman who wants to win an Olympic medal for ski jumping, but since women’s ski jumping isn’t a recognized Olympic sport, she has to disguise herself as her brother to compete.
Ah, of course! The title made that very clear.
The only reason the manga is called Nononono is due to the main character’s name Nono Nonomiya. Where that fourth “no” comes from though, is anyone’s guess.
DURARARA!! MANGA Comic Book set lot VOL.1-4 Akiyo Satorigi ENGLISH on eBay: goo.gl/7GdZi8 #comicbooks… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…
(@COM1CBOOKS) December 21, 2017
This is one where the English title might be even more confusing. The title DRRR!! means literally nothing to me except as the middle-school version of “duh.”
So what does “Durarara!!” or “DRRR!!” have to do with the Tokyo supernatural underworld of the story? Here’s what Wikipedia says:
Although it has commonly been claimed that the title “Durarara” is an onomatopoeia for the “revving of an engine,” Narita states specifically in the first light novel volume that the name means absolutely nothing. He had been editing the finished draft of his book, when his editor called. When prompted for a title, Narita “…just randomly gave a name, ‘Du…Durarara?’” Upon hearing this, his editor responded with a positive remark as he liked ambiguous titles.”
Fitting that number two on the list would be a name almost intentionally chosen because of its lack of relevance to the story. Then what could possibly top it?
The #1 manga title that makes no sense at all is…
#1. Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo
And Death Note. Bobobo-Bo Bo-BoBo was a rad manga, too http://t.co/WqGNPCu0na
Jolly Saint Nick ALL YEAR ROUND (@nicksays_summer) April 06, 2014
Ah yes, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo. I have to admit I have a soft spot for this manga as one of the first I ever read. And of course, when I first picked it up, I had absolutely no idea what it was about.
Of course, reading the story itself doesn’t exactly help you deduce what it’s about either. It’s the story of a man (named Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo) who fights with his nose hairs, battling against an evil hair-stealing empire, befriending an anthropomorphic sun, jelly, ice cream/poop, and just about anything else you can imagine. With gags on every single page and random events given far more precedence than plotlines, it’s a fairly fitting name for the ridiculous series.
My favorite part about this title is how the English translators didn’t bother to try and change it at all. But they couldn’t just have a bunch of “bo’s” after each other, so they put the hyphens in to show the elongated “o” sounds from the original. It just makes it look even more bizarre than its Japanese counterpart, which is pretty impressive.
So what do you think of the rankings? While I think most of these deserve to be here, I’m surprise a few popular ones didn’t make the list. What about Bleach? Or One Piece?
I guess they make marginally more sense than Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, which also made the top 10 list of manga that make people cry with laughter.
Source: goo rankings via My Game News Flash
Reference: Wikia/Chobits, Wikipedia/Durarara!!
Top image: Flickr/Rog01