I was trying to talk about films and (marvel) comics the other day, and stumbled upon "evil twin". Sure, I can translate it verbatim, but that usually works badly for such fixed expressions.

And then when I was trying to explain it, I couldn't think of a good word for "trope" too. Apparently, neither can jisho.org. There are a few for cliche, but none of these have example sentences that relate remotely to the meaning I am looking for.

Can anyone help me or send me in the right direction? (A Japanese tvtropes.org perhaps?)

Other Japanese trope names (e.g. つんでれ) are welcome.

  • 2
    Kdansky, sawa: The question here (which I have not answered) seems to be: Is there any resource for the common Japanese names of "tropes", which are not easily found in a dictionary, and what is the translation for the word "trope"? – Hyperworm Feb 8 '12 at 15:53
  • 2
    Surprise! Hateful elitist comments on this site! Quick, vote to close or else someone might actually learn something! I am disgusted. – Kdansky Feb 8 '12 at 15:56
  • 3
    +1 to counteract sawa's downvote. – Andrew Grimm Feb 9 '12 at 1:38
  • 4
    +1 for a question that I had no trouble understanding, and I am just as interested as the questioner for an answer. Also, Kdansky, don't take the actions and attitudes of a few to be representative of the whole site. There are some negative attitudes floating around, but in the long run, the helpfulness eventually outweighs the noise. – Questioner Feb 9 '12 at 6:33
  • 5
    Also, "snide" ≠ "honest". Just saying. – Questioner Feb 9 '12 at 6:40

The word "trope" didn't originally apply to stock characters/plot elements in the way that it is now used in TV Tropes; this is a relatively new (as in past 50 years) usage of the word. This may be why dictionaries come up short: even some English dictionaries I checked didn't cover this meaning.

There is a Japanese wikipedia page for TV tropes, which uses the word トロープ, but this doesn't seem to be a widely used term and the writer of the article felt the need to explain it rather than just giving simple translation:


Various conventions and ideas seen in works of fiction.

So I don't think you will find a single word to cover this. お決まり (and お定まり?) may work for "cliche" in some situations (お決まりの台詞, お決まりのパターン) although they're not limited to fiction. Wikipedia uses 類型 for categorising some things, e.g. ストーリー類型, but again this appears to be a phrase coined for convenience and not widely used in general discussion.

There are some words that will cover some of the things covered by "trope". One (relatively recently coined and probably more an internet slang term than something for academic discussion) is フラグ. I'll quote from wiki again as I think this covers it:


Although it has the same meaning as 'foreshadowing', 'flag' implies a relatively simple, fixed, "stereotypical pattern".

There are various types of flag (e.g. "death flag", 死亡フラグ). For more description of this term, check dic.nicovideo.jp/ for フラグ and other terms. This site also probably functions as the closest thing to tvtropes in that although it wasn't created for that purpose, if you look up various manga/anime you will find often find links to character types/phrases/story genres associated with that work.

Another useful word is from 落語 originally and is 落ち (when dealing with manga/anime, normally written オチ). There were various set ways of ending a story. A classic one is まわり落ち (ending by returning to the beginning of the story), and 夢オチ is the Japanese name for the "and then he realised it had all been a dream" ending.

The last one is 定番, often in the form (genre name/series)の定番. These are both 2ch examples:

やめてほしいアニメの定番 ("anime staples you want to stop")

RPGの定番モンスターの名前を貼っていくスレ ("thread where we post names of typical RPG monsters")

Not necessarily negative, it can also be used to refer to classic/staple/standard examples of a genre, e.g. 定番のクリスマスソング (typical Christmas songs).


Isn't "Doppelgänger" (ドッペルゲンガー) commonly used to denote "evil twin"? Well, at least an evil version of someone.

  • I'm native German, so I know what a Doppelgänger is, but it's the first time I hear of it in Japanese. It would be another person who cannot be distinguished (such as a twin), but not necessarily evil or good, or the same character at all. Evil Twins are usually (in comic lore) exact (inverted) copies, down to quirks and thought patterns. – Kdansky Feb 8 '12 at 15:52
  • The Wikipedia definition seems to indicate that the original German word started out with the nuance of evil. – istrasci Feb 8 '12 at 16:58
  • 2
    to add two cents, ドッペルゲンガー is in wide enough usage to be the title of a good movie by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, where the ドッペルゲンガー was the evil version of the character. Also a famous song by Shiina Ringo : youtube.com/watch?v=ANKdvrBvfP0 i couldnt find a trailer but here is a clip / review youtube.com/watch?v=8a4C6IOqWDs – yadokari Feb 8 '12 at 17:48
  • My understanding of the nuance of 'Doppelgänger' is that it's generally some kind of construct or otherworldly thing, or perhaps a professional impersonator - whereas an evil twin is exactly that, biologically a twin, who happens to be evil. – Karl Knechtel Feb 9 '12 at 23:32
  • 1
    Just to add, loan words often do not retain the nuances that they have in their home language...if they retain the meaning at all @.@ My favorite: the French, English, and Japanese version of 'mansion'. – silvermaple Feb 12 '12 at 16:20

I just found another one, which is exactly what I was looking for:

べた - hackneyed, cliched [1]

It's marked as "slang", though, and it might be just a version of べたべた. "Sticky" is quite close in connotation.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.