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Sort of hinted by a recent question How would one express an opinion from the perspective of an inclusive group? .

Japanese titles in books, songs, shows, etc. are accompanied with a title (status) or an apposition when there is a name. It happens so often, as if it is a rule.

三年B組金八先生
おじゃまんが山田くん
機動戦士ガンダム
超時空要塞マクロス
宇宙戦艦ヤマト
キャプテンハーロック
電子戦隊デンジマン
太陽戦隊サンバルカン
科学忍者隊ガッチャマン
元祖天才バカボン
プロゴルファー猿
オバケのQ太郎
忍者ハットリくん
Dr.スランプアラレちゃん
めぞん一刻
釣りキチ三平
男あばれはっちゃく

Sometimes, it is accompanied with an onomatopoeia, an interjection, or some short word.

ハローサンディーベル
ゲゲゲの鬼太郎
こちら葛飾区亀有公園前派出所

Why did it happen to be like this?

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    Dr.スランプアラレちゃん is different from the other titles listed, because Dr.スランプ (a nickname for 則巻千兵衛) and アラレちゃん are two different people. Jun 9, 2012 at 23:54
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    It happens in other languages as well, though, right? For example, these type of titles can be found in English... often used when trying to honor (or criticize) a certain person. It seems to be something that is used for some sort of humorous effect.
    – summea
    Jun 10, 2012 at 6:00
  • What is おじゃまんが? Is it a title? Anyway, do you ask this type of question with expecting that you will get the "correct" answer? Do you think the language makes the naming trend and it can be explained linguistically and objectively in this forum?
    – Gradius
    Jun 16, 2012 at 9:34
  • @Gradius I do not know whether I will get a correct answer. I think the naming trend is linked to the language. I do not think the explanation necessarily will be linguistic, but perhaps it can be socillinguistic. This site is not only for linguistic facts.
    – user458
    Jun 16, 2012 at 11:13
  • @sawa I mean, probably no one can provide a reliable answer to this "why", so I doubt that it works as an "question". If someone presents a subjective hypothesis here, what should we do? Can we believe it without reliable sources? Native speakers can answer questions about usage like which expression sounds more natural, but it is generally very difficult to answer "why"-type questions. Actually, some possible explanations came up in my head, but I don't write them as my answers. There are no evidences. Probably even scholars don't have a reliable, objective answer in this case.
    – Gradius
    Jun 17, 2012 at 9:33

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I think there is some truth in your assertion. However, I do think that the answer is not simple as there are many factors involved:

  1. I know for a fact that Japanese titles strive to be easily understandable and try to help give the reader hints about what the story is about. It is true that you can see examples in other languages also, however I would argue that there is a greater tendency to do this in Japanese culture. For example, there was a Disney film titled Up in English. When this was localized in Japan, the title was changed to カールじいさんの空飛ぶ家. In English, you can maybe guess a little bit about the movie, but the Japanese title definitely gives you a much clearer picture. I also guess that in English, there is greater tendency to leave the reader to guess what the story is about to make them curious, whereas in Japanese culture, people may be more inclined to ignore something if they don't know what it is about right away.

  2. Also, another cultural phenomenon is Japanese culture tends to focus more on individuals more than other cultures. For example, even to this day Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Ieyasu, etc. are very popular historical figures, and there are countless moves, books, video games about them. Now, it is true that all cultures have a notion of this, however, I would argue that this is more prevalent in Japanese culture. I realize that all the examples do not fit this pattern, but most of the titles have a name of a person in them which I think shows that the stories often focus on individuals.

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  • I would go further: if it's been done like that until now, then don't do it differently. As for why it started, I guess it's because of the importance the Japanese culture seems to attach to specialisation (i.e. status, group membership, etc).
    – Axioplase
    Jun 25, 2012 at 2:33
  • I agree that Japanese titles tend to be explanatory and descriptive and to have a kind of proper noun. However, actually, I couldn't find enough examples starting a title (status) of a person or group, except for anime/manga and kids stuffs. How many adult novels do you find that follow this rule?
    – Gradius
    Jun 25, 2012 at 6:35
  • カールじいさんの空飛ぶ家 is work for children. That is a point. Here is a listing of famous Japanese movies. This is another. I can hardly see such a rule. Can you?
    – Gradius
    Jun 25, 2012 at 16:49
  • @Gradius: I agree with you that there is no rule. Rather, on a very deep level, Japanese titles tend to be more easily understandable and also focus on individuals more. Also, you are right in that I don't see this trend in adult novels, perhaps because they are directed towards a more sophisticated audience.
    – Jesse Good
    Jun 25, 2012 at 21:13

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