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I've noticed this a lot in many manga I've read. The character (usually the protagonist) is named after their mother's family name and not their father's. Some examples I have found of this are as follows:

  • In Special A, Kei Takashima is named of his mother's family not his father's. Unless the parents were cousins, it seems the dad changed his name to Takashima, too.
  • In Naruto, Naruto Uzumaki is named after his mother Kushina Uzumaki. I know that this may be a plot device to hide who Naruto's father is at the beginning, but still why name after the mother? Why wasn't he named Namikaze?
  • In Shokugeki no Soma, Saiba Jouichiro changes his name to his wife's: Yukihira. Why doesn't he keep his name? It's possible that he wants to stay out of the public eye, but is it common for the man to take his wife's name?
  • Another example from the same manga as above, Azami Nakamura. He changed his name to Nakiri after marrying into Erina's mother's family. It could have been for prestige, but isn't it normally the wife who changes the name and not the husband? And Erina is named from her mother's family too.

Sorry for all the examples, but I really would like it if someone could help me understand. I know it could be because of a plot device, but it has confused me for a while.

  • Mana Ryougi from Kara no Kyoukai also adopted the mother's surname. It may be a practice of matrilocality. – Gao May 27 '16 at 13:18
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    IIRC, this sometimes happens even in real-life Japan if the wife's family is of higher standing than the husband's. If a man marries a daughter of a super high class rich family, he might take her name, or he might keep his name and the children might take their mother's name. That's why, in Eva, when Gendou took Yui's last name, it was regarded as odd but not unheard of. – Torisuda May 27 '16 at 15:38
  • In Naruto, the family name Namikaze quite possibly is just a family name and not a clan name, just like Haruno Sakura's Haruno is not a clan name (there is no Haruno clan in Naruto). Thus, since Uzumaki is a well renowned name, like @Evilloli said, Uzumaki name is used as the family name. Other than that, there is the plot device. – 絢瀬絵里 May 27 '16 at 16:44
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Expanding my comment into an answer.

In Japan, it’s uncommon, but not unheard of, for a man to take his wife’s name after marriage. It can happen for any reason, but a common reason is when a man marries into a family with no sons and his wife’s family wants to keep their name going.

In modern Japan, married couples are required to pick one partner’s family name for both of them. From a Time article:

In contrast, Japan requires that married couples take one of the spouses’ family names, which, unsurprisingly, means that 96% of married Japanese women assume their husband’s last name.

Any children of the marriage are given that last name as well, so if the couple chooses to use the wife’s name, the children will have their mother’s family name.

In anime, of course, this is used as a plot device, and the exact reason depends on the show. For instance, in Evangelion, Gendou takes Yui’s last name, Ikari, to try and distance himself from some of the unsavory things he did in the past. So Shinji gets his mother’s name, which might have various meanings, given all the Freudian subtext in the show.

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    Thank you :) This best answered my question. I really appreciated your help. :D – Mugiwara9 May 30 '16 at 8:04
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I shall talk about Uzumaki Naruto as such..Since, it is a special case.. Uzumaki clan at the time of Naruto birth(and later) were a few in number.. Mostly scattered throughout the world. Also, many decided to change their names fearing for their lives( the Uzumaki clan is quite noted for its Sealing jutsus; which was feared a lot, especially during the wartimes such as Shinobi World war 1,2 and 3). The seal which binds the Kyuubi(Nine-tailed fox) in Naruto is itself a Uzumaki Clan's jutsu. Also, since it was not given of any other person from Namikaze clan except for Minato, we can fairly assume Namikaze clan too was dwindling in numbers. Now, why was Naruto named after his mother? Interesting, right (since both clans had less members)? This is because of the fact that Minato Namikaze was the 4th Hokage, meaning he had his enemies. Thus, naming Naruto after his father's clan was quite dangerous. (Note that the enemies pursuing Uzumaki clan dwindled once peaceful times started after the world war 3, except for people like Orochimaru that is. )

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    This does not answer the question instead only explains the in-universe reason why one character fits this pattern which does nothing to explain other characters outside the naruto series – Memor-X May 30 '16 at 6:33

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