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Spoken Japanese has a number of dialects that vary regionally throughout the country. From my (moderately limited) Japanese language experience, most of what is spoken in anime is Tokyo-ben (aka Standard Japanese). I'm not great at telling the difference between dialects, however, so I was wondering, are non-Tokyo accents/dialects common in anime, or used at all? In shows like Yuri!!! on Ice, which is set in Kyushu, is a Kyushu accent being used or a Tokyo one? Do shows set in Kyoto use a Kyoto accent, or is everything standardized to a Tokyo-ben?

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    I'd say quite common: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/KansaiRegionalAccent and tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TohokuRegionalAccent. Just look at the many examples shown there. – Gao Sep 10 '17 at 5:36
  • Maybe not as common as the Tokyo dialect but yes! There are some animes set outside of Tokyo where they speak a different dialect like Barakamon, Kimi no Nawa, and Dive – kat Oct 17 '17 at 9:03
  • I totally agree with the two comments above. Kansai dialect is very common in anime. Examples familiar to me would be Ikeda Chitose from Yuru Yuri and Kuroi Nanako from Lucky Star. Other types of dialects are less common but can be seen, like Mitsuha from Kimi no Na wa, but I am not exactly sure which regional dialect she speaks. Here is a list of dialect-speaking anime characters (in Japanese), which you can go through and get the idea. – user23823 Nov 30 '17 at 6:25
  • When it comes to the whole anime rather than a single character, I would say that being set in somewhere often does not imply an overall usage of that region's dialect, and all-dialect animes are extremely rare. – user23823 Nov 30 '17 at 6:48
  • I have to disagree with the other commenters. While it is correct, that there are lots of shows that fit, it's not enough to say "common". Since there are over twelve thousand anime and you'd be hard pressed to even come up with a mere hundred that include non-Tokyo dialects in any noticeable capacity. To be "common" there would need to be at least 4.000, imho. – Ocean Dec 12 '18 at 22:17
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The answer depends on your definition of "common". Most anime don't include dialects or accents, so in that sense it's not "common" however it's not unusual for a show to do so. There are quite a number of shows that include characters with dialects, most often Kansai/Osaka-ben, but when they do it's almost always for a direct purpose.

Some examples:

  • Igarashi Tora from Maid Sama! will occasionally speak in his native Kansai-ben (he's from Kyoto) when he's not acting like a perfect gentlemen as a sign that he's showing his true colors
  • Ebina from Himouto Umaru-chan who, when nervous or flustered, occasionally slips into Akita-ben
  • Mitsuha from Kimi no Na wa, who has a dialect to signify her status as a "country bumpkin" and it becomes relevant because she initially keeps her dialect when in Taki's body

Of course, it's not always that significant, as far as I can tell, the only reason Natsume from Inu x Boku SS speaks Kansai is to indicate his upbeat, outgoing nature. Perhaps for stereotype reasons?

That aside, it's rare for anime set entirely in another region to use said region's dialect. This is because all Japanese people can understand and speak Standard Japanese, aka Tokyo-ben, as that's what's taught in schools and show most on television. Therefore it's easiest to have Tokyo-ben speaking characters to ensure the whole audience can understand. The reason why Kansai-ben is the second most common is because a lot of comedians come from Osaka and so most Japanese people are quite used to hearing Kansai-ben and can understand it compared to others.

For reference, my mother's father's family lives in Aomori (most northern part of Honshu) and neither my mother (native speaker) or I can understand those relatives when they speak with the full dialect

  • Agree. This is no different than how US actors generally have a neutral accent. Specific accents don't show up unless it's important for the character to be associated with them. – pboss3010 Jun 3 at 12:29

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