By historical anime series, I mean shows that portrayed important historical characters and has a storyline set during monarchial and feudal period of Japan.

Japanese language has undergone a vast transformation. The order was somewhat like:

Old Japanese -> Early Middle Japanese -> Late middle Japanese -> Early modern Japanese -> Modern Japanese

The Japanese spoken today differs from that spken during those times. I am assuming that the old Japanese is considered archaic and obsolete (just like Shakesperean English is obsolete today). So, did anime series whose story is set during those times used a different kind of Japanese? Did VAs used "archaic Japanese" for such roles or went with normal Japanese? Or did they worked with dialects*?

*FWIW, I found this piece of information:

Modern Japanese is considered to begin with the Edo period, which lasted between 1603 and 1868. Since Old Japanese, the de facto standard Japanese had been the Kansai dialect, especially that of Kyoto. However, during the Edo period, Edo (now Tokyo) developed into the largest city in Japan, and the Edo-area >dialect became standard Japanese.

So, since Kansai dialect was the standard Japanese during those times, VAs who know Kansai dialect might be suitable for such roles and story. Did historical anime used heavy dialects to give an impression of "archaic Japanese"?


1 Answer 1



Probably not the answer you're looking for but I also haven't watched every single historic feudal Japan anime so I can not definitely say for certain it doesn't exist.

Authors and script writers write for a modern audience who understand best a modern, living language. So it's rather unlikely that the majority of a work be entirely or heavily in an archaic language. Even for English, how many modern TVs or cartoons can you find that make heavy use of Modern English or better, Old English? I certainly cannot think of any aside from works inspired directly from classic works (Shakespeare, as mentioned, is a prime example).

There's a limit to how much archaic dialogue you give your characters. At best, characters are given occasional language quarks to remind the viewer of the setting but any more and you would lose the audience (or at least transform a light easily readable manga into a in depth literature analysis).

While I agree it would totally cool if there existed historical correct voice acting in anime or even manga written in ancient scripts, the appeal of these works is quite limited (think of the translation work for even the native speakers !)

I would also like to point out even within modern Japanese, people of different ages and regions speak very differently (not representative of voice actors in anime). While Kyoto used to be the capital of Japan, not Edo, even the current Kansai dialect differs from a historic accent. According to a few native Kansai, anime has poorly or inaccurately represented even their accents.

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