Have you ever wondered why anime characters like Naruto and Inuyasha always scream out the names of their attacks during battle? It’s exciting to hear, but after the first ten times, it can start to sound a little monotonous. Additionally, it doesn’t make much sense to continue announcing one’s intentions to an opponent when the point is to get the upper hand.
So what’s the point of it all? Surprisingly enough, there are a couple of good reasons why this happens.
It first goes back to manga, the black and white Japanese comic medium from which most popular anime originates from. Because manga is typically published in black and white, many characters end up looking similar to each other. The way manga is drawn and formatted, a flurry of action lines combined with close-up camera angles can confuse the reader and make them lose track of what’s happening.
To help distinguish the characters and their special moves, manga authors (also known as mangaka) would sometimes have their characters announce themselves and a special attack so readers could at least have an anchor to follow as they read. According to the site Japan Powered, name-announcing and yelled attacks help a page’s flow. The back-and-forth between the villain and the protagonist helps the reader determine the order of the panels.
Of course, since it’s now a part of most manga, this concept is usually carried over into their animated counterparts. But now that you’re actually watching the action, it’s not necessary for a character to keep announcing the same move you’ve seen already a thousand times. To be honest, if it wasn’t for the intensity of the yelling and the impressive action that’s sure to happen afterward, it would almost sound childish.
Then again, most animation is geared toward children between the ages of 3 and 11, so therein lies another reason why anime don’t usually mess with the formula. It’s clearly turned into a marketing strategy to keep young kids entertained as they watch their favorite anime characters on screen. It was once said that tradition started with the super robot anime series Mazinger Z. Apparently, the producers of the show felt that if the main character, Koujo Kabuto, shouted out the exact names each time the mecha did them, it would give the target viewers between the ages of 3 and 10 the ability to literally join in on all the fun.
The idea was that if kids were to directly interact with a show they already like, then they would be more likely to stick with the show in the long run. Clearly, the strategy has worked, because almost every popular shonen anime, from Dragon Ball Z to Black Clover, has incorporated it since then. Even live-action sentai shows like Power Rangers heavily use this concept to draw young fans. If we’re being honest, there’s not an adult under the age of 40 who didn’t yell out the roll call of dinosaurs after they heard a teen with attitude call out, “It’s Morphin’ Time!”
Over time, mangaka even began to use the concept as part of their story in the forms of energy channeling or spell-casting, usually explaining that the announcements would aid in increasing one’s attack power like how a “kiyah!” in karate helps with your breathing and concentration. It’s also said that those announcements help to intensify the action and help avoid just having a series of grunts that can seem dull and boring.
If you look at it from that standpoint, it actually makes sense, especially in regards to the younger demographics whose tastes may not be mature enough to sit through an action sequence filled with nothing but the clash of swords and two warriors grunting back and forth.
Then again, times are changing and now there are anime (and manga) with fight scenes so vividly intense that most kids won’t have time to worry about a battle cry. Perhaps there isn’t necessarily a need for a character to call out their moves anymore. But who are we kidding? There’s just something about Bleach‘s Ichigo Kurosaki screaming, “Getsuga Tenshou!” that sets a fire in your heart. It would be a shame if we stopped hearing that.