Heroes and Villains in Japanese Manga: A Dissection of Role Language

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Goar, Eboni Jenae
Masuda, Kyoko
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This thesis works on the notion of role language of two teenage boy hero-in-training protagonists from two popular Japanese manga, Demon Slayer and My Hero Academia, as well as two of their many villain antagonists. Role language, yakuwarigo in Japanese (Kinsui 2003), is a style of language found in works of fiction such as manga that convey certain traits of a speaker, such as age, gender and class. Many of the current studies focus on female language. Given the lack of male language research and a misconception that male language is only rough and aggressive from a speech elements perspective, I examine the relationships between status language used by protagonists and their characters. In particular, I investigate whether or not there is diversity of gender expressions in their dialogue and soliloquy. With the help of a linguistic parser called Co-Chu, using data extracted from the manga such as interactional particles (IP), one of my two findings includes the discovery of multiple functions of the IP na in both dialogue and soliloquy: the negative imperative form, “Ki ni suru na!” (Don’t worry!) and self-encouragement in soliloquy, as in “Naku na.” (Don’t cry). The other is the villains have more character development than just aggressive males; they use their language to identify as gender nonconforming. Finally, this thesis also discusses various styles, first-person pronouns, and speech elements such as question word usage and hesitation.
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