Persona 5 Pronunciation question

So I’m playing Persona 5 (not very far into it) and I have a question about the American voice actors pronunciation of a name.
The character’s name is たかまき. Now I would have thought it was pronounced “Ta-ka-ma-ki” as I learned that Japanese doesn’t stress certain syllables. But the voice actors pronounce it “Ta-KA-ma-ki”, really stressing the ka.
Am I wrong or is this a case of Americans messing up foreign names? Insight appreciated! I know it’s a little thing but I’m trying to work on my pronunciation in general.


Never in my life have I heard an American voice actor properly pronounce a Japanese name, even though some do try hard to get it right. Without even knowing the game you’re talking about I’m 99.99% sure that it’s a classical case of wrong pronunciation.


I googled around a little to see what you mean, and it seems like something that’s a bit of a hot-button topic among opinionated fans, in that I found stuff like this illustrative but aggressive video. A tweet from her VA mentioning it briefly makes it sound like they got the pronunciation from “the Japanese clients” (I guess Atlus), for what that’s worth.

I don’t know if I would necessarily go so far as to describe it as “messing up” the pronunciation of the name - English pronunciation of Japanese names can get into trouble sometimes in the opposite way of sticking too closely to the kana (I said “shin soo kay” for a while for shinsuke before I heard it said out loud). And no matter what there’s going to be a little bit of concessions made to transfer between the two languages. So for whatever reason they may have felt that the version that gives it a bit of a more American lilt felt more natural perhaps, in the context of a localized dub.
Although I do think the more netural “ta-ka-ma-ki” sounds fine to me.

If still curious about the original translation, you might be able to switch off the dub and check?

I find that even people who are completely fluent in Japanese will English-ify Japanese words when they’re speaking English. So they won’t suddenly pronounce “Tokyo” or “karaoke” in a Japanese way in the middle of an English sentence.

I’ve noticed the same happening to Japanese words and names that don’t exist as loan-words in English as well, when listening to to the Trash Taste Podcast I’ve noticed that Joey will often pronounce Japanese names in a very English way simply because they’re talking together in English - despite him being a native speaker of Japanese.


I certainly do this with my own name, the name of my town, etc when I speak English with my friends from around the world vs when I speak my native language.

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Yeah, but Japanese uses a pitch accent system instead. So it’s not like all the syllables are pronounced in a flat identical manner.

Because English is a stress-accent language, while Japanese is a pitch-accent language it’d sound really weird you pronounced Japanese words in a Japanese fashion while speaking English.

To hear proper pronounciation you can watch Japanese language walkthroughs.
Here’s a timestamp (1:34) of Ryuji calling out Takamaki’s name (but it’s not a very natural way to say it), I’ll see if I can find better ones

Another one (3:59):

For comparison, the same scene in English dub:


I watched the video you linked and not quite sure what the Mishima character was trying to do :smiley: . But yes, I see it often happen in Japanese games with English audio, in which case I switch audio to Japanese if possible. Even if the characters don’t actually have Japanese names (tons of Tonys, Ashleys, etc.).

Regarding mispronunciations of names, I remember a game where the character had an English-sounding name and there were at least 3 different pronunciations of his name in the English audio :smiley: .

Yup, totally agreed. Can imagine people cringing when one lands that 東京 instead of Tokyo when speaking in English.


Yeah, there’s an odd tendency for English speakers to put a stress on the second syllable of Japanese loanwords - sashimi, tsunami, Osaka and so forth. You can fake the stresslessness of Japanese pretty well by putting stress on the first syllable instead - sashimi, tsunami, Osaka.

Oh, that just hurts.


My ears!! They burn!!

Though, this isn’t as bad as when I watched a scene of Clannad in English. One of the characters pronounced Nagisa like NaGEEsa.


We’re not the target audience for the dub. To be fair the number of people who like Japanese media far outweighs the number of people who know even basic Japanese. And in fact, many people won’t even know some of the media they like is from Japan. As a kid I surely didn’t realise many games I liked were developed in Japan!

So even if it’s painful to listen for us, we can easily switch to the Japanese audio :wink:


We can? I guess I heard that P5R has both options from the get-go, but I imported the North American vanilla P5 a long while back, and apparently the only way to get the Japanese audio on there is to download it from the Playstation store, but since I only have access to the Japanese Playstation store it’s not on there.

Sony seems to just be bad in general at making sure games released on their systems have easy language options.

Yeah, PlayStation isn’t great about cross-region language support. But for International versions I think it’s standard to provide EN and JP dubs with EN UI. I can’t switch to JP UI unfortunately on my European PS4.

I played P5 with JP voices, don’t remember if it was an extra download because it was a digital purchase anyway.

I did my first playthrough in English because I didn’t want to wait for the massive download. I ended up starting over with Japanese voices because I put the game on hold for like a year.

Also this part is more in response to the general topic:
Since I’ve been learning more Japanese, hearing people say names “wrong” has started to bother me, but I also try to remember that suddenly pronouncing foreign words or names in the middle of an English sentence sounds weird. Sometimes people have trouble understanding me when I say shitake (mushrooms) or osaka without the accent on the second syllable, and I feel a little bad for being obtuse just because I’m a nerd. If that makes sense. :sweat_smile:

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I think another aspect of the problem is that the Japanese accent is on the third mora (unless I’m mishearing things). It would have sounded OK if the English dub had stressed that instead, because when we stress syllables, they tend to be a little higher, and that would have fit the Japanese pronunciation pretty well.

Guess it’s also a matter of preference though… I typically keep English pronunciation for a word if it has an established pronunciation that’s very different from its pronunciation in its language of origin. However, because I’m quite an originalist, if I know that the English pronunciation is very close to the original pronunciation and the word is rare in English to begin with, I’ll just use the original pronunciation instead. For example, I’d probably say ‘lingerie’ the French way, I pronounce ‘aglio olio’ using whatever I know about the Italian ‘gli’ combination, and I say all Chinese names written in pinyin in Mandarin unless I know my target audience won’t understand me without the English pronunciation.

EDIT: Yeah, I just tried it while looking at the dictionary entry: because there’s a French sound in the British IPA for ‘lingerie’, it feels unnatural for me to pronounce it without the French R, because that other sound rarely (or never?) appears in English otherwise. I have to force myself to say it with an English R.

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Mispronouncing Japanese names has always bothered me and I in general deal very badly with EN dubbing, because compared to the JP audio it sounds like it was recorded all prim and proper in a studio, with each sentence being perfectly read from start to finish. I know I’m exaggerating, but that’s how I feel about it :stuck_out_tongue: .

And the “Osaka” thing is more about, I think, English refusing to recognize short and long vowels in Japanese.

On a side note, I recently watched some sort of program on Planette about Japan and the narrator in my own mother tongue really struggled to decide whether he should be pronouncing all of the しょう、じ、し、ちょう、じょう, etc. sounds with less or more emphasis. It was shocking considering my language has a very similar set of sounds and it shouldn’t be all that hard.


On top of that, it’s not actually a Japanese name. Ann’s parents are hinted to be Finnish, and the surname is a morph from Takamäki, a pretty common Finnish surname. Aka. ”Back hill”. So look to Finnish if you want to know how to pronounce it ”correctly”. :grinning: But it’s pretty close already except for the umlauts, which are often dropped when internationalising names.


Yeah English dubs tend to be done on a much smaller budget with lesser known actors… they also are generally done in recording booths without the other actors present. Definitely gives a different impression.


Wow, where did you even learn this? Takamaki sounds perfectly Japanese :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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The wikipedia page mentions she’s Japanese, but that she’s of mixed heritage: Ann Takamaki - Wikipedia
Doesn’t say anything about her other half’s nationality.

This fandom wiki mentions that she lived in Finland and is supposedly 1/4 American: Ann Takamaki | Heroes Wiki | Fandom

On the topic of Persona, Is Persona 5 a decent entry in the series? Assuming one would play it with JP audio? I’ve been wondering about Persona for a while, but it’s not really on the Switch and I’m not sure I want to start all the way from Shin Megami Tensei :sweat_smile: .


I’ve got a particular fondness for some story elements of Persona 3, but absolutely, P5 is great. Almost every Persona or SMT-related game, other than the obvious Persona entry spinoffs (Strikers, the dancing games, etc) and a few others are totally standalone. You’re fine to go right to 5. Just be ready for it to take 100 hours, hah.