Voices of the hero

dominant masculine ideologies through the speech of Japanese 'sh?nen' protagonists


  • Hannah E. Dahlberg-Dodd Ohio State University




language in media, masculinity, role language, yakuwarigo, anime, pop culture, japanese studies, animation, sociophonetics


This paper examines diachronic changes in the pronoun use and phonetic performance of protagonists in sh?nen anime, a genre of animated work that is aimed predominately at adolescent boys. Utilising nearly forty years of sh?nen anime, this study constructs a diachronic analysis of first-person pronoun usage, the primary pragmatic index of gender performance in Japanese, as well as average pitch and pitch range, which are frequently cited as salient phonetic markers of gender performance but are understudied in this area with regard to language in media. By analysing the way that changes in masculinity structures are reflected in performance of fictional protagonists, this paper demonstrates the necessity for further research on language use, particularly by protagonists, in fictional media, as well as on the way that dominant language ideologies are reproduced and consumed in the popular culture market.

Author Biography

Hannah E. Dahlberg-Dodd, Ohio State University

Hannah E. Dahlberg-Dodd is a doctoral candidate in Japanese linguistics in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at the Ohio State University. Her research is on the use and perception of yakuwarigo ('role language') in popular media, especially with regard to language ideologies concerning gender and sexuality.


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How to Cite

Dahlberg-Dodd, H. E. (2018). Voices of the hero: dominant masculine ideologies through the speech of Japanese ’sh?nen’ protagonists. Gender and Language, 12(3), 346–371. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.32536