Key Title Naming Sense

So I’m sure anybody whose completed Rewrite knows why it’s called Rewrite, and anybody who knows even the overview of Little Busters knows why it’s called Little Busters. But what about the rest of Key’s Titles?


  • Why is Clannad called Clannad? (Wikipedia has an answer to this but I don’t like relying on Wikipedia)
  • Why is Air called Air? (This may be kind of obvious but I don’t want to jump to conclusions having not played the VN)
  • Why is Kanon called Kanon? (Sure, the anime plays Pachelbel’s Canon, but there is no sign of that in the VN)

On that note, quite a lot of Visual Novels’ titles make absolutely no effing sense, but I wanted to talk about these ones first.

Sidenote: I quite love Angel Beats’ meaning. The “Angel” part is fairly obvious, while I believe the Beats part is interesting as it has a duality in meaning, where it can refer both to the beats played by GDM (which is a central theme in the series), and to the beating of a heart. In other words, Angel Beats can literally refer to the beating of the heart inside Kanade, which, as we all know, is the main theme of the ending


Well to start, they obviously wanted short concise titles. Maybe because it’s easier for fans to remember them. With that logic Air comes pretty easily though a name like Wing or Summer(used as another name instead) could maybe have worked just as easily. I have no idea about Kanon, it’s some music thing and a Japanese name but I don’t know. AB! has more musical connections then just the band. Kanade comes from the verb for playing music and Otonashi means “no sound”. I know stuff like that is pretty common in anime but it’s still super cool to me.
So Clannad is probably the most controversial one. If you google it the only results you get are either the VN itself or a band from Ireland. The most common story you will hear is that it means “Family” in Gaelic but it doesn’t.

There are a number of ways to translate ‘family’ as the concept of ‘family’ in English is not the same as the concept in Irish.
‘Teaghlach’ means family in the sense of the people living in the same house.
‘Clann’ means your children and their families.
‘Muintir’ means the wider, extended family and community.

‘clannad’ isn’t an Irish word (well, not really) I looked it up and apparently it comes from 'clann as Dóbhar - the clann (children/family) from Dore.

That’s from a forum thread on Irish, and that guy most likely took info from wikipedia since it says the same thing about the name. While a dear name to me now from an objective standpoint “Clannad” is really awkward. It’s not easy to remember; you most likely don’t know where it comes from, and that is multiplied by 10 if you’re Japanese. Wikipedia says the band had an Asia tour in 1997 but it looks like you have to dig deep to find out anything more concrete. The best way to figure this stuff out would probably be to search for some interview with Maeda but that is something I’m 100% unable to do so I can but trust google.

Hmm this became a lot of words without much meaning I’m afraid.

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How did Clannad get its name? Excellent question!

Clannad was one of several different project monikers considered for the visual novel, which also included ‘Life’, ‘Gensou Monogatari’ (Fantasy Story), ‘Kazoku’ (Family), and yes, ‘CRANNAD’. ‘Life’ was Maeda’s original designation for the project when it was being developed while ‘Gensou Monogatari’ was the original project designation by Key as a team. ‘Kazoku’ was considered as a name for the game due to its focus on familial relationships, though Maeda reportedly preferred the sound of ‘CLANNAD’. To this, VisualArt’s president Takahiro Baba said that the title of the game should instead be ‘CRANNAD’. As described by Maeda, Baba said:

“‘People can easily find out CLANNAD means family when people check its meaning on the internet, so change the L to an R.’ (laughs) But I didn’t want to change it to R, so I kept it as it is."

Page 35 of the publication ‘Pre-CLANNAD’ confirms that Key believed ‘Clannad’ meant ‘family’ in Gaelic. Maeda says this about his selection of the title:

“By the way, at first I just liked the sound of ‘CLANNAD’ so I decided to use it as the title. But now, I like the meaning, the ways the letters look. I just love it as a whole.”

If you’re interested in learning more about the development of CLANNAD, I would encourage you to review my presentation from Anime North (Toronto, CA) given this past May. (See below.) The purpose of the presentation was to focus on the game’s development from the perspective of its creators. I tried to make it informative and entertaining, so I hope you enjoy it if you take a look. Also, I ask the audience a question about similar to yours at the 10:30 mark in the video.

PowerPoint Presentation (1.6GB) :


Despite not having read the VN (I’ve watched the anime, but it was a while ago I don’t remember much of it), I will answer to Kanon.

Indeed, in the anime, Sayuri discusses Pachelbel’s Kanon in D-Dur with Yuichi while the song is playing in a cafe. In reference to a ‘canon’, she says something to the effect of: “It would be nice if life changed like that: slowly but surely, while seemingly unchanged from day to day.”

I believe this has three meanings. First as literally Sayuri’s feelings which reflect her personality and attitude toward her situation. Second, and more importantly, as a message of the story in its entirety: “It would be nice if life was like that. BUT IT ISN’T”, which they go on to prove vehemently to the audience as each character gets jerked around by one of life’s sudden surprises. Thirdly, finally, and most interestingly to me, is its metaphysical significance. All the routes of Kanon share similar, repeating themes - miracles, music, amnesia - each then changing those slightly, putting its own variation on it. And if you think about it, thats kinda what Sayuri was describing.

There’s only one problem with this interpretation:
That’s not what a ‘canon’ is.

In fact Pachelbel’s Canon isn’t technically even a canon. It’s a chaconne. A canon simply repeats itself (think a version of Row Row Row Your Boat you might have heard), while a chaconne has a repeating base line with a variating harmony.

So why wasn’t the VN named “Chaconne”? Well, first, it was Pachelbel who misnamed it, and as already shown with CLANNAD, Key isn’t known for getting foreign terms right. And besides who would spend money on this relatively new thing called a visual novel, whose name you can’t even pronounce?


Pretty much that. I feel like it was named with the musical term in mind, a Chaconne is more SYMBOLIC of the show than a Canon in the way Sayuri said, but Pachelbel is a dumbass.

It’s important to remember that while the '06 adaption had a large focus on music, the VN never had such a theme. The VN does have a lot to do with repeating the past but improving upon it though.

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As expected of @Clannad_Man! While the wikipedia article seems to coincide with your info, it kind of connects it to the name of the band, whereas I think VisualArt’s would have made no connection to that band.

@yerian98 my biggest argument against that is that the Visual Novel makes absolutely no mention of it. Were they thinking of a canon (ergo chaconne) when they thought of the title? I guess we may never know

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For Kanon, I remember hearing that Kanon is supposed to be a repeated melody where in each repetition, a new instrument is added to the song. I think even Sayuri mentioned that in '06. Not really sure though.

The anime was correct in it’s description of Canon. Sayuri said it was a song that is repeated, but every repetition is richer than that before it, which is what Pachelbel’s Canon is. It’s been mentioned above however that Pachelbel named his song incorrectly.
The relation is more about the specific song than the term ‘canon’ though, so it fits.
We still don’t know if that’s the original meaning of the name though~

Yeah, since it wasn’t in the VN, it very well could have been KyoAni saying: “Well, we don’t enough content for this episode… hmm… OH I know lets make up our own reason for why its called Kanon and then throw in this conveniently relevant music to back it up!”

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I think Key just uses basic translations to sound exotic with western words. Rewrite, Planetarium and Air was about as close to a proper use of symbolism compared to the other just by titles, but even than you think they can do better than just vague references. The most blatant misuse of engrish is probably the Little Busters! title. I have a feeling that they were aiming for the buster as in breaker definition, but in the US most people would think it’s the poser definition. I guess you can say they posing to be alive ':frowning:

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I believe quite a few things in Japan use the Busters type group name. One that comes to mind is in Anohana there are the Super Peace Busters!
I do actually wonder if Anohana was intentionally referencing LB.


White hair loli- check

Life changing accident- check
Reunion of friends- check
Regrets about life - check

Vague symbolic title - check
Giant fat cat that causes earthquakes - nope
I don’t see a connection at all : J


Busters is just a popular title that japanese groups adopt~ I looked all this up a while ago though, when Anohana came out, so my memory of why it is so isn’t great~
I think my first impression of the first episode was something like “Oh cool. It’s Litbus Kingdom Hearts!?” It wasn’t…

Kanon is a reference to Pachelbel’s Canon in D, but there’s no reference to it at all in the VN. A canon is a piece that contains multiple instances of the same melody playing at different points. It could be taken to mean that time flows on and things change, while a lot of things remain the same as they were before. Yuuichi had noticed that a lot of things had both changed and stayed the same. The girls he knew seven years ago had grown up, but most of them had not changed personality-wise. Sayuri said it best in the anime: ‘[The song] repeats the same melody and crescendos gradually, peacefully, and beautifully. It would be nice if life changed like that: slowly, but surely, while being seemingly unchanged from day to day.’

[quote=“Pepe, post:1, topic:709”]
(This may be kind of obvious but I don’t want to jump to conclusions having not played the VN)
[/quote] Same here. This is why I am not going to discuss the meaning behind AIR until I have read through it.

Clannad is Gaelic for ‘family’, which is an underlying theme throughout the novel. The relationship between Tomoya and his father, Nagisa and her parents, Fuko and her older sister, Tomoyo and her brother, Kyou and her sister Ryou, Kotomi and her parents, and even Ushio and her parents were all important parts of each character. After Story really talks about the difficulties of keeping family together in the midst of hardship, and was told really effectively. (The Past Path also did that with Atsuko’s route, although it was not as well-executed as After Story.)

The meanings for a lot of visual novels’ titles are quite convoluted. It may seem like the developer just decided to pick a random English word that sounded cool and ran with it, but that’s not always the case.

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As has been said earlier, while there is a sensible reference to Canon, and while the anime does play on it, I just can’t seem to swallow that thought simply because it isn’t mentioned in the visual novel.

And now we have two more additional titles (and one sort of Key title) to add into the fray

  • Why is Charlotte called Charlotte?
  • Why is Harmonia called Harmonia?
  • Why is Holy Breaker! called Holy Breaker!? (and why is the exclamation point so important?!)

While the first two are too early to figure anything out, Holy Breaker! does deserve some discussion.
…if only we could actually get information about it :stuck_out_tongue:

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Exclamation! Point! Is! Crucial! For! Titles! These! Days!

It started with Little Busters ! Then Angel Beats ! Then Holy Breaker !
Then when they decide to make sequel, they’re gonna add more exclamation points.
Angel Beats!! or Angel Beats!!! Or Angel Beats!!! or Angel Beats!!!


Like “K-On!” and the second season “K-On!!”… I think Japan are just bad at naming things (See: Nintendo).

I don’t understand the casing on Key’s franchise names. Why is CLANNAD in all-caps? And AIR? Why does planetarian not have a capital P?

That caps thing also stated boldly by Takahiro Baba. planetarian must be all lowercaps and CLANNAD must be all caps. I guess it’s like title stylization to make things more catchy?

Also, Holy Breaker is also all caps, plus exclamation mark. So it’s HOLY BREAKER!
(I don’t know why are they shouting the title like that. I’m gonna use it as the replacement for expletive HOLY SH*T!)

Anyway I’m glad Key didn’t succumb into the overly-long title boom. Imagine if one of our beloved VN title is “My Childhood Friends Can’t Be This Dead” or “My Family Life is Horrible as Expected” or “We Still Don’t Know the Name of That Student Council President in Our Afterlife”


and I believe he also stated how VisualArt’s must be spelled :stuck_out_tongue:

And that’s why we always shout HOLY BREAKER! in the chat lol

Long title naming sense is strictly reserved for Light Novels :wink: