Warning: anime anecdote ahead. I swear there's a point.
So this is on my mind because of a show I've been watching: The Heroic Legend of Arslan. (No spoilers past ep 20, please.) Since it takes place in a Persia-inspired fantasy country with a TON of characters, the show has a habit of displaying the names and titles of people as they appear. Makes sense; there's plenty to keep track of.
I'm just mentally taking notes at the beginning, trying to put names to all the faces. "Okay, that's King Andragoras and Queen Tahamine. The hot one-man army is Daryun, and there's Kishward," etc. There's a lot of cutting between generals and captains and other officer what-have-you's because the story dips into strategies and attacks quickly. So by episode 3 or 4, I'm skimming over titles to get to the actual names so I can also keep track of the subbed dialogue below. And then we cut to two officers looking out from high in the palace--- and I completely lose it.
My brother, annoyed at the sudden interruption, pauses and asks what on earth is wrong. I tell him to back the show up, and he asks why. And I'm just like, "I swear that guy's name was Sam."
Sure enough. Cavalry Captain Sam is not happy with how the battle is going.
I mean, the 'a' has a mark over it, but they're all saying it just like you normally would. Now I'm sitting here questioning whether Sam is an ancient, epic name in the legends of some cultures, since that's where a lot of the other names in the series were drawn from. I'm also irrationally giddy about having a "Sam" sit alongside names like Farangis and Kharlan. Why is it in there?!
But here's the interesting part... After my initial laughter and Sam making two brief appearances, his name stopped being distracting. I just liked this guy with his odd-duck name and his reserved nature, even though I was pegging him for cannon fodder. Sam was an easy name to remember, and I smiled whenever the character popped up because of it. It stopped feeling foreign to the series after it was said a time or two.
By comparison, I've read books where I've never been able to get over the protagonist's ridiculous fantasy name- even if it matches people around them. If I have to struggle to mentally pronounce something every time it appears, or if the character really needs to just buy a vowel- that's a problem for me. I think sometimes fantasy writers get too caught up in making everything in their world sound new and strange. If it's taken too far, it can feel alien.
Personally, I prefer names based on real cultures or ones that at least mimic similar vowel-consonant ratios. So having a Sam in with the bunch is much easier for me than having a Grignrknid. What do you ladies and gents think? Are there any sorts of sounds or names you love/hate seeing in made-up worlds?
I may or may not be taking notes, since I'm re-thinking the name schemes of a current fantasy project in the works.