Wherever there is a popular franchise or a beloved fictional character, a unique catchphrase is never far behind. In the west, characters like Bart Simpson have their own iconic catchphrases that you may have heard played out at school or in the office across the years.
This extends to anime as well, where many mega-popular shonen heroes have their own catchphrases. Monkey D. Luffy has his iconic “I’m gonna be the king of the pirates”, and Jotaro Kujo has the endlessly quotable “Yare yare daze”.
One of the most popular anime characters of all time is Uzumaki Naruto, the young ninja of the Hidden leaf village. One of the most iconic parts of this character, apart from his characteristic bright yellow hair, is his oft-quoted catchphrase: “Dattebayo!”
But what does that phrase actually mean? Why does Naruto say it so often but nobody else does? And what makes it so damn catchy?
If you often find yourself quoting Naruto’s iconic phrase, but don’t actually know what it means, you’re not alone!
Join us now, as we attempt to once and for all determine what “Dattebayo” actually means, and why it has become such a phenomenon amongst anime viewers.
What Does “Dattebayo” Actually Translate To In English?
Very surprisingly, it turns out that “Dattebayo” actually has no direct English translation, and that it is simply an exclamation that Naruto makes to express excitement, and to make himself stand out.
The phrase is made up of distinct sounds represented by the Hiragana alphabet of modern Japanese. The three sounds are “Da”, which is an informal version of “Desu”, which is used to refer to a subject when speaking. “Tteba” can translate to “as I said”.
“Yo” is very commonly used in Japanese to express emphasis, performing the job that an exclamation mark would in English.
Because of these individual elements, it would be easy to assume that the phrase is meant to translate directly to “I told you so”, but the phrase is not actually officially recognized amongst Japanese speakers, and thus it cannot be used in formal speech.
If you were to use the phrase around a Japanese speaker they would likely first assume that you are a fan of the Naruto franchise, rather than assuming you were trying to communicate.
Why Does Naruto Say Dattebayo?
Surely if the phrase does not have an actual meaning, there should be no reason for Naruto to say it constantly, right? Why does Naruto use the phrase?
Naruto generally adds the phrase to his sentences, as an extra tag to add exclamation, or to express his upbeat personality. Listen to any line of dialogue where Naruto adds “Dattebayo”, and you will likely hear the phrase said towards the end of any given sentence.
A good way to think about his use of the phrase is to compare it to Homer Simpson. Homer Simpson has the world-famous catchphrase of “Doh!” This word does not actually mean anything at all and is simply used as an expression to denote anger or embarrassment.
Despite not having a direct meaning, the phrase has caught on within popular discourse, and you may often hear it said in real life.
Hardcore Naruto fans have also noticed that the phrase appears to be a hereditary one, used by members of the Uzumaki bloodline. Naruto’s mother, Kushina, often used the phrase, as we learn during a flashback that revolves around Naruto’s father, the Fourth Hokage.
Kushina tended to use the phrase whenever she became angered. Naruto’s son, Boruto, who is introduced in the sequel series Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, also uses the phrase “Dattebayo” just as his father did before him.
Why Did Masashi Kishimoto Write The Phrase “Dattebayo”?
Naruto was originally published in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. Weekly Shonen Jump is a highly competitive publication, and thus authors of series that are published in the magazine need to ensure that their work remains popular amongst young readers.
If a series falls behind in popularity, then it risks being cut from the magazine. In order to avoid cancellation, authors will aim to make their characters appeal to young audiences, hence why characters like Naruto, Luffy, and Ichigo Kurosaki are all around their teenage years.
Naruto’s catchphrase, “Dattebayo”, was likely created as a result of the need for popularity. Including a memorable and endlessly quotable catchphrase ensures that children will repeat the phrase amongst their friends, and on the playground.
This will have increased word-of-mouth, and made the character desirable to young readers, enhancing its popularity massively. This is also why many other Shonen protagonists also have catchphrases.
Does Naruto Say “Dattebayo” In English Translations?
In official English translations of the series, in both anime and manga form, Naruto’s iconic “Dattebayo” is often replaced with the phrase “Believe it!” This English phrase has also become iconic in its own right, which is a testament to the power of a good catchphrase.
“Believe it” is not necessarily a direct translation of “Dattebayo”, but, similarly to the Japanese phrase, it also says a lot about Naruto as a character, showing that he is an upbeat and optimistic kid with a lot of energy to spare.
Translation teams also likely chose the phrase because it would sound unnatural to have Naruto go from speaking English to then saying a Japanese catchphrase.
There you have it, a comprehensive history of Naruto’s iconic “Dattebayo” catchphrase.
While the phrase may not have an officially accepted direct translation, it is still widely popular worldwide for its catchy sound, and for representing one of the most popular characters to come out of Japan.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does Ara Ara Mean?
“Ara Ara” is a phrase that can be translated to “Oh my”. You’ll often hear it used in anime by older female characters, and it can often take on a sinister or seductive tone, hence why it has become a popular quote amongst anime viewers.
What Are The Lines On Naruto’s Cheeks?
Naruto’s author, Masashi Kishimoto, is an accomplished character designer who loves to give his characters distinct stylistic flairs to make them stand out.
Naruto’s distinct whisker shapes on his face not only make him stand out but they are also representative of his high-energy personality, denoting a sort of animalistic energy.
Many fans also believe that the lines are representative of the nine-tailed fox spirit which is housed inside of him.
What Does Senpai Mean In Naruto?
Senpai is a commonly used Japanese term to refer to a person that is of a higher status to a speaker. You will often hear the word used to refer to teachers or mentors who have more experience. Within the world of Naruto, Kakashi would be considered to be Naruto’s ‘Senpai’.
How Old Is Naruto In Boruto?
By the time that the sequel series Boruto: Naruto Next Generations rolled around, Naruto had already embarked on numerous adventures and grown massively in terms of strength.
Within Boruto, Naruto is said to be around the age of 33, which can be deduced from the fact that Boruto, his son, is around 15 years old when the series begins.