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Keigo

 Keigo
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Keigo
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Keigo
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Keigo is a Japanese speech register containing the language's more polite forms of address. It is used in formal and ceremonial circumstances, and in certain cases when those of lower social position are addressing those higher-up. For example, shop clerks generally address customers using keigo forms. (A few keigo phrases are used in daily conversation as well.)
Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_1'); })In anime, keigo speech may mark a character as, among other traits, refined, old-fashioned, or polite and mild-mannered. The Ojou, Yamato Nadeshiko, Meido, and Samurai characters are all likely keigo speakers. People from Kansai are also prone to using keigo in situations where Kanto speakers would deem it unnecessary, especially speakers from Kyoto.
This form of speech is sometimes rendered in various dubs as British English or European Spanish if it is the defining trait of a character; on the other hand, how best to translate it when it's just normal characters speaking formally is problematic in situations where speakers of other languages would not go out of their way to do so. This is especially maddening where a character subtly switches between forms of speech used towards a peer, which marks a change in their relationship. It is important to translate this nuance, but there is no clear solution without cheating and assuming your audience is familiar with at least a basic level of Japanese.
Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_2'); })There are actually a variety of concepts related to levels of politeness, level of formality, respect, and humility. Keigo is just one aspect of these. This entry is of necessity an overview only. See also Japanese Pronouns, Japanese Honorifics.
Levels of politeness, formality, and respect (indication of the difference in status between speaker and subject) can be indicated by choice of syntax. Note that the two concepts are essentially independent; speech can be respectful but informal, or formal but condescending, or polite and respectful, or neither.
Politeness is most commonly indicated with the form of the end of a sentence. The plain form of a verb is used for casual speech, usually among close associates (friends, co-workers, etc.). The polite form is used in more formal social situations, but not, for example, in journalistic and academic writing, hence illustrating the difference between politeness and formality. Some words and grammar constructions have an even-higher level of politeness. Keigo is usually the first form of the Japanese language taught to foreigners, primarily to avoid offending native-speakers.
Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_3'); })Examples:
Kore wa pen da. ("This is a pen", plain)
Kore wa pen de aru. ("This is a pen", plain but formal — typical of written style)
Kore wa pen desu. ("This is a pen", polite)
Kore wa pen de gozaimasu. ("This is a pen", very formal and polite)
Iku. ("I will go", plain)
Ikimasu. ("I will go", polite)
There are different types of keigo, including sonkeigo ("respectful language," forms which express deference towards the subject) and kenjougo ("humble language," sometimes called "samurai language," which express humility on the speaker's part, which is not necessarily indicative of the speaker's social status). Teineigo ("polite language") is a mix of both, a general polite style that doesn't necessarily involve deference or humility. (There are other variations as well but those are not important on this level.) These variations can appear either with different verb conjugations, or with substitute verbs. Continuing with the "iku" example from above:
Iku / Ikimasu. (neutral)
Ikareru / Ikaremasu. (deferential)
Irassharu / Irasshaimasu. (more deferential)
Mairu / Mairimasu. (increasingly humble)
(A commonly-heard phrase coming from the irassharu replacement verb is irasshai or irasshaimase, used by shopkeepers to greet patrons. Another common example is itadaku, "to partake", which replaces taberu ["to eat"], and is commonly heard in the form itadakimasu, before eating.)
Most verbs don't have replacement forms, and thus various conjugations are the only option. The following use the words for "to read" as an example. Plain form only shown, for clarity.
Yomu. (neutral)
Yomareru. (deferential)
Oyomi ni naru/narimasu. (deferential)
Oyomi nasaru. (even more deferential)
Oyomi suru. (humble)
Oyomi itasu/itashimasu. (even more humble)
A common example of the "even more deferential" form is used with the verb yasumu, to rest. In the imperative form, this becomes oyasumi nasai ["good night"]. A similar form exists for making adjectives honorific, which results in hayai, "early", becoming ohayou gozaimasu, literally "it is early," meaning "good morning". Note, however, that other than these few examples, the "even more" forms sound incredibly weird and stilted and are almost never used in real life. Even in Japanese there is such a thing as being "too polite."
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DBTropes
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Keigo
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A common occurrence Sengoku Basara, being set in the Feudal Era. In particular Yukimura, who uses almost painfully humble and polite speech with everyone, including his enemies. This is probably the result of a strict upbringing by his master Shingen. In contrast Yukimura's rival Masamune is the complete opposite, speaking English and being generally rude to everybody.
Yukimura can take his quirk to ridiculous levels, such as unfailingly speaking keigo even when he's burning to death.
Other characters, mainly Kenshin and Mitsuhide, are also fond of using keigo all the time, although with very different overtones.
There's also Ichi, who is "Ichi" to her husband and her older brother, and "Oichi" to everyone else.
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Oddly used in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Hitomi Shizuki, the local Ojou, refers to her friends as "-san" and is very softspoken, but she doesn't reach the extent of using Keigo. The only time she starts specifically using it, there are outside reasons: she's Brainwashed and Crazy due to a Witch's Kiss, and it's such an Out-of-Character Moment that Madoka immediately realizes something's going on...
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Sayuri in Kanon speaks informally to girls, but will only use keigo with guys. It's for the same reason that she's a Third-Person Person which is her guilt over not being a kind older sister to her brother like she wanted to. She only ever played (and presumably spoke casually) with him once, when he was dying.
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Zanki Zero: Rinko's character description says "She tends to speak formally, even among her peers."
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In the Japanese version of Ranma ½, the Chinese fiancee Shampoo uses excessively formal/polite manners of speech to cement her Funny Foreigner status: as an Anime Chinese Girl, this implies that she only knows how to speak Japanese due to reliance on somewhat outdated tourist's translation manuals. In the English dub, this is instead changed to You No Take Candle speech patterns, which indicates the "she's bad at Japanese" concept in a way that's readily graspable without needing to understand the different levels of language. Plus, it fits her status as an equivalent to the Nubile Savage character.
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Sakuranomiya Maika of Blend-S always speaks in formal linguistics, highlighting her upbringing from a traditional Japanese family. Akizuki notes Maika retains this trait even as she spends a scene acting like a full on dominatrix.
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Uzuki from Rune Factory Frontier speaks like this.
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In Girls und Panzer, Hana's mother uses this mode of speech, and even uses "-san" on her own daughter.
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In Umineko: When They Cry, Natsuhi Ushiromiya speaks like this, both because she had a very traditional upbringing and as part of her efforts to keep up appearances in front of the dysfunctional family she married into.
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Hyatt in Excel Saga, presenting an interesting contrast to Excel, who almost always speaks in a very informal register.
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Ah! My Goddess has Belldandy, befitting her personality, speak like this almost all the time.
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Keigo / int_2a4c791e
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Fou-lu in Breath of Fire IV speaks in very formalised, somewhat archaic-sounding, keigo all the time; justified as he is literally a God-Emperor who has awakened from a 600-year torpor and thus speaks in a formal, archaic dialect. Localised in English as Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe with a goodly dash of the Royal "We".
The Endless who appear as elemental dragons also speak in formalised keigo; justified as they are very, very ancient Physical Gods. Again, localised in English as Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe in the game
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In Three Leaves, Three Colors, Youko despite being hit by a case of Riches to Rags and thus no longer an Ojou, still speaks this, down to using "watakushi" instead of plain "watashi". Futaba is amazed to meet someone who actually talks that way too.
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In Moyashimon, Tadayasu is able to distinguish between Japanese and European yogurt bacteria because the Japanese ones have topknots and speak in samurai-style keigo.
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Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has Nia and her Keigo version of Kamina's catchphrase, usually translated as "ARE YOU AWARE OF EXACTLY WHO I AM!?"
The extreme reverse, of course, is the original catchphrase, which demonstrates the '-te yagaru' form mentioned above.
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Mawaru-Penguindrum's Masako Natsume is a mix of Ojou and Action Girl with very Keigo-ish speech patterns. Not only she uses the traditional watakushi for herself, but she also refers to a young child not older than 10 as "Mario-san". Specially odd considering that Mario her younger brother.
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Boys over Flowers
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Tiger & Bunny's Barnaby always uses this form of speech (even during his frequent arguments with Kotetsu in the earlier episodes), which is indicative of his aloof Sugar-and-Ice Personality. Despite warming up to Kotetsu considerably in the second half of the series, he doesn't stop using keigo when conversing with him.
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In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Bonds Beyond Time, the normally informal Yusei uses this kind of speech with Yugi - Yami and Judai. But this makes sense given that he's technically a decade or two younger than them and thus need to be more polite than he usually is.
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Satoko Hojou in Higurashi: When They Cry was so worried that people would see her badly when her family was ostracised, that she took the habit of speaking absurdly politely even in trivial situations, and even with her friends. This somewhat contrasts the mischievous Cheerful Child personality that she has most of the time.
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Gym Ghingnham in ∀ Gundam speaks in a strangely formal manner even when being an epic Large Ham. He is, however, supposed to be Moonrace nobility.
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Syaoran in Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- is scolded by Sakura in the first episode when he uses keigo around her, calling her Sakura-hime, or simply Hime (Princess Sakura or Princess respectively); she wants him to just call her "Sakura" because they are close friends (therefore he doesn't need to use keigo around her). Although, throughout the series Syaoran speaks very polite Japanese.
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In 3-gatsu no Lion, the main character, Rei, is mocked through out-of-bubble text when he uses keigo while introducing himself to Takahashi, who is taller but nonetheless still several years younger than him. It doesn't really come as a surprise, either, since Rei is generally meek throughout the series.
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All the perpetual keigo speakers in Onmyōji are either Ladies of War falling anywhere on the Yamato Nadeshiko-haughty and terrifying spectrum (if female) or graceful, soft-spoken Bishōnen (if male).
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Samurai Cat Girl Himari Noihara of Omamori Himari always speaks formally, resulting in her speech appearing as Olde English when translated.
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Lucky Star has Miyuki Takara and Minami Iwasaki, both raised by upscale parents. Both of them tend to speak much more formally than their peers, and the words "super" and "totally" are not in their vocabulary. Miyuki even one time says that her old friends at an all-girls school greeted even close friends with "How do you do?"
Separately, as if to demonstrate that even native Japanese speakers get confused by it all sometimes, the Hiiragi family is sitting around watching a program in which someone asks a question, then waits a few seconds before revealing the answer. The person on the program asks what the modest form of iku (to go) is. Matsuri immediately says it's ukagau ("To visit"—close, but not quite), and the rest of the family gets swept up in this incorrect answer. As shown in the description section of this article, the answer is mairu. This triggers their memory that, yes, they knew that.
And then there are two times in episode 7 when Konata plays this stereotypically due to an obsession she has with Maria-sama ga Miteru. The second of these is where Miyuki mentions the aforementioned all-girls' school she went to.
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Touken Ranbu has its share, but the most jarring case comes in the form of Sengo Muramasa of all people, whose appearance and, to put it lightly, eccentric demeanor aren't what one would normally expect of a full-time keigo speaker. Also note that his suffixes are rendered in katakana Dlanor A. Knox-style.
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Lacus in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. If it can be made to sound more polite, she will do it, to the extent that the only time we don't hear her using keigo is an internal monologue at the end of SEED. The first English dub actually opted to have her sound younger to try and achieve the same vocal distance.
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His son Giorno from Vento Aureo plays it straight, though, to further emphasize how much not like his father he is.
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Mr. Yotsuya from Maison Ikkoku speaks in keigo, always wears either traditional or business clothes, but is the most impolite character in the series, breaking a hole in the wall between his room and Godai's room to steal things and bother him at awkward hours and drilled a hole between Godai's and Roppongi's wall to walk in and peep on her when he feels like it.
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In The King of Fighters, most voice clips of the characters addressing their opponents are worded in plain/informal Japanese, but a few characters use keigo:
Athena Asamiya uses polite forms to announce her presence: "Athena, ikimasu!" (Here goes Athena!)
Mature uses deferential speech to address her opponent: "Saa, irasshai"
Mai Shiranui started using both deferential and humble forms since KOF'96 (and around the same time in Fatal Fury): "Kakatte rasshai" (come, fight me); "Shiranui Mai, mairimasu!" (Mai Shiranui has appeared), but not constantly; she uses more plain forms just as often.
This is how Leona Heidern starts her missions: "Ninmu, suikou shimasu." (I shall fulfill my mission.)
Hein, being Geese Howard's butler, speaks in complete keigo with no informal language whatsoever.
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Tomoyo from Cardcaptor Sakura, as a Yamato Nadeshiko-ish Ojou, has almost abnormally polite speech patterns for her tender age of 10-11. In example, she calls her own mother Sonomi "Okaa-sama", one of the most polite words to refer to one's mother.
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In the Mahou Sensei Negima! manga Negi usually uses Keigo with everyone other than very close old friends. This realization shocks the girls of his class when it is pointed out that he always uses Keigo with them but addresses Anya much more informally, leading those with crushes on him to worry that Anya might be his "favorite girl."
Kaede uses "-dono" for many people (like her classmates...), but will refer to her teacher as "Negi-bouzu".
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And then there are two times in episode 7 when Konata plays this stereotypically due to an obsession she has with Maria-sama ga Miteru. The second of these is where Miyuki mentions the aforementioned all-girls' school she went to.
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In A Place Further than the Universe, Yuzuki, being the youngest of the four main characters, speaks somewhat more formally out of respect for her older friends, addressing the other girls as "-san," although she calls Shirase and Hinata by their first names and Kimari by her nickname. Amusingly enough, when Kimari gets on Yuzuki's nerves, Yuzuki starts to say "urusai"("Shut up"), then quickly switches to "shizuka ni shitekudasai" ("Please stop talking") mid-sentence after remembering that she needs to be polite to the older girls, resulting in her saying "uruka ni shite kudasai," ("Please shut talking now,") an awkward phrase her friends tease her about.
 Keigo / int_9eda4d83
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1.0
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Keigo / int_9eda4d83
 Keigo / int_a4c8f35d
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_a4c8f35d
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In Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Chie, a bit nervous after meeting the Persona 3 cast, suddenly begins talking somewhat formally, causing Yosuke to wonder why she's talking like a "rich girl."
 Keigo / int_a4c8f35d
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1.0
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Keigo / int_a4c8f35d
 Keigo / int_a7ac2d3
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_a7ac2d3
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Kuroko from Kuroko no Basuke rarely drops his Keigo speech. When he does, it's usually because he's really pissed off, such as when Hanamiya mocks his senpais.
 Keigo / int_a7ac2d3
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1.0
 Keigo / int_a7ac2d3
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Keigo / int_a7ac2d3
 Keigo / int_a85b8e4a
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_a85b8e4a
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Ichinose Tokiya from Uta No Prince Sama uses keigo all the time, which adds to his aloof, sophisticated air.
 Keigo / int_a85b8e4a
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1.0
 Keigo / int_a85b8e4a
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 Uta no Prince-sama (Visual Novel)
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Keigo / int_a85b8e4a
 Keigo / int_abb11fc7
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_abb11fc7
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Mai Shiranui started using both deferential and humble forms since KOF'96 (and around the same time in Fatal Fury): "Kakatte rasshai" (come, fight me); "Shiranui Mai, mairimasu!" (Mai Shiranui has appeared), but not constantly; she uses more plain forms just as often.
 Keigo / int_abb11fc7
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1.0
 Keigo / int_abb11fc7
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 Fatal Fury (Video Game)
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Keigo / int_abb11fc7
 Keigo / int_ac259af8
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_ac259af8
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In Saki, Hajime is implied to use this on Touka (whom she otherwise refers to without honorifics) while in the presence of Touka's father, as Hajime works as maid at the Ryuumonbuchi mansion in addition to being Touka's friend and teammate. When she starts referring to Touka and Koromo as "-sama" outside the mansion, Touka scolds her, and Hajime says, "I'm sorry, Touka."
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 Saki (Manga)
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Keigo / int_ac259af8
 Keigo / int_ac25cf9d
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_ac25cf9d
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Koyori from Sola, including this little gem during a game of BS:
 Keigo / int_ac25cf9d
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1.0
 Keigo / int_ac25cf9d
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Keigo / int_ac25cf9d
 Keigo / int_b0028436
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_b0028436
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Dio Brando from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is one of the most complete and total aversions of this trope. He sometimes uses an elaborately dismissive and condescending way of speaking that is roughly equivalent to giving commands to an insect, reflecting that he is a complete sociopath who sees himself as a god lording over ants.
His son Giorno from Vento Aureo plays it straight, though, to further emphasize how much not like his father he is.
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Keigo / int_b0028436
 Keigo / int_b4652141
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_b4652141
comment
Gedächtnis from Fireball speaks in this fashion when conversing with Drossel. Of course, since he is a huge, crane-like robot it only adds to his weirdness.
 Keigo / int_b4652141
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1.0
 Keigo / int_b4652141
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Keigo / int_b4652141
 Keigo / int_b962c879
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_b962c879
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In Fairy Tail, Wendy uses this on most people except for Carla, her long-time Exceed companion. When Sherria, one of Wendy's new friends, asks her how the injuries she sustained in their battle are doing, Wendy thanks her with "Arigato gozaimasu," prompting Sherria to lightly chide her a bit for using keigo on a friend, at which point Wendy sheepishly apologizes and says she can't help it.
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Keigo / int_b962c879
 Keigo / int_bcb9a889
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_bcb9a889
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There's a Korean character in Mai, the Psychic Girl who always speaks in a very polite register, presumably because that's the only way he learned Japanese.
It could be because, except in Seoul, Korean men are usually more formal than women. Korean has two polite forms, formal polite (verbs end in -(eu)bnida) and informal polite (verbs end in -(eo)yo). The formal polite in Japanese is exactly like the regular polite, except it says de arimasu instead of desu - it's the norm in the military, for instance.
 Keigo / int_bcb9a889
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Keigo / int_bcb9a889
 Keigo / int_bd91db47
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_bd91db47
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In the Japanese version of Pokémon Erika spoke in keigo. While she is portrayed a little differently from in the games she's still supposed to be a Yamato Nadeshiko type of woman.
 Keigo / int_bd91db47
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1.0
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Keigo / int_bd91db47
 Keigo / int_c79063a2
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_c79063a2
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Fukiko "Miya-sama" Ichinomiya from Dear Brother is a graceful, distant, very princess-like and secretly VERY emotionally unstable ojou from one of the richest families in Japan. Therefore, she speaks in an extremely polite and indirect manner, even when she's pissed off.
 Keigo / int_c79063a2
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1.0
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Keigo / int_c79063a2
 Keigo / int_cd63e81d
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_cd63e81d
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The Ace Attorney series has two major examples in the original Japanese version.
Shelly De Killer, a professional assassin disguised as a butler, speaks in Keigo exclusively.
Frank Sawhit is an interesting varation. He speaks extremely polite Keigo most of the time, to the point where he comes off as a suck-up. When he gets angry, he drops it in favour of extremely rough and rude speech. He sometimes swings between the two abruptly. This is all meant to highlight his Bad Liar nature.
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Keigo / int_cd63e81d
 Keigo / int_ce005579
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_ce005579
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Ichika in Uta Kata is chided for using keigo with her friends
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Keigo / int_ce005579
 Keigo / int_d7aab7c1
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_d7aab7c1
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In the first season of Sailor Moon there is an episode where Usagi/Serena goes to a "princess school" for an episode. One of the things she's shown failing at are etiquette lessons for serving coffee. While it was funny in the English dub, it was flat out hilarious in the original form because Usagi doesn't know how to construct a polite formal sentence so she overuses the o- politeness form and essentially says "o-Would o-you o-like o-some o-coffee?"
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 Keigo / int_d80ecce5
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Keigo
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Aoi from WORKING!! tends to speak in very polite forms, which actually underlines her rather off-beat persona.
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Keigo / int_d80ecce5
 Keigo / int_d8bda674
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_d8bda674
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Arashi Kishuu from X1999 is a Miko raised in the Ise Jingun temple, and has very archaic speech/writing patterns. It's specially notorious in her drama CD track, which is in the format of a letter she writes to Ise's head priestess and her Parental Substitute, Kaede Saijuu.
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Keigo / int_d8bda674
 Keigo / int_d9863a65
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Keigo
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Aoi and Miyabi from Ai Yori Aoshi. Also, Kaoru, when speaking with Aoi's parents.
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1.0
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Keigo / int_d9863a65
 Keigo / int_d9e1a051
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_d9e1a051
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In Fruits Basket, main character Tohru Honda always speaks very politely, even to people she's close to or when it's technically incorrect to do so. While it reflects her humble nature, it's also something she does deliberately; her father Katsuya also had very polite speech patterns, and since he died when she was only three, she picked up those speech patterns herself as a way to remember him as well as to keep her mother Kyoko from leaving her, since Katsuya's death made Kyoko neglect Tohru for a while and almost commit suicide before realizing she had a daughter who needed her.
 Keigo / int_d9e1a051
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 Keigo / int_eef5470a
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Rurouni Kenshin has Kenshin speak in Keigo almost constantly, and refers to all women with the extremely respectful title -dono (e.g. Kaoru-dono). The pronoun he uses for himself translates to an extremely humble "this one" (sessha), and generally his entire speech pattern is commonly used by old men, but it's when he stops all of the above that it's time to start worrying.
 Keigo / int_eef5470a
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Keigo / int_eef5470a
 Keigo / int_f6da9a18
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_f6da9a18
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Sgt. Frog: being a classical ninja, Dororo speaks extremely politely and self-effacingly.
 Keigo / int_f6da9a18
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Keigo / int_f6da9a18
 Keigo / int_fb092f55
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Keigo
 Keigo / int_fb092f55
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Tales of the Undiscovered Swords: To illustrate Ichinodō Shichido's Jekyll & Hyde personality, his "right" (Jekyll) side speaks in this while his "wrong" (Hyde) side speaks in a rough casual register.
 Keigo / int_fb092f55
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Keigo / int_fb092f55
 Keigo / int_ff35db96
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 Keigo / int_ff35db96
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In Haruhi Suzumiya, Itsuki Koizumi always uses keigo to convey his ultra-polite nature. Kyon reads this as Koizumi being a suck-up, and Koizumi himself admits he gets sick of being polite to his classmates all the time.
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The following is a list of statements referring to the current page from other pages.

 Ai no Wakakusa Monogatari / int_c34be8b2
type
Keigo
 Mai-HiME / int_c34be8b2
type
Keigo
 Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann / int_c34be8b2
type
Keigo
 The Twilight Samurai / int_c34be8b2
type
Keigo
 Gamers! / int_c34be8b2
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Keigo
 Maria-sama ga Miteru / int_c34be8b2
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Keigo
 Desu
seeAlso
Keigo
 EngineSentaiGo-Onger
seeAlso
Keigo
 KiGo
seeAlso
Keigo
 KozueYoshizumi
seeAlso
Keigo
 Russian Language
seeAlso
Keigo
 SusanDavis
seeAlso
Keigo
 March Comes in Like a Lion (Manga) / int_c34be8b2
type
Keigo
 Omamori Himari (Manga) / int_c34be8b2
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Keigo
 WORKING!! (Manga) / int_c34be8b2
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Keigo
 AKBingo! / int_c34be8b2
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Keigo
 Gekisou Sentai Carranger / int_c34be8b2
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Keigo
 Samurai Sentai Shinkenger / int_c34be8b2
type
Keigo
 ArabiansLost
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Keigo
 Gungrave (Video Game) / int_c34be8b2
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Keigo
 Kuon (Video Game) / int_c34be8b2
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Keigo
 Sengoku Basara (Video Game) / int_c34be8b2
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Keigo
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Keigo
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Keigo
 Yggdra Union (Video Game) / int_c34be8b2
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Keigo
 Akatsuki no Goei (Visual Novel) / int_c34be8b2
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Keigo
 DRAMAtical Murder (Visual Novel) / int_c34be8b2
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Keigo
 They Are My Noble Masters (Visual Novel) / int_c34be8b2
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Keigo
 Keigo (Webcomic)
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Keigo
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Keigo
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Keigo