Gender in Japanese language

The reason why it has never been clear what gender Crona from Soul Eater is in the Japanese manga and anime, is because the Japanese language doesn’t use pronouns nearly as often as the (for example) English language does.

Pronouns based on gender do exist in the Japanese language, like ‘kare’ (he) and ‘kanojo’ (she). There are also pronouns that do not have a gender, like ‘aitsu’ (not to be translated as ‘it’).

But Japanese prefer to call people by their name, whether they are talking to or about the person. An example of this is that they prefer names over the word ‘you’:

English: “Do you want to eat lunch with us?”
Japanese: “Does Crona want to eat lunch with us?” 

Even if they want to ask a question to a stranger, their question doesn’t need to contain the word ‘you’. Also the word ‘I’ can be left out without sounding strange. In English, it would sound odd:

English: “I don’t know how to deal with this”
Japanese: “Don’t know how to deal with this”  

English: “I think he/she wrote the most depressing poem ever”.
Japanese: “Think Crona wrote the most depressing poem ever”. 

Also words like ‘-kun’, ‘-chan’,  ‘-san’, ‘-sama’, ‘watashi’, ‘ore’, ‘boku’ which do vary with age and formality, do not need to have a specific gender. There are preferences, like how ‘-chan’ is mostly used on females, but everyone can use them for others or themselves.

According to the author of Soul Eater, Crona does not have a gender.

The Japanese language has no reason to find a ‘matching’ pronoun for Crona because Japanese simply doesn’t need pronouns. So it is easy to leave Crona genderless in the Japanese language.

For this reason, it is a lot harder to misgender people in Japan with language than for example in Europe and America.

“Ambition…”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     *Soul Eater*