Over the years, I’ve noticed the letters “if” at the end of many Japanese game, manga, anime, and book titles. I never really paid it much attention – I just assumed it was an abbreviation for something or just for decorative purposes to sound cool.
A reader recently asked me about this “if” thing, so I finally looked into it. It’s actually really simple: the “if” isn’t an abbreviation or decoration at all, it’s the English word “if”.
From what I can tell, this “if” is used to indicate a few different things:
- Sometimes “if” is in the “what if?” sense – in other words, it’s an alternate look at a pre-established world, like an alternate universe or a parallel world. I feel like this is the most common meaning, whether it’s in a game title, manga title, fan fiction title, etc.
- Related to the above, it might indicate that the pre-established world is seen from an alternate perspective, like through the eyes of a different character.
- Sometimes “if” indicates that the game hinges on a major decision or multiple major decisions.
I’d like to add to the list of games above with more “if” examples, so if you know of any others not listed here, let me know. I’ll update this article from time to time as I come across any more!
If you liked this article, definitely check out my article about why the letter W appears in so many Japanese games and Japan's obsession with the word "Labo"!