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“What is a man” is a popular catchphrase from the video game “Castlevania Symphony of the Night”. Its bad voice acting and over the top lines made it popular.
In “Symphony of the Night”, you play as Alucard, the son of Dracula who decides to return to his fathers castle to seek revenge against him. In the opening of the game, Richter Belmont confronts Dracula and they have a strange conversation before fighting.
Richter: Die monster. You don’t belong in this world!
Dracula: It was not by my hand I was once again given flesh. I was brought here by humans who wished to be me tribute!
Richter: Tribute!? You steal men’s souls, and make them your slaves!
Dracula: Perhaps the same could be said of all religions…
Richter: Your words are as empty as your soul! Mankind ill needs a savior such as you!
Dracula: What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets. But enough talk… Have at you!
The quote became popular among fans of the game, and it’s popularity as boosted when the angry video game nerd reviewed this game during his castlevania marathon, showing the cutsceen.
The term “what is a man” was a popular search term as soon as Google began tracking it. However, since 2007, it has been steadily rising in search volume.