It's been over a month since the release of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and while praise for the game's plot and storytelling skills have been plentiful, fans still have some questions about the story. Specifically - why the heck does no one call Byleth by their last name? And why does everyone, including the students, insist on calling them "Professor" throughout the entirety of the game?
As the protagonist of Three Houses, Byleth's name is customizable, meaning that the player can change their name to whatever they'd like. To keep up with all the possible name options, other characters address Byleth as "Professor" (or some other generic title), referring to Byleth's position as a professor at the Officers Academy. This feature is not uncommon, as many games that feature a customizable name for the main character utilize a similar tactic (e.g. Final Fantasy X, every BioWare game, every Bethesda game, etc.). It's a smart way to get around the problem of not possibly being able to voice every single name option a player could input. However, a lot of these games additionally add a canon, non-customizable surname to the protagonist, allowing for a bit more personalization in the voice acting (e.g. Mass Effect, Dragon Age II, Dragon Age: Inquisition). What's weird about Three Houses is that Byleth also has a surname...but it's never used to address them.
As stated above, all the students in Three Houses address Byleth as "Professor" or "Teacher" - essentially, some title referencing their position as an instructor at the Officers Academy. This address makes sense in the first part of the game when the students are actually still students. However, after the time skip, they're still calling Byleth "Professor." By this point they're no longer their students anymore; and given the fact that Byleth's been unconscious for the past five years, some of them are probably more mentally older than Byleth. So why do they continue to call Byleth "Professor"?
In addition to being inaccurate, it's also just...weird. Byleth can date and pursue a romantic relationship with one of their former students, and if they achieve that prized S-support even marry one of them. But continuing to call Byleth by "Professor" during the most intimate and romantic conversations really puts a damper on the relationship by continuing to reiterate the obvious student-teacher dynamic in the pairing. "Professor, I love you. Will you marry me?" just sounds bad coming from a student.
It's likely that this "Professor"-business was used to get around the voice acting Byleth's customizable name. But Byleth has another name that students could call them by, one that's not customizable - their last name. Byleth's father is Jeralt, and several times in the game Jeralt's last name is referred to as "Eisner." Therefore, Byleth's last name must also be the same. So why do none of the students use "Eisner" as another option when referring to their former teacher? Sure, during some of the more vulnerable and intimate support conversations calling someone by their last name is still a little impersonal. But it's definitely better than being creepy.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses gets a lot of things right; but when it comes to the issue of how to address their customizable protagonist's first name, their methods could be better. Why not have the characters use Byleth's canon last name and avoid the icky reminder of the teacher-student relationship dynamic at every conversation? At the very least, let this serve as a reminder to everyone that Byleth has a last name; and if "Professor" starts to sound too weird in conversation, you can always mentally swap that out with "Eisner."