Saturday, August 5, 2017

Ahegao アヘ顔

If you've read the word ahegao アヘ顔 somewhere, like in an extremely decent public anime community forum, or in a totally innocent tumblr or twitter blog, and you're wondering what is ahegao means and what the word ahegao means in Japanese, know that it refers to an iconic anime and manga related facial expression.

It looks like this:

What ahegao アヘ顔 with a double peace sign, daburu piisu ダブルピース looks like, as seen in the manga and anime nichijou 日常 and in the anime watamote - Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! 私がモテないのはどう考えてもお前らが悪い!

Generally speaking, ahegao is an expression which shows a lot of euphoria and usually combines rolled up eyes with an open, panting mouth. There are many diverse variations of this, but that's pretty much the core of it.

Peace signs have nothing to do with ahegao, but they just usually appear together. In Japanese, piisu ピース, "peace," can refer to the peace sign, so daburu piisu ダブルピース, "double piece," refers to the pose with two peace signs, one in each hand. Sometimes they are called vi ィ instead, because they are V-signs.

Note that ahegao アヘ顔 shouldn't be confused with ahoge アホ毛. Although they sound the same they are not the same thing at all.


Although ahegao is popularly known for appearing in hentai, porn manga and doujinshi 同人誌, it isn't really exclusive to that. Mostly because it gets parodied in non-adult works from time to time..

Quote from manga Haganai / Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai 僕は友達が少ない: toku ni tsuinzetto to nigouki ga douji ni zecchou wo mukaeru toki no hyoujou ga mou saikou desu ne. Specially the expression when Twin-Z and  Machine #2 simutaneously approach climax is the greatest already. konna ii ahegao wo kakeru sakka wa sousou imasen yo. There aren't so many artists who can draw ahegao this good.

Since it's just a facial expression, real-life people can do it too. However, because the expression is weird as fuck unnatural, if that happens it's deliberate because it's a meme, and not because people just naturally ahegao in reaction to something the same way they laugh in reaction to a joke.

Kanji of ahegao & Its Meaning

The word ahegao is a compound of ahe アヘ with the word kao 顔, which means "face."

If you're already familiar with the word kao because it's a very common word, then this might sound weird to you because kao starts with ka, not with ga. So how come the word kao becomes gao in ahegao? Well, that's because of an effect known as rendaku 連濁 which affects the pronunciation of morphemes in compound words, in this case, rendaku turned ka into ga.

The ahe アヘ part isn't written with kanji like kao 顔 is, but with katakana (see Japanese Alphabets). It's an abbreviation of aheahe アヘアヘ, which refers to a panting sound. If 1 ahe = 1 *pant*, then aheahe = *pant pant* or something like that. It's onomatopoeic.

If aheahe アヘアヘ sounds like a weird panting to you, know that there are other onomatopoeia in for panting in Japanese. Like haahaa はぁはぁ, heahea ヘアヘア, etc. It's just like "ha," "haa," haahah" etc. can be interpreted as different panting sounds in English.

Combine the two to form ahegao and you have something like "panting face" or "panting (facial) expression."

There are many words similar to ahegao (in a sense) in the Japanese language and which are anime-related. For example, tsundere ツンデレ combines tsuntsun ツンツン with deredere デレデレ, which aren't onomatopoeia, but something similar: mimetic words.

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