Saturday, August 5, 2017

ahegao アヘ顔

NSFW: this article may contain words or images you'd rather not have your boss see.
In manga and anime, ahegao アヘ顔 means a certain iconic panting facial expression, an "O-face." It's a recurring trope in drawn pornography, in non-drawn pornography, and even in non-pornography. So ahegao is pretty much a meme at this point. It looks like this:

What ahegao looks like.
Anime: 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! (WataMote, Episode 5)

Do not confuse ahegao アヘ顔 with ahoge アホ毛. Although they sound similar they're not the same thing at all.

Trope

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 gist of it.

Although it's mostly known for its occurrence in hentai and doujinshi 同人誌, it makes its appearance in all sorts of anime. Specially those in the ecchi genre, which likes to parody ideas from hentai, and gag comedy, which likes to make fun of basically anything you can make fun of.

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.

Double Peace

Although double peace signs often appear together with ahegao, they have nothing to do with the word. The term ahegao refers to the panting face only. It's just that a double peace ahegao is also a trope.

Anime: Nichijou 日常 (Episode 8)

Terms for the peace signs in Japanese include:
  • piisu ピース
    Peace. (katakanization.)
    • Often refers to the "peace" sign, use when making a pose to take a photo, etc.
    • heiwa 平和
      Peace. (as in, not at war.)
  • daburu piisu ダブルピース
    Double peace.
    • Peace sign with two hands.
  • daburu piisu
    Wピース
    (same as above.)
    • In Japanese, W is a slang abbreviation for "double."
  • vi
    V. (alphabet letter in katakana.)
    • Because they're V-signs.

In Real Life

Since ahegao is just a facial expression, real-life people can do it too. It's not limited to drawings.

However, given it's a completely and totally unnatural expression, real ahegao is pretty much always deliberate. If someone does it it's because it's a meme. People don't ahegao naturally like they laugh in reaction to a joke.

Kanji & Translation

The word ahegao is a compound of ahe アヘ, an onomatopoeia for *pant*, plus the word kao 顔, which means "face." So ahegao アヘ顔 is, literally, a "panting face."

But wait a second. The word kao, "face," starts with a ka, not with a ga. Why does kao become gao in ahegao? Shouldn't it be ahe-kao?

This happens because of rendaku 連濁, which's a thing that affects the pronunciation of suffixes by adding a diacritic to their first syllable so the whole word becomes easier to pronounce. See:

Although kao 顔 is written with kanji, the word ahe アヘ, like most onomatopoeia, doesn't have kanji and therefore can only be written without kanji, so it's spelled with katakana instead.

Like many other onomatopoeia, ahe アヘ has a reduplication: aheahe アヘアヘ., which refers to a continuous panting sound. Basically, If one ahe = one *pant*, then aheahe = *pant pant* or something like that.
  • ahe-ahe suru アヘアヘする
    To pant-pant.
    To be panting. To start panting.

If aheahe アヘアヘ sounds pretty weird for a panting to you, know that it's kind of a panting mixed with gasping, and that there are other sounds for painting in Japanese. Like:
  • haahaa はぁはぁ
  • heahea ヘアヘア

They're just like "ha," "haa," haahah" and so on.

へらへらへらへらあへあへあへ
Manga: "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure," JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 (Chapter 167)
  • hera hera hera hera ahe ahe ahe
    へらへらへらへらあへあへあへ
    (unintelligible panting.)

There are some Japanese words known in western anime communities that are kind of like ahegao.

For example: gesugao ゲス顔. Its gao is the same gao as of ahegao.

The word 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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