Wednesday, April 3, 2019

manba マンバ

In Japanese, manba マンバ is a type of gyaru ギャル with a makeup that stands out, characterized by artificial dark skin color, or black face, called ganguro ガングロ, white lip gloss, white mascara, highlighter (on nose), white greasepaint, drawn downturned eyes, stickers (decoration) above the cheek, and colored hair.

Sumiyoshi Kanako 住吉加奈子, example of manba マンバ makeup.
Character: Sumiyoshi Kanako 住吉加奈子
Anime: Nyan Koi! にゃんこい! (Episode 2)


The yamanba ヤマンバ style was the predecessor of the manba style.

The difference between manba マンバ and yamanba ヤマンバ is that the original yamanba featured white hair and white makeup, while the derived manba features colored hair and makeup.

Cover of magazine egg featuring manba マンバ makeup.
Magazine: "egg," eggu エッグ (Volume 22, from 2004-07)
  • manba piisu
    A "peace" hand sign done like an "okay" hand sign, but with only the pinky and ring finger, and on the horizontal.

Historically, the yamanba term started being used around 1999, but the style died shortly thereafter. It was then reborn as the less strict and more popular manba.

There might have been some other, smaller differences between the two styles, but apparently nobody really remembers them—it's been two decades after all—so, today, manba and yamanba tend to be used interchangeably.


The origin of manba is yamanba, and the origin of yamanba is the a spirit monster, youkai 妖怪, specifically, the youkai yamauba 妖怪山姥, which took the form of an "old woman," babaa ババァ, and lived in a "mountain," yama 山.

Example of yamauba 山姥, an old woman spirit that lived in a mountain.
Anime: Mokke もっけ (Episode 8)
  • An Yamauba 山姥 behind a girl.

Since it's an "old woman," she has white hair, which is where the white hair of the yamanba style originates from.

Besides that, the monster spirit origin of the style may explain why some variations of it look more like some sort of tribal war face paint than normal makeup.

A character with a tribal, manba-like makeup.
Anime: Asobi Asobase あそびあそばせ (Episode 4, Cropped)


The manba makeup, or yamanba makeup, manba-meiku マンバメイク, yamanba-meiku ヤマンバメイク, has certain variations worth noting.

The ganguro ガングロ is about getting a black face as base for the rest of the makeup. Although it can achieved by tanning the whole body, that isn't necessarily always the case.

A manba gyaru can get ganguro by simply using a black foundation (cosmetics) on their face, leaving the rest of the body in natural white skin color.

Sumiyoshi Kanako 住吉加奈子, example of ganguro ガングロ.
Character: Sumiyoshi Kanako 住吉加奈子
Anime: Nyan Koi! にゃんこい! (Episode 2, Rotated)

The makeup has many white areas which can be created with white greasepaint. The thickness of the white paint varies. In particular, the paint used on the nose can become as light as a highlighter, or it can become a solid white strip drawn from the tip to the forehead.

Eyeliner, eyeshadow and fake eyelashes can be used to draw distinctive downturning eyes alternating white and black around their actual eyes. This might be a reference to the "old woman" origin of the makeup.


For reference, some videos about manba makeup.

A basic step-by-step:

A video featuring ganguro through black foundation, and fake eyes:

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