Monday, April 6, 2020

Dot Eyes

In manga and anime, "dot eyes," ten-me 点目, refers to eyes drawn as mere dots, which typically mean a character is surprised. In Japanese, dot eyes is also an expression that means a person (in real life) feels surprised.

The "Three Butterfly Sisters," Kochou San-shimai 胡蝶三姉妹, example of "dot eyes," ten-me 点目.
Characters: "Three Butterfly Sisters," Kochou San-shimai 胡蝶三姉妹
Anime: Kimetsu no Yaiba 鬼滅の刃 (Episode 25)
  • ・ᗜ・

This term applies only to small dots representing the whole eye. Normal eyes with irises drawn as solid circles are called beta-me ベタ目. If the irises are drawn as small dots, that is, if the character has small irises, they may have sanpakugan 三白眼.
Sunday, April 5, 2020

beta-me ベタ目

In manga, beta-me ベタ目 are eyes drawn completely black, without highlight or distinct iris and pupil, or eyes draw in a single color other than black other than black, or eyes drawn without a highlight.

It's also spelled beta-me ベタ眼.

Shinkouhyou 申公豹, example of beta-me ベタ目.
Character: Shinkouhyou 申公豹
Manga: Houshin Engi 封神演義 (Chapter 8, 序章の終わり)

Basically, in manga beta ベタ means an area filled with black ink, but eyes drawn pure black in manga are sometimes drawn with highlights in close-up panels, or in anime adaptations, so the term is kind of vague.

tsuya-beta ツヤベタ

In manga, tsuyabeta ツヤベタ, literally "glossy beta," refers black hair with highlights, or the technique used to render highlights on hair as well as other shiny, black things.

Examples of glossy manga hair drawn using black ink.
Manga: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon, 美少女戦士セーラームーン (Chapter 6, タキシード仮面 Tuxedo Mask, Altered)
Friday, April 3, 2020

Background Effects

In manga and anime, kouka-haikei 効果背景, "effect backgrounds," are backgrounds which express some sort of effect, like representing the emotion that a character is feeling.

A collection of different sorts of "effect backgrounds," kouka haikei 効果背景.
Anime: Bakuman. バクマン。 (Episode 4)


For reference, a list of various types of background effects.

Note that, among them, the ones that are rendered using only lines are also called "effect lines," kouka-sen 効果線.

Speed Lines

The "speed lines," supiido-sen スピード線, are parallel lines drawn across the background to represent the tremendous speed or characters or objects, making them one type of motion lines.

Manga: One Punch Man (Chapter 10)
  • hayai!
    [He] is fast!

These lines also have a different use: sometimes they're drawn vertically, going up, even though characters are standing still. In this case, they represent a surge of emotion, excitement, anger, or other sort of fervor.

An example of lines drawn running vertically to express the excitement of a character.
Anime: Mahoujin Guruguru 魔法陣グルグル (2017) (Episode 1)

Focus Lines

Lines drawn from the edges of a panel in manga or from the edges of the screen in anime and going toward the center or to a focal point are called "focus lines," shuuchuu-sen 集中線.

They're used in various ways, including to emphasize a focused element:

Manga: Boku no Hero Academia, 僕のヒーローアカデミア (Chapter 48)
  • Context: Midoriya Izuku 緑谷出久 realizes something about himself.
  • kono taiyaki ga boku'...desu!!
    This taiyaki... is me!!
    • taiyaki たい焼き
      A sort of fish-shaped pancake.

Or when a character is focused, concentrated, and about to use a skill:

Manga: Naruto ナルト (Chapter 41, 悪魔の囁き・・・!?)

Radiated Lines

When lines are drawn radiating from a character, that means the character is cheerful, is happy.

Manga: One Piece (Chapter 9, 〝魔性の女〟)

Uneasy Lines

When lines are drawn curved like tentacles reaching out to a character or place, that means the place is creepy, the atmosphere feels weird, bizarre, the character feels uneasy, anxious, or angry.

These are called odoro おどろ, by the way.

Kageyama Shigeo 影山茂夫, example of odoro-sen おどろ線.
Manga: Mob Psycho 100, Mobu Saiko Hyaku モブサイコ100 (Chapter 55, 知らない)


In manga, when a pattern that looks like ropes is drawn in the background of a panel, that generally means the character is worried or anxious.

These are called nawaami ナワアミ, by the way.

・・・おくやみをつたえてください まことに残念ですと・・・・・・・・・・・・
Manga: Black Jack, ブラック・ジャック (Chapter 1, 報復)
  • ...okuyami wo tsutaete kudasai
    ...communicate my condolences.
  • makoto ni zan'nen desu to
    [Say] that [it was] truly unfortunate............
    [Say] that [I'm terribly sorry for what happened]............

Dripping Blue Lines

The "dripping lines," tare-sen タレ線, are vertical lines drawn dripping from the top of the panel, used when a character feels down, depressed, or shocked, among other uses.

They're typically rendered as blue lines in anime and colored manga.

Furuhashi Fumino 古橋文乃, Ogata Rizu 緒方理珠, example of parallel vertical lines on background and on a character's face.
Anime: Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai ぼくたちは勉強ができない (Episode 1)

Beta Flash

The "beta flash," or betafura ベタフラ, is a white flash of light drawn on a background "filled with the black color," beta ベタ.

It's used when a character notices, realizes or deduces something.

Manga: Assassination Classroom, Ansatsu Kyoushitsu 暗殺教室 (Chapter 1, 暗殺の時間)
  • nyari


A lightning background is used when a characters feels shocked, when something shocking happens or when they come to a shocking realization.

Akino Sakura 秋野桜, example of osoroshii ko 恐ろしい子.
Anime: Ore wo Suki nano wa Omae dake kayo 俺を好きなのはお前だけかよ (Episode 2)

Soap Bubbles

A background featuring "soap bubbles," shabon-dama シャボン玉, or other light shapes, is typically used for a soothing, calming, endearing, or romantic effect.

元気・・・・・・出して下さいね? よしよし よかったねーあっくん なでなで ・・・優しさがつらい・・・
Manga: Aho Girl, Aho Gāru アホガール (Volume 1, Chapter 3, Page 26)
  • Context: Akkun あっくん, who doesn't have friends, makes his first friends.
  • genki...... dashite kudasai ne?
    [Cheer up,] okay?
  • yoshi yoshi
    [There there].
  • yokatta nee Akkun
    [Isn't that great,] Akkun.
  • nadenade
    *pat pat*
  • ...yasashisa ga tsurai...
    ...kindness [hurts]...


Sometimes, lilies in the background of a scene featuring girl on girl romance is a visual pun on a Japanese term for lesbian fiction: yuri 百合, which means literally "lily," the flower.

An example of "lilies," yuri 百合, used as a visual pun for lesbian romance.
Anime: Ouran High School Host Club, Ouran Koukou Hosuto-Bu 桜蘭高校ホスト部 (Episode 9)


Besides the background effects listed above, here are some terms for techniques and patterns typically used in backgrounds.


In art, "stippling," or tenbyou 点描, is the use of dots to shade an area. In manga, stippling isn't a very common technique, but it's sometimes used to shade light areas, like sand and soap bubbles.

An example of tenbyou 点描, "stippling," used as a shading technique to render sand.
Manga: Black Jack, ブラック・ジャック (Chapter 2, シャチの歌)


In art, hatching is the use of lines to shade an area. Cross-hatching is the use of lines that cross each other.

In manga, kakeami カケアミ is the term for a common hatching pattern in which lines are drawn in bundles, like scratches, and the bundles don't cross each other, but the lines within a bundle may cross each other.

Example of kakeami カケアミ pattern used to shade characters in manga.
Manga: Bokura wa Minna Kawai-sou 僕らはみんな河合荘 (Chapter 2)

In some cases, the bundles are outlined, turning into overlapped rectangles.

Example of kakeami カケアミ.
Manga: AQUA (Chapter 5, 希望の丘)


Halftone is a printing technique to render tones by using a pattern of dots with varying sizes and spacing. There are actually two types of halftones, and both are used in manga.

AM Halftone

The term amiten 網点, "dot net," refers to amplitude-modulated halftone. They look like a net, a grid made out of dots, points. At certain densities, it looks like a polka dots pattern.

まぁいいわ・・・ 始めましょう
Manga: Gabriel DropOut, ガヴリールドロップアウト (Chapter 5)
  • Context: Vignette ヴィネット just wants to get with the program.
  • maa ii wa...
    Whatever... (never mind that.)
  • hajimemashou
    Let's start. (already.)

Often this halftone is too small for the pattern to be discernible.

An example of "halftone," amiten 網点, used in manga.
Anime: Yuru Yuri ゆるゆり (Volume 1)

FM Halftone

The term suname 砂目, "sand grain," refers to the frequency-modulated halftone. It's a random noise often used to render gradients, though it can also be used on grainy textures.

Example of suname 砂目 pattern gradient in the background.
Manga: Houshin Engi 封神演義 (Chapter 1, 封神の書)


A "screentone," sukuriin-toon スクリーントーン, is a semitransparent sheet of paper with one or more patterns or textures printed on it. Artists slice out pieces of the screentone in the shape of the areas that they want to apply the pattern to, and then paste it onto the drawing.

An example of screentone.
Anime: Bakuman. バクマン。 (Episode 4)

Most background effects you see in manga come from screentones, including the amiten, suname, and kakeami patterns, among others, like parallel strips, soap bubble patterns, flower patterns, and so on.

Furthermore, nowadays there are also digital artists who use digital software that can apply textures like these digitally.

suname 砂目

In manga, suname 砂目, "sand grain," is a type of "halftone" pattern typically used to render darker gradients on the background or grainy textures on things.

Example of suname 砂目 pattern gradient in the background.
Manga: Houshin Engi 封神演義 (Chapter 1, 封神の書)

It's also known as "noise," noizu ノイズ. Technically, it's known stochastic screening, the word "stochastic" meaning "random," or FM screening, FM meaning frequency-modulated.

The non-random, amplitude-modulated, AM screening halftone is called amiten 網点, by the way.

amiten 網点

In manga, amiten 網点, literally "net of dots," or "web of points," means a type of "halftone," a "dot screen."

Halftone is a technique to change the tone of an area by using a pattern of dots of varying sizes and with varying spacing. For example, it allows you to print various shades of gray using only white and black.

Normally, you won't be able to actually SEE the dots—as in: tell them apart—because they'll be very small.

An example of "halftone," amiten 網点, used in manga.
Anime: Yuru Yuri ゆるゆり (Volume 1)

beta ベタ

In Japanese, beta ベタ can mean various things: plain, normal, uninteresting; clichéd; to fill a space completely, leaving no gaps; to fill an area with a solid color, typically black; a mimetic morpheme meaning "sticky;" and some other things.

やってみた方が早いかもな まず俺が人を描く えーと 佐倉 ベタ 終わりました
Manga: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun 月刊少女野崎くん (Volume 1, Chapter 3, Page 38, 御子柴くんのお仕事)
Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Greek Letters - アルファ・ベータ・ガンマ

The "Greek letters," Girishia-moji ギリシア文字—like alpha, beta, gamma—have a bunch of international uses, some of which are loaned into Japan. For reference, here's how the Greek alphabet is commonly katakanized in Japanese:
Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Idea Light Bulb

In manga and anime, a "light bulb," denkyuu 電球, is sometimes used as a symbol when a character has an idea, an epiphany. In some cases, other sorts of lamps and electric lights are also used in parody.

Toshinou Kyouko 歳納京子, example of an idea "light bulb," denkyuu 電球.
Character: Toshinou Kyouko 歳納京子
Anime: Yuru Yuri ゆるゆり (Episode 8)

tenbyou 点描

In Japanese, tenbyou 点描 means "pointillism," which is the art technique of drawing using only dots, points. In manga, tenbyou 点描 means "stippling," a monochrome shading technique often used to render lighter backgrounds by drawing dots with ink.

This technique has a lower black-to-white ratio than kakeami カケアミ, which makes it preferable to shade softer things, like sand and soap bubbles.

An example of tenbyou 点描, "stippling," used as a shading technique to render sand.
Manga: Black Jack, ブラック・ジャック (Chapter 2, シャチの歌)

Soap Bubbles Background

In manga and anime, a background decorated with light shapes similar to "soap bubbles," shabon-dama シャボン玉, is generally used to create a calming, endearing or romantic mood.

Often, such bubbles are drawn using dots.

元気・・・・・・出して下さいね? よしよし よかったねーあっくん なでなで ・・・優しさがつらい・・・
Manga: Aho Girl, Aho Gāru アホガール (Volume 1, Chapter 3, Page 26)

Lily Background

In manga and anime, sometimes lilies are used in the background of panels, behind characters, and, sometimes, these white flowers as a visual pun on a romantic relationship between two girls.
  • yuri
    Lily. (the flower.)
    Lesbian fiction. Girls' Love. (in manga, anime, etc.)
An example of "lilies," yuri 百合, used as a visual pun for lesbian romance.
Anime: Ouran High School Host Club, Ouran Koukou Hosuto-Bu 桜蘭高校ホスト部 (Episode 9)

Lightning background

In manga and anime, a lightning in the background of a panel or behind a character means they're shocked, as in, startled, dumbfounded, astonished.

In Japanese, this is called inazuma furasshu イナズマフラッシュ, "lightning flash," or kaminari furasshu カミナリフラッシュ, "thunder flash." The word "flash" refers to the sparks along the lightning, which are instances of Beta Flash.

Akino Sakura 秋野桜, example of osoroshii ko 恐ろしい子.
Anime: Ore wo Suki nano wa Omae dake kayo 俺を好きなのはお前だけかよ (Episode 2)

Uni Flash

In manga, unifura ウニフラ, or "uni flash," uni furasshu ウニフラッシュ, is flash of light with a black outline that looks like a "sea urchin," uni 雲丹.

The uni flash is drawn like the beta flash, using focus lines, except that instead of a black background they're placed on just any background.

Typically, they're used as speech balloons, or rather, as thought balloons.

Manga: Zatch Bell!, Konjiki no Gash!! 金色のガッシュ!! (Chapter 5, 道具か人間か!?)

Beta Flash

In manga, betafura ベタフラ, or "beta flash," beta furasshu ベタフラッシュ, is a white flash of light in a black background.

Traditionally, it's rendered by drawing focus lines and then filling the outer area with black ink. The term beta ベタ refers to the black areas in manga.

Manga: Assassination Classroom, Ansatsu Kyoushitsu 暗殺教室 (Chapter 1, 暗殺の時間)
Monday, March 30, 2020

Line Effects

In manga, line effects, or kouka-sen 効果線, literally "effect lines," are lines drawn in the background or the foreground of manga panels, and in anime, that represent some sort of effect, like th emotion of objects or the mood of characters and places.

Radiated Lines

In manga, sometimes lines are drawn emanating from a character when that character is emanating positive energy. When they're happy, bright, cheerful and so on.
  • akarui
    Light. Bright.

Manga: One Piece (Chapter 9, 〝魔性の女〟)

They're drawn sort of like focus lines, but their function is closer to laughter lines.
Sunday, March 29, 2020

nawaami ナワアミ

In manga, nawaami ナワアミ, "rope net," is the term the ropes drawn in the background of panels.

They're also called kake-nawa カケナワ, "thrown rope," guriguri グリグリ, and hebinawa ヘビナワ, "snake rope." Some of its names come from the fact that they're drawn using the same technique as kakeami カケアミ.

・・・おくやみをつたえてください まことに残念ですと・・・・・・・・・・・・
Manga: Black Jack, ブラック・ジャック (Chapter 1, 報復)

kakeami カケアミ

In manga, kakeami カケアミ is a cross-hatching pattern used to shade objects and backgrounds using lines that form "webs," "nets," ami 網, which are "thrown over" each other, kake 掛け.

For example, in the panel below, the top part of the background features a single kakeami pattern, while the boat is shaded using a gradation of increasing layers of kakeami.

Example of kakeami カケアミ.
Manga: AQUA (Chapter 5, 希望の丘)

odoro おどろ

In manga, odoro おどろ are lines drawn on the background of panels that look like an ominous dark smoke, or shadow-tentacles, coming out from the edges of the panel into whatever bizarre thing is in the panel, or into a character who feels all weirded out or angry, pissed off.

They're also called odoro-sen おどろ線, "odoro lines."

Kageyama Shigeo 影山茂夫, example of odoro-sen おどろ線.
Manga: Mob Psycho 100, Mobu Saiko Hyaku モブサイコ100 (Chapter 55, 知らない)

Focus Lines

In manga and anime, "focus lines," shuuchuu-sen 集中線, are lines used to give focus or emphasis to an element. They're drawn coming from the corners and edges of a manga panel or screen, and go toward the focused element, which is usually at the center.

Manga: School Rumble, スクールランブル (Chapter 61, A Star is Born)
Saturday, March 28, 2020

Shaking Lines

In manga and anime, lines are drawn surrounding an object when it's supposed to be wobbling, trembling, or shaking, or, alternatively, lines drawn around a character when they're trembling or shaking because they're afraid, startled, shocked or excited.

In Japanese, they're called yure-sen 揺れ線, "wavering lines," or furue-sen 震え線, "trembling lines."

Agatsuma Zenitsu 我妻善逸, scared.
Anime: Kimetsu no Yaiba 鬼滅の刃 (Episode 11)

Motion Lines

In manga and anime, "motion lines," dousen 動線, are lines used to show the motion of an object. They're particularly used in manga to make otherwise static panels appear dynamic.

Example of motion lines, ryuusen 流線, showing the trajectory of boxing punches.
Manga: Ashita no Joe あしたのジョー (Volume 1, Page 89)

taresen たれ線

In manga and anime, taresen タレ線, "dripping lines," or tate-sen 縦線, "vertical lines," refers to parallel vertical lines drawn on the background or on a character's face when the character feels down, feels sad, feels disgusted, among other negative feelings.

It's also spelled taresen 垂れ線, because it "drips," tareru 垂れる.

Example of vertical lines used to show a character feels down in manga. The text reads zuun ずーん, which is a sound effect used in such cases.
Manga: Yotsuba to! よつばと! (Chapter 8, よつばとおえかき)
  • zuun
    (sound effect used when a character suddenly feels down.)

In anime, these are often rendered blue, but blue lines can also be used in a number of other ways. See the article on Blue Lines for a complete list of meanings.
Thursday, March 26, 2020


In manga and anime, when a character has a "nosebleed," hanadi 鼻血, it's often because they're thinking something perverted, lewd, indecent, sexy, and so on.

Nike ニケ, example of "nosebleed," hanadi 鼻血.
Character: Nike ニケ
Anime: Mahoujin Guruguru 魔法陣グルグル (2017) (Episode 6)

seiteki na imi de 性的な意味で

In Japanese, seiteki na imi de 性的な意味で, literally "with the sexual meaning," or "in the sexual sense," is a handy phrase used to clarify a possibly ambiguous statement, making sure a double entendre is understood with its indecent meaning, as opposed to its innocent meaning.

さきが好き・・・ 性的な意味で
Manga: Mahou Shoujo Ore 魔法少女 俺 (Chapter 4, 魔法少女☆増えた)
Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Peko-jita ペコ舌

In Japanese, Peko-jita ペコ舌, literally the "tongue," shita 舌, of Peko, refers to drawing characters with a tongue sticking out at the corner, and sometimes with eyelashes, resembling or parodying the iconic candy character Peko-chan ペコちゃん.

The word shita した becomes jita じた as a suffix due to rendaku 連濁.

Nyaruko ニャル子, parodying Peko-chan ペコちゃん.
Character: Nyaruko ニャル子
Anime: Haiyore! Nyaruko-san 這いよれ!ニャル子さん (Episode 7)

Snot Bubble

In manga and anime, a character is drawn with a snot bubble coming out of their nose when they're sleeping, taking a nap, or just dozing off, sleepy.

This is called hana-chouchin 鼻提灯 in Japanese: hana 鼻 means "nose," and chouchin 提灯 means "paper lantern."

Miyauchi Kazuho 宮内一穂, example of snot bubble.
Character: Miyauchi Kazuho 宮内一穂,
Anime: Non Non Biyori のんのんびより (Episode 2)
Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Soul Coming Out of Mouth

In manga and anime, sometimes a character's soul comes out of their mouth, as if they had just died and were about to go to heaven. This expression is used when a character figuratively dies of something, like dies of shame, or dies of shock, or dies of exhaustion, dies inside, and so on.
  • tamashii ga kuchi kara deru
    [Someone's] soul leaves of [their] mouth.
  • kuchi kara tamashii ga nukeru
    From [someone's] mouth [their] soul comes out. (in the sense of being cut loose, separated, extracted.)

Dino ディーノ, soul coming out of his mouth.
Character: Dino ディーノ
Anime: Blend S, ブレンド・S (Episode 5)

Hair Strands Sticking Out

In manga and anime, when a character's hair is suddenly drawn disheveled, with strands sticking out of their hair, it generally means the character is overwhelmed, at loss, stupefied, or not knowing how to deal with an incredible situation.

Not to be confused with ahoge アホ毛, which is when the hair strand sticking out is part of the design of the character.

Akaza Akari 赤座あかり, example of hair strands sticking out of an overwhelmed character.
Character: Akaza Akari 赤座あかり
Anime: Yuru Yuri ゆるゆり (Episode 1)