And kanji with manga
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)

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 quivering or twitching 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)
Sunday, March 22, 2020

tameiki ため息

In Japanese, tameiki ため息 means a "sigh," like a sigh of relief or a weary sigh. In manga and anime, these are generally rendered as a little cloud of smoke coming out of the character's mouth.

It's also spelled tameiki タメ息, tameiki 溜め息, or tameiki 溜息 without okurigana.

The "red blood cell," sekkekkyuu 赤血球, AE3803, sighing.
Character: AE3803
Anime: Hataraku Saibou はたらく細胞 (Episode 2)

Realization Mark

In manga and anime, when a character realizes something, notices something, is surprised by something, or has their attention directed at something, a mark is drawn banging away from their head or eye to symbolize their sudden realization.

The exact mark varies. It can be an impact mark, three or more lines, a flash, or a lightning flash, depending on the style and situation.

A mark symbolizing a character has noticed the presence of someone.
Anime: Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai ぼくたちは勉強ができない (Episode 1)

Laughter Lines

In manga and anime, a segmented arc crossed by perpendicular lines drawn over a character's head means they're having fun, laughing, or just being cheerful and lively in general.

In Japanese, these are called niko-sen ニコ線, "smile lines."

Hiraga Saito 平賀才人, example of laughter lines.
Character: Hiraga Saito 平賀才人
Anime: The Familiar of Zero, Zero no Tsukaima ゼロの使い魔 (Episode 3)


On the internet, orz (or OTL, OTZ, szo, among others) is someone on all fours, fallen on their knees with their hands on the floor. It's used when someone feels defeated, dejected or hopeless about something.

Sakuranomiya Maika 桜ノ宮苺香, orz.
Character: Sakuranomiya Maika 桜ノ宮苺香
Anime: Blend S, ブレンド・S (Episode 4)
Saturday, March 21, 2020

Horizontal Shadow Lines

In manga and anime, sometimes parallel horizontal lines, typically blue lines, are drawn coming out of a character to look like they're casting a shadow.

This is used when the character feels alienated, dejected, sulking in a corner, or dumbfounded, speechless, or burned out.

Suou Tamaki 須王環, Fujioka Haruhi 藤岡ハルヒ, example of horizontal blue lines.
Left: Fujioka Haruhi 藤岡ハルヒ
Right: Suou Tamaki 須王環
Anime: Ouran High School Host Club, Ouran Koukou Hosuto-Bu 桜蘭高校ホスト部 (Episode 1)

Blue Lines

In manga and anime, parallel black or blue lines on a character's face, forehead, eyelids, under their eyes, or in the background, typically vertical and downwards, but in some cases horizontal, are used when a character is distressed, anxious, vexed, unwell, depressed, dispirited, despondent, alienated, gloomy, nervous, disgusted, disconcerted, disappointed, apathetic, shocked, dumbfounded, or something along those lines.

Basically, all sorts of negative feelings.

Sakura Chiyo 佐倉千代, example of blue vertical lines on a character's forehead, background.
Character: Sakura Chiyo 佐倉千代
Anime: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun 月刊少女野崎くん (Episode 2)
Friday, March 20, 2020

Head Mushrooms

In manga and anime, sometimes mushrooms start growing on a depressed character's head, or the character starts growing mushrooms in some dark, lone corner.
  • atama ni kinoko ga haeru
    Mushrooms sprout on [someone's] head.

Alphonse Elric アルフォンス・エルリック, Winry Rockbell ウィンリィ・ロックベル, and Edward Elric エドワード・エルリック, the latter with mushrooms growing on his head.
Left: Alphonse Elric アルフォンス・エルリック
Middle: Winry Rockbell ウィンリィ・ロックベル
Right: Edward Elric エドワード・エルリック
Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Hagane no Renkinjutsushi 鋼の錬金術師 (Episode 21)
Thursday, March 19, 2020

Forehead Shadow

In manga and anime, sometimes a shadow is drawn over the character's forehead, covering their eyes and going all the way to their nose. This shadow appears out of nowhere, regardless of the illumination of the scene.

It's a symbol to represent the character's mental state, and may be used when they're angry, devious, terrified, disgusted, among other situations.

In some cases, only the eyes or the nose is shadowed. In other cases, the forehead is drawn blue instead.

Fujioka Haruhi 藤岡ハルヒ, example of "anger mark," ikari maaku 怒りマーク.
Character: Fujioka Haruhi 藤岡ハルヒ
Anime: Ouran High School Host Club, Ouran Koukou Hosuto-Bu 桜蘭高校ホスト部 (Episode 10)

Blue Face

In anime, sometimes a character's face turns blue due to shock, fear, disgust, or other sort of distress, discomfort or sickness. The reason for this is mostly that when someone seems unwell, we usually say that they're "pale" in English, but in Japanese they're said to be "blue" instead.

Togashi Yuuta 富樫勇太, Tsuyuri Kumin 五月七日くみん, example of sweating blue face.
Left: Togashi Yuuta 富樫勇太
Right: Tsuyuri Kumin 五月七日くみん
Anime: Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! 中二病でも恋がしたい! (Episode 2)
Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Flying Sweat Waves

In manga and anime, sometimes sweat drops are drawn shooting away from a character's head in waves.

In comics, these sweat drops would be called plewds, and would mean the character is tense or anxious, among other things. However, while normally only a few plewds are drawn, sometimes waves of plewds are drawn instead, forming multiple layers flowing away.

Dino ディーノ, example of sweat flying away in waves.
Anime: Blend S, ブレンド・S (Episode 8)

Flickering Circles

In manga and anime, circles or sweat droplets drawn flickering erratically around a character's head mean that they're panicking, flustered, or agitated.

They're specially used when the character is worrying about something, or trying to explain something hard to explain to someone, or when they're caught red-handed doing something and someone is currently angrily walking toward them.

Hiraga Saito 平賀才人, example of sweating circles.
Character: Hiraga Saito 平賀才人
Anime: The Familiar of Zero, Zero no Tsukaima ゼロの使い魔 (Episode 3)


In comics, plewds are one or a few sweat drops drawn spilling away from a character's head. In manga and anime, this can symbolize worry, vexation, impatience, or relief, and it's drawn more commonly in manga than in anime.
  • aseri
    Anxiety. Impatience. A feeling of urgency when things aren't going the way you want.
    • aseru
      To feel anxious. To feel impatient.

Akaza Akari 赤座あかり, sweating.
Character: Akaza Akari 赤座あかり
Anime: Yuru Yuri ゆるゆり (Episode 1)

Dripping Sweat

In manga and anime, sweat drops used as symbols are normally drawn appearing and staying at the same position on a character's face. However, in some cases the sweat is drawn dripping, like real sweat.

When this happens symbolically, it's typically because they're in panic, sweating profusely, faced with a sudden and extremely complicated situation, nervous, frozen with intense fear, and so on.

Sagara Sousuke 相良宗介, sweating profusely.
Character: Sagara Sousuke 相良宗介
Anime: Full Metal Panic, フルメタル・パニック! (Episode 9)

Small Sweat Drop

In manga and anime, a small sweat drop, typically drawn dripping on the cheek between the eye and the ear, is a symbol used when a character is apprehensive, flustered, tense, weary, or excited about something. It's also used in situations where characters are actually physically sweating.

Often, it's shaped like the shihiragana.

See large sweat drop for the teardrop-shaped anime sweat drop.

Nitta Yoshifumi 新田義史, example of sweat drop.
Character: Nitta Yoshifumi 新田義史
Anime: Hinamatsuri ヒナまつり (Episode 1)

Large Sweat Drop

In manga and anime, a large sweat drop, shaped like teardrop, dripping from a character's forehead or hair, is a symbol used when a character is perplexed, bewildered, confused, or otherwise at loss of words.

It's also known as the "anime sweat drop." In Japanese, it's called ase-maaku 汗マーク, "sweat mark (mark as in a symbol, icon)."

See small sweat drop for a similar but smaller symbol.

Maria マリア, example of sweat drop, ase maaku 汗マーク.
Character: Maria マリア
Anime: Hayate no Gotoku! ハヤテのごとく! (Episode 11)

Sweat Drops

In manga and anime, characters are often drawn sweating. This can happen for various reasons, with the sweat drops being drawn in various ways. Most of the time, the characters aren't physically sweating, the sweat merely symbolizes their mental state, like anxiety.

A collage of different types of sweating symbols in anime.
Top-left: Hinamatsuri ヒナまつり (Episode 1)
Top-middle: Hayate no Gotoku! ハヤテのごとく! (Episode 11)
Top-right: Full Metal Panic, フルメタル・パニック! (Episode 9)
Bottom-left: Nichijou 日常 (Episode 1)
Bottom-middle: Inu x Boku SS, 妖狐×僕SS (Episode 4)
Bottom-right: Bonobono ぼのぼの (1995) (Episode 1)
Thursday, March 12, 2020

Anger Mark

In anime, the "anger mark," or ikari maaku 怒りマーク in Japanese, is a symbol used when a character is angry, mad, or irritated. It's shaped as a concave triangle or quadrilateral drawn with red lines that don't connect, symbolizing the contour of a popped vein.

Basically, the anger symbol pops up when a character pops a vein.

Edward Elric エドワード・エルリック, example of "anger mark," ikari maaku 怒りマーク.
Character: Edward Elric エドワード・エルリック
Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Hagane no Renkinjutsushi 鋼の錬金術師 (Episode 1)
Monday, March 9, 2020

doyagao どや顔

In Japanese, doyagao どや顔 refers to someone's facial expression when they're proud of themselves, of their own ability or work. It's generally a smug, triumphant grin of self-satisfaction.

It's also spelled doyagao ドヤ顔.

Yazawa Niko 矢澤にこ, example of doyagao どや顔.
Character: Yazawa Niko 矢澤にこ
Anime: Love Live! School Idol Project (Episode 10)
Saturday, March 7, 2020

Blushing Lines

In manga and anime, diagonal lines drawn across a character's face, over their cheeks, nose, and sometimes ears, symbolize blushing, and are used when the character is embarrassed, flustered, or any other time they're red-faced.

In color, the blushing lines are normally drawn red. In black and which manga, they're black, but even so the black diagonal lines symbolize a reddened face.

Sakura Chiyo 佐倉千代, example of blushing character.
Character: Sakura Chiyo 佐倉千代
Anime: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun 月刊少女野崎くん (Episode 1)

In text, ///, three or more slashes, can refer to this sort of line to mean blushing.


In Japanese, ///, three slashes or more, may mean someone is blushing, red-faced, probably embarassed. For example:
  • minaide///
    Don't look [at me]. *blushes*

Naturally, this originates in the parallel diagonal lines used in manga to render blushes. See blushing lines for details.

Sakura Chiyo 佐倉千代, example of blushing character.
Anime: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun 月刊少女野崎くん (Episode 1)

These slashes may also appear in manga text balloons when the character that is talking isn't visible in the panel where their text balloon appears.

mune-kyun 胸キュン

In Japanese, mune-kyun 胸キュン, or mune ga kyun to suru 胸がキュンとする, is an expression used when someone falls in love or finds something adorable, cute, moe 萌え, and so on.

Literally, it means for one's "chest," mune 胸, to "tighten," with kyun キュン being a phenomime for that *tightening.*

It's also spelled kyuun キューン, with a long vowel, as if it were an onomatopoeia with a longer sound.
Friday, March 6, 2020

nakigao 泣き顔

In Japanese, nakigao 泣き顔 means somebody's "crying face." That is, somebody's "face," kao 顔 (gao is rendaku 連濁), when they "cry, "naku 泣く (naki is ren'youkei 連用形).

Not to be confused with nakigoe 鳴き声, which is the sound an animal makes.

Nami ナミ, wearing the straw hat, crying.
Character: Nami ナミ
Anime: One Piece: Episode of Nami: Koukaishi no Namida to Nakama no Kizuna, ワンピースエピソード・オブ・ナミ~航海士の涙と仲間の絆~ (Special)