--> Focus Lines - Japanese with Anime
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Sunday, March 29, 2020

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.

映画のチケット!
Manga: School Rumble, スクールランブル (Chapter 61, A Star is Born)

Light Streaks

Sometimes, the focus lines are rendered as light streaks instead of black lines.

A Nyaruko ニャル子 dakimakura 抱き枕.
Anime: Haiyore! Nyaruko-san 這いよれ!ニャル子さん (Episode 9)

This happens because the black focus lines found in manga typically create a negative space effect.

The focus lines are black lines drawn from the edges of the panel going to the center of the panel, so the edges look darker than the center.

Alternatively, you can interpret it as the center looking brighter than the edges, there being light streaks coming from the center and going toward the edges of the panel.

映画のチケット!
Manga: School Rumble, スクールランブル (Chapter 61, A Star is Born)
  • eiga no chiketto!
    映画のチケット!
    A movie ticket!

In similar principle, when something explodes in manga, lines are drawn in this way partially because of the light emitted from the explosion, and partially because of the debris moving away from the center.

Example of effect lines drawn to depict the force of an explosion.
Manga: Zatch Bell!, Konjiki no Gash!! 金色のガッシュ!! (Chapter 5, 道具か人間か!?)

Note, however, that this sort of usage is closer to motion lines than to "focus" lines.

Nevertheless, the term "focus lines," shuuchuu-sen 集中線, can be used to refer to any effect lines drawn in this way, even if they're depicting something emitting light, rather than some sort of focus.

Usage

Focus lines are used in manga in several different ways, in different styles, too.

Although they're basically lines drawn from the edges toward a focal point, depending on the usage, various things change. For example:
  • The lines don't reach the character's body. There's a space between the character and the lines, so it looks like they're emitting light or something.
  • The lines are drawn behind the character's body, so it gives a sense of movement.
  • The lines are drawn in front of the character's body, so it looks like it's zooming into the character.

Directionality

Focus lines can generally be used to give a sense of direction in a panel. In this case, they're drawn in the background, behind characters, either coming out of the source of something, or going toward the target of something.

ギュウ
Manga: Doushirou degozaru 道士朗でござる (Chapter 9, 恋の予感)

Importance

Focus lines can be used to emphasize an element of importance.

When this happens, the lines are drawn in the foreground, crossing over irrelevant objects and characters, but not over the important element.

There are two situations where this typically happens.

Emergence

Focus lines are used when a new element or information is introduced or becomes visible. This can happen for several reasons:
  • Something that was hidden was brought out.
  • Or comes out on its own.
  • Is found.
  • Or suddenly shows up.
  • Something unexpected happens.
  • A character gives something to someone, then it's shown what that something was.

And so on.

An example of "focus lines," shuuchuusen 集中線 emphasizing an element in a manga panel.
Manga: Naruto ナルト (Chapter 5, 油断大敵)
  • Context: Kakashi カカシ takes out a book from his pocket.
  • The focus lines go toward the book.

Relevancy

Focus lines are also used when an element or character that's already been introduced is mentioned or physically pointed at due to their relevance or importance.

犯人は・・・あなただ!!! な!?
Manga: Detective Conan, Meitantei Konan 名探偵コナン (Chapter 1, 平成のホームズ)
  • Context: Kudou Shinch'ichi 工藤新一, a "[brilliant] detective," mei-tantei 名探偵, figures out who the culprit is.
  • han'nin wa... anata da!!!
    犯人はあなただ!!!
    The culprit... is you!!!
  • na!?
    な!?
    Wha!?
    • nani!?
      なに!?
      What!?

このたい焼きが僕っ・・・です!!
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!!
    このたい焼きが僕っ・・・です!!
    This taiyaki... is me!!
    • taiyaki たい焼き
      A sort of fish-shaped pancake.

Impact

Focus lines are drawn on the background, away from the elements of the panel, to give an impression that the center is brighter than the edges. This happens when the panel is showing some sort of impact.

Action

Focus lines are drawn in action scenes where someone strikes, hits, punches or kicks someone else.

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

Prominence

Focus lines are drawn on a character that's become prominent, in the sense of having a whole panel with just their face drawn on it, probably because they're saying something of impact, or making some remark.

ウソだーーっ!!!! どーん わっはっはっはっはっはっはっはっはっは!!!
Manga: One Piece (Chapter 23, 〝キャプテン・ウソップ登場〟)
  • uso da--'!!!!
    ウソーー!!!!
    [I lied]!!!!
  • doon
    どーん
    (sound effect used when something suddenly comes to front on screen, in this case Usopp's face.)
  • wa'ha'ha'ha'ha'ha'ha'ha'ha'ha!!!
    わっはっはっはっはっはっはっはっはっは!!!
    *laugh*

These are used a lot in gag manga where characters will often make outlandish remarks.

じゃあ不老不死にしてください(わく) はい!(ドン) そんなあっさりできるものなのか 素晴らしい では体の中をマナがぐるぐるぐるぐる循環して老いることのない体にいたしましょう!(ぐるぐる) 他には?
Manga: Slime Taoshite 300-nen, Shiranai Uchi ni Level Max ni Nattemashita スライム倒して300年、知らないうちにレベルMAXになってました (Chapter 1, レベルMAXになっていた)
  • Context: an angel is granting any desires to a soul about to be reincarnated.
  • jaa furou-fushi ni shite-kudasai
    じゃあ不老不死にしてください
    Then, please make [me] immortal.
    • furou-fushi
      不老不死
      Non-aging, non-dying. (yojijukugo 四字熟語)
      Perpetually young and immortal.
    • ~ni suru
      ~にする
      To make something somehow. To turn something into something else. (among other meanings.)
  • waku
    わく
    *excited* (psychomime)
  • hai!
    はい!
    Okay!
  • don
    ドン
    *bam*
  • {sonna assari dekiru} mono nanoka
    そんなあっさりできるものなのか
    It's something [that] {can be done so easily}?
  • subarashii
    素晴らしい
    Marvelous.
  • dewa karada no naka wo mana ga guruguru guruguru junkan shite {{oiru} koto no nai} karada ni itashimashou!
    では体の中をマナがぐるぐるぐるぐる循環して老いることのない体にいたしましょう!
    Then, let's make the mana circulate around and around through inside of [your] body, and turn [it] into a body [that] {never {ages}}.
    • wo を particle - marks the medium through which movement happens.
    • mana
      マナ
      Common term for magical energy in role-playing games. Also known as MP, magic points, magic power.
    • oiru
      老いる
      To age. To grow old.
    • ~koto ga nai
      ~ことがない
      To never [do something]. (to never age).
    • ~koto no nai
      ~ことのない
      (same as above, see: no の subject marker.)
    • ~ni itashimasu
      ~にいたします
      (humble variant of ~ni suru.)
  • guruguru
    ぐるぐる
    *swirling motion*
  • hoka niwa?
    他には?
    [Anything else]?

Outburst

Focus lines are generally drawn when a character is yelling or shouting, likening the streaks coming outward the center of the panel to the loud sound coming out of their mouths.

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)
  • Saki ga suki......
    seiteki na imi de

    さきが好き・・・・・・性的な意味で
    [I] like Saki...... in the sexual sense [of the word "like."]
    [I] like Saki...... sexually.
    • As opposed to the "I like you as a friend" meaning of the word "like."

The focus lines are also used when a character becomes agitated or worried, rising their voice in and losing composure in general.

Amayadori Machi 雨宿まち, featuring various "manga symbols," manpu 漫符 to express her intense frustration, including: "focus lines," shuuchuusen 集中線, parallel horizontal blue lines for distress, parallel diagonal red lines for blushes, an "anger mark," ikari maaku 怒りマーク, tear drops and a couple of small sweat drops.
Anime: Kuma Miko くまみこ (Episode 1)

なんか事情は分からないけどシャミ子泣いてるし・・・ これは目汁だ!涙ではない!!
Manga: Machikado Mazoku まちカドまぞく (Volume 1, Page 37, まぞく 小盛り汗だくで)
  • nanka jijou wa wakaranai kedo
    Shamiko naiteru shi...

    なんか事情は分からないけどシャミ子泣いてる・・・
    [I'm not sure what's going on], but Shamiko is crying, so...
  • kore wa mejiru da!
    This is eye-juice!
  • namida dewanai!!
    ではない!!
    [It] is not tears!

なんだよこれ・・・入墨? えっ 本物か!? うん
Manga: Horimiya ホリミヤ (Chapter 3)
  • nanda yo kore... irezumi?
    なんだよコレ・・・刺青
    What is this... a tattoo? (emotive right-dislocation.)
  • e'? honmono ka!?
    えっ?本物か!?
    Eh? It's real!?
  • un
    うん
    Yeah.

Muster

Focus lines are sometimes used when a character is mustering something, like mustering strength, or focus.

がんばれ がんばれ! がんばれ
Manga: Kimetsu no Yaiba 鬼滅の刃 (Chapter 50, 機能回復訓練・後編)
  • Context: Kamado Tanjirou 竈門炭治郎 attempts to make a gourd explode by blowing air into it.
    • The first panel has the focus lines because Tanjirou is mustering strength.
    • The second and third panel have vertical lines depicting intense emotion.
  • ganbare, ganbare! ganbare
    がんばれ がんばれ! がんばれ
    [You can do it! Hang in there!] (etc.)
    • ganbare is the meireikei 命令形 of ganbaru 頑張る.
    • ganbaru
      頑張る
      To put effort. To work hard. To do one's best. To hang in there.

It's worth noting that when the lines are drawn thick, like shady tentacles reaching for the character, and curving slightly, that's called odoro おどろ, and not "focus lines," because it's something else entirely.

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)

Concentration

Focus lines are drawn over a character's face when they become focused, concentrated, specially immediately before using some sort of ability or skill.

Typically, it's drawn on their eyes, because they close their eyes to calm down, and then open their eyes wide right before attacking

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

References

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