Monday, March 30, 2020

Types of Manga 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 the emotion of objects or the mood of characters and places.

Background Types

For reference, a summary of types of line effects and their respective functions.


The "motion lines," dousen 動線, to depict movement and the trajectory of objects.

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)

In some cases they end up conveying more information than just movement, like when a character shakes their head.

Manga: Fist of the North Star, Hokuto no Ken 北斗の拳 (Chapter 1, 心の叫びの巻)
  • Context: Kenshirou ケンシロウ asks a girl how is life.
  • .........tsurai ka......
    Is it tough?
  • *shakes head*
    • kubi wo yoko ni furu
      To shake [one's] head horizontally. (a gesture that means "no.")
    • kubi

      Neck. (can also mean head in some cases.)


The "speed lines," supiido-sen スピード線, are lines that convey a sense of speed.

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

This same sort of line can also convey emotion and fervor, usually when they're drawn coming from the bottom.

Manga: Boku no Hero Academia, 僕のヒーローアカデミア (Chapter 1, 緑谷出久︰オリジン)
  • Context: you can hear the screaming in these vertical lines.
  • kimi wa hiiro ni nareru
    You can become a hero.


The "wavering lines," yure-sen 揺れ線, are lines drawn surrounding objects that depict unstable movement, or slight movement. They're drawn in various ways depending on the sort of movement.

Examples of motion lines depicting wobbling movement.
Manga: Initial D, 頭文字D (Chapter 5, リベンジ宣言!! 吠える13Bターボ)
  • Soft things that turn around are surrounded by curves.
Example of straight motion lines used to depict the stiff trembling of a lamp post.
Manga: Ashita no Joe あしたのジョー (Volume 1, Page 110)
  • Stiff, metal things that don't bend are surrounded by straight lines.

In general, motion lines are only depicted in manga, not in anime, since you can just animate the motion in anime.

However, shaking lines are drawn even in anime when they represent emotions, like shaking with fear or excitement.

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

Air, Smell and Heat

Sometimes, wavy lines are used to indicate the motion of air, mainly when a smell is coming from an object, or when hot air is coming from an object.

Hanazono Yurine 花園ゆりね and Medusa, メデューサ, cooking, with a wavy line effect indicating the smell of onion coming from a bowl.
Left: Hanazono Yurine 花園ゆりね
Right: Medusa, メデューサ
Anime: Jashin-chan Dropkick', 邪神ちゃんドロップキック’ (Season 2) (Episode 6)
  • Context: Medusa cries from the smell of onions coming from the bowl she's holding, which is symbolized by blue wavy lines.
Kanna Kamui カンナカムイ, trying to dry her homework, on which she spilled tea, by using a hairdryer from which wavy lines come symbolizing the hot air.
Left: Kanna Kamui カンナカムイ
Anime: Kobayashi-san Chi no Maidragon S, 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS (Season 2) (Episode 10)
  • Context: Kanna spilled tea on her homework, now she's trying to dry it using a hairdryer. Yellow wavy lines symbolize the hot air coming from it.


The "focus lines," shuuchuu-sen 集中線, are drawn from the edges of a panel toward the center, or toward an element of focus.

There are various reasons for them to be drawn, including when an object is indeed the focus of the panel:

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.

And when a character is concentrated and uses a skill:

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


The odoro-sen おどろ線, literally "odoro lines," are lines similar to the focus lines, but a bit more ominous, drawn when something is odoro-odoro-shii おどろおどろしい, "eerie," when a character feels uneasy, or when they feel angry.

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)


The word housha-sen 放射線 mean "radiation rays," probably the deadly kind, but, in manga, 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〟)


In manga, when a kakeami カケアミ hatching pattern is used to draw ropes in the background of a panel, those ropes are called nawaami ナワアミ, and they generally mean the character is worried or anxious.

・・・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]............


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.

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.)

Mark Types

Typically, the term kouka-sen 効果線 applies only to lines that cover objects and or fill the background. Besides such lines, there are also some marks which are drawn using only lines which I'll include here for reference.


A bunch of diagonal lines, ///, called tere-sen 照れ線, "embarrassed lines," or sha-sen 斜線, "oblique lines," are used render a blush when a character's face turns red.

Watanabe Tooru 渡辺通, blushing.
Character: Watanabe Tooru 渡辺通
Anime: Excel♥Saga, エクセル♥サーガ (Episode 4)

Blue Lines

In anime, blue lines are used in numerous ways and forms. The tare-sen are generally blue when drawn in color, but besides them, some lines drawn horizontally are also rendered blue and have similar meanings.

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)


The "smile lines," nico-sen ニコ線, are drawn over a character when they're laughing or having fun.

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

Realization Mark

A realization mark is sometimes drawn as a few lines next to a character's head. These are used when they notice or realize something.

Excel エクセル, example of lines symbolizing a realization.
Anime: Excel♥Saga, エクセル♥サーガ (Episode 2)

A line curved like the shihiragana, that is, like a hook, is typically a quick way to draw a small sweat drop.

Hakubi Ryouko 白眉魎呼, Masaki Tenchi 柾木天地, example of character sweating in panic.
Left: Hakubi Ryouko 白眉魎呼
Right: Masaki Tenchi 柾木天地
Anime: Tenchi Muyou! Ryououki 天地無用!魎皇鬼 (OVA, Episode 1)


The "anger mark," ikari maaku 怒りマーク, is a symbol representing a popped vein typically drawn using three or four curved lines.

Shigure シグレ, example of "anger mark," ikari maaku 怒りマーク.
Character: Shigure シグレ
Anime: Hataage! Kemono Michi 旗揚!!けものみち (Episode 4)


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