And kanji with manga
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)

Usage

The shaking lines are used in manga and anime for two distinct reasons:
  1. To depict movement.
  2. To depict a reaction;

In the first case, we're talking about motion lines, which are lines used in comics and manga panels to give movement to the static drawings.

In anime, this sort of line is usually unnecessary, because you can just animate an object shaking instead of drawing lines around it.

However, sometimes the same sort of line is used on a character when they're trembling or shaking in reaction to a situation.

In this case, the lines are drawn EVEN IN ANIME, because those lines are a sort of manga symbol for fear, shock, excitement, and so on.

Styles

Depending on the sort of movement depicted, the style of the contour changes.

Smooth Curves

Smooth lines, curves around an object means their movement is equally smooth.

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)
  • In the first pair of panels, a hand turns left and right to let drip the water from the cup.
  • In the second pair, a hand manipulates an alarm clock.
  • In the third panel, a character's head wobbles as he washes his face.

These lines can also be used when an object is growing larger or shrinking over time.

Stiff Straight Lines

When hard objects that don't bend jiggle around, the contour is rendered with straight lines—no 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)
  • The lamp post, made out of metal, stiffly trembles as the girl climbs it.

Similarly, when a character stiffens up in reaction to something, they're contoured with straight lines.

ドキッ
Manga: Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san からかい上手の高木さん (Chapter 1, 消しゴム)
  • Context: a boy stiffens up after a girl turns her head to look at him.
  • doki'
    ドキ
    *thump*

Segmented Lines

Lines that are extremely segmented signify an interval between movements, like trembling or twitching.

ゾクッ
Manga: Gabriel DropOut, ガヴリールドロップアウト (Chapter 3)
  • Context: Satanichia twitches with excitement.
  • zoku'
    ゾクッ
    *tremble*

Longer lines with longer gaps give the impression of greater movement with greater pause, like twitching, conversely, a lot of short lines give the impression of repeatedly moving very slightly, trembling.

Olivia オリヴィア, eyes turned white due to fear.
Anime: Asobi Asobase あそびあそばせ (Episode 4)
  • Context: Olivia オリヴィア trembles with horror.

Shaky Lines

Contours drawn shaky, approaching and distancing itself from the object over and over, represent shaking.

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

Flickering Lines

In anime, shaking lines are sometimes animated flickering around the character as they tremble.

Yoshida Yuuko 吉田優子, Shamiko シャミ子, example of character trembling.
Character: Yoshida Yuuko 吉田優子, Shamiko シャミ子
Anime: Machikado Mazoku まちカドまぞく (Episode 10)

Spiky Lines

Extremely shaky contours have noticeable spikes at certain points. These exaggerated contours represent some forceful, quick movement. Twitching, convulsing, and so on.

Typically, they're drawn on joints, specially on the shoulders, when a character is startled or feels a chill down their spine.

Sakura Hibiki 紗倉ひびき, in shock, example of sweat drops, blue lines, shaking lines, white eyes, and thunder background.
Anime: Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru? ダンベル何キロ持てる? (Episode 1)

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