Tuesday, March 17, 2020

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)


Most of the usage of the small sweat drop is symbolic: characters aren't actually, physically sweating, perspiring to cool off their internal temperatures. Instead, the small sweat drop is used as visual cue for the character's emotions.

The most common use is a single sweat drop drawn on the cheek of the character, between the eye and the ear.

This is used when their expression is supposed to appear tense, like when they're dealing with a weird situation, or thinking about something complicated; in timid characters when they feel shy; and in character who are done dealing with something and feel tired, weary.

Multiple sweat drops means the character is more anxious, but it may also mean the character feels excited or eager rather than tense.


In general, the small sweat drop is drawn in manga as a shi し shape using the black color. In color, where the skin isn't pure white, the sweat drop is drawn instead with a white outline and a black shadow under the liquid.

In many cases, it looks very subtle and almost imperceptible at lower resolutions.

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.
Character: Amayadori Machi 雨宿まち
Anime: Kuma Miko くまみこ (Episode 1)

Normally, the small sweat drop doesn't drip on the character's face, it just appears and stays there. When a dripping sweat is drawn on a character, it's typically because they're in a sudden state of panic, or because they're sweating due to physical activity.

In Balloon

The small sweat drop may appear inside a speech balloon. An example:

人にやる気を出させるってのも才能だと思うぜ 癒し系ですか わんこみたいな・・・ そこまで言ってないけどな
Manga: Gakkou-gurashi! がっこうぐらし! (Chapter 17, わんこ)
  • Context: characters discuss the importance of an useless character.
  • {{hito ni {yaru} ki wo dasaseru} tte no mo sainou da} to omou ze
    [I] think that {{making people [feel motivated]} is a talent, too}.
    • dasaseru - "to make [someone] put out [something]," causative form of dasu 出す, "to put out."
    • {yaru} ki wo dasu - to feel motivated, "to let out a {yaru} ki."
    • X + ki - to feel eager to do X.
    • yaru - "to do [a task]," "to fight [with someone]."
  • iyashi-kei desu ka
    A healing-type, huh.
    • iyasu 癒やす - "to heal," sometimes used in the sense of to heal stress, "to comfort."
    • Something or someone that makes people feel calm, at peace, is sometimes called iyashi-kei, e.g. a slow-life CGDCT anime.
  • wanko mitai na...
    [She] is like a doggy, huh...
  • soko made ittenai kedo na
    [I] haven't said that far, though. (literally.)
    • In the sense of "I wouldn't have called her a doggy, that what you're saying, not what I said."
    • ittenai - contraction of itte-inai, negative form of itte-iru 言っている.
    • The し symbol in this balloon is a small seat drop.


For reference, some examples:


  • kinchou suru
    To feel nervous. To feel tense.
  • hiya-ase
    Cold sweat.
Manga: Prison School, 監獄学園 (Chapter 168)
  • Context: a girl is conflicted about her feelings.
  • n? nanda.. kono kimochi wa..
    Hm? What is it.. this feeling..
    • In my chest..??!!
    • This sentence features dislocation.


Suou Tamaki 須王環, example of blushing "red face," sekimen 赤面.
Character: 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)


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)
  • Context: Mob encounters a foe so powerful that his attacks don't work at all.
  • odoro
    (the term for this background effect.)
それ・・・・・・その翼・・・・・・取れる? え・・・・・・取れません・・・・・・
Manga: Maoujou de Oyasumi 魔王城でおやすみ (Chapter 18, 布団トモダチ)
  • Context: Aurora Suya Rhys Kaymin, オーロラ・栖夜・リース・カイミーン, who loves to sleep, stares at the feathers of Harpy, ハーピィ, and says something abominable.
  • sore...... sono tsubasa......
    That...... those wings / your wings......
  • toreru?
    Can [one] take them [off]?
    Are they removable?
  • e...... toremasen...
    Eh...... [no], [they] aren't.


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)


Character: Tadano Hitohito 只野仁人
Manga: Komi-san wa, Comyushou desu. 古見さんは、コミュ症です。 (Chapter 2, 平穏です)
  • e!?
Manga: Sakigake!! Cromartie Koukou 魁!!クロマティ高校 (Chapter 18, ブレード・ランナーズ・ハイ)
  • Context: Mechazawa Shin'ichi メカ沢新一, who is a robot, says he doesn't like machines and that humanity will end up being dominated by machines if we don't stop relying on them, prompting Kamiyama Takashi 神山高志 and Hayashida Shinjirou 林田慎二郎 to think:
  • sore wa hyottoshite gyagu de itteru no ka!?
    Could it be that [he] is saying that as a joke?
Asagaya Minoa 阿佐ヶ谷未乃愛, example of "circle eyes," maru-me ○目.
Character: Asagaya Minoa 阿佐ヶ谷未乃愛
Anime: Animegataris, アニメガタリズ (Episode 1)
  • Context: Minoa thought something serious was going to happen. Instead, something completely different happened.
  • maru-me
    "Circle eyes." A symbol sometimes used when a character has no idea what's going on.
Nike ニケ, Kukuri ククリ, equipping money.
Anime: Mahoujin Guruguru 魔法陣グルグル (2017) (Episode 1)
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)
  • Context: Ryouko is speechless at Tenchi's panicking.
  • Small sweat drops are rarely drawn on hair, and when they are, it's often a lot of them.
  • The flickering circles around Tenchi's head are another type of sweat drop symbol.


Gourry Gabriev ガウリイ・ガブリエフ, example of diagonal blue lines.
Character: Gourry Gabriev ガウリイ・ガブリエフ
Anime: Slayers, スレイヤーズ (Episode 2)
  • Context: Gabriev is in disbelief of the carelessness of another character.


Alphonse Elric アルフォンス・エルリック grabbing the soul of Edward Elric エドワード・エルリック that's coming out of his mouth and putting it back in.
Left: Alphonse Elric アルフォンス・エルリック
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)
Shinonome Nano 東雲なの, example of nonojime 「の」の字目.
Character: Shinonome Nano 東雲なの
Anime: Nichijou 日常 (Episode 7)
  • Context: Nano is obviously totally not hiding anything no, sir.
  • "no" no me
    An eye shaped like the no の character.
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)
  • Context: Chiyo is in love.
  • tereru
    To feel shy. To feel embarrassed.
  • tere-sen
    "Embarrassed lines." The term for the red, diagonal lines used to draw blushes in embarrassed characters.
Kasahara Konomi 笠原好, example of kabekui 壁クイ.
Character: Kasahara Konomi 笠原好
Anime: Iwa Kakeru! いわかける! (Episode 8)


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 is done trying to deal with other characters.
  • maa ii wa...
    Whatever... (never mind that.)
  • hajimemashou
    Let's start. (already.)
Hiruzen Sarutobi 猿飛ヒルゼン, example of smoke swirling over an angry, annoyed character's head.
Character: Hiruzen Sarutobi 猿飛ヒルゼン
Manga: Naruto ナルト (Chapter 2, 木ノ葉丸)
  • Context: Sarutobi is tired of dealing with Naruto's shenanigans.


Chrome クロム, example of an idea "Edison's light bulb," Ejison no denkyuu エジソンの電球.
Character: Chrome クロム
Anime: Dr. Stone, ドクターストーン (Episode 20)
  • Context: Chrome has an idea.
  • An Edison's light bulb was used as an idea light bulb.


Aguri 亜玖璃, Uehara Tasuku 上原祐, Hoshinomori Chiaki 星ノ守千秋, example of characters sweating.
Left: Aguri 亜玖璃
Middle: Uehara Tasuku 上原祐
Right: Hoshinomori Chiaki 星ノ守千秋
Anime: Gamers!, ゲーマーズ! (Episode 6)
  • Context: three characters play 4D backgammon.
  • Horizontal blue lines are sometimes used when a character scowls.
Shidare Hotaru 枝垂ほたる, example of character drooling, yodare ヨダレ.
Character: Shidare Hotaru 枝垂ほたる
Anime: Dagashikashi だがしかし (Episode 1)
  • Context: Hotaru imagines something tasty.
  • yodare
  • koufun suru
    To feel excited.

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