Wednesday, April 8, 2020

kotesen コテ線

In manga and anime, kotesen コテ線 are lines drawn on the cheeks of characters as part of their design. They're very similar to blushing lines, except that they don't symbolize any emotion—they're just there to give a feeling of tridimensionality to the cheeks, or make them look rosy.

Another difference is that in colored media blushing lines are always drawn red, while kote-sen is often drawn as black lines. Such black lines drawn on cheeks feel old style-wise, as they are typical of older anime and aren't used as much in modern times.

Minashiro Soushi 皆城総士, example of lines drawn on a character's cheeks, kote-sen コテ線.
Character: Minashiro Soushi 皆城総士
Anime: Soukyuu no Fafner, 蒼穹のファフナー (Episode 1)


The term kote-sen コテ線 means "kote lines." The kote part comes from kotekote コテコテJAPAN, the name of a column in a 90's magazine focused on arcade games, Geemu Hisshou Gaido ゲーム必勝ガイド, literally "Game Certain-Victory Guide."(nicovideo:コテ線,ゲーム必勝ガイド)


For reference, some examples of kote-sen コテ線:

Oosaka Naru 大阪なる, Tsukino Usagi 月野うさぎ, example of lines drawn on cheeks of characters, kote-sen コテ線.
Left: Oosaka Naru 大阪なる
Right: Tsukino Usagi 月野うさぎ
Anime: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon, 美少女戦士セーラームーン (Episode 1)

A well-known example:

Ash Ketchum, Satoshi サトシ, example of lines drawn on a character's cheeks, kote-sen コテ線.
Anime: Pokémon, ポケットモンスター (Episode 1)
  • Of course, if you don't know the term kote-sen, you'll just call these:
  • hige
    Whiskers. As well as other types of facial hair: mustache, beard, etc.

An example of kote-sen drawn as red lines:

Yuno ゆの, Miyako 宮子, example of cheek lines, kote-sen コテ線.
Left: Yuno ゆの
Right: Miyako 宮子
Anime: Hidamari Sketch, ひだまりスケッチ (Episode 1)
  • In Hidamari Sketch, most characters have red lines permanently drawn on their cheeks.
Laharl, ラハール, example of spiral drawn on pointing finger.
Character: Laharl, ラハール
Anime: Makai Senki Disgaea, 魔界戦記ディスガイア (Episode 2)


Faces & Expressions


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  1. The Dragon Ball characters also have iconic kotesen on their face

  2. Kotesen seems a lot more prevalent in pre-2000s work