Saturday, June 12, 2021

Head Pat (atama nade-nade 頭なでなで)

In anime, sometimes characters get patted on the head, usually child characters and girls. This display of affection happen when they need to be consoled, or praised, or, mainly, because some people think this sort of scenario is cute.

See noogie for the painful sort of head rubbing.

Examples of head pats in anime and manga.
Anime: Kobayashi-san Chi no Maidragon, 小林さんちのメイドラゴン (Episode 10)
Anime: Mairimashita! Iruma-kun 魔入りました!入間くん (Season 2) (Episode 6)
Manga: Gakkou-gurashi! がっこうぐらし! (Chapter 17)
Anime: Shinchou Yuusha 慎重勇者 (Episode 7)
Anime: Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! 私がモテないのはどう考えてもお前らが悪い! (Episode 7)
Anime: Spice and Wolf, Ookami to Koushinryou 狼と香辛料 (Episode 5)

How to Say in Japanese

The word for "head pat" in Japanese is atama nade-nade 頭なでなで, meaning literally "head patting."

  • naderu
    To caress. To touch softly.
    To pat. To rub gently.
    (ichidan verb.)
    • dare-ka no atama wo naderu
      To pat someone's head.
    • dare-ka ni atama wo nadete-morau
      To have [your] head patted by someone.
      To get someone to pat [you] head.
    • atama wo nadete-kureru
      [He] pats [my] head for [me].
  • nade-nade
    Pat pat.
    Patting repeatedly.
    (reduplication, sometimes used as sound effect as if it were a mimetic word.)


For reference, examples of anime head pats.


Children are often targets of head pats in anime, often by a parental figure, or younger siblings by their older siblings.

よく頑張った 炭治郎 お前は凄い子だ・・・・・・
Manga: Kimetsu no Yaiba 鬼滅の刃 (Chapter 6, 山ほどの手が)
  • Context: Urokodaki Sakonji 鱗滝左近次 pats orphan shounen protagonist Kamado Tanjirou 竈門炭治郎 on the head.
  • yoku ganbatta
    [You] worked very hard. (literally.)
    [You did very well].
    • yoku
      Well. Good. Very. (often used to say someone did something well, impressive, or dared to do something.)
    • ganbaru
      To work hard. To put effort into doing something. To exert oneself.
  • Tanjirou, omae wa sugoi ko da......
    炭治郎 お前は凄い子だ・・・・・・
    Tanjirou, you are an amazing kid.....
よし! じゃあお姉ちゃんも一緒に留守番してあげよう ぽん ホントか!?
Manga: Yotsuba to! よつばと! (Chapter 2, よつばとあいさつ)
  • Context: upon returning home with Ayase Fuuka 綾瀬風香: Yotsuba finds a note from his father saying that he went to the store and that she should take care of the house while he's away. Learning this, Fuuka says:
  • yoshi!
  • jaa oneechan mo {issho ni} rusuban shite-ageyou
    Then [I]'ll [stay here] {together [with you]}..
    • oneechan - "older sister," also a way to refer to young women not related to you, and used by them to refer to themselves, too.
    • rusuban - "stay-at-home duty," in the sense of someone leaving home, and someone else staying there to take care of the house.
    • ~te-ageyou - volitional form of ~te-ageru ~てあげる, [to do something] for [someone else]."
  • pon
    *head tap*
  • honto ka!?
Kanna Kamui カンナカムイ giving a head pat to Saikawa Riko 才川リコ.
Left: Kanna Kamui カンナカムイ
Right: Saikawa Riko 才川リコ
Anime: Kobayashi-san Chi no Maidragon, 小林さんちのメイドラゴン (Episode 10)
  • Context: Riko pouting as she's patted.
Miyauchi Renge 宮内れんげ, example of character pouting.
Character: Miyauchi Renge 宮内れんげ
Anime: Non Non Biyori のんのんびより (Episode 1)
  • Context: Ren-chon pouting as she's patted.
Ran Luckmolde, ラン・ラックモルデ tries to put her hands on Pat Campbell, パット・キャンベル.
Left: Pat Campbell, パット・キャンベル
Right: Ran Luckmolde, ラン・ラックモルデ
Anime: Mugen no Ryvius, 無限のリヴァイアス (Episode 8)
  • Context: where were you going with that hand?

Sometimes, a character feels an urge pat a small character on the head, because they're cute, because thy're smol, and the smol character may not like that, because they would rather not be treated like a child, or because this whole head patting stuff feels sorta condescending.

Tennouji Nagisa 天王寺渚 giving a head pat to Ichii Tooru 一井透 in front of Momoki Run 百木るん.
Left: Tennouji Nagisa 天王寺渚
Middle: Ichii Tooru 一井透
Right: Momoki Run 百木るん
Anime: A-Channel, Aチャンネル (Episode 1)


It's also common for animals to get petted, I mean, patted.

なでなで わんっ わっ ふりふり
Manga: Gakkou-gurashi! がっこうぐらし! (Chapter 17, わんこ, Altered)
  • Context: a girl gives a dog a head pat.
  • nade-nade
    *pat pat*
  • wan'
  • wa'
  • furi-furi
    *wagging of tail*
    (mimetic word.)
ガツガツ ポンポン 良い子にしてろよ、ナポレオン ブヒ?
Manga: School Rumble, スクールランブル (Chapter 81)
  • Context: Harima Kenji 播磨拳児 pets Napoleon ナポレオン after feeding him.
  • gatsu gatsu
    *eating noise*
  • pon pon
    *tap tap*
    (mimetic word.)
  • ii ko ni shitero yo,

    Be a good [pig], Napoleon.
  • Harima Kenji leaves Napoleon behind.
  • buhi?
    *concerned pig noise*
ガリガリガリガリガリガリガリガリガリガリガリ 良お~~~し よしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよしよし たいしたヤツだセッコおまえは
Manga: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - Part 5: Golden Wind, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Ougon no Kaze ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 黄金の風 (Chapter 115 (554), 『グリーン・ディ』と『オアシス』 その①)

Animal Ears

Similarly, cat girls and other characters with animal ears (kemonomimi 獣耳), also get head pats.

Holo, ホロ, getting head patted.
Character: Holo, ホロ
Anime: Spice and Wolf, Ookami to Koushinryou 狼と香辛料 (Episode 5)
Misha ミーシャ, a cat girl, being petted by Edgar エドガー.
Left: Edgar エドガー
Right: Misha ミーシャ
Anime: Hataage! Kemono Michi 旗揚!!けものみち (Episode 10, Stitch)

By a Hot Guy

A wise man once said: it's allowed so long as you are an ikemen イケメン, including patting girls on the head out of nowhere.

Adenela, アデネラ, getting a head pat by Ryuuguuin Seiya 竜宮院聖哉.
Left: Adenela, アデネラ
Right: Seiya Ryuuguuin 竜宮院聖哉
Anime: Shinchou Yuusha 慎重勇者 (Episode 7, Stitch, Cropped)
  • Context: Seiya talks to Adenela.
  • Adenera, ore wa ima kara shugyou ga aru.
    {omae ga iru} to jama de mezawari de uttoushii.
    sassato acchi e iku ga ii.
    Adenela, I have training now.
    If {you are [around]}, [you] will be a hindrance, an eyesore, and an annoyance.
    Go [away] already.
  • wa, wakatta. su, suki......!
    [I], [I] got [it]. [I] love [you]......!
  • Seeing this, Ristarte リスタルテ comments:
  • iya, mono-suggee hidoi koto iwareteru kedo.
    ikemen no atama nade-nade tte konna ni kiku no?!
    No, [wait], but [he's telling you] a lot of extremely awful things.
    Is the head patting of a hot guy that much effective?!
    • In the sense that the head pats are powerful enough to make someone ignore completely the words he's saying.
Valac Clara ウァラク・クララ getting a head pat by Suzuki Iruma 鈴木入間 during his "evil cycle," aku-shuuki 悪周期.
Left: Valac Clara ウァラク・クララ
Right: Suzuki Iruma 鈴木入間
Anime: Mairimashita! Iruma-kun 魔入りました!入間くん (Season 2) (Episode 6, Stitch)
Character: Kuroki Tomoko 黒木智子
Anime: Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! 私がモテないのはどう考えてもお前らが悪い! (Episode 7)
  • Context: Tomoko pats herself on the head, alone, imaging it's a hot guy doing it.

Heights Reversed

Since you have to put your hand on someone's head to pat them, and the head is above the shoulder, it makes sense that it's usually the shorter character that gets head patted. For reference, some examples of the taller character getting head pats instead.

元気・・・・・・出して下さいね? よしよし よかったねーあっくん なでなで ・・・優しさがつらい・・・
Manga: Aho Girl, Aho Gāru アホガール (Volume 1, Chapter 3, Page 26)
  • Context: Akkun あっくん, who doesn't have friends, makes his first friends.
  • genki...... dashite kudasai ne?
    [Cheer up,] okay?
  • yoshi yoshi
    [There there].
  • yokatta nee Akkun
    [Isn't that great,] Akkun.
  • nadenade
    *pat pat*
  • ...yasashisa ga tsurai...
    ...kindness [hurts]...
Left: Ruki ルキ
Right: Alba, アルバ
Anime: Sen'yuu. 戦勇。 (Episode 7)
  • Context: Ruki thinks Alba didn't do anything the last battle, then Alba tells her she wasn't paying attention, reminding her of his heroic feats. Convinced, she says:
  • sou da na, Aruba-kun mo ganbatta ne
    [That's right], Alba-kun worked hard, too, huh.
  • Her overly long sleeves extend skyward, revealing her hand.
  • *head pats*
  • arigatou Ruki.. tte nani kore!? ude dou natte-n-no!?
    Thank you, Ruki.. wait, what is this!? [What is going on with] [your] arm!?
    • dou natte-n-no - contraction of dou natte-iru no どうなっているの, literally "what has [it] become."
Poses & Gestures

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