And kanji with manga
Sunday, June 20, 2021

Fist Hitting Palm

In anime, sometimes a character gestures bringing down a fist on an open palm, like a hammer hitting a drum, when they have an idea, an epiphany, in their "ah!" moments when they finally understand or realize something. This is sometimes accompanied by an idea light bulb.

Character: Fujioka Haruhi 藤岡ハルヒ
Anime: Ouran High School Host Club, Ouran Koukou Hosuto-Bu 桜蘭高校ホスト部 (Episode 1)

Definition

This gesture seems to mimic hitting a drum for some reason. Left hand open in front of the torso, palm facing up, waiting to be hit, and right hand a closed fist, knuckles facing left, so that the little finger is on the bottom part of the fist hitting the palm when you bring the fist down.

In manga, a pon ポン sound effect is typically used for the fist hitting palm thing.

  • te wo pon to tataku
    ぽん叩く
    To hit [your] hand with a pon.
    To hit [your] hand making a pon sound.
  • wakatta!
    わかった!
    [I] got [it]!
  • naruhodo
    なるほど
    [I see]. [So that's how it is].
ピコーン ポン ひらめき方が古いな・・・
Manga: Barakamon ばらかもん (Chapter 1, ばらかこどん)
  • Context: Kotoishi Naru 琴石なる has an idea.
  • pikoon
    ピコーン
    *light turning on*
    (mimetic word.)
  • pon
    ポン
    *hand hitting other hand*
  • hirameki-kata ga furui na...
    ひらめき方が古いな・・・
    [Your] way of [having ideas] is old, huh...
    • hirameku
      閃く
      For light to flash for a moment.
      To have an idea. To have an epiphany. (like as in having a flash of inspiration.)

In anime, too, a pon-sounding drum sound effect is normally used.

Character: Yusa 遊佐
Anime: Jashin-chan Dropkick, 邪神ちゃんドロップキック (Episode 10)
  • Context: Yusa says she tried to sell ice cream in hell, but for some reason it didn't sell well. She was told it was because hell was frozen over and nobody would buy ice cream in such cold weather, prompting her to gesture and say:
  • aa, naruhodo
    あー、なるほど
    Ah, [I see it now].

I haven't been able to confirm, but it seems this gesture was also used by Ron in Harry Potter(tvtropes.org:PalmFistTap), and by Charlie Chaplin in his movies(#citation-ひらめいたときのジェスチャー-chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp), so it isn't an exclusively Japanese gesture.

It does seem to be way more common in Japanese than in the west, either way, given that the only information about this gesture in English I can find is mainly about its occurrence in anime.

Examples

For reference, some examples.

Note that sou そう is often used when someone realizes what something is. This is kosoado こそあど pronoun. As such, so~ そ~ should refer to "that [something]" or to something previously mentioned, except that neither of these function appear to make sense in the usage below.

Presumably, this occurs because so~ refers to what the person thought inside their head, e.g. they think "oh, the sky is blue because of Rayleigh scattering," and then they say, literally "oh, so that is how it works," and this "that" (so~) refers to the explanation they thought inside their heads.

Character: Usui Fumio 雨水文緒
Anime: Karin かりん (Episode 5)
  • Context: Fumio has an epiphany about why his son wants to be alone with a girl he invited home.
  • a, {sou iu} koto
    あ、そういうこと
    Ah, [so it's that sort of thing].
    Ah, [so that's what it is].
  • She got it! And by "got it" I mean "she got the wrong idea."
Character: Fujioka Haruhi 藤岡ハルヒ
Anime: Ouran High School Host Club, Ouran Koukou Hosuto-Bu 桜蘭高校ホスト部 (Episode 1)
  • Context: Haruhi is trying to remember a word that perfectly describes a certain person. After thinking for a while, she gestures and says:
  • a!! sou ka!
    あ!!そうか!
    Ah!! [I got it]!
    • uzai
      うざい
      Obnoxious. (the word she remembered.)
Character: Amakasu Hisone 甘粕ひそね
Anime: Hisone to Maso-tan ひそねとまそたん (Episode 6)
  • Context: Amakasu realizes why a dragon acts the way it does.
  • sokkaa!
    そっかー!
    [Oh, I see]!
Lubbock ラバック, , example of an idea "light bulb," denkyuu 電球.
Character: Lubbock, ラバック
Anime: Akame ga Kill!, アカメが斬る! (Episode 12)
  • Context: Lubbock has an idea about how to peep on someone in the bath.
  • oo! ore hirameita! hirameichatta!
    おー!俺ひらめいた!ひらめいちゃった
    Oh! I got an idea! [I] got an idea!

References

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