And kanji with manga
Saturday, July 31, 2021

In Japanese, a triangle (△), sankaku 三角, is sometimes used to mean an answer is partially correct. A right answer is a circle (○), while a wrong answer is either an X mark or, in school tests, a check mark (✓) or tick.

An aiaigasa 相合傘, "shared umbrella," sketch saying that Koyomi こよみ loves Ougi おうぎ.
Anime: Owarimonogatari 終物語 (Episode 1)

Gesture

Making a circle with your arms is a gesture of confirmation, while making an X is a gesture of negation. There is no triangle gesture, even though there is a circle and an X gesture.

A character makes a triangle with his hands.
Anime: Nichijou 日常 (Episode 23)
  • Context: a man checks on a wall to see if his daughter's ID is on it, which would mean she has passed an exam to enter college. Normally, he would gesture a circle to confirm it is there, or an X to say her name isn't on the wall after all. He gestures a triangle, leaving her confused as to what it's supposed to mean.

The triangle is only used in answers on paper, like this:

Different symbols used to grade exams in Japan: check marks or ticks mean incorrect, circles mean correct, and triangles partially correct.
Anime: Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai ぼくたちは勉強ができない (Episode 1)
Anime: Himouto! Umaru-chan 干物妹!うまるちゃん (Episode 1)
Anime: Nichijou no Zero-wa 日常の0話 (Episode 0, OVA)
  • Context: the test on the left has two circles (right answers), one on the top-right is full of circles (all correct), and the one one the bottom-right has check marks (wrong answers) and a triangle (half-right).

Placeholder

The circle, X, and triangle can be used as placeholders or to censor text, used in this order. For example: "thing X, thing Y, thing Z" would become "thing 〇, thing ×, thing △." For single-character placeholders, a single symbol is used. Variable-length words often use two of them instead, e.g.:

  • maru-maru-san to batsu-batsu-san to sankaku-sankaku-san
    〇〇さん××さんと△△さん
    Mr. X, Mr. Y, and Mr. Z.

Under a Heart

An up-pointing triangle under a heart on top of it with a line across is an "umbrella," kasa 傘, specifically an aiaigasa 相合い傘, literally "shared umbrella" (also spelled 相合傘, without okurigana.)

This is a sketch done on blackboards, and so on, with the name of two students, one on each side of the umbrella, to mean that they like each other, that they're boyfriend-girlfriend, typically to tease them about it.

An aiaigasa 相合傘, "shared umbrella," sketch saying that Koyomi こよみ loves Ougi おうぎ.
Anime: Owarimonogatari 終物語 (Episode 1)
  • Context: this sketch on a blackboard says Koyomi こよみ loves Ougi おうぎ, or that they're dating, or something like that.
Takagi-san 高木さん drawing an aiaigasa 相合い傘, "shared umbrella," on a blackboard over her and Nishikata 西片.
Left: Nishikata 西片
Right: Takagi-san 高木さん
Manga: Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san からかい上手の高木さん (Chapter 7, 傘)
  • Context: Takakgi-san teases Nishikata by drawing an aiaigasa on a blackboard over them.

The term aiaigasa also refers to classic romantic situation in which it suddenly starts raining, and you forgot your umbrella, and your crush offers to share theirs with you, so you two leave school, work, etc., walking side by side very close to each other.

Shiraishi 白石 and Tanaka 田中 "sharing an umbrella," example of aiaigasa 相合い傘.
Left: Shiraishi 白石
Right: Tanaka 田中
Anime: Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge 田中くんはいつもけだるげ (Episode 6)

As Eyes

In anime, sometimes eyes are drawn as triangles when characters are angry.

See Triangle Eyes for details.

Edward Elric エドワード・エルリック, example of "anger mark," ikari maaku 怒りマーク.
Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Hagane no Renkinjutsushi 鋼の錬金術師 (Episode 1)

Not to be confused with the all-seeing eye of God:

Honda Hanako 本田華子 worries about God's wrath.
Left: the "Eye of Providence," Purobindensu no Me プロビデンスの目
Right: Honda Hanako 本田華子
Anime: Asobi Asobase あそびあそばせ (Episode 8)

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