Anime and manga symbolism - as it is


Modern anime and manga use a complex symbolic system based both on the realities of everyday life in modern Japan and on ancient legends, beliefs, and traditions. Karen J. Frost, experienced essay writer from, solved that question.

Character appearance

The main feature that distinguishes manga and anime from their Western counterparts is the developed symbolic and graphic language, allowing a few strokes to convey quite complex emotions or to express the character's character. In this, anime and manga are close to medieval painting and sculpture, in which each element of the image had its specific meaning. For example, Buddha was often depicted with a large belly, to signify that he had attained Absolute Happiness. Or in Russian iconography, martyred saints were depicted wearing red boots as a symbol of the blood they had shed.

Symbolism in anime and manga

In anime and manga, of course, everything is not so complicated, but there are also many nuances, say:

The color of the hair often indicates the hero's character: redheads are hot-tempered, whites are calm, blacks are something in between.


The size of the eyes and the degree of their brilliance shows the degree of the hero's youth, his openness to the world.

The cartoonishly small (Tibi) images of the heroes are a sign that the hero is behaving childishly.

Sometimes the heroes faint, if struck by something to the core.

Very important clothing characters, especially in fantasy. They can anticipate the occupation of the character.

The blood type of the character

In Japan, there is a common belief that a person's blood type determines his character. Here is something about it:


Blood Group Two - seeks leadership, can achieve what he wants, knows how to choose promising directions, believes in his strength, emotional. But he is jealous, fussy, and emotional.

Blood Group Two - seeks leadership, can achieve what he wants, knows how to choose promising directions, believes in his strength, emotional. But he is jealous, fussy, and emotional.

Blood group three is a clear individualist. Inclined to do things his way, but non-masking conformist. A fine imagination and desire for independence.

Blood group IV is calm, balanced, sympathetic, and entertaining. Attracts people, but can sometimes be abrupt.

Different objects and their use

The fan dance is a traditional samurai victory dance. Often used to cheer up fighters.

A white ribbon on the head (hachimaki ) - a symbol of total concentration on one's cause.


Statue of a cat with a raised paw - a symbol of good luck. It often stands in front of Shinto temples or homes.

Facial gauze mask - used to fight the flu and the cold. Sometimes for camouflage.

The bandage on the abdomen - in traditional medicine, keeping the abdomen warm is considered very important for health.

A piece of cloth tied like a headscarf and tied under the chin is a disguise for a thief.

Food in a box (bento) - special food for those who eat away from home. Sold in stores or prepared by wives, mothers, etc.


Small bells with paper signs (furin ) - often hung outside to ring in the wind. Quotations from classic poems are written on the paper plates attached to them.

Handkerchiefs - never used in decent society for blowing the nose, only for wiping sweat and hands.

Spraying with water (misogi ) is a classic way of cleansing objects and houses from evil spirits. There is also the custom of spraying the gates of the house every evening and morning.

Ink (Sumi ) - usually carry dry ink, which is diluted in water if necessary.

Red thread - The thread of fate. A sign that the fates of the two characters are inextricably linked.

Numbers - Like in Europe, in Japan they believe in the magic of numbers. Especially unlucky are considered 4 and 9, unlucky are all even numbers. The happiest number is 5.

Symbolism in anime and manga

Actions of the characters

Involuntary sneezing - someone is thinking of the character at this moment.

Fires of flame or violent waves appear around the character - the character is enraged or angry.

A slight flickering halo around the character - the character is standing in the rain.

Tears streaming from his eyes - a laughing trick, the character is crying bitterly, but you shouldn't take the reason for his crying seriously.


A drop of sweat on the back of his head - the character is nervous or afraid.

Unexpectedly falling over - a reaction to a stupid thing said by someone.

Muttering or scribbling martial arts punches on the screen - how else to figure out what's going on? ^_^

Nosebleed - a juvenile confused reaction to a sex scene or a naked girl.

A violent reaction to a facial cut - in Japan, the phrase "you have very beautiful facial skin" is one of the strongest compliments. Therefore, attention to facial beauty is very high.


Cutting off the hair is a sign of the character's renunciation of his current life. He then "dies" to his former circle of companionship and goes on a wandering journey not to return.

Bowing - usually, there are two types of bowing in Japan - official (45°) and every day (15°). The eyes should look to the floor when bowing.