Morphology of Japanese Visual Language

Below is a listing of "visual morphology" that appears in Japanese Visual Language related to representations of emotion. This listing supplements the paper, "The vocabulary of manga: Visual morphology in dialects of Japanese Visual Language" by Neil Cohn and Sean Ehly (PDF), which both documents these graphic schemas and explores the proportion that they are used in both Shonen and Shojo manga. This project is part of ongoing corpus analyses of the structures of visual languages.

Where available, references for images have been provided in the format of (Book: page #, panel #). For full listing of references, see below.

This list is not considered exhaustive—if you have suggestions for expansion, please contact us!




Morpheme Meaning Type Body Part Example Reference
Vein Anger Affix Forehead (flexible) Manga Vein

Dengeki Daisy:
6,3

Bloody nose Lust Affix Nose Manga bloody nose One Piece
Drool Distracted, bored Affix Mouth drool Soul Eater:
5,4
Vertical shadow Fear, dread Affix Head gloomlines

Watashi ni XX Shinasai:
40,1

Cry streaks Sadness Affix Eyes crystreaks  
Tear bubble Sadness Affix Eyes Tear bubble D.Gray-Man:
36,5
Blush Embarrassment, love Affix Face/Cheeks Blush

Rosario+Vampire II: 8,3

Flush Embarrassment Affix Face/Cheeks Flush

Rosario+Vampire II:
8,1

Shadows on face Intimidation Affix Face Shadows on face

Bleach:
5,1

Shadow under eye Sickness Affix Eyes Shadow under eye

Skip Beat:
12,5

Shade covered eyes Anger Affix Eyes Shade covering eyes

Love so Life:
11,2

Shadow around eyes Fear Affix Eyes Shade around eyes  
Giant sweat drop Anxiety Affix Forehead Sweat drop  
Sweat drops around head Flustered, Anxiety Affix Head Plewds Naruto
Sweat drops all over face Fear, Anxiety Affix Face Sweat drops on face

Fairy Tale:
34,3

Breath mushroom Relief Affix Mouth

Kaichou Wa Maid Sama:
19,6

Sleep bubble Sleep Affix Nose Sleep bubble  
Breath bubbles (carriers) Exhaustion Affix   Breath bubbles

Naruto:
28,5

Glowing face/body Excitement Affix Head/Body Glowing face

Naruto:
16,4

Scopic spark Surprise Affix

Head

Scopic spark

Naruto:
30,3

Scopic star Surprise Affix Eyes Scopic star

Bleach:
3,2

Zoom lines Focal attention Affix   Zoom lines

Naruto:
33,2

Circumfix motion lines Strain, slight movement Affix   Circumfix motion lines

Naruto:
42,3

Upfix - Hearts Love Affix Head Upfix heart

Rosario+Vampire II:
16,5

Upfix - ? Curious, confused Affix Head Upfix question mark

Fairy Tail:
16,2

Upfix - ! Surprise Affix Head Exclamation mark Fairy Tail:
7,5
Upfix - Spikes Excitement, surprise Affix Head Upfix spikes Naruto:
20,4
Steam Frustration Affix Nose Steam Naruto:
29,6
>< - eyes Clenched eyes, happiness, pain, anger (depending on mouth) Eye-Umlaut Eyes >< eyes

Love so Life:
34,1

Spiral eyes Nausea, dizziness Eye-Umlaut Eyes Spiral eyes

Fairy Tail:
3,2

Dot eyes Hopeless, overwhelmed Eye-Umlaut Eyes Dot eyes

Bleach:
8,3

Glowing eyes Anger Eye-Umlaut Eyes Glowing eyes

Kaichou Wa Maid Sama:
20,7

Heart eyes Love Eye-Umlaut Eyes Heart eyes

Fairy Tail:
11,1

Lightning eyes Rivalry, anger Eye-Umlaut Eyes Lightning eyes Naruto
Circle eyes Confusion Eye-Umlaut Eyes Circle eyes

Love So Life:
35,3

Bubble eyes Coercion via cuteness Eye-Umlaut Eyes Bubble eyes

Beelzebub:
13,6

Popped eyes Surprise Eye-Umlaut Eyes Popped eyes

Beelzebub:
10,1

No eyes Creepy, unreal Eye-Umlaut Eyes No eyes  
Empty eyes Disbelief Eye-Umlaut Eyes Empty eyes

D.Gray-Man:
12,5

Tiny pupils Anger, drive Eye-Umlaut Eyes Tiny pupils

Bleach:
21,1

No pupils Disbelief Eye-Umlaut Eyes No pupils

Rosario + Vampire:
21,2

Monkey lip Lustful Suppletion Mouth Monkey lips

Soul Eater:
51,2

Pointed teeth Plotting/Mal-intent Suppletion Mouth Pointed teeth  
Cat mouth (:3) Smug Suppletion Mouth Cat mouth  
Dog/Cat ears/hands Embarrassment, playful Suppletion Ears Cat ears  
Giant yelling head Anger Suppletion (?) Head Giant yelling head

Naruto:
29,5

Chibi (superdeformation) Exaggeration, overwhelming emotion Suppletion Head/body Chibi

Skip Beat:
25,7

Mouth larger than face Surprise, anger Suppletion (?) Mouth Mouth larger than face

Soul Eater:
51,3

Giant teeth Pain, anger Suppletion (?) Mouth Giant teeth

Naruto:
20,1

Giant ear Eavesdropping Suppletion (?) Ear Giant ear

Watashi ni XX Shinasai:
14,4

Munch's Scream Fear, shock Suppletion Body Munch's scream Ranma 1/2
Loss of hands Loss of control Suppletion Hands Stump hands Azumanga Daioh
Shock pose Surprise Suppletion Hands Shock pose Ranma 1/2
Paperification Depression Suppletion Body Paperification

Skip Beat:
33,8

Two heads Conflicting emotion Reduplication Head Two heads

Fairy Tail:
4,2

Sparkles Happiness, elation Background   Sparkles

Skip Beat:
2,1

Fire Rage Background   Fire Ranma 1/2
Vertical line gloom Depression, sadness Background   Gloom lines

Beelzebub:
6,1

Flower petals Happiness Background   Flowers

Kaicho wa Maid-sama:
16,4

Hearts Love, lust Background   Hearts  
Fuzzy circles Dream-like, fantasizing Background   Fuzzy circles

Skip Beat:
11,1

Black Focus, ominous Background   Black

Naruto:
13,5

Lightning Anger Background   Lightning

Love so Life:
6,2

Wavy lines Fear Background   Wavy lines Ranma 1/2
Entire person shaded (white background) Disbelief Background-Foreground relation   Shaded person

D.Gray-Man:
30,2

Everything shaded Ominous Background   Everything shaded Beelzebub:
16,4
Swirling fog/clouds Murderous intent, anger Background   Swirling fog Yotsubato:
79




Graphic References


  1. Hoshino, Katsura. (2004). D.Gray-Man. Viz Media. Chapter 1, 1-54.
  2. Ikeda, Akihisa. (2004). Rosario+Vampire II. Viz Media. Chapter 1, 1-47.
  3. Isayama, Hajime. (2009). Shingeki no Kyojin [Attack on Titan]. Kodansha Comics. Chapter 1, 1-49.
  4. Kato, Kazue. (2009). Ao no Exorcist. Shueisha. Chapter 1, 1-65.
  5. Kishimoto, Masashi. (1999). Naruto. Shueisha. Chapter 1, 1-50.
  6. Kubo, Tite. (2001). Bleach. Viz Media. Chapter 1, 1-53.
  7. Mashima, Hiro. (2006). Fairy Tail. Kodansha Comics. Chapter 1, 1-72.
  8. Oda, Eiichiro. (1997). One Piece. Viz Media. Chapter 1, 1-50.
  9. Okubo, Atsushi. (2004). Soul Eater. Yen Press. Chapter 1, 1-59.
  10. Tamura, Ryuhei. (2008). Beelzebub. Shueisha. Chapter 1, 1-56.
  11. Fujiwara, Hiro. (2005). Kaichou wa Maid-sama! Tokyopop. Chapter 1, 1-31.
  12. Hazuki, Kanae. (2012). Say “I love you”. Kodansha Comics. Chapter 1, 1-43.
  13. Hino, Matsuri. (2004). Vampire Knight. Viz Media. Chapter 1, 1-48.
  14. Kouichi, Kaede. (2008). Love so Life. Hakusensha. Chapter 1, 1-43.
  15. Minami, Kanan. (2007). Kyo, Koi o Hajimemasu. Shogakukan. Chapter 1, 1-39.
  16. Motomi, Kyousuke. (2007). Dengeki Daisy. Viz Media. Chapter 1, 1-47.
  17. Nakamura, Yoshiki. (2002) Skip Beat. Viz Media. Chapter 1, 1-48.
  18. Sakurakoji, Kanoko. (2007). Black Bird. Shogakukan. Chapter 1, 1-38.
  19. Tanaka, Meca. (2007). Faster than a Kiss. Hakusensha. Chapter 1, 1-42.
  20. Toyama, Ema. (2009). Watashi ni XX Shinasai! Kodansha Comics. Chapter 1, 1-41.
  21. Azuma Kiyohiko. (2007) Azumanga Daioh: The Omnibus. AD Vision.
  22. Takhashi, Rumiko. Ranma 1/2. Viz Media.
  23. Azuma Kiyohiko. (2006) Yotsubato. Vol.5, Tokyo: Media Works.