Manga Morphology

Manga Morphology

Below is a listing of the meaningful graphics that appears in Japanese Visual Language related to representations of emotion. Some might call these “symbols” or “emanata”, but following our linguistic approach to graphics, we call these “visual morphology.”

Many of these should be familiar from manga and anime, and many of the morphemes were inspiration for emoji.

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 analyzes how these visual vocabulary items are used in both Shonen and Shojo manga. This analysis was part of the Visual Language Research Corpus Project. This list is not considered exhaustive, and this project is part of ongoing corpus analyses of the structures of visual languages found in comics around the world.

Morphemes are organized by their morphological types. Each example of morphemes lists different information about it:

  1. Morpheme
  2. Meaning
  3. Morphological Type
  4. Associated body part
  5. Image reference in the format of (Book: page #, panel #). For full listing of references, see below.
  6. Corresponding emoji
JVL Vein
Vein
Anger
Affix
Forehead (flexible)
Dengeki Daisy: 6,3
💢
JVL bloodynose
Bloody Nose
Lust
Affix
Nose
One Piece
JVL drool
Drool
Distracted, bored
Affix Mouth
Soul Eater: 5,4
JVL dread lines
Dread lines
Fear, Dread
Affix
Head
Watashi ni XX Shinasai: 40,1
😨
JVL cry streaks
Cry streaks
Sadness
Affix
Eyes
😭
Tear Bubble
Sadness
Affix
Eye
D.Gray-Man: 36,5
JVL blush
Blush
Embarrassment, Love
Affix
Face/Cheeks
Rosario+Vampire II: 8,3
😊☺️
JVL Flush
Flush
Embarrassment
Affix
Face/Cheeks
Rosario+Vampire II: 8,1
JVL Shadows on face
Shadows on face
Intimidation
Affix
Face
Bleach: 5,1
JVL Shadow Under Eye
Shadow under eye
Sickness
Affix
Eyes
Skip Beat: 12,5
JVL Shade covering eyes
Shade covered eyes
Anger
Affix
Eyes
Love so Life: 11,2
JVL Shadow around eyes
Shadow around eyes
Fear
Affix
Eyes
JVL Sweat drop
Giant sweat drop
Anxiety
Affix
Forehead
😓😅
JVL Plewds
Sweat drops around head (Plewds)
Flustered, Anxiety
Affix
Head
Naruto
JVL sweat
Sweat drops all over face
Fear, Anxiety
Affix
Face
Fairy Tale: 34,3
JVL breath mushroom
Breath mushroom
Relief
Affix
Mouth
Kaichou Wa Maid Sama: 19,6
😮‍💨
JVL Sleep bubble
Sleep bubble
Sleep
Affix
Nose
😪
JVL Pant
Breath bubbles (carriers)
Panting, Exhaustion
Affix
Mouth/head
Naruto: 28,5
JVL Zoom LInes
Zoom Lines
Focal Attention
Affix
Naruto 33,2
JVL circumfixing motion lines
Circumfixing motion lines Shaking, strain, slight movement
Affix
Body/Body Part
Naruto: 42,3
JVL glow face
Glowing face/body
Excitement
Affix
Head/Body
Naruto 16,4
JVL Scopic Spark
Scopic Spark
Surprise, Realization
Affix
Head
Naruto: 30,3
JVL Scopic Star
Scopic Star
Surprise, Realization
Affix
Eyes
Bleach: 3,2
JVL Scopic Lines
Scopic lines
Surprise, Realization
Affix
Eyes
Upfix – Hearts
Love
Affix
Head
Rosario+Vampire II: 16,5
🥰
JVL ?
Upfix – ?
Curious, confused
Affix
Head
Fairy Tail: 16,2
JVL !
Upfix – !
Surprise
Affix
Head
Fairy Tail: 7,5
JVL Spikes
Upfix – Spikes
Excitement
Surprise
Affix
Head
Naruto: 20,4
JVL Steam Nose
Steam
Frustration
Affix
Nose
Naruto: 29,6
😤
JVL >< eyes
>< – Eyes
Clenched eyes, happiness, pain, anger (depending on mouth)
Eye-Umlaut
Eyes
Love so Life: 34,1
😆😫😣😖
JVL Spirals
Spiral Eyes
Nausea, Dizziness
Eye-Umlaut
Eyes
Fairy Tail: 3,2
😵‍💫
JVL Dot eyes
Dot eyes
Hopeless, Overwhelmed
Eye-Umlaut
Eyes
Bleach: 8,3
JVL Glowing eyes
Glowing Eyes
Anger
Eye-Umlaut
Eyes
Kaichou Wa Maid Sama: 20,7
JVL Heart eyes
Heart eyes
Love
Eye-Umlaut
Eyes
Fairy Tail: 11,1
😍
JVL Lightening Eyes
Lightening eyes
Rivalry, anger
Eye-Umlaut
Eyes
Naruto
JVL circle eyes
Circle eyes
Confusion
Eye-Umlaut
Eyes
Love So Life: 35,3
JVL Bubble eyes
Bubble eyes
Coercion via cuteness
Eye-Umlaut
Eyes
Beelzebub: 13,6
🥺
JVL popped eyes
Popped eyes
Surprise
Eye-umlaut
Eyes
Beelzebub: 10,1
JVL no eyes
No eyes
Creepy, unreal
Eye-Umlaut
Eyes
JVL empty eyes
Empty eyes
Disbelief
Eye-Umlaut
Eyes
D.Gray-Man: 12,5
JVL tiny pupils
Tiny pupils
Anger, drive
Eye-Umlaut
Eyes
Bleach: 21,1
JVL no pupil
No pupils
Disbelief
Eye-Umlaut
Eyes
Rosario + Vampire: 21,2
JVL Monkey lip
Monkey lip
Lustful
Suppletion
Mouth
Soul Eater: 51,2
JVL pointed teeth
Pointed teeth
Plotting-Mal-intent
Suppletion
Mouth
JVL cat mouth
Cat Mouth
Smug
Suppletion
Mouth
(:3)
JVL Cat ears
Dog/Cat ears/hands
Embarrassment, playful
Suppletion
Ears
JVL Giant Yelling Head
Giant yelling head
Anger
Suppletion (?)
Head
Naruto: 29,5
JVL Chibi
Chibi (Superdeformation)
Exaggeration, overwhelming emotion
Suppletion
Head/Body
Skip Beat: 25,7
JVL Giant mouth
Giant Mouth
Surprise, anger
Suppletion (?)
Mouth
Soul Eater: 51,3
JVL Giant Teeth
Giant Teeth
Pain, anger
Suppletion (?)
Mouth
Naruto: 20,1
JVL Giant Ear
Giant Ear
Eavesdropping
Suppletion(?)
Ear
Watashi ni XX Shinsasai: 14,4
JVL Scream
Munch’s Scream
Fear, Shock
Suppletion
Body
Ranma 1/2
😱
JVL Stump hands
Loss of hands
Loss of control
Suppletion
Hands
Azumanga Daioh
JVL Shock pose
Shock pose
Surprise
Suppletion
Body/hands
Ranma 1/2
JVL Paperification
Paperification
Depression
Suppletion
Body
Skip Beat: 33,8
JVL two heads
Two heads
Conflicting emotion
Reduplication
Head
Fairy Tail: 4,2
JVL Sparkles
Sparkles
Happiness, elation
Background
Skip Beat: 2,1
JVL Fire
Fire
Rage
Background
Ranma 1/2
Vertical line gloom
Vertical line gloom
Depression, sadness
Background
Beelzebub: 6,1
JVL Flowers
Flower petals
Happiness
Background
Kaicho wa Maid-sama: 16,4
Heart background
Hearts
Love, Lust
Background
Fuzzy circles
Fuzzy circles/bubbles
Dream-like, fantasizing
Background
Skip Beat: 11,1
JVL Black
Black
Focus, ominous
Background
Naruto: 13,5
JVL Lightning
Lightning
Anger
Background
Love so Life: 6,2
Wavy lines
Wavy Lines
Fear
Background
Ranma 1/2
JVL Shaded person
Entire person shaded (white background)
Disbelief, shock
Background-foreground relation
D.Gray-Man: 30,2
Everything shaded
Everything shaded
Ominous
Background
Beelzebub: 16,4
JVL Swirling clouds
Swirling clouds/Fog
Murderous intent, anger
Background
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.