Expressing emotions by loss of hands Azumanga-style (Abbott & Forceville, 2011)

I should add manga and anime in my alert database because this little funny jewel fell in my inbox this morning and I just can’t pass this up that Media Studies scholars Michael Abbott and Charles Forceville (University of Amsterdam)  wrote a paper 0n emotional expressions from the fourth volume of Azumanga Daioh.


Comics and manga have many ways to convey the expression of emotion, ranging from exaggerated facial expressions and hand/arm positions to the squiggles around body parts that Kennedy (1982) calls ‘pictorial runes’. According to Ekman at least some emotions — happiness, surprise, fear, sadness, anger, disgust — are universal, but this is not necessarily the case for their expression in comics and manga. While many of the iconic markers and pictorial runes that Forceville (2005) charted in an Asterix album to indicate that a character is angry occur also in Japanese manga, Shinohara and Matsunaka also found markers and runes that appear to be typical for manga. In this article we examine an unusual signal conveying that a character is emotionally affected in Volume 4 of Kiyohiko Azuma’s Azumanga Daioh: the ‘loss of hands’. Our findings (1) show how non-facial information helps express emotion in manga; (2) demonstrate how hand loss contributes to the characterization of Azuma’s heroines; (3) support the theorization of emotion in Conceptual Metaphor Theory.

I shall add this qualitative paper in my summer reading list.

Abbott, M. and Forceville, C. (2011). Visual representation of emotion in manga: Loss of control is loss of hands in azumanga daioh volume 4. Language and Literature, 20(2):91-112.  doi: 10.1177/0963947011402182


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