We often see in anime, the notorious nosebleed scenes. When a character experiences a provocative thought, it results in a brief, exaggerated explosion with blood splatter all over the place. Prevalent in series containing fanservice, nosebleeds in anime have been so commonplace that many wonder if there is any truth or scientific basis to support this phenomenon. Questionably, can we denote this trope in anime as a social and cultural influence only recognizable in Japanese media? Moreover, in comparing Japanese life to the way of the Western world, the topic of sex, and all that branches from it, is handled in a discreet and delicate manner, not necessarily taboo, but not openly discussed either. With each nosebleed scene that has come across our path, we can no doubt state that they are placed in episodes for a good, healthy laugh.
So in this editorial, we at Honey’s would like to discuss the topic that has us seeing red: why nosebleeds?
Let’s Go Back To The Beginning
Before we jump into things, let us put that science on you for a second. FYI, nosebleeds are also known as epistaxis from the Greek word, epistazo, which means, “to bleed from the nose.” Breaking it down, epi means above or over and stazo means to drip. Whoa, you guys blown away yet? Although a good portion of the human population has experienced a nosebleed at some point in their lives (60 percent), a small 6 percent have required medical attention. Even though the sight of blood may be scary to some, the significant stream of blood from the nose is rarely fatal (American Rhinologic Society, 2015). Furthermore, as the nose is home to some key arteries, nosebleeds can occur spontaneously or by trauma, say when someone gets punched or when a person is digging too hard for boogers. Taking all this into account, sexual arousal and nosebleeds have no direct connection.
So the nosebleed is a jest that the anime and manga community started as a visual for viewers, showing when a character is having naughty thoughts and is aroused without needing to address the action straight-forward. Using nosebleeds may have bloomed from an old Japanese wives’ tale of the same meaning. This imagery is similar to the Western’s take on showing arousal, for example, when a male character’s eyes bulge out of his sockets as an attractive woman walks his way, e.g. Roger and Jessica Rabbit. The establishment of the whole nosebleed she-bang began with manga artist Yasuji Tanioka, who introduced this concept in one of his works in the early 1970s. Tanioka’s series, Yasuji no Mettameta Gaki Dou Kouza, shows a young boy provoking a peeping Tom into having a nosebleed when he snips off a piece of a woman’s dress and reveals her panties. Following this, many others began replicating and incorporating nosebleeds into their work. As there isn’t much information on anime and manga nosebleeds in the 1980s, the topic surely boomed in the 1990s, with usage in such shows as Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon.
Don’t Be So Modest!
As mentioned prior, as a tactful way of describing the climatic point in lovemaking, nosebleeds provide a polite visual to “when the deed is done.” To a lesser degree, nosebleeds are a response to a character’s titillation when he or she sees something erotically pleasing, like oppai, bikini babes, a major 6-pack, and the like; implying an orgasm or ejaculation. To this, censorship plays a key role in anime broadcasting. As anime and manga seek to sustain a relatable quality with their audience, the average anime character, in likeness to the everyday teen, holds an above-standard level libido. Furthermore, nosebleed scenes are not exclusive to guys, as we are seeing more play out with female characters.
So plainly speaking, what is a young guy or gal to do with all this pent-up energy that needs release in an inflated fashion? As Western entertainment is plagued with series detailing lots of scandal and sex to keep their viewers, anime and manga don’t feel the need to fill the “sex sells” criteria, sorta. Going against this, in response to and regarding safe sex practices, these visuals, -we assume- are to help teens and young adults guide these urges towards riskless measures. Directing this energy towards productive hobbies and interests such as anime and manga binging, we think it alright to say that one can’t get pregnant or acquire an STD while watching anime, reading manga, or shopping for collectibles, amirite?!
Social and Cultural Influence
“Let’s talk about sex, baby.”
When discussing this subject, one may react in two ways: either a person is totally comfortable with it, letting it all hang out, or they turn completely red in the face, filled with embarrassment because of mentioning the “S” word. In any part of the world, these outcomes are a likely response for anyone.
From a sociological standpoint, in the Asian household, sex education isn’t normally learned from parents by openly asking about it, but instead knowledge is acquired from outside sources. The whole ordeal, i.e. sex, orgasms, and ejaculations, is like pulling teeth, and essentially, it is easier to find out about the subject through books, Google, and television. Fortunately, the times are changing, allowing for more open discussions, diminishing populations that are still mum about anything sex. However, Japan remains closed about being openly sexual and showing PDA, despite the myriad of ecchi and hentai anime, manga, and figurines accessible for consumption. As sex is a natural part of life, anime proves to be super awesome because it attempts to bring to light this hot and steamy topic, in a way to educate, and at the same time, entertain its youth and young adult audience.
Moving along, when many of us think of Japan, we see it as a forward-moving society, albeit, one that merges the traditional with dat new new. On a global scale, the category of anime and manga is distinguishable as one of many sweet facets that represent Japanese culture. To this, when we observe nosebleeds in anime and manga, we certainly always trace it back to Japanese media and entertainment, as there is no other source that postulates sexual arousal with nosebleeds.
Anime and manga artists are creative and talented people. Always searching for ways to be grander than before, these individuals have to keep in mind and ask themselves, “how can we keep our viewers engaged?” Many can say that some elements that have viewers tuning in include a great storyline, characters, and the overall good mood they put you in. Going in on that light-hearted feeling, we at Honey’s can say that a healthy laugh can be drawn from so many comedic series. With each passing season, nosebleed scenes have grown more ostentatious, exaggerated and excessive. Keeping us guessing what they can come up with next, nosebleeds in anime and manga cause laughter and are simply amusing.
Overall, we hope this article gives you a little explanation as to why nosebleeds occur in anime. In our opinion, this trope is not likely to disappear anytime soon, and its portrayal by our favorite anime characters is going to continue, growing more elaborate and overdramatic. As there are so many scenes of nosebleeds bursting in numbers, we aren’t able to keep track of them all. So let us know if you agree with this assessment. Feel free to leave your comments below. Thanks, enjoy, and keep bleeding love, friends!
Garg, R., Suh, J. (2015). Epistaxis (Nosebleeds). American Rhinologic Society. Retrieved from, http://care.american-rhinologic.org/epistaxis