Issues of Sexual Iconography in Japanese Anime

Japanese culture is commonly perceived as the anime culture. Therefore, it is associated with several visible symbols. One of them is nosebleed as a symbol of sexual excitement that is a feature of male characters seeing someone physically attractive. In fact, love and sex are two common plotlines of any Japanese anime, even science fiction ones. It is commonly associated with an emotional urge. A symbol of sexual excitement is always universal – nosebleed in male characters.

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For instance, consider the following scenario: In summer, the temperature was high. Hundreds and thousands of people came from all over the country to the beach, and they relaxed by soaking up the sand, sunlight, and sea. A group of young men were chatting and laughing about the current news. At that moment, a beautiful and gorgeous lady passed by them. They immediately stopped to stare at the woman, and then their face turned red, and their nose started to bleed. This is the spot, which the character’s nosebleed when they get excited, especially sexual excitement that can easily be found in the Japanese anime.

The scenario mentioned above is a common plot of numerous anime movies. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that nosebleed is the usual representation of sexual excitement and arousal. Still, it is challenging to find out what is the motivation behind such a symbol of demonstrating interest in one’s physical attractiveness and sexual excitement.

Therefore, the main objective of the paper at hand is to study peer-reviewed articles and academic literature to conclude whether there are any real causes for such a reaction to physical beauty. Before reviewing the literature, I argue that nosebleed is sexual iconography in anime that is widely acceptable in Japanese movie culture. The research will be concerned with the following issues: reasons of a nosebleed, the existence of this phenomenon in real life, sexual representation in Japanese anime, and the overall connection between anime and Japanese culture.

Nosebleed is a common symbol in Japanese anime. Moscato (2017) states that is associated with environmental changes and a significant impact of the surrounding environment on a character. Nevertheless, in anime, the most recognizable cause of nosebleed is sexual arousal. To obtain a better apprehension of this phenomenon and understand why it is a frequently met symbol in Japanese anime, it is essential to understand its roots and whether it has a biological explanation. In this way, it is critical to conclude whether it is possible in real life or is demonstrated in anime only.

First of all, it is of significant importance to become aware of the roots of such an iconographic symbol in Japanese anime. As for now, nosebleed as a symbol of sexual arousal is perceived as an element of Japanese folklore. In this way, it is believed to be an inseparable element of Japanese culture. However, it is critical to point to the fact that the foundation of this anime symbol is the real folk belief that nosebleed is a representation of sexual attraction, as stated by Slaven (2012). According to external, non-scholarly research, this symbol was indeed taken from folk art. Therefore, I agree with the abovementioned assumption that it was simply transferred to anime.

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Still, even though it was transferred from folklore to anime, it is imperative to recognize that there are no scientific facts or evidence supporting the belief that sexual excitement or arousal can lead to nosebleed, especially such dramatic instances as demonstrated in anime. Even though there can be individual examples of nosebleed connected to sexual excitement, they are not common phenomena. Instead, it might be a symptom of more critical health concerns, such as hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) (Scarano et al., 2013). Also, according to my research, it can be associated with changes in the external environment of an individual or increased exposure to stressors. What I think is said here is that the emergence of a beautiful person cannot be considered as such a significant change in the external environment that can cause a nosebleed. From this perspective, my stance is similar to that of researchers – such a phenomenon is rare in real life.

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