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Kakimoji S.O.S. #15 – Laughing with Kakimoji

Enrico Croce Enrico Croce 31/05/2018 9 min read
I’ve introduced many varying Kakimoji techniques in the course of this series, but until now, I haven’t covered the rules. Why, you ask? Because there aren’t any!  Much like the nature manga itself, expressing Kakimoji is very much a personal choice for the creator in charge. Going so far as to creating their own rules in the process. Though this may sound daunting, even difficult, it is by far one of the most interested aspects of making manga.  Today, we will step, once again into the world Kakimoji and analyse the work of a great manga sensei (can you guess who??), as we look at originality and application of our favorite “printed sounds!”    Kakimoji used in “dense” panels. The sheer talent of Hara sensei (you guessed it!) shines the brightest when he creates panels, heavy in action and power. Even amongst these dense, throbbing boxes of power, Hara sensei is able to expertly insert Kakimoji and allow it to breath amongst the maelstrom of muscle! This perfect balance of both action and Kakimoji turns this scene from amazing, into explosive!  “YOU ARE ALREADY…KAKIMOJIED!”    ● White with Black Border/Black with White Border 


A very bold, personal rule of Hara sensei is the use of color. In the picture above, we can see how he has employed a stark white coloring with thick, black borders. This use of light is in direct contrast to the darkness of the scene, thereby able to stand out brilliantly. This is in direct contrast to using black, with a white border to emphasis the heaviness of the scene.  This is a great example of imposing your own rules when using Kakimoji. By choosing between these two formats, you can drastically change the tone and atmosphere of the scene with tremendous, never tried before Kakimoji-power!

 ボッ(BO!) ドゴーン (DOGOON)



 ★ White Kakimoji with a black border: the contrast here allows you to adjust the timbre of the   scene, while adding a sense of sharpness.
  • Dense and dark background color. In scenes in which the strong feelings of the character are expressed, the use of sharp Kakimoji allows you to emphasize the emotions displayed. 
<Application hints used in Hara sensei’s work> GOOD! – O: While thinking about the basic Kakimoji design, it is very important to arrange and add flourishes that match action in the panel. NOT GOOD – X: If you use overlapping black character Kakimoji’s in a frame with dense backgrounds or a strong characters, the inclusion of the Kakimoji can sometimes diminish or interfere with the picture. 
  What you need for a “Gag Panel” 


In Japan, there is a traditional style of stand-up comedy known as “Manzai”. Usually performed by two comedians, the act consists of the “Tsukkomi” (straight man) and the “Boke” (funny man), with the “Tsukkomi” regularly striking the in frustration as their antics!   This comedic devise isn’t to cause pain to the bumbling “Boke”, rather, it is a form a slapstick.  Therefore, the comedians go to great pains to perfect this action, ensuring the sound of the tap gives off a light, yet strong sound in order to make the audience laugh. This particular sound, so different from the hard thud of a real punch is in keeping with the humorous goals of the “Manzai” duo.  So, what kind of ingenuity is necessary when creating a “gag sound” in manga? ● Emphasizing lightness over aggression

ビュッ バッ ビョッ (BYU, BA, BYO)

The character on the right is using a fighting technique that would kill his opponent, if this was a serious manga. However, the design of the Kakimoji, namely small and rounded, tells us this is a comical scene.  Just like the “Tsukkomi” on Manzai, the character’s attack here is over-the-top enough to elicit laughs from the reader.  With the use of a black border, we get the feeling the sounds are very heavy, thereby decreasing the “gag” element. But add the characters in white, you can balance this element out and finish with a “gag” like effect.  <Application hints for gag manga Kakimoji> ● Use a serious Kakimoji and present in an opposing design

カッ( KA!)

The character below is shouting the famous “Atatata” sound. This, coupled with the caricaturish facial expression can be seen serious, within a “gag” setting… The seriousness of the action, presented in this way just adds to the comedy of the scene!  Remember, in “gag” manga, you do not necessarily have to use humorous Kakimoji in every scene, indeed, by using serious Kakimoji presented in a humorous style, you will ensure a more sophisticated level comedy.  I have introduced a rich variety of Kakimoji techniques today, all abiding by the rules of the creator. So carry on reading manga, carry on observing which, when and how the Kakimoji is presented and try for yourself!    H-Hey! What is the “PenMaru says” moment?! Oh well, thank you for reading this Hara sensei-lover guy’s article today, too!       See you next week! CIAO!  
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Enrico Croce

Enrico Croce