Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Manga Mania Month: Watch the hands, buster!

Here's another interesting bit of Rumiko Takahashi marginalia: hand gestures.  Specifically, a gesture that a character in One Pound Gospel makes when surprised:

It's more than just the hand gesture, of course; he's doing a full-body jump-scare reaction, but why the specific, "I love you"/Spider-Man-web-shooting hand motion?  He does it at least twice in the third volume:

So it's not just a quirk that Takahashi threw in one time.  I'm strangely fascinated by this; is it some sort of ritualistic warding off of evil spirits?  Some kind of recognizable gesture of the type that are so popular in Japan? An in-joke of Takahashi's that I'm not privy to?  Or just something goofy that doesn't deserve this much thought?  If anybody can illuminate me, I'd be quite happy.  Or I could just go on imagining reasons until my next obsession comes along.


  1. You know, I always thought it was something just she did. She's been using it since Urusei Yatsura and I've never seen it used elsewhere.

    If I had to guess given Takahashi's history of references, I'd say it was some sort of now-obscure pop-culture thing from the 1970s that she never dropped.

  2. This is interesting. That scared pose is really common in anime, but I don't think I've seen that hand symbol with it...but maybe I just never paid attention to the hands when they do that pose.
    In this Hoshin Engi picture, Taikobo is doing the hand symbol:
    It's an image from the anime, but I kind of remember him doing it in the manga too. There's also this, from Bleach:

    ...And I just looked it up. I figured it was some sort of Buddhist thing. It's pretty much what you thought:
    The Karana mudrā is the mudrā which expels demons and removes obstacles such as sickness or negative thoughts. It is made by raising the index and the little finger, and folding the other fingers. It is nearly the same as the rude gesture known as corna in many western countries, the difference is that in the Karana mudra the thumb does not hold down the middle and ring finger.