Thursday, September 23, 2010

Anime Word of the Week - Ahoge (アホ毛, アホげ)

Ahoge (アホ毛, アホげ) a single strand of hair that sticks out of a character's head. It literally means "foolish hair" or "stupid hair" or "idiot hair" and is a visual cue common to anime and manga. It is most often used to identify foolish, bumbling or carefree characters. In the west, Alfalfa from The Little Rascals would be the most identifiable character with what could be considered an ahoge.

Ahoge are a naturally occurring trait of the hair and are not created with the aid of styling tools. They also appear only near the top of the head, but can be anywhere on top, front or back. The look of ahoge can also vary widely, from long and thin to short and thick. While ahoge have been seen on characters for decades - Osamu Tezuka created characters with ahoge as far back as 1953 - the first series to popularize the specific use of the term is Pani Poni Dash!. In Pani Poni Dash the character Himeko Katagiri sported one and had a major story line in one episode dedicated to it; Himeko's also appears to be living as it moves on its own and mirrors her current mood.

Even if a character is not specifically stupid or naive, an Ahoge also usually represents some sort of mischievous quality about them.

Ahoge have appeared on numerous other characters but are usually limited to those appearing in works with comedic content and then mostly on females. Examples of characters that have an ahoge are Konata Izumi from Lucky Star, Megumi Momono from Mahoraba, Naru Narusegawa from Love Hina, Kenji Harima from School Rumble, Nori from Rozen Maiden, Meg from Burst Angel, and Italy, Romano, and a few other characters from Hetalia: Axis Powers. Male characters with ahoge are more rare but are not unknown, such as Edward Elric from the series Fullmetal Alchemist.

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