The visual expression of anger: LOSS OF CONTROL IS LOSS OF HANDS
in azumanga, vol 4
Charles Forceville (University of Amsterdam, Department of Media Studies)
Emotions are complex concepts whose expression in language is strongly dependent on metaphor, as Kövecses (1986, 2000) amply demonstrates. Recently, CMT scholars have begun to pay attention to the representation of emotions in comics (Forceville 2005, 2011; Van Eunen 2007; Eerden 2009; Moes 2010), both with reference to body postures, facial expressions and “pictorial runes” (the non-iconic flourishes surrounding characters' heads). Such research helps attest the validity of CMT’s claim that human beings think metaphorically, since it pertains to visual rather than verbal information.
Shinohara and Matsunaka (2009) were the first to apply Forceville’s (2005) model to the Japanese manga genre. By and large they found the same runes and other visual emotion cues as identified in Asterix, but also discovered some novel emotional markers. In this paper we further extend the anger research in manga by discussing a very unusual phenomenon in Kiyohiko Azuma’s Azumanga Daioh, namely characters’ loss of hands. This phenomenon can be rendered as the metaphor loss of control is loss of hands. We demonstrate how the loss of hands signals anger, but also other forms of losing control. Further issues to be addressed are (1) the “embodied” nature of this unusual symptom of anger (cf. Yu 2003); (2) hand-loss’ contribution to the characterization of Azumanga’s six heroines; (3) methodological matters.
It is our contention that this type of research will not only benefit CMT, but also the budding fields of comics scholarship and, more broadly, of visual and multimodal discourse.