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In several anime shows, when a character is staring at another, the character actually says "stare" (sometimes with the "stare" in written form too not unlike manga - not the subtitles).

From the context and the animation, the stare is obvious, so why go the extra mile and literally shout "stare"??

This is not about the lightning display when two characters stare into each other. It is about saying or shouting stare when staring.


I understand that in manga you have to put those things in written form, so this question is restricted to anime media.

  • I feel that this question may involve confirmation bias; Can you list examples with this pattern? – Unihedron Apr 20 '15 at 15:15
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    I believe it's for comedic effect. If they just stare like we would in the real world, it wouldn't be as funny as if they were saying "stare". It's like the oversized sweat drop or the tripping when surprised. – Nolonar Apr 20 '15 at 15:15
  • @Unihedro: One recent example is from Absolute Duo, episode 1 or 2, when Julie stares at Tooru during class. The word "Jiiii~~~~" is spoken. – nhahtdh Apr 20 '15 at 15:26
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In Japanese, there is actually an onomatopoeia/mimetic for the act of staring: じー jii (or something similar to that - mimetics don't generally have strictly prescribed spellings as far as I'm aware). To the English speaker, this seems bizarre, because staring is not an action that produces sound, so why would there be an onomatopoeia for it? Nonetheless, for whatever reason, Japanese is a language rich in mimetics, and often has mimetics for concepts that lack equivalent onomatopoeia in English.

So to the Japanese audience, it isn't terribly weird that there would be a "sound effect" accompanying someone staring at someone else. Now, I don't know that it's necessarily often the case that "the character actually says 'stare'" - certainly the character's voice actor will say jii, but I don't think that this corresponds to the character themself saying jii. I think the idea is more that using jii there as sort of a "sound effect" just emphasizes the fact that someone is staring at someone else.

Anyway, this causes a problem for subtitlers - clearly something is being spoken, but this particular utterance is something that simply does not and cannot occur in English. I don't know what a good solution to this is, and I guess that nobody else does, either, and this is how we end up with subtitles that make it look like the character is literally saying the word "stare". Which looks really stupid in English, but is there a better way to go about it? Not that I'm aware of.

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