Created By: LORd on January 13, 2010
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Returning The Handkerchief

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I think we had this YKTTW a long time ago, but apparently it never got launched?

Anyways, a common Ship Tease device in anime and manga. A character sneezes or dirties himself in some way, and a girl lends him a handkerchief to clean himself up. Cue wacky hijinx as the guy tries to return the handkerchief later, cleaned and dried, to the girl. He will almost invariably be incredibly self-conscious about the act, because the girl who lent the handkerchied is either his crush, or the afflicted character is aware of the trope's romantic connotations.

I don't know how realistic this is. Do girls in Japan tend to carry around fancy decorated cloth handkerchiefs? I'm one for disposable paper ones, myself.

Only two examples that immediately come to mind are the Aneimo hentai anime and the last episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, where the trope is...averted?, because neither Tsuruya nor Kyon seems to pay much attention to the handkerchief.
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • January 13, 2010
    Fanra
    Some modern people tend to carry around paper tissues, but this trope still works for older stories and the modern people who still carry handkerchiefs.

    In a comedy, a man often offers a lady his handkerchief when she is crying over something sad. Then she blows her nose (noisily) into it and offers it back to him. He declines to take it, telling her to just keep it.
  • January 13, 2010
    Bisected8
    I'd say the "keep it" gag is gender neutral (I remember it happened to that kid in the The Mummy animated series with some old guy who saved him in the desert and turned out to be his Grandfather).
  • January 13, 2010
    random surfer
    The "keep it" version was my first YKTTW, which has since disappeared. There's also the "lady drops her handkerchief for a man to pick up" version.
  • January 13, 2010
    Evalana
    In Barbie And The Diamond Castle, Jeremy and Ian find Liana's handkerchief after she and Alexa spurn their advances, and they use it as an excuse to follow after the girls.
  • January 14, 2010
    FeralPhoenix
    In DN Angel, Satoshi lends his handkerchief to Daisuke in the first volume; Daisuke gives it back in the second volume during a chapter that begins to explore Satoshi's character more. This is definitely played for the Ho Yay.
  • January 14, 2010
    LORd
    Mmm hmmm. The "keep it" gag should probably be a different trope entirely since it's so divorced in both meaning and history from what I had in mind, unless we're going to call this the Troperrific Handkerchief or something.
  • January 14, 2010
    archie
    Inverted, subverted and combined with an Indulgent Fantasy Segue in Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro Chan.
  • January 15, 2010
    LORd
    So, uhhh...anyone got any input on the romantic Ship Tease/gross-out gag dichotomy?
  • January 15, 2010
    Evalana
    Well, I don't know if this happened in the book, but in an Animated Adaptation of The Three Musketeers, one of the eponymous musketeers drops his handkerchief, and d'Artagnan picks it up and returns it to him:
    (paraphrased)
    d'Artagnan: Your handkerchief, monsieur.
    Musketeer: ... That's not mine.
    d'Artagnan: But I saw you drop it!
    It ends with the musketeer challenging d'Artagnan to a duel.

  • January 15, 2010
    Cidolfas
    The comedic variation is done in The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe (the book). Lucy hands a handkerchief to a giant, but when he's finished with it, it's a sopping mess, and she tells him to keep it.
  • January 15, 2010
    random surfer
    @Evalana: That's in the book, and every adaptation I've seen.
  • January 15, 2010
    superluser
    In Othello, Iago makes sure that his wife's handkerchief gets returned to him by way of Cassio, whom Iago wants to frame as making advances of Desdemona, making this Older Than Steam (and possibly Older Than Print, given that Shakespeare based it off of an Italian story a century prior)
  • January 15, 2010
    Bisected8
    An old Bugs Bunny short has him advise his victim to start courting. He then dresses up as a woman, drops his handkerchief for him and freaks out (in his female persona, as if the guy had done something lewd) when the guy returns it.
  • January 15, 2010
    KZN02
    Occurs in Lucky Star between Yutaka and Minami.
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