The Japanese and Chinese equivalent of "burning ears". If you sneeze once, it means someone is talking or thinking about you; sneeze twice, it means someone is talking or thinking bad
things about you.
After a discussion describing a particular person or group of people, there will be momentary fast cut to that person or a member of the group (who is currently uninvolved in the action) suddenly sneezing and looking confused, followed by a fast cut back to the original discussion. Often, an observing character will show Genre Blindness
and suggest that the sneezer is coming down with a cold.
This can also be used as a segue without the cut back to the original scene.
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Anime and Manga
- 13m45s into episode 12 of the 1982 anime adaptation of Tokimeki Tonight when Santa Claus is sitting in his boxers (having lent his suit to Ranze Eto) he sneezes (one might think initially from the chill) and laments that someone must be talking to him. It then switches to Ranze's rival talking about how there isn't any Santa, proving the trope.
- Shippo and Inuyasha are both seen to sneeze when others are talking about them. In Inuyasha's case, he's quick to gripe about how "someone's talking shit about me!"
- Inuyasha's rant about the trouble two warring brothers are causing derails when he spots everyone's disbelief. He defensively claims his problem with Sesshoumaru is nothing like this, causing Sango to wonder if Sesshoumaru's sneezing. The scene cuts to...Jaken sneezing on Sesshoumaru's behalf.
- Used in Card Captor Sakura when Sakura's brother Toya is being talked about.
- Another amusing one: Meilin storms out angry at Syaoran to which she says "Syaoran you idiot." Cut to Syaoran sneezes.
- Also at one time when Tomoyo's mother was talking to Sakura about her father.
- Seen several times in Ranma ˝.
- Also frequent in Rurouni Kenshin, including at least one instance where the sneeze nearly alerts guards to the person's presence. One sequence has multiple characters announce one after the other how much they dislike Saito, followed by a cut to him in a restaurant sneezing repeatedly as someone nearby comments on this. He acknowledges this as a sign of being disliked, but seems almost proud of it.
- Happens during the Fanservice Hot Springs Episode of Outlaw Star (#23, the one that didn't show on American television). Jim notices Gene is missing and figures he's up to no good. Cut to Gene sneezing far from the springs and wondering if he's caught a cold.
- This happens to the title character of Irresponsible Captain Tylor in one episode, after which he comments, "Either someone's talking about me, or I'm coming down with a cold."
- This happens to Ayeka on episode 2 of the Tenchi Muyo! OAV.
- This happens in Descendants of Darkness more often than you would expect.
- Happens to Allen three times in one episode in D.Gray-Man. By the end of the episode, he decides it must be a cold.
- A small panel in Tokyo Mew Mew a la Mode shows Kisshu on his planet sneezing when the Mews mention the aliens.
- In a second season episode of Magic Knight Rayearth, this happens to Tarta when princess Aska talks about the invaders from Chizeta. Her sister Tatra comments on this; when Tarta sneezes for the second time, Tatra mentions that somebody is saying bad things about them, which is, again, exactly what Aska is doing.
- Happens several times in Maison Ikkoku; for example, Godai in chapter 127.
- In the second episode of Mai-Otome 0~S.ifr~, Sakura sneezes when the headmistress of Garderobe, Una Shamrock, mentions "that brat from the Sun Kingdom".
- Happens a few times in Fushigi Yuugi - for example, when a drunk Tasuki is making a face like Nuriko's.
- Happens once in the manga version of Naru Taru. "She's a dangerous woman, that Aki Sato..."
- Episode 3 of Ikkitousen: Great Guardians uses this with Hakufu's mother. She remarks that either the young man at the coffee shop or the convenience store must be talking about her, but it's actually her daughter insulting her.
- Dragon Ball Z:
- When someone mentioned their best hope for defeating the Saiyans, it cuts to Goku on Snake Way, who sneezes for no apparent reason.
- Yamcha, during Future Trunk's first arrival, telling why Bulma and Yamcha are never together.
- Mr. Satan, in the anime version.
- Chi Chi, at least in the anime. During the cell games, an elderly couple who seem to know Chi Chi comment on how irresponsible it is for her to let her husband go out fighting like that. Cut to Chi Chi sneezing.
- In a chapter of Dragon Ball SD taking place at the beginning of Dragon Ball, Bulma tells Goku that when she gets all the Dragon Balls, she plans to wish for her Prince Charming. Cut to Vegeta, on a spaceship out somewhere in space, sneezing.
- In YuYu Hakusho, Kuwabara is talking about Yukina, whom he adores, in front of a large crowd of unsympathetic spectators at a tournament. Shortly, the scene cuts to the females, who are lost in the woods, and Yukina sneezes. Botan takes the Genre Savvy route and outs with a short, rather cheesy rhyme (English Dub: "sneezy, sneezy- achoo! Someone special's talkin' about you~!"). Shizuru calls her a freak, but Yukina smiles about it.
- In the manga-only finale, cute demon girls Koto, Juri, and Ruka are being interviewed for a TV Show (at this point, human-demon relations are starting to thaw out), and they each go all gushy when the talk goes to boyfriends. A panel or two later, Touya, Jin, and Suzuka (the respective boyfriends) all sneeze on cue.
- In Dramacon, when several characters plot to pair up Bethany and Raj, there's a fast cut to the two of them simultaneously sneezing and getting chills up their spines.
- Tsunade in Naruto does this when Chiyo talks about her dislike of that slug-princess.
- Naruto himself has this happen fairly early, though when someone else tells him about this trope, he states that he doesn't believe it.
- The opening scene of a later episode of El Cazador de la Bruja has L.A. seething about Nadie, having just realized that she's his main rival for Ellis' affection, and then cuts to Nadie sneezing. Amusingly, after being asked by Ellis if she has a cold, Nadie Genre Savvily explains this trope, before launching into a rather funny speech about how someone must surely be talking about her beauty and prowess as a bounty hunter.
- This happens to Kogoro Mouri more than once in Detective Conan, amongst others.
- Happens at least once in Digimon Tamers, to Terriermon, when another character talks about digimon being treated like dolls.
- In Onegai Twins, the main character of the previous series, Please Teacher!, is seen to sneeze when someone discusses the matter of a teacher being married to a student at the school.
- Hayate the Combat Butler:
- Episode 13, when one character starts thinking of another and mentions her name, she sneezes.
- Episode 15, two characters are discussing a ridiculously good student and we cut to a particular character sneezing.
- The first episode of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei - "Is it allergies?"
- The reverse version happens to Touko in Kara no Kyoukai, though she's alone and therefore doesn't get the obligatory comment about a cold.
- Manabi Straight, the school principal sneezes when one student mentions that she wasn't punished for some antics due to "super-regulatory measures".
- Nagasarete Airantou combines this gag with a nosebleed in this panel.
- At the end of the Pokémon episode "If the Scarf Fits, Wear It!", the owners of the Daycare Center tell their daughter Angie (yet another girl to crush on Ash) that she and Ash should get married and look after the daycare, at which point Ash, who was just several feet away, sneezes. Nobody comments about it (the episode ends right there), though he does get strange looks from Dawn and Brock.
- Happens several times in Beelzebub when Oga is being talked about, complete with the "I must be getting a cold" line.
- Happens early in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, while the Ryozanpaku masters are discussing about having Kenichi move in with them.
- Happens more often than that. In one instance, Sakaki is gloating that he can help Kenichi out without "That meddling mustache" interfering, upon which we cut to Akisame sneezing, and he knows Sakaki is talking about him. Later on, Kenichi is fighting a Brainwashed and Crazy Miu and tries to snap her out of her trance with the Ma-style Memory Recovery Technique. Cut to Ma Kensei sneezing, upon which he wonders how the kids are doing.
- In Hidamari Sketch, Yoshinoya-sensei is occasionally the one seen sneezing in a cut from the main characters talking about her.
- In GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class, Namiko is out sick, and it's making the other main characters lonely, so Tomokane draws her, and Noda adds a punning tsukkomi line. Kisaragi gets a text from Namiko, reporting that she sneezed three times in a row, and saying to slap Tomokane or Noda as a precaution.
- When Noda is tasked with carrying three cardboard boxes that sort of resemble Namiko, she wears them on her head. As she goes, Sasamoto and Homura say things to her in passing that indicate they think she's Chikako. Not having met her, she wonders who they think she is. In the first panel of the next strip, Chikako sneezes, although she attributes it to dust from cleaning.
- When Homura is telling the art club about how he's fallen for Noda, he remembers her name. Cut to Noda, turning her head and sneezing on her classmate Tomokane. (Namiko notices that the air conditioner hits directly on that spot, and Noda mentions getting a little sweaty running around.) The Noda who sneezed was Noda Miki, the main character, but the Noda whom Homura fell for is her big sister.
- Wild and Horned Hermit chapter 9: Reimu declares she's going to start exterminating all non-humans for simply being non-human. Sneeze Cut to Kasen. Among the increasing number of unsubtle hints that Kasen is an oni.
- To Love-Ru Zastin had one by Saki Tenjouin due to her complaining of the security in the house.
- There is an episode of Ghost Hunt in which this is the only thing that Lin does.
- In Legend of Galactic Heroes, after Yang Wen-li foiled the Imperial attack on Iserlohn Fortress by destroying the mobile Geiersburg Fortress, Wolfgang Mittermeyer, one of the top-ranking admirals in the Empire, imagined Yang to be busy dancing with women in a victory celebration. The next scene cuts directly to Yang sneezing in his bed and it is revealed that he had actually caught a cold.
- Late in the series when Paul von Oberstein, Fritz Joseph Bittenfeld and Neidhart Müller were dispatched to restore order in the planet Heinessen, Bittenfeld loudly expressed his displeasure in working with Oberstein, who was within earshot. The scene then cut to Oberstein who remained in his usual laconic composure but Bittenfeld could be heard sneezing twice in the background!
- Occurred to Edward Elric in FullmetalAlchemist.
- In an extra stage OVA of Initial D, this happens when Mako is talking about Iketani.
- In the eighth episode of Rockman.EXE AXESS, due to a trap that prevents the use of Battle Chips and confuses him, Rockman (Megaman) asks Netto (Lan) who is his rival. The real one declares Enzan (Chaud), the fake one declares Higure (Higsby), then we are treated to a cut to the chip enthusiast sneezing.
- Chapter 1 of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha INNOCENT ends with a Sneeze Cut to Nanoha when the Dark Materials notice that Levi the Slasher has her eyes set on the eponymous character.
- The Severing Crime Edge: In chapter 10, when some of Kiri's classmates wonder if Kiri tried to confess to the class president, Kashiko, the scene changes to Kashiko sneezing.
- Kimi wa Midara na Boku no Joou chapter 5.5 (Bangaihen) page 9 has this in the 4th (2nd last) panel, when Subaru is muttering about something she wants Akira to do to her, and he sneezes and he immediately thinks of her as a result.
- In Anatolia Story, Yuri catches a peasant woman impersonating her to ruin her reputation. Instead of ordering the woman to be harshly punished, she offers her a second chance with a job as her maid. Kail points out that it's a pretty soft punishment considering how much trouble the woman caused, and Yuri reminds him that her three other maids tried to kill her because of a misunderstanding, but now are very faithful to her. When she makes this point, there's a small panel of the three maids sneezing.
- In Episode 8 of Log Horizon, Shiroe reacts to Henrietta referring to his nickname "The Villian in Glasses"
- Used quite a bit in anime and manga based fanfiction (or just by authors influenced by anime and manga). One Ranma/Pokemon crossover fic had the author mention that he'd run the sneeze gag into the ground.
Live Action TV
- Kamen Rider Fourze: while on the Class Trip to Kyoto, Kamen Rider Club President Yuki expresses her joy at finally getting the freedom to do what she wants, without the nosy club "chairwoman" Miu breathing down her neck. Miu (on the Club's Home Base on the moon) reacts appropriately.
- Four episodes later, Shun Daimonji starts sneezing when Kengo and Tomoko reveal their football retrieving robot named Daimonji—three times in fact.
- Much, much earlier, in #5, this is actually Foreshadowing: Ohsugi is looking through the newspaper for his daily horoscope, which is Scorpio. Sonoda briefly sneezes, a hint to her identity as the Scorpio Zodiarts.
- Happens in Star Ocean 1 with Milly being discussed by Roddick's group, then we cut to Milly who sneezes. This scene was excised for the PSP remake.
- In the Ghost in the Shell video game for the PlayStation, someone mentions Aramaki in one FMV, and the scene cuts to Aramaki at a meeting, sneezing and saying "Someone's talking about me."
- During the mission "Salt Road" in Blaze Union, the second half of the battlefield opens with Garlot interrogating a corrupt noble as to why he's raising salt taxes and giving all the extra money to Pandra; of course, he winds up rattling off a string of insults towards Pandra while doing so. Pandra himself, who has just arrived onscene, sneezes and deduces that clearly, pretty girls are spreading rumors about him because he's such a ~handsome devil~.
- During the third act of Wild ARMs 3, Virginia is looking for a gem, and somehow thinks about Maya...Cue a change of scene with Maya sneezing.
- Persona 4 subtly slips this in, with tragic implications. After hearing a news story about an interview with an anonymous grade-school girl, your little cousin Nanako sneezes...and she ends up being the next kidnapping/murder victim.
- Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star has this as the closest Doctor Shuu has to encountering or acknowledging Nishikikouji Tohri.
- Referenced as a gag in Dragon Quest III. An NPC complains that her neighbor sneezes too much. The reason he's sneezing is because she's talking about how much he sneezes.