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Beam of Enlightenment

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Tristan demonstrates while hungry.

"Enter anime shwing~ sound effect here."

A commonly used device when the character gets a moment of clarity, shock, or insight: what looks like a laser or a lightning bolt on a black background will shoot behind their heads. Used to emphasize the urgency or impact of what the character has just realized.

The Idea Bulb is a similar convention in Western media. Alertness Blink also has a lot in common with this trope.

Not to be confused with the similar Thunder Shock, which expresses, well, shock.

Compare Natural Spotlight and Rays from Heaven.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Another instance where it is used frequently is in Case Closed, whenever the title character finally realizes who the criminal is. It's also used when a character finds a breakthrough, when the suspect/victim of the week hears something uncomfortable that is bound to turn up later.
  • Various moments in the Dragon Ball franchise when someone senses another character's ki (energy).
    • It also marks the triggering of many transformations. In particular, Goku turning into the Great Ape while imprisoned by Pilaf in Dragon Ball; Gohan's first transformation into the Great Ape during his survival training under Piccolo in the Saiyan saga of Dragon Ball Z; the flashback to Vegeta's first transformation to Super Saiyan in the Androids saga of Z; Trunks' first transformation into Super Saiyan after the murder of Gohan by Androids 17 and 18 in the bad future; and Gohan's first transformation into Super Saiyan 2 when triggered by Perfect Cell murdering Android 16 during the Cell Games.
  • Digimon Ghost Game: The human protagonists always call out the attacks of their Digimon partners, and each duo is shown to spontaneously "learn" new attacks every so often while in combat - represented by the attack name flashing by the human's head before they speak it.
    • This is given a dark twist in episode 13, when GulusGammamon triggers a flash in Hiro as he prepares to execute the Villain of the Week. Horrified by the actions of Gammamon's Superpowered Evil Side, Hiro rejects the flash before it can resolve into an attack name, apparently causing himself physical pain. At which point GulusGammamon calls Hiro useless and just uses the attack by himself.
  • Glass Mask repeatedly uses this when Maya, or Ayumi, struggle with their portrayal of a character and then suddenly get this beam, when they manage to figure out how to properly do it.
  • Ditto title hero of The Kindaichi Case Files.
  • Can be seen at various points in Ranma ½, usually used for comic effect.
  • Often occurs in Yu-Gi-Oh!, when Yugi manages to think up a strategy to beat his latest opponent.
  • Seen in the sixth episode of the TV version of Ah! My Goddess, when Belldandy sensed the entity possessing Megumi's apartment.
  • In Gundam shows, the Beam of Enlightenment signifies a Newtype's danger sense going off, and is generally referred to as the "Newtype flash" by fans.
  • Every time Kaiji discovers anything at all, there's a notorious close-up of his face with a lightning bolt in the background.
    • One of the songs on the soundtrack is even entitled "Beam of Light".
  • Sena, the running back nicknamed Eyeshield 21, often has these when noticing his enemy's weakness, or realizing how to make himself faster/stronger.
  • Also very frequent in Cromartie High School.
  • In Kotoura-san, these will show up the moment Haruka's Telepathy catches onto something dramatic and/or serious.
  • This happens to Meowth once in Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl when Jessie and James try to scapegoat him for a failed plan to catch Ash's Pikachu, leading to a temporary end of their partnership as Meowth (and, subsequently, Jessie) try to go straight.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Jake Blues in The Blues Brothers experiences this in a black church, which sets the plot ball rolling.

    Video Game 
  • Super Robot Wars: The "Alert" spirit command, which causes its user to automatically dodge the next attack, has this effect in reference to the "Newtype flash" from Gundam.
  • Shows up whenever the Dimensional Scream activates in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky, and the anime specials based on them.

  • Used in El Goonish Shive when, thinking that she's going to die, Ellen temporarily goes nuts.