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Beam of Enlightenment

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Tristan demonstrates while hungry.
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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  
  • Various moments in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z when someone senses another character's ki (energy).
    • It also marks the triggering of many transformations. In particular, Goku turning into the Oozaru while imprisoned by Pilaf; Gohan's first transformation into the Oozaru during his survival training under Piccolo in the Saiyan saga; the flashback to Vegeta's first transformation to Super Saiyan in the Androids saga; 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.
  • Another instance where it is used frequently is in Detective Conan, 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.
  • 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 the DP era of the Pokémon anime 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  
  • Jake Blues in The Blues Brothers experiences this in a black church, which sets the plot ball rolling.

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

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