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Cartoon Juggling

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The three styles.

Juggling is animated in several different ways. Some are real juggling, some are juggling that is easy for the viewer to follow (or animator to animate), and some are physically impossible. There's nothing wrong with using any of these, but people who can juggle will look and wonder how anyone would actually achieve the feat.

Note: In the trope description, we use the term "prop" for any generic item the juggler is juggling.

  1. Cascade: This is normal juggling as it is taught to the beginner, with each hand tossing the prop to the other, each throw alternately crossing in front of the chest of the juggler.
  2. Shower: This is when one hand tosses the props over to the other hand, which hands the prop back to to throwing hand. (The props all come down to one side in a shower, get it?) Also called "circle juggling".
  3. Arc: Common in still artwork of jugglers, this is when the juggler has his hands outspread with the props forming an arc between them. Arc does not use motion lines, leaving to some the impression of all the items suspended over the juggler's head.

The cascade is the easiest to learn, but looks chaotic at first glance. Because of the props passing in front of the juggler, it's a little more of a pain to draw. In reality only odd numbers of props pass between hands. Even numbers are divided by two and juggled in each hand.note  The more props you juggle the higher you have to throw them to give yourself time to handle them all. The current record (as of 2021) for balls/beanbags is 14 beanbags with 14 catches.

The shower is what most people assume most three-ball juggling is, but it is much more difficult to master - you have to throw the balls REALLY HIGH to give yourself more time to transfer the balls with your other hand. It's easy to animate, though - you only need to draw a few frames and repeat. Sometimes the balls curve back upward of their own volition into the juggler's other hand rather than falling.

Arc juggling is an easy way to illustrate a character juggling without drawing any of the props blocking the view of the juggler - but there is no style of real life juggling which puts a juggler in this position. The juggler always has something moving into or out of his hand unless he has gone out of his way to toss everything up for a second (which is easy to throw, but hard to catch!).

In Real Life props are different colors because it is flashy and adds to the presentation, but you'll also notice that cartoon jugglers tend to use props which are all the same color. This saves on animation - if you do the juggling shower (circle), you would have to draw panels to take each different-colored prop all the way around. With all the balls being the same color, you only have to animate until the point where the next prop starts - with three balls for example, you only have to draw 1/3 as many frames.

Certain Acceptable Breaks from Reality/Artistic License – Physics apply to cartoon juggling, too. In reality, the more props you juggle, the higher they must be thrown to give the juggler more time to deal with the multiple objects, but this would require a large amount of panel space so animators keep the objects close to the juggler.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Kaleido Star:
    • One of the Eye Catches for season 1 shows a Super-Deformed Sora doing a shower juggle for a while, before she loses control of the balls, dropping one of them on her head.
    • Averted for a brief scene in season 2, where Rosetta teaches some children a different form of juggling, where they bounce balls off of the ground and catch them on their way back up.
  • The eyecatch for the first eighteen episodes of Ranma ˝ featured Ranma-chan juggling in the shower variant.


    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: Big M. is briefly shown juggling balls in the "shower" fashion of cartoon juggling in the title card of Season 3 episode 33.
  • Lamput: In Season 3's "Reward", during the montage where the docs find different ways to earn money, Fat Doc is seen juggling balls in the "shower" fashion while riding a unicycle.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Mighty Little Defenders: In episode 45, General Wolf becomes uncharacteristically nice to Wolffy and has his wolf soldiers try to entertain him. One of them, upon realizing Wolffy isn't enjoying his violin music, switches to juggling balls. The "shower" type of cartoon juggling is used here.

    Comic Books 
  • In Supergirl story arc "The Super-Steed of Steel", a sea circus has Oscar the Juggling Octopus, an octopus whose red balls are drawn as an arc over its head before falling into water when it loses control.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animation 

  • Hurricane features a Juggler clown on the playfield demonstrating the "Shower" style, with objects suspended in an arc between his hands.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • In Gyakuten Kenji 2, Simon Keyes does an impromptu shower juggle, with three squirrels jumping from one of his hands to another in triangle formation to give the illusion of juggling.


    Web Videos 
  • PhantomStrider does cascade juggling as a pastime, as it allows him to keep himself focused. He can be seen doing the cascade juggle at the end of every video, and can sometimes be seen juggling in videos themselves, never breaking out of his conversations while doing so.

    Western Animation 
  • In the circus episode of Inspector Gadget, Penny is seen doing a cascade with apples.
  • Skee-bo is shown juggling in the opening to JoJo's Circus.
  • In one of his cartoons, The Great Grape Ape juggles cars in the arc style, but it makes him dizzy.
  • The modern MPL Vanity Plate uses a juggler. In animated form, we see a cascade of three, with the end position and still an arc.
  • In Ed, Edd n Eddy, Eddy juggles a variety of items that Ed throws at him, from chairs to Double D, in order to entertain Sarah while babysitting. It goes fairly well until Ed throws him a cactus.
  • Shaggy does this in the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! episode "A Tiki Scare Is No Fair", as he and Scooby baffle Mano Tiki Tia.
  • Count Duckula makes Danger Mouse do this in "The Return of Count Duckula" as part of a curse. DM finds the antidote in rotten cabbage from purposely crashing into garbage tins.
  • An episode of Sofia the First had a court jester juggle in the shower method.
  • The Loud House: A flashback from "Hand-Me-Downer" shows a younger Luan juggling apples and bowling pins in an arc while riding a unicycle. She takes bites out of the apples before accidentally biting into a pin, causing her to lose her front teeth.
  • In Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh, the Lords n Lasers Juggler class appears to very loosely use the shower style but also seems to involve psychic manipulation on top of that; once Tip's juggling skill reaches maximum level, she is able to make the balls orbit her with minimal movement on her part.
  • DuckTales (1987): In "Jungle Duck", Mrs. Beakley teaches Huey, Dewey, and Louie how to juggle (depicted as shower juggling). This becomes a plot point later on, when Jungle Duck remembers her rhyming instructions, and she realizes that he's actually her previous ward, Prince Greydrake.
    Mrs. Beakley: Start off with one, that's easy to do. Add one more and now you've got two. Two plus one, as hard as it can be, but oh so quick, I'm juggling three.
  • Frosty the Snowman: When Frosty is first getting adjusted to being brought to life, he ends up shower juggling a bunch of snowballs using only one hand.
  • In a bumper on The Huckleberry Hound Show, Huck juggles three jugglers pins, tosses them in the air and tries to catch them one at a time. After a delay, he gets bonked on the head by the third pin.
  • A bumper on Rocky and Bullwinkle does a similar bit with Bullwinkle juggling three balls.
  • Kaeloo: The "shower" type is used in "Let's Play Circuses" when Stumpy juggles chainsaws.
  • Arthur normally depicts shower or occasionally arc juggling, but the opening of season 17's "Ladonna Compson: Party Animal" has Ladonna juggling in the cascade method.
  • In the Ready Jet Go! episode "Freebird", the shower variant occurs when Jet is juggling some meatballs.
  • Schoolhouse Rock!: During "Ready or Not, Here I Come", the singer attempts to shower juggle apples, peaches, and a pumpkin pie, but with it being one of the hardest juggling forms to perform, the pumpkin pie naturally lands on his head.
  • Work It Out Wombats!: In "Talent Turmoil," Ellie uses the shower variant when she juggles packages.