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Cartoon Meat

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Your favorite types of meat, according to the Windows 10 emoji collection. Clockwise from top left: a ribeye steak, a chicken drumstick, some bacon strips, and a cylindrical mystery meat on a bone.

Meat is animal flesh often eaten for protein (or convenience if there's nothing else hanging around), though most kinds of meat hold textures and traits that make it rather unnecessarily complicated and ambiguous.

This is where the "Cartoon" part comes to the spotlight.

Depictions of meat in comics and animation are often stylized and simplified, both for the convenience of the artist and ease of recognition for the audience. These simplified versions tend to follow specific trends:

  • Manga meat, or ano niku (Japanese for "that meat"): Generic meat from an unspecified source (possibly the shank), portrayed as a roughly cylindrical slab still attached to the bone, with said bone sticking out both ends to serve as a convenient handle while eating. The meat itself is very chewy, sometimes even stretchy. In spite of the name, this version does pop up in western works, too — sometimes with just one bone, so it looks more like a giant drumstick.
  • Poultry is either drumsticks or a whole roasted bird. Drumsticks may be simplified to the point that they look like a meat popsicle. Breasts are rarely seen, despite being among the most common cuts in real life; wings haven't appeared until recently, and are often depicted as smaller drumsticks.
    • Turkey is usually drawn as an oversized wholly roasted bird, but wearing identifying paper frills on the drumsticks. Much like other portrayed poultry, the part which is most commonly depicted is the drumsticks.
    • In Japanese media, chicken drumsticks are usually decorated with festive ribbons, owing to the adoption of fried chicken as a traditional Christmas dinner.
  • Beef can show up as steak or hamburger patties:
    • Steaks are either ribeye or T-bone because apparently steak isn't steak without some sort of bone in the middle. The meat may be colored bright red, even if it's supposed to be fully cooked.
    • Hamburger patties are usually dark brown, regardless of whether they're cooked rare or well-done.
  • Lamb: Only rib chops (usually with the long rib bones left on) or crown rib roast.
  • Pork has the most variety and can appear in several forms:
    • Ham will usually be drawn as a giant drumstick cut in half, with the insides a bright pink.
    • Bacon is almost always depicted as side bacon (aka streaky bacon) since it can be simplified to alternating stripes of red (meat) and white (fat).
    • Sausages are usually less than 6 inches in length, linked, and colored gray, brown, red, or any combo thereof.
    • Hotdogs are slightly longer and are usually colored pink or red. When served as part of a Japanese schoolkid's lunch, hotdogs are often cut into a fun octopus shape, called "tako-san wieners."
    • Pork chops are typically center cut (solid piece with fat only on the outside) but sometimes have a round bone in the middle, making them a strange cross between center cut chops and arm chops or ham steaks.
    • Or a whole roasted suckling pig with an apple in its mouth.
  • Ribs (pork or beef, or possibly something more exotic) are a slab of brown meat, either flat or an exaggerated curve, with bones sticking out every few inches.
  • Fish and seafood:
    • Fish can be depicted as a cooked whole fish, half-fish filets, or in slices. Whole fish may be drawn in much more realistic detail than the rest of a series. Tuna and salmon are the most common, and the meat is usually pink (salmon pink, naturally). Herring will also appear as kippers, though drawn as resembling whole raw fish rather than cooked fish cut in butterfly fashion.
    • Fish skeletons — sometimes with an intact head and tail fins attached to a spine that's been otherwise picked clean — are a popular meal for cats, raccoons, or anyone who has to dumpster-dive for food.
    • Lobsters and shrimp are often colored bright red, even before they're cooked.
    • Similarly, Japanese media tend to depict octopuses as red and squids as white, even before they're cooked.

Bones that stick out from Cartoon Meat are most likely to look like Stock Femur Bones unless the meat is fish or ribs, where they're more likely to be rib bones.

A Sub-Trope of Stock Food Depictions. Compare with Cartoon Cheese, which is its counterpart for, well, cheese, and Every Pizza Is Pepperoni for its pizza counterpart. In video games, this often goes hand-in-hand with Hyperactive Metabolism and Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat. For extremely detailed depictions of meat, see Food Porn.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • One of Soma's original dishes in Food Wars! is an appetizer made of pâté and bacon wrapped around a bone, designed to look like manga meat.
  • Gate: Some bonus pages in the manga version have a few JDSF soldiers get excited over seeing manga meat being sold in town, eager to find out what "that meat" is in reality. They get disappointed when it turns out to be rather mundane: instead of being from a unique animal or a unique cut, it's just a long strip of meat topped with seasonings and wrapped around a bone to use as a handle for cooking and eating.
  • In Gintama, the banquet trap includes manga meat, which Kagura eagerly tears into.
  • Manga meat shows up in the GJ-bu anime, with the characters even referring to it as such.
  • One Piece:
    • Luffy's favorite food is "meat" and is usually depicted as a cylinder of red meat with a bone sticking out both ends.
    • The Red Hair Pirates' resident Big Fun, Lucky Roux, is also rarely seen without a piece of meat similar to the one described above.
  • Most of the meat in Slayers is of the manga meat variety. Given the appetites of the main characters, a lot of it is consumed at any inn or restaurant they stop in.
  • In one Yakitate!! Japan scene, the Queen of Monaco is shown to be stuffing herself with the "cylindrical mystery meat on a bone" meat. When Poirot takes it away, she demands him to give back her manga meat.

    Eastern Animation 
  • In the Season 10 end credits sequence for Happy Heroes, one of the characters that passes by Careful S. is Big M., who is carrying a stick with manga meat tied to it with a string. Little M. chases after the meat, trying to eat it.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: A golden trophy shaped like manga meat appears in Happy Happy Bang! Bang! episode 28.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Airplane!: When it's announced that anyone who ate the fish airline meal will get food poisoning, the pilot nervously looks down at his meal tray, which shows a complete fish skeleton, picked clean.

    Video Games 
  • Don't Starve:
    • The basic meat item takes the form of brown drumstick-shaped shanks, with a femur head at the narrow end and the wide end chopped through to reveal red and white marbled meat. Most other meats are variants on this theme — monster meat is black and purple instead of brown and red, fish meat is a fish with its front end chopped off to imitate this look, and leafy meat is a growth of plant tissue imitating a meaty shank, with leaves instead of the bone and marbled green... something instead of muscle and fat.
    • Morsels resemble miniature Manga Meat, with a small ring of marbled flesh around a thin bone sticking out of both ends.
    • The ham bat is a weapon that looks like at drumstick chopped with pink in the middle. The weapon is held by the bone and swung around hitting things with the meat end of it.
  • E.V.O.: Search for Eden: Most enemies drop manga meat which the player character can eat for health an EVO points. Most bosses drop larger versions of manga meat.
  • A Hat in Time: Mafia Town has a gigantic meat cylinder with two bones, rolling up and down the street as a stage hazard.
  • Kirby: Typical manga meat appears in most games as food to restore Kirby's health, as well as being eaten by King Dedede in a cutscene in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. A few games also include entire roast chickens among the selection of food. The plates of steak seen in Forgotten Land actually avert this, being clearly cooked rare and without a bone as you might expect.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Monster Bait item takes the form of stock manga meat. Its advertised purpose of distracting baddies isn't terribly useful (only the weaker ones seem to go for it), but you still have to buy the stuff as it's also a Plot Coupon in disguise that you have to trade to progress through the game.
    • Majora's Mask: The Goron delicacy "Rock Sirloin" takes the manga meat shape, only made of rock instead of meat.
    • The Oracle games have both a Goron steak and a minigame on Tokay island that involves manga meat.
    • Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom:
      • The rock-based manga meat reappears, here called "Rock Roasts". This time, Gorons prefer to grill them before eating. (Link apparently tried one of these in the past and enjoyed it.)
      • The game also has regular and "prime" meat (classic steak slabs with a strip of fat around them, of varying thickness), drumsticks and bird thighs, "gourmet" meat (stocky manga meat) and whole birds.note 
  • Little Dragons Café: When you hunt, the prey poofs away and pieces of brown Cartoon Meat appear. This is simply for the overworld, as the ingredients are properly identified and more realistic looking.
  • Minecraft has a drumstick-like icon for the hunger symbol.
  • Well-done and Rare Steaks and Raw Meat from Monster Hunter take the form of one of these. Turning them into Tinged, Drugged or Poisoned Meats turns them yellow, blue, or purple, respectively.
  • Rocket Knight Adventures: In Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2, the full health restore power-up takes the shape of a hunk of meat with a bone sticking out of both ends.
  • In Shovel Knight, one of the health-restoring items is a rather cartoonish turkey.
  • Spyro: Year of the Dragon: In the Sunny Villa level, there are many Rhynoc Giant Mooks that wield giant chicken drumsticks; they all look the same. Near the end of the level, there's a cutscene of one of said mooks chasing a giant chicken, and when you get to where they run off to, said giant Rhynoc is already wielding a drumstick.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story: During the game's "Fantastic Voyage" Plot, one of the areas the Mario brothers end up in is the Flab Zone, implied to be the rather heavyset Bowser's overlarge deposits of fat. The most common low-level enemies there are the tenderlings, which resemble cylindrical joints of meat with the head of a Stock Femur Bone sticking out at either end, in addition to eyes and feet.
    • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door features cylindrical bits of mystery meat in Bowser's platforming minigames that function as his equivalent to Mario's Super Mushrooms.
    • Mario Party DS: The minigame "Dizzy Rotisserie" has a team of three try to stay on top of a cylindrical cut, while the solo player tries to spin them off.
    • Super Paper Mario has the Power Steak and Bone-In Cut items, which are cartoonish depictions of a steak and a piece of meat on a bone, respectively, with the latter being drawn in the game's characteristic angular style.
    • WarioWare: Smooth Moves features the microgame "BYOM", in which the player rotates the Wii Remote in order to roast a joint of Manga Meat for cavemen.
    • In Super Mario Galaxy, the level "A Very Spooky Sprint" in the Ghostly Galaxy is a race through the sky against a Boo. Huge flying pieces of manga meat are obstacles, which bounce Mario backwards if he hits them.
  • Team Fortress 2: Don't Starve's ham bat was ported to TF2 under the name "The Ham Shank", with Genuine quality ones being awarded to those who preordered the source material. It's very much the same design, only 3D-modeled.
  • Wolfenstein 3-D has a turkey leg dinner (with added mashed potatoes and green peas) as the health-restoring food.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 

  • In the The Order of the Stick prequel On the Origin of PCs, Elan wears a "ceremonial meat costume" shaped like a big stereotypical T-bone steak.

    Web Original 


    Western Animation 
  • Joe Oriolo Felix the Cat: A bookended story has Felix and Poindexter stranded on the moon after Poindexter's spaceship runs out of fuel. Fearing he'll starve, Felix paces back and forth with a thought balloon containing a ham, a roast chicken and a dish of ice cream. (Fortunately, Poinsy creates an alternate way of propulsion that gets them going again.)
  • In The Simpsons, Homer's beloved pork chops are usually of the center cut/arm chop mashup type.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: The "Health Plate" item ordered by Pidge in Season 6 Episode 3 takes the form of a lumpy brown tube with cartoony bones poking out of each end.

    Real Life 
  • Proving that life imitates art, a Japanese meatshop decided to sell the Manga Meat Bone.