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Cicadian Rhythm

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Even a Big "SHUT UP!" won't stop them.

"Japanese summers are not clear or refreshing. They're so hot and humid that you feel like you're going crazy. Then you have this huge number of cicadas all making this noise at the same time. It really stands out, so if you're trying to convey the sense of it being the height of summer in a movie or an anime, you can include the sound of cicadas and everyone will understand straight away."
Makoto Aida

It is August. Or rather the last day of July to the first day of September for the Northern Hemisphere, or the last few days of December to the last ones of March for the South Hemisphere, A.K.A: "Forgotten Summer Vacation Homework time".

How do we know? Because distinguished artists and sound designers show us an Establishing Shot with this green, noisy, bug-eyed bug striding a tree with the student yawning in a distant window....all the while chirping like crazy. Although sometimes we see an extreme closeup of the goggle-eyed critter in an Aspect Montage — whereupon it normally falls off the tree to show that even it has fainted from the heat.

There is more of a knowledge gap than a cultural gap between Asian and western countries. Even though they are quite common in much of the Americas, most North Americans mistake the sound of the common summer cicada for crickets, even though their calls sound nothing like each other. It's when periodic cicadas emerge that cicadas make the news, despite them being a completely different species (Magicicada). That species has synchronized its life cycle into several 13 or 17 year broods. Unlike the yearly emergence of late summer or Dog Day cicadas, magicicadas broods emerge in vast numbers in the spring along North America's east-coast. They only live for about two weeks, during which they are present en very great masse. Thus, children in some areas may never hear of cicadas unless a periodic cicada brood emerges in their area. There are even a few places where multiple broods overlap. May God have mercy on the souls of the people living there.

Most Europeans will be baffled by a cicada initially, and even moreso by their chirping noises, as they're not a common bug found in that part of the world. Many learn of cicadas for the first time through Anime (where they can be seen and heard constantly) or Video Games that feature them (usually to catch or as part of the scenery).

In the southern part of North America (particularly Texas and Mexico) and northern South America, meanwhile, cicadas are more familiar, but have a very different cultural meaning than they do in Japan. The giant species present in this region, noted for its nearly year-round presence and incessant mind-numbingly loud drone sometimes compared to an industrial pressure valve, are strongly associated with The Savage South and Southern Gothic aesthetics, an auditory metaphor for the blistering heat of the non-winter seasons when they are most active.

Traditionally, the sound effect used in manga to represent cicadas chirping is 「ミーーン ミーン ミーン ミーン ミーン」 (miiiiin miin miin miin miin). And, yes, they are THAT loud.

See also Chirping Crickets.


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     Anime and Manga  
  • Asteroid in Love: A cicada appears at the beginning of Ao's flashback in the first episode of the Animated Adaptation, to clarify it was summer when the events of the flashback happened, especially since the scene immediately before and after the flashback is clearly in the first days of April.
  • The really fast opening shots in episode of Code Geass that shows Suzaku and Lelouch as children during the war contains a brief flash of one. In the DVD Commentary, one of the creators of the show talks about how an artist went all to all the trouble of going out and photographing a dead cicada to make sure to draw it correctly. It was disappointing when it was reduced to a two second frame.
  • Doki Doki School Hours
  • Averted in Gosick, when Japanese exchange student Kazuya points out that one major difference between the summer in the European Fictional Country of Sauville and Japan is the distinct lack of cicadas.
  • The anime adaptation of Haruhi Suzumiya's Endless Eight arc frequently features the sound of cicadas, due to taking place during summer vacation. Haruhi insists that catching cicadas is part of a perfect summer, and she also insists on releasing them, after. Kyon says that releasing them feels like opening Pandora's Box. The interesting theme here is that in Eastern mythology, cicadas represent reincarnation and the soul leaving the body to start over again, which perfectly describes the Endless Eight.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry (literally translated as "When the Cicadas Cry") has, appropriately enough, this trope in every episode. Although the anime takes place in June, not the time frame given, and a Higurashi is a particular type of cicada that comes out in early summer. More noticeable in the anime (because they're so persistent) is the distinct difference in chirping between day and night. The evening through night is when the higurashi cry.
  • Seen in a flashback in Karin, where the cicada was used as a visual aid for bloodsucking. In case that wasn't already pretty obvious from the blood...
  • Lucky Star uses this trope a few times, a cicada seemingly dying, breaking its hypnotic trance on a sleeping Konata and starting the next scene. The aftermath of its death is the center of another scene opening, featuring other smaller bugs breaking the dead cicada into pieces to take to their nest.
  • Manabi Straight!, pictured above.
  • Parodied in the anime of Muromi-san with a blatantly fake voiceover of "buzz-buzz" noises instead of the usual cicada stock recordings.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion uses this trope constantly to show that it's summer all year round in Japan, due to Second Impact shifting Earth's axis so much that traditional seasons no longer exist. Unlike most examples of this trope, which simply use cicada calls to signify that it's summer, Evangelion typically juxtaposes them with major dramatic events (i.e. an Angel attack).
  • In Potemayo, Guchuko shows her usual patience by putting up with this racket for about 2 seconds before she uses hypersonics to stun the cicadas ... and shatter glass, set off car alarms, cause dogs to freak out, etc etc. You don't mess with Guchuko.
  • Many of Ranma ˝'s summer episodes use these as episode openers; an Image Song for one of the characters pulls a slow pan up a tree for no other reason than to portray the cicada on its side.
  • Parodied in Rurouni Kenshin. Kenshin and Sanosuke were tailing Yahiko in one episode, checking up on some form of suspicious activity they thought he was doing. Yahiko catches on, and when he turns around to look, Sanosuke and Kenshin duck behind a rooftop and start imitating cicada sounds to try and convince Yahiko that there's nothing out of the ordinary going on. Yahiko calls them out on it by saying it's the wrong season for cicadas.
  • Pops up in the Summer Episode of Shugo Chara!, complete with Cloud Cuckoo Lander Su clinging to a tree and imitating a cicada. For some reason.
  • Used in Steins;Gate as a possible reference to Higurashi: When They Cry (since steins;gate started as a visual novel too, this is highly plausible).
  • Comes up frequently in The Tatami Galaxy. It adds to the show's laid-back, casual setting.
  • Manga example: Yotsuba&! - Lampshade hung in the first chapter, at the start of summer vacation when Yotsuba climbs a telephone pole and pretends to be a cicada. Shows up again with her obsession with tsukutsukuboushi bringing the end of summer.


  • Dandelion Wine: In one chapter, Tom Spaulding is listening to the cicadas outside. He believes that the number of times a cicada buzzes in fifteen seconds plus thirty-nine equals the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. Doug thinks this is a waste of time and tells him that he could just look at a thermometer. This annoys Tom and causes him to argue with his brother.
  • Orlando Furioso: Mentioned in Canto VIII, stanza 20:
    Nor any note is heard in wood or grass,
    Save the bough perched Cicala's wearying cry,
    Which deafens hill and dale, and sea and sky.

     Video Games  

  • Animal Crossing: Various species of cicada appear in the summer months, residing on trees. True to their real-life counterparts, they're disgustingly common and obnoxiously loud. You can, of course, catch the cicadas and sell them (the high commonality of cicadas makes them one of the least skittish tree bugs at that time of the year), or put them in your house so your character can have this trope year round.
  • It wouldn't be summer in Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town without the scream of cicadas, especially around the Harvest Goddess' lake.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has Sand Cicadas hanging out in the Lanayru Sand Sea, usually clinging to tall, thin objects in lieu of trees.
  • One of the "Thousand Years of Dreams" flashback segments in Lost Odyssey features immortal protagonist Kaim hired to protect a village from soldiers so that the local cicada brood will survive to sing many years later.
  • You can hear cicadas outside in the summer months in Persona 4, especially late at night (since your window is open, it seems).
  • Nincada and its evolutions Ninjask and Shedinja from Pokémon are based on cicadas; Ninjask are said to be loud enough to induce headaches.
  • In Splatoon, cicada calls can be heard in the background of the Flounder Heights stage. During Splatfests, which take place at night, crickets replace them.
  • During the training level in the second Tenchu game, the only thing that passes for soundtrack in this place is the droning of the cicadas.
  • In VOCALOID no Natsuyasumi -Final 4 Days-, you can hear the singing sound of the cicadas if you visit the forest.

     Visual Novels  
  • Everlasting Summer has yet another Higurashi: When They Cry reference, complete with a similarly creepy storyline and ominously misheard/Japanese Ranguage character names.
  • In Tsukihime, the cicadas chirping is the most vivid thing Shiki remembers of the day he was killed, brought back to life, and brainwashed to forget it. He even compares his own dead body to a discarded cicada shell.

    Web Media 
  • Bee and Puppycat has a joke about cicadas in the first episode, with Puppycat grabbing one off a tree and yelling at it to shut up.
    Cicada: who wants to make a million babies with me who wants to make a million babies with me who wants to make a million babies with me...
  • Eat Your Kimchi (filmed in South Korea) has a video about how annoying cicadas are, though the sound effect is written as HEEEEEGH. They use actual cicada sounds, which are really annoying.

     Real Life  

  • This occasionally crops up in Australian media, as cicadas are very widespread, and are almost constant during the early evenings. Like everywhere else, they appear in the hot summer (and late spring) months. However, being the Southern hemisphere, they're most common in November, December, January and February.
  • This is very often used in French shows to tip the viewer the action takes place in Provence (Southern France), as cicadas are very present there every summer, but unheard of in the northern half of the country. Some shows tend to overdo this, letting the viewer hear cicadas during winter just to point out it happens in the south.
  • On the East Coast of the United States, a few cicada species do show up yearly, so they can be heard, but they tend to stay away from developed areas. They don't come in the same plague-like droves that the 13 or 17 year cicadas do. They're not as loud so people don't hear them. Now when the 13 or 17 year cicadas show up, you will hear them. If a tree is full of them, they can be as loud as jackhammers, sometimes louder. Pray for the people who own said tree, because they have to deal with it 24/7. You only have to drive by it. The last Invasion of the Cicadasnote  on the East Coast was in 2021. The Bible Belt and Rust Belt got their own Invasion of the Cicadas courtesy of 13 year Brood XIX in 2011.
    • "My god, they really do sound like car alarms!"
    • Which year the Invasion takes place is largely dependent upon where one lives. Broods synchronize in certain areas to guarantee enough cicadas are around for their population to be utterly decimated by predators and still not kill enough to destroy the whole brood.
    • The yearly cicada species living in the Chicago region may not be anywhere near as populous as the "invasion" broods (which can swamp neighborhood roads instantaneously), but they're always obnoxiously loud. Always.
    • You do not know suffering until you are living in Virginia during the overlap of multiple cycles.
    • The 2011 cycle in the South was annoying as hell but ultimately ignorable. Thank god for headphones.
    • Cicadas exist all over the United States. The Apache Cicada of the southwest is a yearly event for most of the summer, and they sound like a long, constant LOUD (One of the loudest insects on the planet) buzz. It's a bit like having tinnitus, only less musical.
    • However, there's a small town about an hour outside of Chicago that, while it does get yearly cicadas, doesn't get the awful droves of 17 year cicadas, as development of the town started during one of the years the cicadas were supposed to be out, effectively removing them from the area. There are a few more cicadas than usual that year, but not the plague that other places get.
    • They are especially prevalent in the southern East Coast states, namely Florida and Georgia, where the constant chatter of cicadas is as commonly associated with images of sweltering, humid summer days as they are in Japan.