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Combat Hand Fan

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Superman is not a fan of these fans.
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A subtrope of Improbable Weapon User, using a handheld fan as a weapon is often associated with grace, class, elegance, and an air of mystery. It is often wielded by a Lady of War or Dragon Lady, as a folding fan is about as literal as Silk Hiding Steel can get. Given the normal use of fans is to blow air, it's often taken to its logical extreme and used to boost wind-based abilities as well.

This trope is generally associated with Japan due to the real-life martial art of tessenjutsu. How the fan is weaponized varies. Sometimes, the edges are razor sharp; other times, its ribbing is composed of daggers like in the picture; lastly, the fan might not be sharp at all but will have solid steel ribbing, making it a blunt weapon (this one may sound the least interesting, but it's the most historically accurate).

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Compare Paper Fan of Doom, a comedic trope where a Dope Slap is performed with a paper fan. The two tropes can sometimes overlap, when the paper fan is used as a viable weapon. Nothing to do with the Deadly Rotary Fan.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: In the filler Bount arc, one of the villains' Dolls takes the form of a jian and fan linked by a chain. The fan is bladed and can shoot spikes at the enemy, and she can also expand the fan portion to provide a full-body shield.
  • In Brave10, Yukimura fights Date, who is armed with a BFS, with only his everyday fan. By the sequel, Isanami has learned this skill too, as seen in her fight against Izumo no Okuni.
  • Syaoran's mother Yelan in the first Cardcaptor Sakura movie used a fan as a medium for her magic when she destroyed the Big Bad's barrier.
  • The anime-only character Mimi from D.Gray-Man uses her steel fans as thrown projectiles or launching the tips as darts. She tries to kill the main characters multiple times, though she never succeeds.
  • Tasuki from Fushigi Yuugi also uses a tessen in battle, and combines it with his Playing with Fire powers.
  • Wind Sorceress Kagura from Inuyasha uses a fan as medium to cast her wind attacks.
  • Tenka from Laughing Under the Clouds uses a tessen (see Real Life examples below) to great effect. It allows him to pass as an unarmed civilian and be scarily dangerous at the same time. The fan itself is mundane, but Tenka being the 14th Head of the Cloud Shrine ties the whole thing back to the wind motif.
  • Naruto:
    • Temari of the Hidden Sand Village carries a comically large folding fan on her back, which she uses for all of her wind ninjutsu. When folded it also makes for a passable club given its bulk.
    • Both Obito and Madara Uchiha use a large gunbai fan often as an Epic Flail attached to a chain and a medium for barrier ninjutsu. The fan is actually a Visual Pun to their clan name: gunbai is a type of rigid hand fans, known in Japan as uchiwa (or uchiha).
    • Kinkaku use a legendary feathered fan called Bashosen, themed after one from Journey to the West. It allows him to use all five elemental ninjutsu. After he is put to rest, Tenten claims it as her own.
  • Transformers: Go!: Hishoumaru from Swordbot Shinobi Team has a fan as weapon for his wind attacks.

    Comic Books 
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    Fanfiction 

    Film — Animated 
  • Shen (a peacock) uses his tail feathers like one in Kung Fu Panda 2. As a trained hand-to-hand combatant, however, he uses it primarily to disorient opponents and conceal his attacks rather than using it directly to attack with.
  • Downplayed example in Mulan. The fan itself isn't a weapon, but Mulan uses it to disarm Shan-Yu.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Bodyguards And Assassins, Liu the beggar uses an Iron fan as his preferred weapon.
  • Sylvia from Brotherhood of the Wolf slits a woman's throat with a serrated fan.
  • In Drunken Master II, Jackie Chan's character Wong Fei Hong brings a folding fan to the final battle, which he uses to great effect against a Giant Mook, and then becomes inspiration for him in the fight against the Big Bad.
  • In From Dusk Till Dawn, one of the vampire prostitutes opens a guy's throat with a razor fan in the first wave of everything going to hell.
  • Madame Blossom from The Man with the Iron Fists also carries a fan with several knives hidden in it for the Final Battle.
  • Outlaw Brothers: The Dragon uses an Iron fan as a weapon to antagonize the heroes. Unusually for a Hong Kong film, this opponent skilled at using the Iron fan is a Caucasian fighter!
  • The Promise (2005): The effeminate Big Bad (played by Nicholas Tse) uses a razor-sharp fan as his preferred weapon.
  • A triad assassin from the third Rush Hour movie carries one that is loaded with knives that she can also remove and throw.
  • Fairly common in Shaw Brothers wuxia movies. The hero from The Young Avenger uses a spike-tipped metal fan as his weapon, while another protagonist from Masked Avengers use a metal fan to slice up mooks.

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 

    Music 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Basic D&D supplement The Book of Marvelous Magic. The Fan Club is a magical fan that damages creatures it hits as if it were a plus 2 club.
    • 1st Edition supplement Oriental Adventures. The gunsen is an iron war fan that can do a couple of Hit Points of damage to an opponent and can also act as a small shield, thus improving the user's armor class. It is normally considered an emergency weapon.
  • Pathfinder has the "Fighting Fan" (essentially a tessen) and three types of enchanted fans; Black (magical gusts of wind), Red (suppresses magical light or darkness effects) and Wind (a weaker version of the black fan, which can break if it's overused).
  • Legend of the Five Rings has fans - both folding metal tessen and broader gumbai - as weapons. In the game's Fourth Edition, being moderately skilled in war fan use allows the wielder to ignore multiweapon penalties when using one in the off-hand. The weapon is more commonly used by generals and commanders to coordinate troop movements; however, those skilled in the use of the weapon often use it as a defensive device as well.
    • One group of ronin, titled "the Tessen" after their weapon of choice, actually wield the fans as they patrol the city of Toshi Ranbo. A decree by the Crane Clan forbids any swords but their own to be carried openly in the city; the ronin who have appointed themselves to patrol the town therefore wield the fan, since it can easily be disguised as just that.
    • The Gunsen of Water is a magical item, or nemuranai, crafted by the Oracles to counter the creation of the Elemental Terrors by the Dark Oracles. It could take the form of any fan, as appropriate for the situation, and aided the user in commanding units. It also offered protections against spells of the water element.
  • A possible weapon of the Solar Exalted, especially favored among the Eclipse Caste. Since this is Exalted, there are several martial arts built around using one.
  • Ironclaw expansion Jadeclaw has the iron fan class of weapons, said to basically be folding fans made of iron (very similar to tessen). The Shield Fan is large enough to provide protection, while the dart fan has sharpened edges and hides a spring-fired poison dart in one of the handles. Also, any iron fan can be used by wizardly characters to conjure up and swat fireballs at an enemy. Finally, an iron fan can be folded up and used as a bludgeon to club people.
  • Yvraine, Emissary of Ynnead, the Eldar God of the Dead from Warhammer 40,000 has wielded a bladefan in her off-hand since her time as a Succubus in the arenas of Commorragh and she is just as deadly with the elegant weapon as she is with the Cronesword Kha-vir.

    Video Games 
  • .hack: In the G.U. games, the Macabre Dancer class uses massive fans as their weapon of choice. When they're not busy cursing you to hell and back.
  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood: The Courtesan uses fans as her weapon.
  • Battleborn: Deande's primary weapons are Tessurim War Fans that she either swipes at enemies with or throws as projectiles.
  • Dead or Alive 5 introduces Nyotengu who has a handheld fan that she uses to produce wind attacks.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Fans are a weapon class in Dragon Quest IX. Putting skill points in it allows you to gain a free healing spell and reflect some attacks. By default, they are usable by martial artists, minstrels, and luminaries, but at max skill levels, any class can use them in battle.
    • Prior to IX, a handful of these appeared mostly usable by female characters and jesters. Fans were also retroactively added to the 3DS version of Dragon Quest VIII, where Red can use fans in a way similar to the weapon tree from IX.
  • Dynasty Warriors: Common, usually wielded by NPC strategists or Damsels in Distress.
    • In games where everyone has their own weapon, the folding fan will most likely be wielded by Xiaoqiao (or her sister Daqiao in older installments, though 9 gives it back to her) and the feather fan by Zhuge Liang. Also Sima Yi wielded one in most appearances except 6 and 8. Zhuge Dan also wielded one in his first appearance. Pang Tong gains a Shadow Fan in 8.
    • Fans are also available as weapons in sister series Samurai Warriors to Shingen Takeda who wields an open fan and Mitsunari Ishida who wields a folding fan.
  • Fatal Fury / The King of Fighters: Mai Shiranui is known for using folding paper fans in combat. And two other things.
  • Final Fantasy:
  • Fire Emblem Fates: Scrolls are the Hoshidan equivalent of magic tomes but the models for any magic-user wielding them as weapons have the character holding several of them as if they were combat fans. The attacks take the form of various animals created from magic energy, with the species varying depending on which scroll was being used.
  • Miis from the Princess class in Miitopia use fans as their go-to weapon.
  • Food Fantasy: Crepe uses her fans to fight enemies, either by whipping up tornados, or doing a fan dance which deals damage.
  • Guilty Gear: Anji Mito's weapons of choice are the Zessen, large fans that compliment his dancer fighting style. They are one of three known pieces of the Outrage set of weapons, representing the wind element, and the only one not in the hands of a main character.
  • Madou Monogatari I: Arle uses one of these in the Mega Drive port (the Dungeon Crawling predecessor to Puyo Puyo). Since she's a Squishy Wizard, her basic Fire spell costs no mana to cast, and the fan is an ordinary paper one with no enhancement, it's pretty much useless.
  • MadWorld: The fourth-ranked boss, Rinrin, the Dragon Lady boss of the over-the-top Wutai that is the game's "Asian Town", uses pair of giant bladed hand fans, which she can throw out like boomerangs and also shield herself with due to their immense size. She uses a similar set in Anarchy Reigns called the Yanlong, which come with the added bonus of being on fire.
  • Mortal Kombat: Princess Kitana uses a pair of steel fans both for attacking and the occasional Blow You Away moment. And also in her fatalities.
  • Onmyōji:
    • Yōko uses his (always folded) folding fan for his ranged slash-like attacks.
    • Ōtengu delivers air-based attacks with his uchiwa, similar to Aya above.
    • Seimei can also be seen using his trademark folding fan while casting one of his spells.
  • Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines: The Dancer class uses these.
  • Persona 4: These are the Weapon of Choice for Yukiko Amagi; they're exactly as powerful as the other weapons in the game, including swords, claws, and even a GUN. However, Yukiko's main strength is in magic, so most players will only occasionally order her to use the fan.
  • Phantasy Star Online:
    • There's a joke weapon called the Harisen Battle Fan.
    • There's also the Plantain Fan and the Plantain Huge Fan, which are actually weapons for Mages based off of Journey to the West. Their description says that swinging them creates a great wind gust, which carries over to gameplay as a unique special ability.
  • Power Stone 2 has a Harisen as one of its random weapons.
  • Senran Kagura: Yumi uses these as her weapons of choice. She can also manipulate ice with them.
  • Samurai Shodown: Although the naginata is his Weapon of Choice, the Kabuki fighter Senryo Kyoshiro uses fans in his attacks involving fire, like fire fans as projectiles and using one to expand his fire breath.
    • Ocha-Maro Karakuri from Samurai Shodown VI wields a pair of steel fans named Kirigane Okina and Uragane Onna.
  • Sengoku Basara: Imagawa Yoshimoto wields one of these. Surprisingly (given the series' penchant for being incredibly over-the-top) he doesn't have any wind attacks. Instead, he beats people with it, and he can also throw it.
  • Sonic Riders: Jet uses these to attack opponents and slow them down mid-race. His Arthurian counterpart, Lamorak, also uses a pair of swords modeled on them.
  • Super Mario RPG: The War Fan accompanied by a satisfying "newspaper smack" sound when used.
  • Super Smash Bros.: Every iteration has had a large—as in at least three feet long—one of these as an item. Its usefulness varies depending on the game, but its usefulness more often lies in how quickly you can swing it than how much damage one swing will cause.
  • Team Fortress 2: Parodied with the Scout's unlockable weapon "The Fan-O-War". It deals only 4 damage, making it the weakest weapon in the game. Its only upside is that it "marks the enemy for death", meaning they take 35% more damage for a brief period.
  • Touhou:
    • The tengu Aya Shameimaru wields a fan in battle which she uses to control wind.
    • Hata no Kokoro uses fans along with naginata in battle, fitting with her noh dance theme.
    • Yuyuko also uses folding fans to smack around her opponents, in most of her melee moves.
  • Utawarerumono: Hakuowlo uses a steel fan given to him by Tuskur as his weapon throughout the game. He's very proficient with it, helped by the fact that the fan has hidden blades that can pop out of the sides, and it has compartments to store poison. In the sequels, Haku (no relation to Hakuowlo) uses the same fan.
  • Warframe finally added a pair of dual-wielded war fans called the Gunsen to its absurdly expansive arsenal of weapons. Unlike most examples of this trope, the Gunsen doesn't even pretend they're real fans, having no actual surface between the curved, razor-sharp ribs for the purposes of wafting air. They are entirely and obviously tools for killing.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • In the American Dad! episode "Home Adrone", a male member of the Chinese mafia wields a pair of large fans in his battle against Stan, and the weapons' edges are shown to be sharp enough to cleanly slice the protagonist's necktie.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Avatar Kyoshi, the second most recent Avatar before Aang, used war fans that belonged to her Airbender mother. Her apprentices and their descendants, the Kyoshi Warriors, all use fans as well in honor of her.
    • In two episodes that center around Kyoshi, Aang uses a pair of fans as well for combat against Zuko and the Rough Rhinos.
  • Code Lyoko: Yumi uses tessen fans as her primary weapon in her kabuki-inspired Lyoko Warrior form. Her fans are throwing weapons that behave like a Battle Boomerang, automatically returning to her after they strike the target.
  • Gargoyles: In the episode "Bushido" Japanese Corrupt Corporate Executive Taro engages the heroes in battle wielding a pair of electrified Tessen.
  • Kim Possible: Yori, Ron's Ninja Girl of the Week, wielded one of these.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: The Peacock Miraculous grants this weapon to its wielders. The feathers on the fan are also used to create allies for akumatized villains.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): April O'Neil uses a fan as a weapon after training in ninjutsu with master Splinter.

    Real Life 
  • In Real Life, weaponised fans did exist. Examples include;
    • Korean war fans, which were usually normal fans converted into concealed weapons, with reinforced frames and hidden blades or compartments containing toxins or irritants to waft in people's faces.
    • Japanese officers would sometimes carry a large, rounded fan called a gunbai as a shield and sign of office.
      • These can still be seen in use at sumo matches where they are used by the gyoji or referee and used to indicate both the start of the match and to declare a winner.
      • There is a story that during the Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima in 1561, Uesugi Kenshin and his bodyguards attacked Takeda Shingen's command post. Shingen did not have time to draw his sword and instead used his gunbai to defend himself from Kenshin's attacks. However, the exact details of the encounter are not clear and it may be a mixture of legend and fact.
    • A tessen was a metal framed fan that could make a handy club when folded (or sharpened at the end). Like the Korean fans, they were used as concealed weapons.

 
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The Golden Fan, one of the Kabukiman's trademark weapons.

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