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Combat Hand Fan

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Superman is not a fan of these fans.

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).

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.


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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.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Upper Rank 2, Doma, fights with a pair of razor-sharp Japanese war fans fashioned from his flesh and blood, using them as melee weapons in conjunction with Tessenjutsu to take on multiple aggressors at once and engage in combat effectively at supersonic speeds, fully utilizing them for both offense and defense, slicing apart enemies and expertly parrying physical attacks. His Gunsens also have a secondary function as support items by channeling his cryokinetic abilities through them to expand his range significantly and also spread his demonic ice powder that causes necrosis when inhaled by using them to generate huge gusts of wind. His skill is such that it is implied he surpasses even the likes of Akaza, one of the greatest martial artists in the series, as for Doma to become Upper Rank 2 ahead of Upper Rank 3 Akaza, he would have had to challenge and defeat Akaza in a blood duel. By the time of the series, Doma claims that Akaza would have no chance of defeating him in combat.
  • 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 the five main types of Elemental Powers. 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 

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • Barbie's films:
    • Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses, Genevieve uses her handheld fan that Rowena trained her and her 11 sisters to use to deflect a spell Rowena is trying to cast on her, and the treacherous duchess is forced to dance herself to death in Genevieve's place.
    • Barbie and the Three Musketeers: Since women are not allowed to train as musketeers, the heroines and their mentor improvise with "womanly" items like handheld fans. Aramina uses two as her weapon of choice.
  • 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.
  • Mulan: When Shan-Yu tries to stab Mulan with his sword, she lets it impale an open fan she was carrying, closes it around the blade, and yanks it away to disarm him.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • Dragon Series: The Snail Woman from the latter half of the series has a magic fan that can generate windstorms. Monkey unabashedly coveted it.
  • In The Finishing School Series, bladed fans are one of the seemingly-innocent weapons that students at Mademoiselle Geraldine's are trained to fight with. Sophronia turns out to be a natural, and adopts one as her weapon of choice.
  • Older Than Steam. Princess Iron Fan from Journey to the West used her giant palm leaf to fight Sun Wukong.
  • Phoenix Force. Used for the Batman Cold Open introducing John Trent, a Japanese-American ninjitsu master as a Sixth Ranger. He uses a pair of fans to take down some muggers, who aren't first.
  • In The Rise of Kyoshi, Kyoshi uses her mother's war fans to tune her bending and gain more fine control, as she had the power to move moutains but couldn't budge a pebble. Ironically her mother used them for the oppposite, to increase the strength of her airbending after she renounced her status as an air nomad and the spiritual imbalance caused her to become weaker.
  • Glass in The Rising of the Shield Hero wields the Vassal Fan, a pair of steel fans that allow her to do attacks like “Reversed Four Seasons” and “Tortoise Shell Breaker”, and even shatter Raphtalia’s sword simply by blocking. She very much fits the Lady of War aesthetic, being an elegant woman in a kimono.
  • Sano Ichiro: One of the sharpened-rib variety is used to attack the shogun himself at the beginning of The Iris Fan, setting the final events of the series into motion.
  • In the Tortall Universe, high-class ladies in the Yamani Islands (a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Japan) carry these as a concealed weapon.

    Live-Action TV 


    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.
  • Exalted: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Arknights: Swire the Elegant Wit uses a fancy gold-plated fan with blades as her weapon.
  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood: The Courtesan uses fans as her weapon.
  • Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key: Federica's weapon of choice is a hand fan that she uses to launch blasts of magical wind. This choice of weapon fits with her refined, elegant image.
  • Battleborn: Deande's primary weapons are Tessurim War Fans that she either swipes at enemies with or throws as projectiles.
  • Bayonetta 3: Simoon is a pair of fans paired with a pair of talons on the feet. It's wielded by an alternate Bayonetta of Cairo, and the main Bayonetta ends up getting it after the former's death.
  • The second installment of Dead or Alive features Gohyakumine Bankotsubom "Tengu" as it's main antagonist who fights using a fan with which he can stir up storms and hurricane gales. After making the occasional guest apperence in later games Dead or Alive 5 introduces Miyama no Nyotengu as his mechanical successor including her own fan and related techniques.
  • 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.
  • Gaia Crusaders: Getuki, the boss of the China level, use folding fans as her primary weapon which she can also throw from a distance.
  • 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.
  • Guild Wars: Mesmers could sometimes wield one as an off-hand weapon, so it served no real purpose beyond a Stat Stick.
  • The Gladiator: One of the first bosses, Yi-Du, use a folding in combat, which can be flung like a projectile and home in on your player before returning to his hand.
  • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days: Xemnas's Joke Weapon, Round Fan, is a pair of fans wielded like Ethereal Blades.
  • The Legend of Silkroad: Wuji, one of the bosses, uses a Chinese feathered fan as his weapon, which can shoot sharp feather projectiles and summon thunderbolts.
  • 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.
  • Zero in Mega Man X8 has the B Fan as an unlockable weapon (and they can also be unlocked for Layer). These fans have the shortest melee range among Zero's weaponry, but they're pretty fast and can deploy an energy shield to deflect enemy projectiles while standing still.
  • Edenia's Princess Kitana from Mortal Kombat series is probably one of the more iconic instances of this trope. At first she uses a pair of steel fans both for attacking. the occasional Blow You Away moment and also in her fatalities. The weapon first started off simply as war fans with an all-metal construction, although as the games progressed knives were added to make them more potent weapons.
  • Onmyōji (2016):
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Samurai Warriors: Takeda Shingen uses a gunbai as his weapon, in reference to the story of him using one in real life. Though in the game it has some sort of energy field that extends from it to give his attacks the same reach as a sword.
  • 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.
  • Senran Kagura: Yumi uses these as her weapons of choice. She can also manipulate ice with them.
  • Shadow Hearts: Covenant: Lucia wields a razor-sharp fan as her equippable weapon. However, as a spellcaster, she's not likely to use it often.
  • 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 until Super Smash Bros. Brawl 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 Project:
    • 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.
  • In Tower of Fantasy, Lin's Shadoweave is a huge hand fan capable of generating wind currents in the shape of flowers to attack enemies at long range, can pull enemies together with her discharge, and create a huge field where she can float out of enemy attacks with her skill.
  • 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.
  • The category of warfans in Warframe debuted with the addition of Gunsen. 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. Later updates added other warfans such as the Arum Spinosa, Quassus, Vericles and a prime version of the Gunsen.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles:
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has "Infinity Fans" as a special weapon class, available to the player in New Game Plus. They belong to Mikhail, a member of Torna, and are used as a Tank weapon, allowing their user to Draw Aggro and deal more damage to aggroed enemies. Like other unique weapons in the game, they are actually a reskin of another weapon type, namely "Twin Rings".
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 3 upgrades dual fans to a normal weapon type, which can be used by changing into Troubadour Class. This time around, it's a Healer class, that can utilize Cooldown Manipulation and stop Status Buffs from expiring. In a bit of Mythology Gag, fans are once again related with Rings of Death, as both weapon types belong to Agnian off-seers, who used to be friends and partners.


    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.
  • In Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles, Kitsune wields two bladed tessen in combat. When the group all get to choose kaikishi weapons in Season 2, she decides to stick with what she knows, and discovers the kaikishi tessen can alter in size, disappear when she's not using them, and the fish patterns on them can move to distract foes.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): April O'Neil uses a tessen as a weapon after training in ninjutsu with Master Splinter, a weapon originally meant for his daughter Miwa.

    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.


Video Example(s):


Shan-Yu's Explosive Death

Shan-Yu meets his end in an explosive blast of glory as he is hit by a huge rocket that drags him right into a pile of fireworks, that blast him apart.

How well does it match the trope?

4.82 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / CruelAndUnusualDeath

Media sources: