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Dramatic Red Samurai Background

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Dramatic finishers incoming

A staple of samurai fiction, that started with the film Samurai Fiction, and has since spilled over into other areas of particularly Japanese, but even some western media.

Often overlapping with a Single-Stroke Battle, when someone deals a killing blow, the screen turns stark red, black, and white for extra dramatic effect. Characters are typically rendered as silhouettes, or extremely high contrast. The red and the shadows inter-playing may stand in for High-Pressure Blood.

This isn't just for killing strokes however. Sometimes its a way to introduce a samurai rather than end him. In this sense the red background is more evocative of a setting sun or a bloody moon effect.

Either way it let's you know you're dealing with either a serious fighter, or a serious attack.

Compare Single-Stroke Battle. Also due to the sister genres of samurai and westerns, could be part of a Showdown at High Noon, or gun duel. In which case you may sub in red for yellow for all that dust. See also Red Filter of Doom for red lighting in a more general sense, and Black Screen of Death when the screen flashes to hide the action rather than stylizing it.



Anime & Manga

  • Dragon Ball Super: When Vegeta takes a blast from Zamasu to protect Trunks, the screen switches to black and red. The blast was actually non lethal, so it was more for dramatic effect.
  • The 1980s Fist of the North Star anime occassionaly uses this whenever goons at the receiving end of Kenshiro's blows promptly explode into chunky salsa, rendering them as black silhouettes in a bright red background.
  • Hunter × Hunter: This is used in the anime adaptation of the Greed Island arc. When Battera tearfully describes his lover, the screen jarringly turns red and black when he mentions that she was in a fatal accident.
  • Naruto Shippuden: In the 14th opening, the sky is rendered as completely red. A series of character eye catches at the end render them in black and red as they stare each other down and Naruto charges ahead.


  • Kill Bill: As a direct Shout-Out to Samurai Fiction, Kill Bill features a silhouetted battle, but against a blue backdrop instead.
  • Samurai Fiction: This film's iconic opening sequence is arguably the Trope Maker, featuring a duel with silhouetted figures against a red backdrop. Throughout the film other killing strokes are accented by a flash of red in an otherwise black and white movie.
  • While it doesn't go all out silhouetted, The Last Jedi evokes this tropes by having the massive window in Supreme-Leader Snoke's throne room be covered by an equally huge red curtain, giving the appearance of a red backdrop duel when Rey and Kylo Ren battle the Praetorian Guard. For added cool visuals, the curtain gets torn up and burned throughout the fight, resulting in the background gradually becoming a stylish blend of red and black. Almost certainly a Shout-Out to the Trope Maker above, given the heavy influence of samurai films on Star Wars.

Video Games

  • Fire Emblem: Sometimes an added effect for the One-Hit Kill, Lethality assassin skill. Played straight particularly in Fire Emblem Awakening and Fire Emblem Fates. The screen turns stark red and all the characters become silhouettes. On impact there's a blood splatter effect before the scen returns to normal.
  • Persona 5: Any All-Out Attack that either finishes off a single enemy, or kills all of them in the field at once will result in a special animation unique for the party member who initiated it, ending in a splash screen of said party member striking a stylish pose while black silhouettes of enemies in the background spray High-Pressure Blood. Joker's splash screen in particular features a striking red background.
  • Pokémon: The move Retaliate after Pokémon X and Y is visualized as the background going red as the Pokemon delivers a Single-Stroke Battle, with the background turning into black-framed paper screen.
  • In old Samurai Shodown games, when a Zetsumei Ougi move is performed, a Black Screen of Death with a white line that slashed the screen appears when the enemy is finished with this move. In 2019 when performing an Issen, the black screen is followed by a red one and the character performing the move is in black and white in a samurai movie-like fashion.
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate:
    • Ridley's reveal trailer has him grab Mega Man and Mario and stab them with his tail; the acts are done in front of a bright red background, with their bodies and his tail in complete black.
    • Like in his game of origin, Joker's Final Smash, "All-Out Attack", has him call on his teammates to barrage his opponent(s), with the deed framed in black against a red background —as this is an E10+ Nintendo game, the spray of blood coming out of the victims is instead a stream of stars.

Web Original

  • Eltorro64Rus: In Gravity Fails, a variation of this trope appears at the end of the RED and BLU Scouts' anime-style Single-Stroke Battle, appearing as a pink background with Speed Stripes and cherry blossom petals while RED Scout slices through BLU's stomach, both rendered as white silhouettes.
  • RWBY: Adam Taurus' Semblance, Moonslice, allows him to absorb kinetic energy into his sword, which he then unleashes in a single attack. Usually, this causes the background to turn red with him as a black silhouette (save for his hair and the markings on his mask which glow a brighter red). This gets twisted around in Volume 6 with his fight against Blake and Yang, where he uses his semblance on Yang, but when the flash of red from his attack fades, Yang has caught his sword in her robotic hand.

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons: A blink-and-you-miss-it reference in a throw-away scene from "The Monkey Suit" the family sits down for a movie about the history of nunchuks, that begins with a silhouetted figure using them against a red background with the title rendered in a stereotypical 'Asian' font.