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Hanahaki Disease

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Talk about a really bad case of hay fever.note 

"A few hours later he’d started hacking up what felt like half a lung alone in his room. Katsuki stared down at the thing he’d just coughed up, and wiped the side of his mouth with one hand as it stared back. It was a flower. A fucking flower."
— From Hanafunki, a My Hero Academia fanfic

Hanahaki Disease is a fictional disease where someone begins coughing up flower petals because they have unrequited feelings for someone. The flowers can grow in the stomach, lungs, or heart, though it is traditionally in the lungs. Hanahaki Disease is a painful, slow disease that often develops over months, if not years, and begins with coughing up a few petals, and grows in intensity and pain until the victim is coughing up entire flowers, at which point the disease has reached its final stages. If not treated, the disease is fatal. It's primarily an online phenomenon that appears in Fan Works, but it has appeared in original works as well.

Hanahaki Disease originates from Japanese works. The word hanahaki is a fusion of the Japanese words hana ("flower") and haku ("throw up"). The first usage of the trope is unclear, but it was popularized in Japanese Yaoi Genre fandoms before spreading to Korean fandoms and then other international fandoms.

This trope is popular because it has a lot of melodramatic angst potential, while also being pretty. Death by Hanahaki Disease is tragic but beautiful - the victim is killed from within by something as beautiful as flowers. Haunted by their unrequited love, the person usually tries to cover up their illness. They'll leave behind trails of bloody flowers, which are both horrific and aesthetically pleasing. Flower Motifs are often used, which adds to the symbolism. The flowers are frequently associated with their unrequited love interest: it could be their favorite flower, their favorite color, a flower they're named after, or something along those lines. (So, for example, if Bob is in love with Sakura, he might cough up cherry blossoms.)

Despite how deadly Hanahaki Disease is, it can be instantly cured if it turns out the other person likes the dying person back. It can also be cured by surgery, but this cure often means that the person will lose their feelings for the person they love (a double-edged sword that amps up the drama). Alternatively, the person being operated on will lose all memory of the person. If, for some reason, it can't be cured, it sometimes can be managed with medication (though this is not seen too often), but it never fully goes away.

If the sick character witnesses the person they are pining for being lovey-dovey with someone else their symptoms may worsen.

The trope carries some Unfortunate Implications, as the person being pined for is either forced to return the victim's feelings (something that cannot truly be forced from someone and that no one should feel obligated to do under any circumstances) or be responsible for their death. Alternate versions of the trope have been proposed to avoid these implications, either by making the disease an inconvenience rather than life-threatening or by shifting the disease's trigger to the victim not confessing their feelings without regard to whether the other person returns their feelings or not. Others have suggested widening the disease to things besides love, like bottled up emotions or trauma.

Sub-trope to Incurable Cough of Death, Hopeless Suitor, Flowers of Romance, and All Love Is Unrequited. Related to Body Horror and Victorian Novel Disease. If an LGBT character coughs up relevant flowers, see Queer Flowers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Trope Codifier is the 2008 Shoujo manga Hanahaki Otome, or "The Girl Who Spit Up Flowers", by Naoko Matsuda, which is about a girl with unrequited feelings who begins spitting up flowers. The symptoms are: strong chest pains and flowers coming from the heart or lungs, and then throwing them up.
  • The cover of chapter 45 of Tokyo Ghoul:re shows Kanae vomiting and choking on rose petals. This is two chapters after Eto tortures him with a manipulative Breaking Speech that exploits his unrequited love towards Tsukiyama.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Warrior Cats fic Bluebells, Leafpool gets the disease because of Mothwing. She initially thinks it's greencough (pneumonia), but she begins coughing up flowers alongside blood. Eventually Leafpool begins sprouting flowers out her chest. Right before she dies, she confesses to Mothwing, who says that she likes her back. This cures Leafpool of her Hanahaki Disease. There is also a Multi-Animator Project based off of the fic.
  • Danganronpa: Memento Mori: Haruhi turns out to have the disease, requires medication to alleviate her symptoms, and as her condition worsens she coughs up more rose petals. Uniquely, there is no indication that unrequited love was the cause.
  • Petals, a Danganronpa twoshot, is about Mukuro having hanahaki disease from being in love with Sayaka. The disease ends up killing her instead of the Spears of Gungnir.
  • In the Pokémon: The Series one-shot forget-me-not, Misty gets the disease because of her feelings for Ash.
  • The Taste of Dirt is a Riverdale oneshot where Archie and Veronica begin vomiting and coughing up flowers because they're in love with Jughead and Betty respectively.
  • Sonic The Hedgehog Slash Fic Hanahaki Disease is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, about Sonic coughing up pink rose petals because of his crush on Shadow.
  • The Splatoon oneshot i'm so full of love i can hardly breathe is about Pearl suffering with the disease because of her feelings for her best friend Marina.
  • In this Gravity Falls fanart, After Wendy tell him that she's not interested, a heart-broken Dipper begins having flowers growing out of his eye until Pacifica begins showing him her feelings for him.
  • The Good Omens fanfic, Somebody to Love embraces all the Unfortunate Implications of the trope and turns it into something horrific. It is a curse placed on all the demons by Satan and the whole "requited love cures the condition" is more of a loophole rather than the standard. The murder flowers issue is also triggered by all kinds of love, not just romantic love. Which means that even feeling some form of affection for the nice angel that Crawley met on the walls of Eden was enough to start the process.
  • The long The Owl House oneshot if this is love, please don't break me has Amity suffering this illness after realizing she's in love with Luz, who tries to reciprocate the former's feelings throughout.
  • The Vocaloid fanfic Rotting Camellias turns it on its head, having the infected slowly turn into petals as they become more depressed and in despair.
  • The Danganronpa fanfic Silver Bloom has this as the main plot as Kirumi Tojo is hired by Shuichi Saihara's family as a maid and ends up falling for the detective, despite her belief that maids should not hold an emotional attachment to their masters, thus catching the Hanahaki disease. As such, she does try and hide it to keep working, even willing to undergo a procedure that could render her unable to feel emotions ever again. Eventually, it is revealed that Shuichi had the disease as well. Thankfully, the two are finally able to confess to one another and become an Official Couple, overcoming the disease and surviving.
    • The fic does also work to try Doing In the Wizard by giving a scientific explanation for how the disease occurs and gives a grim prognosis. The starting point of the disease is a strange imbalance in the brain, and suppressing emotions increases the likelihood that someone catches it. It also explains that the disease is far more dangerous, as flowers within the body will cause problems in breathing, digestion, and liver and kidney function. Additionally, there are ways to reduce the symptoms, namely by introducing microbes and larva that eat the flowers to keep the symptoms at bay.
  • Played for Laughs in the My Hero Academia fanfic Hanafunki, which must be seen to be believed.
  • The Critical Role fanfiction The Mind and The Malady explains the affliction to be the result of pent-up magical energies manifesting physically, only seen in powerful mages who find themselves suffering from unrequited love. The disease is terminal if left untreated, though "confession and reciprocity" can cure it (as can a spell that will erase the sufferer's affections). The fic follows one such afflicted mage, Essek Thelyss, as he charts the progression of his illness and attempts to manage the symptoms, all while trying to keep the subject of his pining in the dark and helping the Mighty Nein save the world.
    Hanahaki’s disease—so named for the first recorded mage to die of it... It is a magical wasting sickness, one that springs from a deep, particular incongruence between what one wants and what is possible... of all the fiercest passions, it is only love, love unrequited, that provides soil fertile enough for the disease to grow.
    Oh, there are charms and there are ways to trick the mind, but no mage can force the love, the real love, of another into being. Some gifts can only be given freely. So, when love goes unanswered, when a mage’s terrible, practiced will finds itself confronted with the impossible, there is an opportunity for a sort of inflammation, an infection, of one’s inherent arcanic reserves. It is not unlike a spell held indefinitely in that instant before casting, chafing at the bonds of reality until something sick and septic leaks out.
  • In the Lolita fanfiction called A child rapist gets hanahaki disease and the only medicine is reality, Unreliable Narrator Humbert horrifically uses Hanahaki Disease as justification for his attraction toward little girls.
  • The BTS AU fic the weight of love, or idol's disease presents a scenario where the people getting Hanahaki Disease isn't the one in love but the loved one. As the title indicates, is quite common among entertainers, and a legitimate problem for entertainment companies as they want their talent to be loved enough to become popular but no so loved that it endangers their livehood. Companies try to reduce the risk by concealing every personal info about their talent (even their legal names), and music labels rarely debut soloists going for multitudinous groups instead (as fans will divide their love and attention between the members), but even those measures aren't always enough.
  • In the Yuri!!! on Ice fic series a mess, it grows, Christophe, who has been in love with Victor (who is already in a relationship with Yuri K.), has gotten into the last stages of Hanahaki, so he resigns himself to die from that and as such he lets Pitchit accompany him on what he believes to be his last days, only to discover during a medical check that the flowers in his chest are dying, making Christophe realize that he has gotten over Victor and has now fallen for Pitchit. The implication is that if you manage to survive Hanahaki for long enough to fall out of love with the original target or fall in love with another person, the disease will disappear by itself.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Cremaster films by artist Matthew Barney has a variant: the "Entered Apprentice" usually has something resembling a flower petal out of his mouth, and with his gaunt appearance and the petal occasionally being stained with vomited blood, ties into the themes of life and death.

    Live-Action Television 

    Video Games 
  • Played with in Seraphim Slum. It's not quite Hanahaki disease, but not only is the protagonist Ezekiel is hacking up flowers and and branches, her flesh is opening and spitting them out. One interlude describes Ezekiel's arms opening to drop apples on the corridor floor. The twist is that it isn't happening because of unrequited romance between her and her girls; it's happening because it's a symbol of the love between Ezekiel and her plants.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Wonderlab: There is an Abnormality based on this concept, known as the "Staining Rose". The rose desires only one specific person that satisfies the conditions to manage it to "resonate" with it. If anyone besides that person manages it, or if that person neglects it for a certain period of time, the rose will inflict those outside of its Containment Unit with a contagious disease that makes the infected cough up red rose petals until they die. Word of God states that Staining Rose is not based on Hanahaki Disease, but the side effects from managing it improperly resemble this trope.

    Web Original