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Harsh Word Impact

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I think she gets the point…

In some visual media, The Power of Language can be taken quite literally. When a character says something especially hurtful or deflating to another (usually delivering an uncomfortable truth or Brutal Honesty), the object of their statement will appear to be literally poked or stabbed by an arrow emerging from their speech bubble, visually driving home the impact of their words. Quite often the character on the receiving end is knocked off their feet. Bonus Black Comedy points if said Annoying Arrows go right into the characters' eyes. Usage:

Aerith: (to Bob) "You're clumsy ("Clumsy" appears — stab), stupid ("Stupid" — stab) and you won't ever have a chance with me!" ("No chance" appears — pierces Bob right through his chest)

They don't have to be arrows. Sometimes heavy rocks, bricks, washbasins, even energy beams with the meaningful words on them are substituted for speech bubbles — anything that'll leave a physical impact on the object of the statement in a Medium Awareness way.

Usually delivered by a Metafictional Device. If the speaker is actually hitting the victim in sync with each word, that's Punctuated Pounding, not this trope. Compare Words Can Break My Bones when the words have some literal magic power behind them, and Armor-Piercing Question when it is a question with a deep psychological effect on its audience. May be used with Oblivious Guilt Slinging.


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  • In a Canadian anti-bullying PSA from Companies Committed to Kids "Words Hurt" a trio of female bullies says some hurtful words at another female by calling her a "loser" and "geek". Several "ha" words are then thrown at the girl, causing her to feel overwhelmed and run off, with the word "get lost" being sent to chase and attack her.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Tina in Ai Yori Aoshi was feeling upset about her weight, and Mayu began taunting her, arrows darting down to skewer poor Tina. And then Taeko commented innocently, "Really? When I eat, only my breasts get bigger." Ow.
  • Asteroid in Love:
    • In Chapter 18, Mira and Ao gives Moe some potential designs of refreshments to use in the School Festival, and Moe rejected some of them due to being physically impossible to make. An arrow with the words "Rejected" stabs into Ao's head as she does Blank White Eyes, since she designed all of the rejected ones.
    • In Chapter 22, Mai recalls Moe was extremely depressed at her results at the School Festival's booth food competition. In her recollection, two arrows, one with "Suzuya Production" and the other with "Second Place", is seen stabbed into Moe.
  • Pictured above is a scene from Bamboo Blade when Miya-Miya makes a convincing argument for Satori joining the kendo club — ignore her horrible grades and get into college by kendo scholarship.
  • The "speech balloon piercing the ears" variant has also happened in Case Closed when Ayumi uses her Detective Boys badge to transfer a Motive Rant over the phone.
  • In chapter 37 of the A Certain Scientific Railgun manga, when Misaka 10032 lists all of Mikoto's lesser qualities as the older sister of the two.
  • A comedic Code Geass manga has Lelouch react this way whenever people talk about his lack of physical fitness. Rakshata's out-and-out insulting and Tohdoh's attempt to be polite both affect him like a punch to the face, while Suzaku's unintentionally Brutal Honesty results in actual arrows striking him in the chest and knocking him down.
  • In Comic Girls, Kaoruko has one in the first episode when Ruki mistook her as an elementary school student.
  • D.Gray-Man features this with a side-arc relevant character admits his mistakes and asks to redeem himself by taking care of the boy he wronged. Cue a collective “No Way!" from the rest of the present cast and some multi-piercing.
  • Delicious in Dungeon: When Marcille first met up with Laios and Falin on the Island, she had strong feelings about their choice of career. When she demanded to know if they really intended to spend the rest of their lives in the dead-end profession of Dungeon Crawling, her speech bubble speared not only Laios but several bystanders as well.
  • In Food Wars!, Jun is telling some students about a school program where they are sent out to get actual real-job experience. Soma wonders how tough it must be if someone like Jun passed, and Jun is stabbed by the memory of her days as a Cute Clumsy Girl.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has this happen when Riza saves Roy from getting killed by Scar when his ignition gloves fail to work because of the rain. After she reminds him that he's useless in the rain, he's promptly struck over the head by the word 'useless'.
  • Toward the end of The Girl I Want is So Handsome!, Hinami "Hina" Ayukawa has to pass her exams, lest she be unable to help out the basketball team as its manager. After Rei Miyamoto learns this, she says, "Ayukawa, you're a real dummy, huh?" with an arrow from the speech bubble stabbing Hina in the head.
  • In Hidamari Sketch:
    • When Sae is talking to Yuno about wanting to pursue both literature and art in college, but worrying that this would make her work at either mediocre, Yuno bluntly sums it up with the saying "Going after two hares and catching neither." In the same panel, a gun appears by her and shoots Sae in the head.
    • In another strip, Yuno is bummed out about how badly she did at the all-school competition, and wonders if she would have done better if she hadn't been tired and nervous. So when Sae (arguing with her editor) suddenly yells "Of course not!" the speech balloon stabs her right in the heart.
    • Many of these gags make it into the anime adaptation, replacing the stabbing speech bubbles with arrows (the symbol, not the projectile shot from a bow) peppering the character's body.
  • In the second season of Kimi ni Todoke, Kazehaya is struck with an arrow after Chizu tells him he doesn't understand Sadako.
  • Ladies versus Butlers! has Sernia do this twice to Akiharu in the second episode. One abridged series lampshades (duh) this by having him respond with: "Quit throwing your damn Japanese symbols at me!"
  • Laid-Back Camp has yen signs stabbing into Nadeshiko when she reads about the price of higher-end camping gear.
  • Keitaro of Love Hina, when Su asks if it's true he can't get a girlfriend, gets stabbed by Su's speech balloon. Strangely, in the French translation, the sound effect makes it sound like he's slapped by the balloon.
    • One volume had the cast attending a festival. Naru goes on a spiel that ends with Keitaro being stabbed several times by swords. Keitaro, however, manages to fire back in such a way that Naru is impaled with a light-saber.
  • Love Me For Who I Am: In Chapter 2, the Innocently Insensitive Mogumo asks Suzu point-blank "Are you a homo?", shown as an arrow stabbing through him.
  • In Magic of Stella, Minaha's criticism to Tamaki's illustrations in episode 8 made a few of these to Tamaki. These include "(Iris' writing) completely overshadows your drawings," "doesn't even know the basics," and "you think you just have to draw pictures (and hand them in)."
  • Molester Man: In Chapter 14.5, Molester Man is stabbed by the 2Channel anon comments pointing out how he screwed up.
  • In the early chapters of My Monster Secret, Asahi is occasionally impaled or punched by Youko telling him what a wonderful FRIEND he is. Also happens when he is bluntly rejected (before he even confessed) by Aizawa before the start of the story. It's a case of Early-Installment Weirdness, though, as this gag is only used in the first dozen chapters.
  • Sasuke telling Sakura "You're as bad as Naruto." At which point a huge rock labelled "AS BAD AS NARUTO" crushes her head. ...then Sasuke realizes -and tells her- that she's actually worse. At which point a massive rock lands on top of the other. Something similar happens in the Konoha 11 filler arc, in which Sakura realizes she was even less observant on the night of a ninja's attempted escape than even Naruto was.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • Happens when Chisame, pleading for the existence of at least a couple of Ordinary High School Students left in the class, is bluntly told that Yuuna's father and Missing Mom are mages.
    • In Negima!?, Makie gets hit in the head by huge characters for 'Crushed' every time Ayaka yells at her (which is a lot).
  • New Game!:
    • After Aoba remarks that her arms have recently become a bit flabby, Yun, who secretly worries about her weight, is hit with an arrow that says "Flab."
    • Aoba becomes depressed over how she let the joy of becoming Peco's character designer go to her head, and tried to offer guidance that she wasn't qualified to give. She confides in Hifumi, who says that "of course" Aoba's inexperienced, so it's only natural that there were many things she didn't know, resulting in Aoba being pierced by arrows with Hifumi's words.
  • One Piece:
    • Buggy and Mr. 3 are stabbed by Luffy's words after he meets them and expresses his sincere happiness from seeing both alive and well, as they had previously abandoned him to escape Impel Down by themselves.
      Buggy: My heart!
      Mr. 3: It hurts!
    • During the Whole Cake Island arc, Nami tells Sanji "I will never forgive you," for him beating up Luffy to convince him and Nami that he'd willingly rejoined his evil family, resulting in the person in question being impaled by the dialogue balloon before Nami says she'll put aside her feelings.
  • In Episode 7 of Osomatsu-san, the Matsunos visit a coffee shop that Todomatsu works at and are promptly asked to leave. When they ask why, Todomatsu makes a disparaging speech about how embarrassing and lowly they are — with a barrage of arrows hitting the brothers after each insult. By the time he's finished, everyone's riddled with arrows and Ichimatsu has already laid down in preparation for death.
  • Ouran High School Host Club:
    • This happens to Tamaki when he first meets Renge and she calls him "stupid, narcissist, incompetent, commoner, [and] disgusting".
    • In another episode, Tamaki gets hit with a speech bubble when Haruhi cracks open a crab leg.
    • In episode 2, when Toru admits he feels selfish, studying abroad in the hopes that he'll be the kind of man to impress his fiancee Kanako, Haruhi chimes in with "Yeah... you're right, that is pretty selfish of you," and a big red arrow stabs Toru in the chest.
    • This also happens to Tamaki in the first episode of the live-action adaptation, when Haruhi calls him "annoying" and sends him flying into the wall.
  • Peddler In Another World: has Caren Sankareka, the mayor of the town from the world that Shirou's grandmother is from, do this to herself with three speech bubbles in chapter 6.
  • Happens a lot in Perfect Girl Evolution. Sunako, in particular, has a tendency to reel back whenever the word 'ugly' gets bandied about. In one particular episode, when this is combined with guilt, she ends up walking around with a lot of 'arrows' stuck in her... until Takenaga delivers a particularly pointed barb that demonstrates that her thoughtlessness was very similar to the same comment that, years back, crushed her self-confidence and turned her into a withdrawn, horror-obsessed loner... at which point a giant arrow descends from space, obliterating the entire mansion. REALLY painful realization, apparently.
  • Variation in Ranma ½. When a scheming guest leaves Soun with a ton of bills to pay, whenever a new debt is mentioned it manifests in the form of an arrow striking him in the back. Eventually, Soun has over a dozen arrows in his back, leaving him paralyzed and twitching on the floor.
  • In Rising × Rydeen Aria tells Takara that in her five years of training Mikan mentioned him a lot. When he asks what things she said about him he gets skewered by the arrows from word bubbles. Mikan had nothing nice to say about him.
  • In the first episode of Sakura Trick, after Yuu chased Haruka into the empty classroom following the latter's BSOD over former's A Lady on Each Arm scene, she made one by saying she should have noticed Haruka was a Clingy Jealous Girl. An arrow with "Clingy" stabs through Haruka's heart.
  • In Sazanka, Keita, the protagonist Tatsuki's boyfriend, calls her out for making so many mistakes as a part-timer at the convenience store where they both work, but says he'll forgive her because she's cute. Afterward, he reiterates that she needs to pay more attention, at which point his speech bubble sprouts an arrow that stabs Tatsuki in the head.
  • Done a few times in Sgt. Frog, such as an early chapter where Tamama wonders why the Keron invasion was suddenly canceled, and Keroro looks awkward as a caption reading "His Fault" appears, with a pointing arrow poking him in the back of the head.
  • Silver Spoon's Hachiken becomes Vice-President of the Equestrian Club. Later, they adopt a dog... and name it Vice-President. When the girl Hachiken likes scolded the dog, he reacted like her words were physical blows. With blood splatter and, eventually, explosions.
  • Skip Beat! features an example when Kyoko is challenged to play out a scene under a very different context. Due to the scene mirroring Maria's own personal issues with her father... Kyoko's presentation of events makes her realize several uncomfortable (though ultimately false) truths about her father's feelings towards her. As they come up, each one comes down on Maria's head in the form of a vast, rock weight, drilling her into the ground.
  • In the manga version of Vidia and the Fairy Crown, Vidia shouts directly in the ear of another character, causing the (jagged) speech balloon to go straight through his ear canals and come out the other side.
  • Happens in the manga version of YuYu Hakusho, when Botan informs Yusuke that the boy he died saving from a car accident would have been miraculously unharmed if Yusuke hadn't intervened. Yusuke is hit by falling kana as Botan remarks on how pointless his death was, and how stupid he must feel.

    Asian Animation 
  • The Founder of Diabolism Q (the gag Spin-Off of Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi): In Episode 29, the cast celebrate the Hungry Ghost Festival and Wei Wuxian (who was recently resurrected after 13 years) is shocked to hear he didn't receive any offerings while he was dead. Jin Ling muses about it in brutal fashion, with reasons including "no one sent [him] lanterns", "a waste of money" and "[he's] really a loser" — as he says each of those phrases, they all manifest and crash onto Wei Wuxian's head.

    Comic Books 
  • Empowered is kidnapped (again) by a random schmuck so he can wear her super suit; he kicks a wall to try it out only to break his leg, because it only works for Emp. For bonus points he wets himself in the suit, so she has to wear his t-shirt. When she calls the ambulance, the paramedic asks if she'd like to ride in the back because, "He's your boyfriend, isn't he?" Cue arrow - SHONKK.
  • Happens in volume 2 of Scott Pilgrim. When Knives admits she's in love with Scott (who is trying to break up with her), the world "love" forms a cloud that smacks Scott in the face.
  • In an Achille Talon gag, while the main character shouts with anguish about something horrible he just realisednote , his speech bubble forms a fist that hits him on the head.

    Comic Strips 
  • When Jeremy from Zits accidentally says something callous to his girlfriend, the word bubble hovers between them until he's apologized sufficiently.

    Films — Animation 

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • In Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, one particular death cry of the enemies ("HIDEBU!") will materialize into physical form, allowing you to pick them up and bludgeon others with them.
  • Kid Niki: Radical Ninja: Big Baldy, the boss of stage 5, uses words as his way of attacking the player. One of his attacks is him yelling a Chinese word that bounces at you. Another attack is him saying "fool" that flies across the screen while dropping letters. You will lose a life if you are hit at all.
  • In Kung Fu Chaos, Shao Ting's special move is to scream criticisms down his megaphone as people, which turns the words into a massive laser beam.
  • During interrogations in Layton Brothers: Mystery Room, little arrows with snarky comments shoot back and forth between you and a suspect.
  • In Lollipop Chainsaw, Zed, the game's first official boss, shoots expletives at Juliet that act as projectiles.
  • In both versions of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Deadpool's taunt spawns a word balloon which damages the opponent on contact. It does minimal damage but it can be comboed into.
  • In Psychonauts, a Caustic Critic harms you with negative reviews, which appear as inkblots with stock negative phrases in them.
  • Capcom considered adding Phoenix Wright to Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, with this as a special attack. However, the difference between the catchphrase in both languages ("Igiari!" versus "Objection!") meant that the US version would be a Game-Breaker, so they decided to leave him out. It does appear in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 in full force; the entire word is contained in a single balloon, thus solving the length problem. (In fact, you need to hit the opponent with the "TAKE THAT!" balloon to trigger Turnabout Mode.)
  • In Treasure of the Rudra, this overlaps with Words Can Break My Bones; trying to cast a spell with a word that doesn't translate into any other spell will often cause the word itself to fly across the screen or fall from above and smack into enemies, damaging them.

    Visual Novels 
  • At around Episode 4 of Umineko: When They Cry, the battles of red truth and blue truth become this Played for Drama. So we have Beatrice stabbed by giant blue spikes when she can't counter Battler's theories, Dlanor and her red and blue swords, a giant red sword falling from the sky and piercing Battler, who eventually picks himself up, pulls out the sword and turns it gold, and so on...

    Web Animation 
  • DevilArtemis' Cell Vs. videos:
    • Escanor roasts Cell with his Holy Roast Escanor by simply saying "Team Four Star is better", which quickly leaves Cell gasping for air in a pool of his own blood.
    • This is how Cell loses to Rex making him nearly explode by saying "You are poor man's Team Four Star."
  • So, so so many examples in the Teen Girl Squad cartoons/animations featured on Homestar Runner. "ARROWED!"
  • In this re-animated Steamed Hams video emulating the styles of different prominent animators, the scene imitating Mo Willems' style has Chalmers yelling at Skinner about how the name "steamed hams" is weird, with the words causing Skinner to fly out of his chair.
  • JaidenAnimations: In the "Dating Things I Shouldn't" episode, she's playing the game Speed Dating With Ghosts and is trying to make small-talk with Steph (who is in denial that she's dead). When Steph states that she's not dead, just disassociated, it cuts to Jaiden getting struck with an arrow labeled "Relatable".


    Western Animation 
  • In Animaniacs, Slappy Squirrel gets hammered by some critics (Captain Ersatzes of Siskel & Ebert, actually), and she reacts as if she's being punched in the face with every insult.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes: In "My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad", a trash-talking session between K.O. and Chameleon Jr. involves words flying out of one person's mouth and hitting the other in the face.
  • In the Regular Show episode "More Smarter", this happens while Mordecai and Rigby are insulting each other under the influence of Brain Max (the words "walnut" and "imbecile" hit Rigby, while "butt cheeks" hits Mordecai).
  • In Rocko's Modern Life episode "Kiss Me I'm Foreign", Rocko and Filbert, who are pretending to be married, get into a fight and start insulting each other; this is represented as a boxing match with gloved fists coming out of their throats.
  • Kaeloo: In one episode Kaeloo presents a movie script that she wrote to her friends, who react with harsh criticism; every time someone says something, Kaeloo reacts as if she's been slapped in the face.


My Monster Secret

The pain of rejection has never been so accurate.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

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