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Page-Turn Surprise

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Often in book-based media at the point where the tension is about to climax, the author will make sure that a page turn will be necessary, as to avoid letting the audience accidentally glimpse a spoiler on the other side of a page. Often this technique is necessary for a big reveal or otherwise dramatic moment.

Most artists are taught to pay attention to this necessity of a technique when planning their comic book, and less commonly, authors need to worry about this situation as well. The only difference for prose novelists, however, is that in a 200-page book with font standardization, they can't exactly know when the typesetting will force the reader to turn the page in hardcover or paperback books.


It's so common that Scott McCloud cites it as one of the things comics creators need to re-learn if they move from page-based to Infinite Canvas comics.

If the media product resides in the horror genre, chances are the image/text on the next page is going to be shocking/horrifying as well as surprising.

In visual print media, this technique can come in several forms, some of which are included here:

  • The scene is hinted at on the previous page, but you must turn the page for the entire effect.
  • The surrounding characters get a glimpse at the sight before the audience, often allowing for a wide-eyed look of disgust or terror before the reveal.



Anime and Manga

  • Higurashi: When They Cry has done this multiple times, and it has proved very effective as the key moments in the manga adaptation are often remembered as these.
  • Naruto:
    • In the pilot, this a new page coincides with Takashi revealing that Saburo stabbed Kuroda, and when Takashi gets shot by the person who came to steal "Proof".
    • Several times, someone will talk for a little while to build up to revealing something, then hesitate for a panel or two to push The Reveal onto the next page, sometimes accompanied by a character asking "What?". Noteworthy examples include Naruto finding out that he is the host of the nine-tailed fox, Sasuke learning that Itachi was trying to protect him, and Hinata confessing her love to Naruto.
    • During the Sasuke Retrieval arc, where you turn the page and find a gloriously awesome full page of Rock Lee roundhouse kicking the bad guy.
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  • In the manga version of Battle Royale, this trop gets used frequently in order to shock the player when things look up, only for the next page to reveal that things were never that happy. Prominent examples are seeing an image of Hirono successfully reuniting with The Hero and smiling, with the next page showing that smile to actually be a deranged one as she's drowning in a well. In a similar vein, showing a close-up of Yuko smiling in a photo with all her friends to then showing a tearfully smiling Yuko with a graphically broken neck.
  • Setsuna's Wing Pull in Negima! Magister Negi Magi was specifically kept on the very next page, and hinted at earlier in the volume.
  • Enel's huge Jaw Drop in the One Piece manga.
    • Not to mention the the fantastic reveal of Ace's heritage during the Whitebeard War arc. It came completely out of left field for everyone.
  • The first issue of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid. After some hints about the research on "that", Vivio gets ready for her first Transformation Sequence. Then as the reader turns the page, they get a two-page spread showing the glorious return of Sankt Kaiser Vivio.
  • In the Volume 4 November Special of Azumanga Daioh, Sakaki is attacked by a horde of cats, when suddenly, a cat appears in the way! It isn't immediately identifiable yet, to those who didn't connect it to the foreshadowing and haven't seen the anime of it. We see a close-up of Sakaki's eyes... and turn the page to find a full page of Chiyo latched on to Sakaki, who's looking down at the Iriomote cat she met on the school trip!
  • In Bakuman。, this happens when Mashiro and Takagi first learn that Miyuki Haruno, the woman Moritaka Mashiro's uncle loved, is his girlfriend Miho's mother, One Hundred Millionth failing to get an award, and The World is All About Money and Intelligence only getting 3rd place in Akamaru Jump (in order to get serialized, it had to get first).
  • In Chapter 128 of Muhyo and Roji, everything seems to be going well when the Demon Carriage arrives, only for Ginji to reveal on the next page that Enchu has regained consciousness and now has the upper hand, with the rest of the heroes in the carriage tied up.
  • My Monster Secret uses this often, both dramatically and as a visual punchline to a joke. Due to the series' heavy use of Mood Whiplash it's not always clear which it will be until you actually turn the page. Chapter 80 and 81 actually use very much the same page and panel structure, but page turns that were used dramatically in the former become comedic in the latter due to the different contexts.
  • Shuukan Shounen Hachi, by the same author, largely keeps to this style. While the setting and tone aren't quite as zany, the Mood Whiplash and page turn are still used abundantly − a notable example being in chapter 3 when, after exposing which girls they find cute (after a moment of hesitation), the boys all admit that the first name that came to their minds was Mikeya, with the main character Hachi facepalming out of sympathy.
  • Junji Ito is infamously fond of this technique. Often a panel at the end of a page would focus on a charcter's reaction to build anticipation, before the next page reveals some horrific creature or situation.
  • Near the end of the eighth volume of Bokurano, Kanji, having just fought and died, wonders which of the three possible candidates will be next to pilot. He's fairly certain it can't be any of those three, but then is horrified as the realization hits him. On the next page, Kana Ushiro says "I've been called."
  • Kaguya-sama: Love is War has used this on several occasions, particularly with really romantic moments like Shirogane finding Kaguya during the fireworks arc, their First Kiss, and Kaguya's Love Confession.
  • A humorous example in Ayakashi Triangle: As Matsuri explains to Suzu that she's the only friend he's ever had, Suzu suddenly gets quiet. Matsuri continues that he shouldn't bother being friends with Lu or Yayo even if he's around them. Suddenly, the page ends on a dramatic closeup to his shocked reaction, and the first panel of the next page is Suzu shaking her head. She changes his mind.

Comic Books

  • Wasp's violent, cannibalistic death in Ultimatum.
  • Doctor Strange/Zom annihilating friend and foe alike in the New Avengers Annual #2. Double points for being a blood red two-page spread interrupting what had formerly been a blue and purple night scene.
  • Planetary: Night on Earth has a downplayed version, with a Gilligan Cut being placed on a page turn. The last panel of one page has The Drummer declaring that he's staying at the base where it's safe; the first panel of the next page shows him out in the field with the rest of the team, complaining loudly.
  • Very common in The Immortal Hulk. For instance, one page of issue #8 ends with the Hulk's cut hand in a jar (the Jolly Green Giant had just been cut into pieces by scientists) snapping its finger to break the glass. The next page shows all the pieces flying back together around a scientist, and fusing again onto him, and back into the Hulk's body.


  • Pratchett has one of these in Reaper Man (famously ruined because one of the editions placed it on the wrong page) where when Azrael answers you turn the page only to find one big, huge "YES" covering the entire page. In the hardcover, this is on the left side of the page, so you see it when you turn (and Pratchett allegedly wrote an extra 200 words to make it so), but it ended up on the wrong side of the page in the paperback edition.
    • Later paperback releases fixed this issue, but ran into another, related problem: 100pt block letters tend to show through thin pages.
  • There's a spread in The Ersatz Elevator that is meant to show the reader what the titular elevator's shaft looks like. Both pages of the spread are completely black.
  • In Cloud Atlas, The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing is cut off mid-sentence in such a way that the sentence appears to run onto the next page, but the next page is blank, and the page after is the title page for the next story.



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