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Speech-Bubble Censoring

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If he were to stop talking, it would be a bit em-bare-ass-ing.

A subtrope of Scenery Censor specific to comic style formats. Simply, a character's nudity is covered by a speech, thought, or sound effect bubble. It's usually used to imply that characters within the work are getting a full eyeful, while still preventing the audience from seeing anything.

See also Censor Steam, Speech-Bubbles Interruption. Not to be confused with Symbol Swearing, where the text within the speech bubble is censored.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Alice in the Country of Hearts manga, there's a point where Blood, Elliot and the twins are having an obligatory bathhouse scene and the twins make a few smart remarks. After Elliot stands up to reprimand them, a speech bubble repeatedly manages to show up to cover up his bare butt (he's only shown from the waist up in front views).
  • Ayakashi Triangle:
    • One chapter has Matsuri's guarding Suzu from an attack while she's taking a bath. This leads to a page where she is covering her breasts with her hands, but her genitals are only obscured by her speech bubble. Matsuri ends up looking down despite himself, which is actually what Suzu wanted.
    • A stranger possible example occurs when Matsuri ends up with his head under Suzu's skirt. The ensuing Panty Shot is as detailed as usual (including visible cameltoe), but Suzu's sigh of surprise covers a very small portion in the center of her crotch. The dialogue vaguely suggests Suzu was on her period, and the speech bubble was obscuring the indent of a tampon.
  • In chapter 78 of Blue Exorcist, speech bubbles are used to cover Shura's nipples in several panels.
  • One panel of Chainsaw Man has Denji telling himself to be faithful to Makima and turn down Skinny Dipping with Reze. In the following panel, Denji has stripped down and his crotch it obscured by the only thought bubble, labelled "Dammit."
  • Non-nudity related example: In the manga of Death Note, the Third Kira of Yotsuba Group (Higuchi), whose identity is meant to be a surprise in the manga, thinks that he should use his Death Note to kill Matsuda, but can't because if he went home alone, the others would suspect him, and his thought balloon obscures his face, preventing the reader from finding out who it is. By contrast, the anime does not attempt to hide that Higuchi is Kira.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • At the end of the Fairy Tail Special chapter "Welcome to Fairy Hills", when Lucy's cat costume disappears, a narration box is placed in front of her butt, which is a bit weird since it isn't censored in a later chapter where she flies naked around the country's capital, but then again, the series continually goes Hotter and Sexier.
    • In chapter 365, when Erza is held captive and stripped naked, the censoring of her nipples alternates between sound effects, speech bubbles, her hair, and occasionally, her captor.
  • In the 2010 Christmas episode of Hetalia: Axis Powers, when the characters all have to strip to check their bodies for a special mark, copious amounts of speech bubbles are used to cover up all "vital regions".
  • A rather disturbing instance in Hunter × Hunter with Hisoka. While naked and chatting with two twelve-year-old boys, his speech bubble shifts upwards as he becomes... excited.
  • Used in the Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi manga once or twice.
  • In the first chapter of Minimum, as the miniature girl takes care of her Potty Emergency in the sink, her genitals are covered up by her speech bubble at one point.
  • Moriarty the Patriot: In The Adventure of the Four Servants, Moran is naked in the changing room when Louis shows Bond around—and he stands up proudly claiming his body a work of art when demanding Bond leave—and that speech bubble covers any naughty bits.
  • In one chapter of My Hero Academia, Momo destroys her top with her creation power, and her modesty is only preserved by her dialogue. Jiro gets an eyeful, though.
  • A non-nudity related example in One Piece: the perpetually-hidden left eye of Sanji was once blocked by a word balloon when he was hanging upside down, and thus could not hide it with his hair as he usually does.
  • The published English language version of Tenjho Tenge has a lot of this artificially inserted for censorship purposes.
  • To Love Ru: Yui's panties were accidentally cut off at the beginning of the chapter, so only Rito's exclamation prevents readers from seeing everything. And as for Rito, on the next page he gets hit on the head by a flying teapot and forgets about it.

    Comic Books 
  • An issue of The Dandy has a single speech bubble covering up Winker Watson and a school friend's bits during a shower scene (and a sign being held up by an off-screen character, saying "Not a pretty sight", over another schoolboy).
  • DC Comics:
    • In The Dark Knight Strikes Again, The "News in the Nude" anchorwoman is naked with only word balloons covering her regions.
    • The Harley & Ivy miniseries shows us the women's shower at Arkham Asylum, allowing Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy to appear in the nude. While their private parts are mostly concealed using Censor Steam, Censor Suds and Scenery Censor, one panel has Harley's speech bubble covering up one of her breasts.
    • Joker actually evades this in The Killing Joke, but his word bubble did probably take your eye off an unconscious Barbara's chest sitting right next to it.
    • When Red Robin breaks into Promise's hideout to confront her only to discover she's showering and then she spots him and starts a fight before he has a chance to decide how to deal with a surprisingly naked criminal the architecture and speech bubbles manage to maintain her decency for the reader.
    • Secret Six #11: A rear end view of Jeanette blocked by a word balloon. Writer Gail Simone was disappointed when she found out.
    • World's Finest #253 uses an editorial footnote to obscure Dinah Lance's breasts as she's searching through her closet in the nude.
    • In Bat Man Shadow of the Bat #2 when Mr. Zsasz strips off his clothes to reveal his many self inflicted scars to demonstrate to the police how many people he’s killed, his genitals are covered by his speech bubble.
    • Tim Drake: Robin: The bloody stump of Cam's neck is obscured by a speech bubble after she's decapitated.
    • The fourth issue of Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds ends with the villain Skarg left naked when the Secret Spandex is separated from his body. His groin is obscured by his own speech bubble exclaiming "My bits!"
  • Done in Empowered when Emp demonstrates her suit's ability to turn invisible. Her pubic region is obscured by Ninjette's exclamation of surprise. Another time when the Caged Demonwolf discovers that Ninjette is shaved "down there", his exclamation of surprise obscures the visual proof.
  • Marvel Comics:
    • Used with Domino in The Incredible Hulks #608, during the Red She-Hulk backup story.
    • Loki: Agent of Asgard starts with a Shower of Awkward — and once Loki's out of the shower there's a very strategically placed speech bubble, just barely in place.
    • Mighty Avengers #12 features a scene with Nick Fury in bed with Countess DeFontaine, where her bare behind is hidden by one of these.
    • New Avengers #14: a scene of Spider-Woman I (Jessica Drew) on an operating table nude, surrounded by doctors. Her right breast is hidden by a utensil tray held up by one of the doctors. Her left is covered up by a word balloon. Recreated in #42.
    • Son of M #1 gives Quicksilver a Shower Scene. His butt is partially covered by a narration box.
    • In Uncanny X-Men #245 we see a room full of dead bodies, Tessa’s word balloon covers up one of the men’s heads, implying he’s been decapitated.
    • The 24th issue of What The—?! had a segment called "Misprints in the Comics", which had humorous situations and premises happening to Marvel Comics characters because of a single word in the series' title being changed. The panel for New Warriors had the team become the Nude Warriors and forced to go home naked except for their masks after a stay in Las Vegas. Nova's crotch is covered up by his speech balloon, pointing out how handy it is to have it censoring his naughty bits.
    • The final page of X-Factor #47 (current volume) where Monet is nude and her butt is covered up by a word balloon.
  • Tom Strong : America's Best Comics' The Many Worlds of Tesla Strong features an alternate reality with No Nudity Taboo. Discomfort ensues. For Tesla anyway.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Matt Helm film The Silencers, a stripper's breasts are covered up by the title.
  • Same effect, but more (in)famous: Barbarella.
  • And again with the sexually explicit film Romance, whose cover art depicts main character Marie topless with the title of the film across her bust.

  • Scott McCloud does this in Making Comics when he talks about talk bubbles. When he mentions the placement of talk bubbles, the panel shows him as Michelangelo's David with his hair and Nerd Glasses, and his speech is covering where the statue's penis would be.
  • Rare non-comic-book example: in the Sesame Street picture book "Do You Want to Play Hide-and-Seek with Lovable, Furry Old Grover?" Grover tries (unsuccessfully) to hide behind his own word balloons.

    Web Comics