The Anime Cold: Almost as Deadly as Embarrassment and Scrapes, at Least in Anime

Friday's Feature

Life is tough for the average high school anime character. Getting caught in the rain is nearly a death sentence when a dreaded fever will strike and certainly any character who ever had a bout of chuunibyou knows that embarrassment really can kill. Who knew that an anime cold could be such a deadly disease?

There are plenty of fairly sensible plot and tone reasons for these greatly exaggerated dangers, however the frequency with which these are rolled out each season is kind of mind blowing at times.

Do we have a cocky character who needs to be taken down a peg and can’t inflict an anime cold on them just yet? Or a character who is holding the plot back by refusing to comply with someone else’s fairly insane demand? Well, look no further than bringing their ‘dark past’ into the open and suddenly you’ve got a blushing and embarrassed character willing to agree to nearly anything.

Chuunibyou - die from embarrassment - Not quite as deadly as an anime cold

Of course, that’s nothing compared to having a guy and/or girl confess or, even worse, touch hands. Look out if they’ve just walked in on someone changing. Suddenly you could fry an egg on the primary red face of the character as they blush all the way to the tips of their ears.

Embarrassment might really kill in anime.

A lot of the time this is played off comedically and sometimes it just gives the story a way to keep progressing because without some form of coercion the character has no reason to meet the demands of another but they don’t actually want a real sense of menace in the story, but realistically, the blushing character is a trope that is just littered throughout anime.

Kaichou wa Maid Sama - she might look like she has an anime cold but she's just super embaressed.
Seriously, she looks so red it is hard to believe she doesn’t have an anime cold.

But worse than simply being embarrassed is getting a scrape. Or an actual cut.

Get the disinfectant.

Pretty much anything that breaks the surface of an anime character’s skin, no matter how minor, is treated like someone just tore a limb off.

Actually, I think characters who lose limbs have less reaction.

Edward Elric - Losing a Limb
Yeah, pretty sure Edward didn’t react that badly when this happened.

But a scrape on the face of an idol? That’s just wrong. You absolutely must treat it this instant and anything less would potentially endanger their face or potentially leave a permanent scar.

And that is apparently a worse fate than death though apparently not as bad as catching an anime cold.

Nanami treating Kurama's Wound - wouldn't want his face to scar

While I’m all for effective first aid, even of minor injuries, the reactions to which characters go at the first sign of an injury is a little overwrought. It almost makes you wonder if they never played and fell over as kids and experienced all the usual bumps and bruises that come with growing up.

And certainly recent anime have made me wonder if the frequency with which people in Japan break limbs is somewhat lower because if Domestic Girlfriend taught me anything it is that apparently breaking your leg prevents any part of you, including your brain, from functioning properly.

Realistically, this does allow a few things to happen in a story. The first is minor drama. If we’re in a standard high school setting, there just aren’t a lot of real hazards so even minor ones end up being overblown. However, what mostly seems to happen is the injury is seen as an excuse to force characters together in a more intimate setting. Much like when a character catches an anime cold and suddenly needs to be nursed.


Whether that is through the infirmary visit (sometimes after being carried Princess style), helping the person with their daily life, or visiting the sick friend and then being alone in their room with them, it is a pretty standard plot point. It also leads to some charming and cute encounters as well as some more comedic, entertaining, and sometimes more risque moments.

However, being embarrassed, scrapes, cuts, broken limbs… all of these pale in comparison with the real deadly killer of anime. The unstoppable force that will knock a protagonist flat in an instant and require all other characters to mope and wonder if they will ever survive.


It is that.

The common anime cold.

The anime cold is going to strike…

Caused of course by any kind of water outside of a shower making contact with said character. And even a bath or shower might trigger it if they don’t 100% dry themselves immediately upon exit.

Seriously, the anime cold/fever is the single most prevalent and debilitating weapon in any anime. Far more effective than a zanpakuto from Bleach at keeping characters down.

And it seems to spread across almost every genre.

Natsume with the dreaded anime cold

From Natsume, the guy who as his friends say catches colds easier than anyone, to darker fantasies like Black Butler, anime characters are in grave peril when there are colds about and apparently they are always about. Maybe the rain droplets carry it? Who knows?

Ciel and Sebastian also suffering from an anime cold

All I know is that as soon as water is involved someone is going to end up sick with a fever and inevitably going to end up having bed rest and some kind of towel draped on their head.


Much like scrapes this scenario does allow for more one on one moments but fevers come with the added advantage of a closed mouthed character may let their guard down. Characters acting weird, spilling their true thoughts, severe misunderstandings, all of these things can be triggered by an anime fever.

This situation also confined the character to a single place which allows the rest of the story to progress putting pressure on them to recover and do whatever they need to do. In the case of Norman in The Promised Neverland it gave Emma a chance to show how adorable she was as a kid and also the tight relationship between the three central characters.

The Promised Neverland - Norman with an anime cold, Emma visiting

However, with anime writers seemingly out to make anime characters blush from their toes to their foreheads, scar them for life with minor scrapes and wounds, or burn their brains with fevers caused by walking in the rain, it really must be hard for the average anime character to get through the day. And that is even before the giant robots and vampire ninjas show up to cause havoc.

So here’s the question for you: What is the deadliest of all anime ailments?

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

32 thoughts on “The Anime Cold: Almost as Deadly as Embarrassment and Scrapes, at Least in Anime

    1. Yeah, just send the classmate who has the sniffles into the villain’s lair and the next minute the whole evil organisation will be now with the flu.

  1. Remember how Bruce Lee died because he was so fit his body reacted badly to a simple pain killer? Maybe it is the same for anime characters and the Japanese in general – their diet of rice makes them so healthy that a basic cold can knock them for six whereas we unfit westerners just get the sniffles! 🙂

    Although the real reason they catch such harmful colds in anime is because they still wear short skirts to school and never button their coats up during winter! >.<

      1. It’s something that has always bothered me in anime. Aside from the seasonal sailor uniform and occasional wearing of tights, whenever winter arrives the girls (and boys) seem to think a scarf is sufficient to ward off the effects of the cold temperatures.

        Nobody seems to invest in a thick coat, gloves, wooly hat, etc. so frankly, they deserve to get ill! 😛

  2. Great post, Karandi! And you’re absolutely right. Minor injuries and colds are pretty overblown in anime. Especially colds, because those are usually “I can just take this medicine and keep a box of tissues with me and I can keep going” sorts of things.

    Maybe they are a replacement for being drunk because minors can’t?

    1. I love how much disinfectant they spray around when there’s a minor scratch involved. And bandaids get put on almost every kind of injury imaginable.

        1. Bandages over clothes, or randomly wrapped around the person’s head for no apparent purpose…
          The magical anime bandage cures all.

  3. If everyone who got wet from water/rain then got sick like they do in manga, it’d be like the zombie apocalypse: everyone stay inside! On the other hand, great way to get out of work or school for a day — just go play in the water for a bit.

    1. Can just imagine: whole city comes to halt as all citizens catch cold after sudden rain shower.
      Just so silly and yet so persistent in anime.

  4. LOL! Great read, very funny! And thank you for the bit about damaging idols’ faces reminding me of the scene in Bunny Girl Senpai where Mai gets mad at Nodoka but slaps Sakuta instead. Gives me a good chuckle just thinking about it again.

    As far as I can tell, though, by far the deadliest illness in anime is that Voldemort of the virus world, the dreaded unnamed illness, which is almost invariably fatal without some kind of divine intervention. Teenage protagonists are rarely affected, but their mothers, romantic partners, and little sisters are especially vulnerable. No two cases ever have the exact same symptoms, but common side effects include sad music, bad weather, and lots of crying.

    1. Yeah, I have to agree with that. Lots of hospitalised characters who are ‘sick’ with some unnamed illness and seem fine other than staying in bed and then they just slip away, usually with sad music and bad weather. It’s definitely something these anime characters have to watch out for particularly in their close family and friends.

    2. “Voldemort of the virus world, the dreaded unnamed illness”

      They do to have names! Main Character Disease and Side Character Syndrome.

    1. It’s looking like the nosebleed problem is slowing down now in the modern anime world. What I wonder is what new future ailment anime characters will develop?

      1. That’s true as well. I have not seen as many explosive nose bleeds outside of comedy anime in a fair while. I wonder if they finally got tired of the trope?

        1. Yeah I don’t know. I can’t even think of what they replaced it with, off the top of my head, if they replaced it with anything to begin with.

    2. Oh yes, I forgot the deadly nose-bleed. Of course, that problem is mitigated by anime characters having nearly a million litres of blood and never seeming to die of blood loss no matter how much of it is spilled around on the ground.

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