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Ahegao (アヘ顔) is a term in Japanese pornography for an exaggerated facial expression of characters (usually females) during sex, typically with rolling or crossed eyes, protruding tongue, and reddened face. The style is often used in erotic manga and anime (hentai) and video games (erogē). A more realistic variant is known as ikigao.


According to a forum post at Niconico,[unreliable source] the term ahegao dates at least as far back as the early 1990s. Pornographic magazines used the word to describe the facial expressions of female live-action porn actresses during orgasm. In the same context, ahegao was used in some postings at 2Channel and its sister community for adult content, BBSPink, as well as in pornographic videos at adult e-commerce platforms in the early 2000s.

In the midst of the 2000s, use of the term increased, and the drawing style became rather conventionalized and started spreading throughout the otaku culture. In 2008, the first ahegao-themed doujin comics anthology, A-H-E, was released. In the 2010s, major publishers produced more ahegao-themed comic anthologies. By that time, the facial expression was featured in regular pornographic videos during the popularization of hentai fetishes in the real-life sex industry.

Additionally, ahegao-like exaggerated facial expressions sometimes are featured in normal anime and manga works, in a non-sexual context.


Typical characteristics are rolled eyes (sometimes with star- or heart-shaped pupils), a hanging tongue, and flushed cheeks. A character's overall face shape may also be distorted in ahegao scenes.[1] Depictions of ahegao are often drawn intentionally exaggerated to create a surreal effect.[2] An ahegao face of various levels of distortion is used to depict different grades of sexual arousal, whether in a consensual context or otherwise.[3][2]

While Ahegao is often used in pornographic manga, anime, and videogames, it is not exclusively a term of hentai. A number of non-adult works feature ahegao faces, often in a porn-parodying manner.[4]


the first part of the term, ahe (katakana: アヘ; not representable in kanji) is an abbreviation for aheahe (アヘアヘ), an onomatopoeia for 'pant' or 'moan'.The second part, gao or kao () is kanji and is Japanese for 'face'.[4] Thus, ahegao can be interpreted as 'moaning or panting face', or more loosely as 'weird face.'[3]

Similar terms[edit]

Ahegao can easily be confused with ahoge (アホ毛, 'idiot hair') which is stray hair that sticks out, away from the rest of a character's hair, initially popularized in the Love Hina anime series.[5] Another term which is similar to ahegao is ikigao (イキガオ) meaning 'coming [i.e. orgasmic] face'. The difference between ahegao and ikigao art style is the more realistic drawing used for ikigao, found in relatively more mainstream works.[2]

Internet meme and social network[edit]

According to an article from adult gaming site Nutaku, ahegao in combination with the peace sign became an Internet meme in Japan, known as "ahegao double peace" (アヘ顔ダブルピース).[4][6]

Japanese culture has also experienced a global boom in recent years, as has cosplay. With all this, people who share their own ahegaos on social media have also developed with the #ahegao hashtag. When people make their own ahegaos online, they tend to drool and cross their eyes, and often use a filter to get a more cartoon or manga look. [7]


  1. ^ Benoit, Olivier (2016-09-26). "Chroniques Hentai: Au-delà des interdits". Journal du Japon (in French). Retrieved 2018-07-28.
  2. ^ a b c Artefact (2010-07-02). "The Evolution of the Ahegao". Sankaku Complex. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  3. ^ a b "The ABC's of Hentai, Part I". Black Girl Nerds. 2016-10-14. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
  4. ^ a b c "Ahegao アヘ顔". Japanese with Anime. 2017-08-05. Retrieved 2018-07-28.
  5. ^ Toole, Mike (2015-02-22), "The Anime Alphabet", Anime News Network, retrieved 2018-07-28
  6. ^ "AgentShawnee's Hentai Vocabulary 101". Nutaku. 2018-03-02. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
  7. ^ "Pourquoi l'ahegao a été popularisé par Belle Delphine ?". Ahegao (in French). Retrieved 2019-08-23.

External links[edit]