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Jerry: Get your finger out of my face!
—Seinfeld, "The Set-Up"
In real-world Japanese society, personal space is at a premium and thus of the utmost importance. One is careful to avoid even the appearance of proximity, and one keeps one's hands at one's sides.
Thus, in animeland, it is a gesture of extreme emotional importance to physically point at someone. This should be saved for only the most appropriate of times. If breaking out the pointer finger, it is traditional to be especially dramatic about it.
However, most characters who Give Someone The Pointer Finger aren't using it appropriately, thus signifying their immaturity; and/or being a Large Ham.
A swirl symbol (stylized fingerprint) on the fingertip is optional.
Make note that this mindset is also quite present within Western culture, which holds that it's not polite to point. The reason was mainly because of the superstition that pointing a finger was how witches cast a spell or curse on their victims. Aggressively thrusting body parts at people is also subconsciously taken as a show of physical force, which is why pointing is often a Berserk Button for people.
Compare Sword Pointing, which is similar, but done with (melee) weapons.
Anime and Manga
- Sana from Kodomo no Omocha is fond of the inappropriate use of this.
- As is Tomo from Azumanga Daioh.
- Pretty much everyone in Yu-Gi-Oh!! does this seriously.
- Not the guys trying to arrest Kaiba, though; their pointing was 4Kids Executive Meddling to remove their guns.
- Mr. Pegasus would like to have a word with you.
- Protagonist Judai does this constantly in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, always accompanied by his Catch Phrase: "Gotcha! That was a fun duel!"
- Haruhi does this a few times in a non-homage context, because she's loud, brash, and doesn't care about personal space.
- Tsuruya has a tendency of doing this when she laughs.
- Used by Ichigo in Bleach when rescuing Rukia Kuchiki. When she started to object that he should save himself, he points at her and tells her that her opinions have been rejected.
- Also done when Ichigo and Ganju meet unexpectedly in Kuukaku Shiba's house. Hilarity Ensues.
- Used by Amelia in The Slayers when she is introducing Zelgadis and Gourry to her father, and trying to rally them to return to the fight with Zanafar. She also poses and points dramatically when they finally do confront Zanafar again. None of them pay attention to what she is saying and all of them comment on how impolite she is being, including Zanafar.
- Chii from Chobits, frequently does this -- mostly while repeating whatever tidbit of information she just learned. Chii, at least, has the excuse of being an android who doesn't know proper etiquette.
- And she's too cute for anyone to get mad at her for long.
- Hikaru from Himechan no Ribon does this extremely closely to Hime-chan's face when declaring war over Daichi.
- Haruka from both Mai-HiME and Mai-Otome is rather fond of pointing...and shouting.
- Nozomi from Yes! Precure 5 does this while nitpicking at someone to distract them from anything they've noticed that had to do with her Secret Identity.
- Yuma Tonami from To Heart 2 does when the male protagonist beats her at something. She points at him and yells at him that he hasn't won yet.
- Konata's finger-pointing in the Lucky Star Dancing Theme has been parodied countless times already. Give her some space, viewers.
- The exposition sequence at the beginning of Detective Conan movies always end with Conan pointing at the camera to deliver his ultimatum. "There is only one truth!"
- Also, the detectives often point dramatically at the suspect when making their accusation. (Especially Mouri Kogoro, who is usually wrong.)
- The Kindaichi Case Files - Kindaichi also dramatically points at his chief suspect at The Reveal.
- Nenene rudely cuts off her chauffeurs in Read or Die the TV with a pointer finger because they have misspelled her name "Nununu".
- Early in Part Four of Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure, Angelo points at Josuke during his post-defeat rant. Josuke punches Angelo's hand into a rock and tells him not to point.
- This was probably a self-reference by the author, since Jotaro (Part Three's protagonist) was practically synonymous with use and abuse of the pointer finger.
- Hiruma does this a lot, rude bastard that he is.
- Not to mention Monta, who even has the swirl on his fingertips, even when he's wearing gloves.
- Kabuto Kouji from the Mazinger trilogy -Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger and UFO Robo Grendizer- loves doing this. A lot. Especially in Mazinkaiser. If there aren't a bare minimum of two instances of this in every episode, then you're watching the wrong anime. Usually accompanied by an In the Name of the Moon speech which will generally go something like "This Mazinkaiser will be your opponent!" The supporting characters tend to join in.
- Honorable mention goes to Tetsuya's Great Mazinger, whose Thunder Break attack produces and absorbs a lightning strike, then fires it out the pointer finger.
- Duke Fleed, the main character of the third series, sometimes fell into this, too.
- Allison from Allison and Lillia does this a fair bit; as a Genki Girl who clearly wears the pants (flight suit, actually) in her relationship with childhood friend Wilhelm, it's practically a given.
- Gauron from Full Metal Panic does this to activate his Arm Slave's special attack, and he doesn't give a damn about personal space. He's crazy like that.
- Pixy Misa in the Pretty Sammy canons does this fairly often.
- Zoro from One Piece does this to Tashigi when he rants about how she resembles his dead childhood friend, lapsing into really, really childish behavior.
- Naruto does this a lot. Being the brash, immature, loud-mouth that he is, it's not surprising that he doesn't have manners, either. In the original before Shippuden, he usually pointed when accusing someone (usually a teacher or Sasuke) of undermining him or doing something behind his back.
- Sakura does this to Hinata in one Naruto Shippuden omake when suggesting that the chocolates she's making for Valentine's Day need an extra touch (unfortunately, the nutritional supplements she adds end up making them taste disgusting) to appeal to the recipient.
- A large percentage of Tamaki Suou's scenes involve this.
- Who can forget THE DRILL THAT WILL PIERCE THE HEAVENS!!! and it's accompanying point to the heavens?
- Kyouka's pointing finger is prominently displayed throughout Kyouran Kazoku Nikki.
- Kare Kano: Yukino to Arima in the third episode; she's actually a rude bastard, and she probably enjoys invading his personal space anyway.
- While Light from Death Note usually keeps his hands to himself, he points emphatically at L during their post-tennis-match war of words.
- In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Battler does this to Beatrice (Because well, she did just kill everyone on the island, most of them very messily; although he's pointing at her arguing that she didn't.) as a way of Throwing Down the Gauntlet.
- In Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro, the titular detective has his partner point out criminals this way once he's figured the mystery out.
- SANDAA BUREKU!!!
- Kaze does this in Final Fantasy Unlimited when he announces "The Soil Charge Triad to use on you has been decided!"
- In Mahou Sensei Negima, Nodoka does this to the Big Bad, and later on to one of his minions. Fully justified as it's how she activates a magical item that allows her to learn their real names. As such, whenever she does this, it tends to be an epic moment.
- Kai from Beyblade! points his finger at Brooklyn. Dramatically.
- In The World God Only Knows, the protagonist uses this often in argument.
- The entire cast of Ranma ½ does this at some point or other.
- Ubiquitous in Doraemon. About the only ones who don't do this are Shizuka (who is a girl) and Doraemon (who doesn't have visible fingers).
- Just about any comic drawn by Jack Kirby.
- God almost always does this when sending someone to hell in Jack Chick's strips.
- Every major character in Scott Pilgrim does this.
- "Do you want to have SEX? I think we should have SEX. CASUAL SEX."
- Kyon's sister to Sasaki in Kyon: Big Damn Hero when the former accuses the latter of making Kyon lose his smile.
- In With Strings Attached, Paul does this several times in a nonserious way; he does it in Real Life.
- Though he has to stop gesturing altogether after he gets super-strong.
- Also, John does it to As'taris just after getting the Kansael. While jabbing his finger at the elf, he accidentally squirts him; and when he looks at his own finger, he squirts himself.
- Phoenix Wright in Turnabout Storm, it's his signature gesture after all. This time it's more jarring than usual, given the general lack of any fingers to speak of on the inhabitants of Equestria.
Trixie: Don't point that ugly sausage of a finger at Trixie!
- In the film Ghost Rider, the titular character often does this, even when he really oughta know better (it's probably not wise to point and say "YOU!" to Satan himself). Oh, and he once points threateningly to a young child while transformed, and then says "innocent!" and walks away. Said child passes out from the fear.
- Gunnery Sergeant Hartman is very fond of doing this in Full Metal Jacket.
- The Sunshine Boys "The finger?!? Again with the finger?!?"
- At the end of the first Harry Potter book, Ginny excitedly points at Harry after he arrives back at King's Cross and Mrs. Weasley tells her that it's rude.
- In For The Emperor, Inquisitor Vaile confronts the treacherous Governor Grice, "pointing an accusing finger at him like a schola tutor admonishing an unsatisfactory student." Of course, she was wearing a digital needler that shoots poisoned darts.
Live Action TV
- Stephen Colbert. You're all "on notice"!
- Chris Morris sometimes does it on Brass Eye.
- No mention of Baron Alan, who generally reserves it for the fired?
- In the DVD commentary for the first season of The Mighty Boosh, Noel Fielding describes Matt Berry as a 'pointing actor', as he tends to use this trope extensively in the roles he plays, particularly in Boosh and The IT Crowd.
- Kamen Rider Double: "Now, let's count up your crimes!"
- On Scrubs, Cox and Kelso only know one hand-sign *guitar riff*
- Ultraman Zero uses this quite a lot whenever he's facing his enemy.
- "My name is Gentaro Kisaragi, and I'm going to be friends with everyone."
- Western example: uber-star Hulk Hogan did this all the time when he made his big comeback. Inevitably, after the fingerpoint (punctuated by the crowd yelling "YOU!"), the match would be won within a minute.
- Phoenix Wright's signature move from the Ace Attorney games whenever making an exclamation ("OBJECTION!") is to pound the stand and point. Heck, everyone in those games do. It's their job. The game logos in all regions even features the title character's silhouette striking a dramatic pointing pose. This is recognized enough that Haruhi paid Homage to it during the "Murder Mystery" episode. There is massive Lampshade Hanging over the constant forceful pointing and yelling.
- Some anime characters would be concerned about High-Pressure Blood spray if they cut their fingers. In Case 1-5, Phoenix is concerned about not being able to point at people.
- Defense lawyer Calisto Yew strikes this pose near the end of one of your rebuttals in Investigations, with the added twist that she's holding a gun.
- Miles Edgeworth lampshades this at one point in case two with the line "Don't fall asleep while I point my finger at you!"
- Daryan Crescend does it in the rude fashion when making fun of Apollo Justice.
- Used by Phoenix in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 as one of his attacks.
- This little move is a trademark of the Professor Layton games. When solving puzzles, Layton, his apprentice Luke, his ward Flora, his other apprentice Emmy, and Luke from the future all do this to the player, accompanied by one of their assorted catchphrases. Layton also does this during the Summation Gatherings when he accuses the guilty party in each game.
- And now it looks like Layton and Wright will be working the same case. Even just the first round of promotional material included lots of pointing from both.
- Even Phoenix's introduction in the trailer starts with him doing the desk-slam and point.
- Kim Kaphwan from King of Fighters does this before fighting criminals, while pointing out that "evil is unforgivable."
- Battler from Umineko no Naku Koro ni gives Beatrice this finger a lot, usually as a challenge, similar to the Phoenix Wright example above. The emotion behind it is actually fairly appropriate, though, given the context.
- Well, it also doesn't help that Battler looks like Phoenix.
- All because of a typo in the original Tsukihime where normally benevolent Meido Hisui says "You are going to be the criminal" as a prediction instead of an accusation. This lead to a Memetic Mutation where a darker version of Hisui called the "Brainwasher Detective" would point at people and spin her finger to hypnotize them into being criminals so she could arrest them. This occasionally shows up in Mythology Gags such as her attacks in Melty Blood or Battle Moon Wars.
- In the CD-i game, Hotel Mario, Luigi does this near the end of the opening cutscene:
Mario: "We gotta find the princess!"
- Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots's Liquid Ocelot loves to do this. In fact, expect a dramatic gesture or pose every 50 seconds at the least in any scene he features in, 11 in the space of one scene. But then, Liquid Ocelot is a Large Ham, who loves to Chew the Scenery.
- When Liquid Ocelot did this in Act 3, it resulted in several choppers crashing, some gunfire from his troops, and (via a hand gesture resembling a gunshot to the head) several seizures. It's strongly implied that these were caused by Liquid Ocelot shutting down their dependence on the SOP system.
- Though it's not animated, mention must be made of Satan in Shin Megami Tensei II. When he gives you the pointer finger, you die.
- Sonic the Hedgehog's signature pose, even being used as one of his taunts in Super Smash Bros Brawl.
- Shadow does this in one cutscene in Sonic The Hedgehog 2006.
- Mass Effect 2: If Legion is Shepard's second squadmate during Tali's loyalty mission, a few additional seconds of cutscene-footage are added where Admiral Korris does this to Legion at the very beginning of the trial.
- A couple character portraits in Infinite Space point at the player, including Commander Vladykin of Elgava and Coyle, a Lugovalian administrator.
- In The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword, Groose shoves his finger right in front of Link's face while bragging about how he is going to win the upcoming race now that Link can't get to his Loftwing. When Zelda comes across Link and Groose seconds later, she does the same gesture to Groose while warning him to leave Link alone.
- Invoked by Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat. "You weak, pathetic FOOOOOOOOL!!"
- In Super Meat Boy, one of the worms in the fifth boss fight does this, combined with Roar Before Beating.
- Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender tends to do this when she's annoyed, yelling at someone (namely, Katara), or just when she wants to make a point.
- The not so evil monkey that lives inside Chris Griffin's closet on Family Guy does this all the time.
- This most epic page from Emergency Exit.
- This strip of LICD.
- Paulo and David from Bittersweet Candy Bowl do this pretty frequently.
- Mister Mighty motions toward the menacing mendicant, while mentioning his many malicious misdemeanors. Man ...
- Bro from Homestuck is pretty fond of this.
- Terminal Lance has a comic where they discussion the common American military subversion of this trope: "The Knife-Hand Anger Guage"
- "Knife Hands" is also the name of Terminal Lance's printed compilation.
- Uncle Sam, who wants YOU for the U.S. army.
- For the Brits, Lord Kitchener, who wants YOU to join your country's army.
- Averting this trope is considered common speech etiquette. Bill Clinton is most famous for averting it, using the common technique of pointing with his thumb pressed against the first joint of his index finger, which became a hallmark of his impersonators.
- At Disney Theme Parks, "cast members" are trained to gesture with their whole hands, mostly for the benefit of international guests whose cultures follow variations of this trope.
- The cover for Iron Maiden's single "2 Minutes to Midnight".
- When an object fails to break or deform in a suitably spectacular way on Daily Drop, Paul sighs...and then summons the crowbar with this very gesture.
- What made Ricardo Lagos famous in Chilean politics was mixing this, Kubrick Stare and "The Reason You Suck" Speech during a TV debate in 1989. While directly addressing Augusto Pinochet, who was still in power.
- In the US Military, a common subversion is to avoid pointing at someone with your finger, particularly if you are correcting them. Instead, it is common to point with your entire hand, in a gesture known as "Knife Hands". Use a "karate chop" motion for added emphasis.