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Embarrassed or angry, a cartoon character can go beyond a red face. The deep redness wells up from the neck (teakettle or steam locomotive whistle sound effect here is useful) and culminates in a puff of steam erupting from both ears, the top of the head, or an indeterminate point on the face. The visual effect is similar to a old thermometer rising so high, it blows its top.
The Shrinking Violet is prone to this when in the presence of her crush.
Anime & Manga
- Ranma ½: Trying to fool Nabiki, Ranma accidentally confesses his love to Akane. This is the immediate aftermath.
- A more extreme example can be seen when Nabiki, trying to explain to Kuno that the "pig-tailed girl" is actually Ranma's female form, mistakenly implies Ranma is holding said pig-tailed girl as a love slave. Kuno's head briefly turns into a volcano.
- Given how Jusenkyo curses work, it's typical to change someone back by tossing a kettle of hot water straight at them --the water will somehow spill on contact and revert them to their true form. When this was tried on Rouge, who, at the moment, was an earthly avatar of the goddess Asura, the kettle merely hit her head-on and made her furious, turning the water to steam instantaneously with her anger.
- Giroro from Keroro Gunsou does this a LOT in context of Natsumi. That's one hot-blooded frog.
- Lunar does this in Seto no Hanayome after someone hints that she might be in love with Sun.
- Hanazano takes this one step further in Yawara a Fashionable Judo Girl. He not only gets the steam, he runs off puffing like a steam engine, complete with matching audio, until he runs into a tree.
- Dragonball Z: Majin Buu, who literally blows steam from his head when he gets angry. While amusing to see on the outside, on his inside it was noted the steam was likely hot enough to strip flesh from bone.
- Kamisama Kazoku has Tenko, who emits a halo-like ring of steam from her hair when embarrassed enough - as she's an angel, this is very appropriate.
- The Zashiki-Warashi in XxxHolic does this when being treated with kindness from Watanuki.
- Various characters in School Rumble.
- Mahou Sensei Negima has an epic example. The people watching actually think that Negi is using some sort of spell to cause it.
- In Negima? has a slightly strange example Asuna's bells in her hair blow off steam when she is frustrated, angry or embarrassed.
- Nodoka as well gets this although it radiates upward like steam.
- Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu: so, so much - every time Haruka and Yuuto get friendly or intimate. Happens less and less as the series progresses and the protagonists' relationship grows.
- Common for girls in B Gata H Kei, particularly Yamada when presented with any romantic or sexual situation that she doesn't know how to handle (ie. all of them).
- Kanna of Koe de Oshigoto! often has this with her luminescent blushes due to her status as the shy heroine of an Ecchi series.
- Durarara!! example: resident Shizuo Heiwajima gets like this... sort of. While his expression doesn't seem to change, he's too red to get away with a Luminescent Blush. Just compare it to the color of his hand.
- Nagasarete Airantou has Ayane doing this whenever someone raises the topic of her Accidental Kiss with Ikuto, and, after the incident, whenever said person is around.
- K-On! Mio gets so embarrassed it leads to a small mushroom cloud.
- In Gate 7, since Hana kissed him to put a myouhou spell on him to come back to Kyoto, Chikahito does this when he gets some ship tease with hir
- Lotte no Omocha: Happens to Lotte after Asuha kisses her throughout the series.
- Give Roger Rabbit a shot of whiskey, and he'll give you an earful.
- The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974). The cop protagonist claims to a group of Japanese (who he wrongly assumes don't speak English) that the supervisor in charge of the New York Subway often has steam coming from his ears when he's annoyed (which is all the time).
- Drinking strong alcohol sometimes made The Three Stooges react this way.
- The police chief of Last Action Hero displays this during a Turn in Your Badge speech, his face rapidly becoming bloated and red with sweating streaming down it and steam pouring from his ears. By the end of the speech, he's essentially yelling garbled abuse at the main characters which neither can understand.
- Treasure of Swamp Castle: The Governor is a Literal Metaphor example—his pressure valve has to be released when he gets mad.
Live Action TV
- In Power Rangers Mystic Force, mechanical villain Morticon actually blew steam when really pissed. (In a nice touch, you could see actual condensation on him sometimes.) This is pretty much lifted from Branken of Mahou Sentai Magiranger.
- Similarly, in Engine Sentai Go-onger, Kegalesia had an actual valve that one of the other villains had to open to allow her to 'let off steam' when she was particularly annoyed.
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch did this all the time in earlier episodes.
- Done quite often with bosses in later games of Mario series.
- Rena often does this in the Higurashi visual novels.
- Wild Ed Edison gets this when Bernard messes with his stamp collection.
- In Battle Chess, when one Pawn takes another, the defending Pawn taunts the attacking Pawn (who has just missed), and steam pours from the attacking Pawn's ears, complete with steam whistle sound effect.
- Parodied in Megatokyo, with Largo's Nice Hat shooting steam with the help of his hamster/conscience Boo.
- Darths and Droids implied that the GM, when suitably stressed by his players' Off the Rails tendencies, can emit steam from his ears; the gamers tend to use that point as the moment to consider returning to the plot.
- The newspost for the comic on this remarked that it was possible to do in real life with dry ice and tubing.
- Countless Looney Tunes.
- Donald Duck.
- Grimlock in Transformers Animated takes this one step further. When he's mad or otherwise excited, he shoots flames from his collar, setting his own head on fire.
- A pissed-off Optimus once had his engine revving to sound like heavy breathing.
- Minus the steam, this happens to Darla Dimple in Cats Don't Dance when she gets very angry.
- Hades from Disney's Hercules is similar to Grimlock in that he's literally setting his head on fire (or rather making the existing flame much larger and brighter).
- Tom and Jerry
- Zuko of Avatar: The Last Airbender once reacted to his uncle's fooling around by actually breathing smoke. Makes sense, in that he is a firebender and thus can control fire.
- Or, if you want to get really picky, it makes no sense, because the fuel that the fire uses is the energy he draws from his breath, meaning no residue for smoke.
- Parodied in The Simpsons episode "Marge be Not Proud", after Bart hears that the family is going to have their photo taken at the same store he was caught shoplifting at earlier (the family doesn't know about it, and the security guard has threatened him with juvenile hall if he catches him in the store again) steam appears to shoot out his ears accompanied by a loud whistle. Marge then announces her tea is ready and reveals two hot kettles previously hidden behind Bart's head.
- Happens to Pandarama in Elefun And Friends: A Tangled Tale. Her character description indicates that she may turn other colors when frustrated, but in that one short, we just see her turn red.
- Benson's gumballs become red everytime he's angry in Regular Show.
- This happens to Twilight Sparkle in the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Feeling Pinkie Keen" when the "doozy" Pinkie Pie predicted turned out to be something else. Causing her mane and tail to burst into flames (her coat also turns white, making her look like a Rapidash).
- The same thing happens to Pinkie herself in "The Last Roundup", when Applejack breaks her "Pinkie Promise".