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An art style in which characters are drawn with exaggeratedly long, thin torsos and limbs. This can look rather odd if animated. The term was coined in Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, although the term has also been picked up by the Anime and Manga fandom. Despite the floppy connotations of noodle-ness, character designs using this aesthetic frequently tend to be angular and pointy, especially around the joints (and, in anime and manga, possibly also the chins).
This tends to take one of two main forms:
- One step up from stick figures, where the torso has some thickness and heads and extremities have more realistic detail, but the arms and legs are essentially lines. This seems to be rather popular in gothic and emo art, and may apply to all the characters, or just one or two. Example: Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
- A style based on fashion illustration, where the characters are impossibly slender and long-limbed, but otherwise have more-or-less normal anatomy and musculature. Especially common in Josei manga. More likely to apply to the entire cast (or at least the attractive characters). Often overlaps with Bishounen and/or Bishoujo. Example: Doumeki and Watanuki from XxxHolic.
Anime and Manga
- Naruto uses this trope on occasion, whenever something rather jarring (usually Played for Laughs) is revealed. Is coupled with Blank White Eyes, Quivering Eyes, and Face Fault.
- Basso/ Natsume Ono seems to be quite fond of this.
- This style is most noticeable in CLAMP works XxxHolic and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. Though not a style used in their earlier works, the stereotype has already set in, with these two being their most popular recent works. To a lesser extent, it's still there in their older stuff (e.g. Tokyo Babylon), which has occasionally been toned down due to the difficulty of animating. It's just closer to being in line with the rest of anime's skinny, skinny waifs. It also turns up in Code Geass, which is not terribly surprising, considering its characters were designed by CLAMP.
- The series that Sunrise did immediately after Code Geass, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, also has a decidedly noodly cast, this time designed by Yun Kouga (of Loveless fame).
- One Piece, though mostly just with women.
- Monkey D. Luffy is drawn in this style. Additionally, he has an elastic body, making him a noodle person on two levels. His noodliness seems to be inversely proportional to the seriousness of the scene. He has a much more defined shape and visible musculature whenever he's kicking butt, but in very comedic scenes he is so much of a noodle person that he doesn't always even have elbows or knees. However, Sanji is pretty much always a noodle man and Usopp is always a puppet/stick man (except recently when he got really fat, and then after the Time Skip where he got fairly muscular). As well as new crew member Brook, though only because he is only a skeleton now
- Justified (?) during the fight with Kalifa of CP 9. Her Awa Awa no Mi (Bubble Bubble Fruit) gave her the ability to "clean off" power. It also smooths out the curves of the target's body, making them look very noodle-like.
- Lupin III.
- Almostevery work of Nakamura Asumiko. Really.
- Nabari no Ou: It doesn't start out this way, but gets considerably worse towards the later volumes.
- Special A. Good gods, just look at the legs.
- Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei, especially the schoolgirls.
- This style was first popularized in anime by Leiji Matsumoto, though his more comedic characters are usually short and round.
- Mamoru Nagano also makes extensive use of it in his character designs. Even his Humongous Mecha designs are often quite spindly, most notably the Jagd Mirage from The Five Star Stories.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion. Most noticeable with Asuka and Rei in their plugsuits; just look at the torsos. Here is a wallpaper for demonstration purposes. There's also the Evas themselves? Their proportions are so slim that by the laws of nature they should be unable to stand.
- Then again, they are cyborgs whose biological parts were created by merging the DNA of both humans and Eldritch Abominations, so them not strictly following the laws of nature was probably unavoidable.
- Although it wasn't that distracting in the anime, this life size figure of Rei can be quite disturbing.
- In Cowboy Bebop the heroes are all way skinnier then they would be in any other show, the thickest is Jet, and it is most notable in Spike and Ed though.
- Possibly explained by the Bebop crew's chronic lack of food, and Spike's highly athletic lifestyle.
- More a case of the cast being expies of Lupin III's, Spike's legs are especially drawn to resemble his predecessor's. Ed, having no previous incarnation, is the one who is pure noodle for noodle's sake.
- Possibly explained by the Bebop crew's chronic lack of food, and Spike's highly athletic lifestyle.
- Since author Kaoru Shintani once worked as an assistant to Leiji Matsumoto, the characters of Area 88 tend to be rail-thin. Especially noticeable with women and Saki and Shin.
- The characters of the lesser-known mangaka, Hakase Mizuki. Just look at some of them! Half of them must be walking on stilts.
- Humans in Digimon.
- Star Driver, likely taking influence from CLAMP.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena
- Ouran High School Host Club
- Mohiro Kitoh usually draws his characters like this.
- The Sailor Moon girls when drawn by Naoko Takeuchi.
- The female characters of Space Battleship Yamato/Star Blazers. Starsha in particular looks impossibly gawky in an elegant sort of way.
- Claymore: all the Claymores, and many of the other characters who aren't specifically meant to be fat or hugely-muscled.
- Kouta Hirano of Hellsing does something like this; his characters tend to be very streched. Unlike most examples of this trope, however, his thick-lined, angular style still give limbs a lot of weight despite their elongated proportions.
- The drawings of Hajime no Ippo evolved into a variation of this over time: during fights, the characters have a muscular torso but impossibly thin limbs. Especially glaring during the fight between Itagaki and Saeki, or in Mashiba's later fights.
- The art period known as Mannerism. Most notable offenders:
- Alberto Giacometti anyone?
- he did not only noodle people though.
- Jhonen Vasquez as said above, utilizes noodle people. This is especially evident in his comics Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Squee!, and I Feel Sick. It's less noticeable in Invader Zim, where most of the characters are either children or very short, but it can be seen at times when adults appear. Apparently Happy Noodle Boy himself doesn't count.
- Hell, Jhonen himself is pretty close to a Real Life example.
- Most of the Sonic the Hedgehog characters. Ash Mongoose is probably the most extreme in this regard.
- The Gorillaz, excluding Russell and child-Noodle. It's most noticeable with 2D and adult/teen Noodle (who's aptly named).
- Somewhat with the Mudokons of Oddworld.
- A good majority of the characters in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, including the eponymous character himself, especially after theSonic Adventure reboot.
- All but the grossly obese characters from Tim Schafer's Psychonauts look like this, most notably Raz's dad. Hell, even the fat people have really noodly limbs.
- Most of the slim characters in Bayonetta; the main exception is Lucca, and only because of layers of clothing obscuring his body.
- Thinner Miis count, when their limbs are visible.
- Everyone in The Dishwasher, including the title protagonist. The incredible amount of violence in the game, in addition to the monochrome art style, certainly is evocative of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.
- The World Ends With You uses this style. The characters aren't just stylistically thin, but wiry with a bit of muscle tone.
- Yggdra Union
- The Harry Potter film tells the story of The Three Brothers with CGI animation in this style: nearly everyone looks as skinny as the skeletal Grim Reaper.
- Just about every Tim Burton stop-motion film.
- Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name has a decidedly noodley style, although it's at least justified in the case of Zombie because he's sort of... dead and emaciated.
- The "Hero Mode" versions of the characters in Homestuck, which are more typical drawn panels, as opposed to sprites. See here and the page immediately following for a good comparison.
- The characters are drawn in a style like this in Our Little Adventure.
- Tim Burton used such a style for the puppets in The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride. He also draws like this, judging by his various storyboards.
- Aeon Flux, big time. The long limbs and large chests of the characters in the show were perhaps due to the action being set on a planet, not very Earthlike, with low gravity and thin air. Admittedly, that's probably an Epileptic Tree, but a petit mal one.
- Monster Buster Club: Everyone, excluding the fat people, pretty much define this trope. I mean, just look at them.
- The normal human characters in Courage the Cowardly Dog.
- Classic Disney characters like Goofy (especially Goofy) and Mickey Mouse.
- All the characters in Class of 3000 exhibit this due to the "no straight lines allowed" art style, but Sunny Bridges and Philly Phil in particular.
Anime and Manga
- Rem and Ryuk, two of the Shinigami from Death Note kinda look like this, especially compared to the human characters.
- Alan Gabriel in The Big O.
- Yoite (and Miharu, sort of) in Nabari no Ou.
- Nnoitra Gilga of Bleach.
- Megumi Shimizu from Shiki.
- Done terrifyingly in The Enigma of Amigara Fault. What makes it scary? The art style is very realistic, meaning that the characters actually look like that, and they started out normal-looking.
- Meito Anisawa and his assitant are ironic examples, being the only ones in an otherwise plush-like world.
- Chrona from Soul Eater.
- Dream of the Endless. And his servant/librarian/confidant Lucien is even taller than him. About half the other Endless - Desire, Death, and Delirium, specifically - fall into this at least in some illustrations.
- Reed Richards, Rubber Man extraordinaire, whose power very often manifests itself in a very noodly manner.
- Mercury of the Metal Men. Justified in that he is a robot. In fact, he loses his noodliness when the team got remoulded into human forms in a Retool late into their original run.
- Spike, Snoopy's brother from Peanuts.
- The Na'Vi. They're basically 12-foot-tall, hairless blue bipedal lemurs.
- The original "zombie" in REC. The actor is Javier Botet, and he is that tall and lanky because of Marfan syndrome. The rest were just well applied makeup and great acting.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has Mike Teavee. While it's implied in the book and the 1970 movie, the 2005 movie actually show how "skinny" he ended up (at 5:20 in the video). Also, Charlie himself in the Game Boy Advance game.
- Coraline has several examples. The titular character is as thin as a rod, but several other characters, like Wybie and her father, are squat and rotund. The Other Mother starts out with the (nice) legs of Coraline's real mother but gradually turns into a grotesque spider-like creature.
- In Michael Chabon's Gentleman Of The Road, one of the protagonists, Zelikman, is described as looking like a "slight, thin-shanked fellow" and a "scarecrow".
- In Harry Potter, Ron, Percy, and Arthur are all described as tall, gangly, and quite thin. Ron probably loses most of his noodle status after the fifth book, though.
- Melissa Marr's Faery Court series features the Scrimshaw Sisters, faeries who are very tall and appear to be literally skin and bones.
Live Action TV
- Waluigi of Super Mario Bros..
- The Tall Man of the Chzo Mythos. Couple this with his extreme height, speed and strength, and he's pretty efficient Nightmare Fuel.
- You can create your very own Noodle Rocker in Rock Band just by setting the weight slider to minimum in the character creator. It'll give even the shortest characters skinny little stick-limbs, although only the ones who're also tall get the full Noodle Person effect.
- This isn't really possible anymore in Rock Band 3; the character creator was overhauled to be more detailed and realistic, so the characters can't be quite as skinny as they were in the previous games. Also, all the men have fairly bulky shoulders and upper torsos even if they're at the minimum for weight and muscle, although the female characters can still be quite twiglike.
- I.M. Meen is very gangly. All the better to dance around and sing about clever children, I suppose.
- The Grey Jacks in Resistance are giant spindly aliens; the Grims somewhat fill this role in the sequel.
- Miror B. of Pokémon Colosseum fame. He's by far the thinnest character seen in a Pokémon game, and is about two heads taller than the main character. The thinness of his arms/legs/body makes his absolutely massive afro even more comical.
- Pretty much all of the player characters in more recent versions qualify as well. Brendan from Generation III, Lucas from Generation IV, and Hilda from Generation V are particularly scrawny-looking.
- Katy Kat in Parappa the Rapper: Her torso is only about twice as wide as her tail.
- While most of the characters of Disgaea are on the thin side, Valvatorez may very well be made of pipe cleaners.
- Anna in Anders Loves Maria, contrasting with the more realistic build of the other characters.
- Slender Man... at least, There's only one of him. Probably.
- Dee Dee in Dexter's Laboratory
- Olive Oyl in Popeye
- Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog has this design, in contrast to all the other human characters, who are more realistically proportioned. Both the frogs also take on this proportion when standing upright, but that's because they're frogs.
- Finn and Jake in Adventure Time.
- Along with most of the humanoids.
- Jake takes it Up to Eleven. Being able to change shape at will, he often moves his limbs in ways that imply he has no bones whatsoever.
- Mirage from The Incredibles. Seriously, just take a look at her!
- Most of the cast of Scaredy Squirrel.
- Larry Needlemeyer from The Amazing World of Gumball.