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The act of making a very fine incision upon someone with an attack that cannot even remotely believably do such a thing, usually incorporating elements of Implausible Fencing Powers or Improbable Aiming Skills. Though paper cutting is usually just the leading cause for the third item of Standard Bleeding Spots, used to maintain tension in a long battle or uphold realism when Hit Points are in play, it can also effectively drive home a point about the character on either end of the attack:

  • If the character who receives a papercut does not flinch or generally carries on with his business, it is a very good indication of his or her badassery.
  • But if he does flinch or stop dead on his tracks, chances are the attack was a mere warning shot by the true Badass to make you stop whatever you were going to do.
  • Papercuts also trigger almost every Minor Injury Overreaction.

Paper cutting is done with equal yet ever improbable frequency with both actual bladed weapons such as swords and knives, as well as bullets and magic projectiles. Never mind what properties have been attributed to the latter and that a bullet passing right by the skin would more likely burn and bruise it than cut it with surgical precision.

It should also be noted that it has recently become fashionable for paper cutting attacks to take some hair with them when aimed at the face.

A subtrope of Could Have Been Messy. Highly pervasive in Shounen series, though thanks to the Rule of Cool, it has surfaced in nearly every form of fictional violence. Frequently seen with attacks that use Petal Power, Feather Flechettes or a Death Dealer's projectiles. If the combatant actually used paper as the weapon in question, see Paper Master.

Compare Clean Cut.

Examples:


Anime and Manga

  • Though Dragonball Z has paper cutting occur on innumerable occasions, it is mostly of the cookie-cutter Standard Bleeding Spots variety. One memorable subversion: When Super Saiyan 3 Goku tosses a provocative little Ki ball past Super Buu, the audience expects a paper cut - but instead the tiny ball rips a horrible gash on Super Buu's face, revealing all manner of alien anatomy. Gross.
    • This may have something to do with the Buus being almost literally Made of Plasticine.
      • There is another subversion when Vegetto punched the air to cut Superbuu's cheek. Instead of a neat, surgical precission cut, it leaves a very noticeable and wide gash that reveals the flesh below it. (If it can even be called flesh, that is)
  • In Hellsing, Alucard underlines his badassery by not showing an ounce of effect after the Dandy Man played it straight with a razor-sharp playing card thrown by his cheek.
    • Although this is subverted in that the wound in question is apparently magical and will not stop bleeding, leading to Alucard later pausing to rest over a large pool of his blood.
    • Also notably averted in Hellsing: when the Captain gives an assassin nun a warning shot, he doesn't care to carefully aim it so as to only papercut (or just not shoot at her in general) - he shoots right through her mouth. It's okay though, he tosses her a first aid kit afterward.
    • For vampires in fiction in general, no excuse is too little to get a vampire's cheek cut open so it can take a provocative lick of his own blood. This practically qualifies as a trope of its own.
  • In Samurai Champloo, after being deprived of his sword, Mugen is still able to provide a very fine cut across an opponent's cheek with a roundhouse kick. He's just that badass.
    • The metal on the bottom of his geta sandals certainly helped.
  • In Ranma ½, during their first battle, Ryoga strikes at Ranma with an open-handed punch, which results in a Paper Cutting wound on Ranma's cheek. This indicates both Ryoga's incredible strength (especially considering he missed Ranma with the strike in question) and Ranma's badassery, since he didn't seem to think much of it and proceeded to soundly thump Ryoga.
    • Much later on, Ranma does the same to Shinnosuke during a Single-Stroke Battle, and gets a small tear in his clothes in return. Particularly impressive in that Ranma had punched at Shinnosuke's face, and while the latter does get a small but consistent bruise in the manga, he gets a papercut in the anime.
  • In the Cowboy Bebop episode Sympathy for the Devil, Spike takes a paper-cut bullet to the cheek, without flinching, and proceeds to shoot his target.
  • During the non-canon Christian Arc of Rurouni Kenshin, Sanosuke learns a martial arts move that allows him to paper cut an opponent if his punches miss within a small margin.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, during the fight between Tasuki and Tamahome, Tasuki stabs at Tamahome with a relatively blunt instrument. Tamahome's face is completely unscathed, but as he turns away, the very thin headband he was wearing splits apart.
    • Let's not forget the gang fight in Episode 4, where after getting a Paper Cut, Tamahome does this: *bleeds; glares; kicks ass*
  • Black Cat's Train Hartnet recieves one of these in the first volume from an old friend from Chronos. It doesn't seem to do much except piss him off.
  • Happens quite often in One Piece.
  • Bleach does this all the time, as seen in the picture. The attack that caused that cut was probably powerful enough to destroy a building.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima does this occasionally. The most straightforward example is probably the training exercise where Asuna does this to Evangeline using a Paper Fan of Doom. Eva is not happy disturbingly blissed-out by this, and encases Asuna in a block of ice as a response.
  • Baccano does this during the fight between Ladd and Graham. Ladd fires his shotgun at Graham and Graham deflects the bullet back at Ladd with his giant wrench, causing it to graze Ladd's cheek.
  • The season one Final Battle from Sengoku Basara has Nobunaga inflict a shallow cut on Yukimura's cheek... with his cape.
  • Pride does this to Lieutenant Hawkeye in the Fullmetal Alchemist manga/second anime using his shadows.
  • In Fairy Tail Scarlet and Knightwalker does this to themselves and it becomes a plot point later.


Video Games


Web Original

  • In Survival of the Fittest version three, Maxie Dasai gets hit in the face by an arrow and comes away with a minor wound across her cheek, somehow managing to avoid any serious harm. (By luck, rather than skill, the archer, Renee Valenti, had been trying to kill Maxie).
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