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Shiritori is a Japanese word game that can be played by two or more people and is often used to pass the time. The rules of the game are as follows:

  1. The players take turns coming up with words beginning with the final syllable of the previous word;
  2. Words may not be repeated;
  3. Whoever uses a word ending in "N" loses, since there are no words in Japanese beginning with the "N" syllable.

Additional rules may be added, such as restricting the words to a specific theme (e.g.: trees, cars, names of cities...).

This game is also played in many other countries, usually replacing the "syllable rule" with a "letter rule" (i.e.: the next word has to begin with the last letter of the previous word), since most languages use letters instead of syllables for writing, and eliminating the "N rule". A common English variant is "Alphabet," where they think up words in alphabetical order (i.e.: "Apple," "board," "cart," etc until Z).

Examples of Shiritori include:

  • A version with catch phrases, one-liners, and assorted strange sentences is used for the Eye Catches for Hayate the Combat Butler's first season and Zettai Karen Children. It's one of the quirks of director Keiichiro Kawaguchi.
  • The first episode's Post Episode Trailer for Sola, where Yorito keeps coming up with names of clouds.
  • Happens in an episode of Hidamari Sketch, when the group are sitting around watching Miyako's apartment leak.
  • This happens in Kanon (both the game and the anime), with Yuuichi and Mai. Since Mai keeps adding "-san" to animal names, she always loses.
  • In the final episode of Planetes, Hachimaki proposes to Tanabe ("Kekkon shiou") during a Shiritori game. She accepts ("Un!"), losing the game in the process.
  • The titular club plays this in the Beach Episode Genshiken, and it swiftly derails into a fight because Madarame refuses to refer to a Gundam character (Sayla Mass) without the suffix "-san".
  • In one of the Houses of Salvation in Tales of Symphonia, a kid plays this with you. The player always wins.
  • In Keroro Gunsou, Keroro, Tamama, and Giroro play this in the episode where they visit Grandma Hinata at her house in the country.
  • This also happens in an early episode of Excel Saga. Since Excel and the person she's playing with are both hungry, all the items they name are food.
  • Played at the Deimon Devil Bats' party to celebrate their victory over the Hakushuu Dinosaurs and th efact that they made it to the Christmas Bowl in Eyeshield 21.
  • In XxxHolic, Shiritori is revealed as a method for warding off evil spirits, but only after Watanuki is "tricked" into playing it while being chased by said evil spirits, making this a sort of reverse Chekhov's Gun example.
  • The game shows up a few times in Go Go Sentai Boukenger, the first and most notable instance being when four of the five team members are trapped in a snowfall in their mecha. They were so confident Satoru was going to rescue them that they figured they may as well pass the time with a game.
  • In the manga for .Hack//Legend of the Twilight, Shogo plays this with an AI. You cannot beat someone who can instantly look up every word that exists.
  • One episode of Digimon Adventure has the characters split into teams and play the game with song lyrics.
  • Clannad (Visual Novel): Kotomi and Tomoya spontaneously break out into a game of shiritori. Tomoya loses with "rujinen" (anthropoid), but Kotomi recovers without skipping a beat with "N'Djamena" (capital of the Republic of Chad).

 Tomoya: Anyway, you can't use N'Djamena.

Kotomi: ...Are you a bully?

  • In Ray, Ray's mentor is immune to mind reading - he constantly plays shiritori in his head whenever a telepath is in range.
  • Spontaneously happens in an episode of Gintama when the Yorozuya trio are playing hot potato with a time bomb.
  • In Futari wa Pretty Cure, Nagisa and Mepple end up playing shiritori while hiding from the goon squad on a subway station after the villains manage to separate them from Honoka. Due to Mepple's Verbal Tic ("mepo") Nagisa has to come up with words that start with "po", until Mepple tells her that "ho" is okay too. Of course, the only word Nagisa can think of is "Honoka"... which leads to major ass-kicking.
  • As with the Kanon and Genshiken examples above, in the Ah! My Goddess TV series, Belldandy loses against Keiichi when she calls eggs "Tamago-san".
  • Married... with Children has an example of the game being played with the "letter rule" in English, using place names. It gets derailed when Kelly thinks Alabama ends with R ("Alabammer").
  • Used in one of Kagamine Rin's popular songs, Su-su-su-suki, daaisuki":

 Let's play shiritori--"Shiritori", "Rin"--

Sorry... I really suck at this...

  • Kane, Millie and Canal play this in the Lost Universe episode The Bathroom Disappears. After a while, they reach a point where any word Canal suggests causes the other two to come up with a word that reminds them of the fact that the bathroom has disappeared.
  • In Nichijou, Yuuko is particularly bad at shiritori, often falling afoul of the N rule. In a drawing-based variant while passing notes to Mio during class, she draws Superman and notices that she will lose since it ends with N. She tries to correct this by changing it to Supermans, but Mio doesn't buy it and crosses out the "s" and the extra Supermen she drew in a hurry.
    • A few episodes later, while the girls are trapped inside an elevator, they start playing shiritori to pass the time, Yuuko's first word is Mikan(Orange).
  • The third episode of Daily Lives of High School Boys had this. Tadakuni, who hated that, eventually passed on several times completely by accident.
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