The Hanahaki disease isn’t a real disease; it’s a fictional disease. Hanahaki victims cough up flower petals as a result of suffering from one-sided love. This could end when the beloved one returns the victim’s feelings, or upon the death of the victim. It’s worth noting that Hanahaki involves romantic love only, and a strong friendship usually isn’t enough to cause it. Hanahaki can be healed through the surgical removal of the petals. It’s believed that the victim’s love feelings for their beloved one will disappear once the infection is removed.
Hanahaki was popularized in East Asian cultures, including Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, before finding its way into the Western world. In fandom, Hanahaki is often used about B. L. pairings. The Hanahaki disease is not exclusive to fandom non-fannish artwork, music videos, songs, poetry, and other creative works around the concept intrigue many people. However, Hanahaki disease is most popular within fandom because of its potential for pining, hurt or comfort, angst, and general romantic tension.
The term Hanahaki has derived from the Japanese words kana (meaning flower), and hakimasu (meaning throwing up). The disease genre was popularized alongside shoujo manga and Hanahaki Otome by Naoko Matsuda, both of which were released in 2009. Hanahaki Otome can loosely be translated to “the girl who spit flowers.”
The main symptoms of the Hanahaki disease include strong pain, a flower bloom in the lungs and heart, and finally throwing up. However, among East Asian creators and fans (particularly, Koreans and Japanese), the perception of flowers regurgitated because of unrequited love dates way before the release of Hanahaki Otome. As such, its true origin is currently not known.
The Hanahaki trope has several variations and is often used in both tragic and happy stories.
Hanahaki’s happy ending version occurs when the beloved one returns the victim’s love affections. This creates a situation where the love isn’t unrequited anymore, hence curing the victim of the disease. The healing may happen spontaneously when the beloved one realizes the victim’s love. Similarly, some circumstances may require the beloved one to convince the victim that the two share mutual love. If the victim isn’t convinced that the beloved one loves him back, he will usually die.
The condition develops over some time, usually months or even years. It begins with the victim coughing up a few flower petals. This then grows in intensity, and with it more pain, until the victim starts to vomit entire flowers. This is usually an indication that the disease is now in its final stages.
Chocking and Dying
The most common version of Hanahaki is when flowers fill the victim’s lungs and flowers grow in his respiratory system. This causes the victim to choke on petals and his blood, resulting in death. This version is quite popular because of the angst coming with the character’s death.
Surgically Removing the Flowers
Another version of Hanahaki occurs with the surgical removal of the flowers. This, in effect, removes the victim’s love feelings. As a result, he can’t love the person he once loved anymore. Oftentimes, the surgery also removes the victim’s memories of the beloved. It can also destroy the victim’s ability to ever fall in love again. In most cases, the victim refuses the surgery and prefers to die rather than lose his feelings.
Many authors and artists use cherry blossoms as the flowers whose petals the victim coughs up. However, it’s also common for them to use flowers that are significant to the character. Flower symbolism has also gained popularity in Western fandom. For example, flowers are used to represent the victim’s personality or affections, or even those of the beloved one.
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