If you’ve watched a considerable amount of anime, then you might have laid witness or listened to this sort of laughter before.
In order to express mirth, pleasure, derision, etc, some individuals may let loose a higher-pitched laugh while placing their hands near their mouth, by their chin, or close to the side of their face. This is what some may call the noblewoman’s laugh considering how most practitioners are rich and arrogant ladies (aka most ojou characters) who are trying to mock or tease someone else. Others may refer to it as the Ohoho. In any case, that consequently explains the hand placement since there’s a traditional belief that states refined Japanese women do not expose their mouths while laughing.
That being said, there have been a few male characters who were courageous enough to perform the Ohoho. The more the merrier, I say.
Believe it or not, there are some technicalities associated with this specialized laugh. Fortunately for you, I’m an expert who’s watched over 200 videos about this particular subject and I’m about to go over the specifics. Before long, you, too, will be able to laugh like a noblewoman, o~hohoho.
Let’s take it from the top!
1. Choose between being stationary or being mobile
Most Ohohos are delivered from a stationary position or while walking. However, more active ojou may opt to laugh while running. If you prefer to be in motion, then just concentrate on your running form and on your laugh. As a result, you can just skip to part 5 since parts 2 through 4 only apply to stationary/walking ojou for the most part.
This complicates things, however, since capturing the delicate intricacies of the Ohoho while running is certainly more difficult than just straight-out yelling while running. You might as well as be singing while running since both performing the Ohoho and singing requires maintaining a sense of tempo as well as clarity of tone and cadence. I advise you to stick to the stationary / walking Ohoho until you feel confident enough to tackle the running Ohoho.
2. Decide on leg positioning
In order to properly deliver a satisfying laugh while stationary, you need to establish a sense of balance.
That way, you won’t immediately fall over if someone resorts to violence in an attempt to thwart your triumphant Ohoho. As a result, I recommend just planting your feet at roughly shoulder width. While such a position is rather plain, it is also very straightforward and effective.
For alternative means of positioning, please refer to the following two videos. Mizushiro Kanon from Jewel Pet opts to stagger her legs such that one is behind the other to appear more elegant. She in turn gains more stability at the cost of having to keep track of something else in addition to head positioning, hand placement, and laughing. It’s a lot of micromanagement!
For a more advanced position, you can try to imitate Sasasegawa Sasami, who balances herself on one leg while keeping the other hovering in mid-air. This makes her and her lackeys look even more elegant since they are poised like ballerinas, but it also means they have to properly balance themselves lest they risk falling flat on their faces and looking like fools.
3. Manage head positioning and eye direction
In regards to head positioning, you must decide whether or not you want to tilt your head back. Assuming such an exaggerated stance may prove to be more infuriating for your enemies / rivals / friends, but it also makes you a bit harder to take seriously if you are not careful. In short, an upwards head tilt is certainly not necessary, but it does add impact.
As for your eyes, you must decide whether or not you will keep your eyes towards the sky, fixed on your target of scorn / mockery, or closed. Keeping your eyes glued to the sky is really only an option if you tilt your head back to an excessive degree, but I’m not a fan of this option since you can easily look deranged or cross-eyed if you fail to handle this properly.
Staring at your frenemies is preferred in my opinion, but maintaining eye contact may simply not be for everyone. I sometimes struggle looking at the people behind the cash register, for instance. So be advised!
Closing your eyes is probably the simplest course of action and doing so makes you look rather smug. That’s a positive in my book. The downside, of course, is that you can’t actually see the target get angry.
If you decide against tilting your head back, then you must decide whether or not you want to tilt your head to the side. Doing so implies that the target is beneath you and doesn’t deserve to directly gaze upon your frontal visage. This, however, is optional. It must be noted that it makes maintaining eye contact a bit more difficult than usual since you’ll most likely only be staring at them with only one eye due to the orientation of your head.
4. Settle on hand gesture and placement
Traditionally, the ojou has one hand placed near the mouth, near the chin, or near the side of her face. Those are simply guidelines, however, and the specifics depend on individual taste.
The hand that’s closer to her head can be a straightened palm like the gesture that’s frequently used in salutes, yousoro. It can also feature several curled fingers or a curled hand to induce a “softer” look. Furthermore, the orientation of the hand varies between individuals – some prefer to have the palm of the hand be closer to the face while others like to be able to see the back of the hand while unleashing the Ohoho.
As for the other hand, its placement also varies depending on personal preference. Some ojou prefer to have the free hand resting on the hip. Others like to extend the free hand downwards and outwards. There are some ojou who prefer lifting the other hand upwards as if they’re about to unveil something new at a presentation. Play around with different positions and have fun with it.
Another traditional alternative has the ojou covering her mouth with a fan.
Other alternatives that stray from traditional hand positioning do exist. Some ojou like to point at others or place both hands behind their backs.
Other ojou may prefer to have their hands folded across their stomach. And there are some who like to place both hands behind their backs or raise both hands above their head. There are so many variations!
The one golden rule is that you must never actually cover your mouth unless if you’re using a fan. Despite the traditional Japanese custom claiming that refined Japanese ladies don’t expose their mouths, actually doing so only reveals that you’re just a plebian. A traditional Ohoho has the ojou revealing her laughing mouth while placing one hand near the mouth or face as a sort of pretense of covering her mouth. It’s just for show, really, since the ojou should actually readily reveal her scorn for all to see
before being knocked down a peg or two since it’s mostly only villains or stuck-up people who opt for the Ohoho. As stated earlier, more modern variations can actually have both hands away from the face, so don’t feel obligated to place a hand near your face if you don’t want to.
This is the key component. This is the namesake of the maneuver. You’re almost ready to go, “Ohoho!”
But now you must consider how exactly will you go, “Ohoho.”
The traditional Ohoho features a drawn-out “O” before following up “hoho.” Said variant is typically written as “O~hohoho” (the ojou typically throws in at least one extra “ho” in order to balance out the added time spent on the initial “O”) and features a descending cadence as the “O” is more often than not at a higher pitch and note compared to the following “hohoho.”
A more muted variant has the ojou spending a (comparatively) more even amount of time on each individual syllable so the initial “O” is not as pronounced and aaccentuated. The following video features examples of such a laugh, but the ojou (who happens to hold the nickname of “O-ho-ho”) also throws in more classical laughs from time to time.
There are some individuals who will even change the Ohoho to Nyohoho or Hyohoho. While you may receive credit for being innovative, messing with the traditional means of expressing mockery as a noblewoman to such an extent requires some guts. I’m not including the video here since it’s (barely) NSFW.
Tempting though it may be, do try to refrain from making your laugh become like “Ahaha” as it’s simply not the same as Ohoho. You’re trying to make yourself distinct from the commoners, not join them!
You may choose to adjust the volume of your Ohoho as you please, but it’s hard to deny the allure of a strong and powerful Ohoho such as this one. Aiming for such a lofty goal will be difficult but worthwhile.
There, I have taught you everything I know. Now you should be able to express your amusement regarding the antics of those silly commoners by laughing much like how a
villain noblewoman would!
(For more Ohohos, please browse this YouTube channel).