Ochi (the punch line of a joke) (落ち)

Ochi (the punch line of a joke)
It also means the ending of stories, including amusing stories.
It is also called "sage" (to be discussed in detail later in this article.)

It also means an actor whose name appears last in the end-title credits of TV dramas and movies. Usually, the name of the most experienced actor or the actor who plays an important role takes up the position.

It has another meaning as a police term. It means a voluntary confession and its action.

Ochi refers to the ending of stories, including amusing stories. In many cases, it is a funny part, but the term can be used for an ending of ghost stories and others, so that it cannot be said definitely. It is also called "sage."

Ochi in Rakugo (traditional comic storytelling)
Classic classification
Although it is the most common method of classification for ochi in rakugo, there are some shortcomings such as unintegrated points of view, resulting in the emergence of new classifications.

Niwaka Ochi

This is the ochi of dajare (pun) and is also called 'jiguchi ochi.'

Hyoshi Ochi

When the story ends after punch lines are repeated several times, it is called "hyoshi ochi."

Sakasa Ochi

When the story ends with a punch line in which things or positions are turned around, it is called "sakasa ochi."

Kangae Ochi

This is a punch line which is hard to understand immediately, but gets a laugh after people ponder on it for a while.

Mawari Ochi

This is a punch line which concludes the story by returning to the beginning of the story.

Mitate Ochi

A punch line which brings an unexpected conclusion is called "mitate ochi."

Manuke Ochi

When a punch line which is dumb concludes the story, it is called "manuke ochi."

Totan Ochi

With totan ochi, a signature phrase concludes the story.

Buttsuke Ochi

The story ends with a punch line of misunderstanding.

Shigusa Ochi

A punch line with a gesture concludes the story.

Shigusa ochi is a quite peculiar ochi in rakugo, which is narrative art. "Shinigami (the God of Death)" is a typical example, in which a storyteller falls down at the Koza (the stage on which a rakugo storyteller sits).

Four Categories by Shijaku KATSURA
Shijaku KATSURA (the second) constructed a theory that a laugh is drawn by release of tension, and in keeping with his theory, he classified the ochi of rakugo into four categories. He built a scientific classification by focusing on the points where audiences feel like laughing.


In this pattern, audience psychology first leans towards stability when the story shows signs of stability or consistency, but later unexpected developments shake it towards instability, which causes laughter.
The opposite happens in the pattern called 'nazotoki.'


A riddle comes up in the development of the story, which gives the audience a sense of instability, but later, when the solution comes, people regain their sense of stability and laugh.
The opposite is 'donden.'


In this pattern, the audience does not experience stability as the story line suddenly provides a sense of instability from a normal state, which causes a laugh,
The opposite of this is 'awase.'


This pattern skips the state of instability, and as two different things happen to coincide, it brings a sense of stability to the audience and makes them laugh.
The opposite pattern is 'hen.'

Ochi in Manga (cartoon)
The title of this article is 'Ochi', which is written in kanji (Chinese characters), while in the field of Manga, 'ochi' is usually written not in Kanji but in Katakana.

Ochi in Gag Strips (Other Than Four-Frame Comic)

Ochi in Four-Frame Comics
In four-frame comics, each of the four frames forming a vertical line represents kishotenketsu (the structure and development of Chinese and Japanese narratives), and it is a basic style to have ochi in the fourth frame. Some ochi in four-frame comics are similar to those in rakugo, as they involve dajare and word games or bring about some crazy situation out of blue. There are various other patterns; some deal with the personalities of characters, whereas others remind readers of the fact that the first three frames are already absurd.

Recently, there are many comics which draw a laugh not always being in line with kishotenketsu, but using different methods such as nidan ochi in which punch lines come twice in the third and the fourth frames, and using a subtitle of the manga which should originally be a title of contents as a factor of ochi (in this case, readers will understand what the subtitle means after reading the whole four frames). In these cases, the word 'ochi' loses its original meaning of 'ending' and is used just as a kind of device to cause a laugh (where artists placed a device to make readers laugh).

There is also a style called "story four-frame" in which punch lines come every four frames although the story goes on to the next four. Meanwhile, some of this kind have no funny parts even though they are four-frame comics.
In such cases, the fourth frame has something to appeal to people's emotions, such as touching scenes, or to drop a hint of something to come in the next piece and to give the readership expectations; thus, although it is not something to draw a laugh, it is appropriate as an 'ending of a story.'
Still, in these examples, the word 'ochi' is used despite the lack of provocation of laughter, as the former is sometimes called "kando ochi."

It can be said that 'ochi' in four-frame comics cannot be defined unambiguously in pointing out which frame or what kind of depiction is the one.

Other Ochi
Owarai (Comedy Performances)

De ochi

This is to cause laughter just by going on to the stage. It usually means entering the stage weraing funny clothes or make-up or with funny appearance, or coming onstage naked or nearly naked. Bannai MATSUO and Teru (a comedian) often uses this.

However well prepared the appearance, it only works at the time of entry and does not last long once everyone sees it in terms of drawing a laugh, and performers will have to stay in an embarrassing state, which can be felt by the audience as well.

Such situations often occur when ordinary people do comedy performances of this kind at parties.

Meanwhile, on TV shows, this is effective to a certain degree, as performers often have only several seconds to appear. It also makes the viewers feel that 'the comedians were brought all the way to do only this,' and thus becomes a cause of laughter. In a TV show called "ametalk" (a TV talk show of Ameagari Kesshitai, a Japanese comic duo) there was a segment featuring such performances called 'pointo shutsuen geinin' (literally, comedians who appear in a spot).

Kao Ochi

This means making people laugh by making a funny face. As this is used in an emergency when comedians cannot think of anything else to provoke laughter, it is considered a low quality punch line among comedians. However, there are some comedians with extraordinary 'kaogei' (performance with a face), such as Ken SHIMURA.

Sandan Ochi

In sandan ochi, comedians provide the same situation three times in one story.
The first two sometimes work as furi (giving the audience a sense of expectancy to the story line) for ochi (there are some cases in which the three serve as 'furi, ko ochi [small punch line], and o ochi [big punch line]'.)
This is a standard style for contributors to radio programs and magazines.

(e.g., Kindon Yoiko Waruiko Futsunoko [a comedy TV program of Kinichi HAGIMOTO, a Japanese comedian], Tensai Shusai Baka [a segment of the radio program hosted by Shinji TANIMURA, a Japanese singer], and a TV commercial for items to encourage people to quit smoking)

This can be seen in gag phrases, which is a method often used by comedians Shoji MURAKAMI and Joji SHIMAKI. It can be understood as a kind of punning, giving a good rhythm to the story.

Tarai Ochi

This is a punch line using as a prop a washtub falling onto a comedian from above. The best part is the loud sound which comes when the washtub hits the body. It is known as a method often used by the Drifters (a Japanese comedian group). It is crucial to work in close cooperation and perfect synchronization with staff members.

Other than a washtub, there are some variations that use a cooking bowl or an 18-liter drum.

Yatai Kuzushi

In this kind of ochi, comedians set a device in a stage set such as a building (called yatai) in advance, and pull it down on a large scale at the end of the story. It is such a gaudy ochi that it gives the greatest visual and auditory impact.

The word originates from kabuki. However, at present, it is known as a typical punch line of The Drifters along with the tarai ochi.

Meanwhile, it is no longer used often in TV short comedies, as there are problems of safety as well as the high insurance cost on actors.


The repetition of a pattern, in which one person shows an example and the other tries in vain to copy it or the other misunderstands what the first person did, is called tendon.

It was named after the classic comic, 'Tendon.'
Recently, it often means a repetition of the same gag or boke (acting stupid).

Gakuya Ochi

This is a punch line made with the affairs of the comedian or of the entertainment business. It was originally a special term of rakugo. It is funny for entertainers, staff, and people in the business, but most of the time it is not understandable for ordinary audiences or viewers, so that it is considered targeting only regulars as well as enthusiasts.

On the other hand, when the gakuya ochi is widely recognized, these affairs become a well known fact for the audiences and viewers. On TV, "Oretachi Hyokin Zoku" (a comedy program) and Tonneruzu (a Japanese comedian duo) are some typical examples.
It is also called 'uchiwauke (inside joke, a private joke).'
On the contrary, in another TV comedy program called "Hachiji Dayo! Zenin Shugo," gakuya ochi was forbidden.


This is a dramatic effect to give the audience a sense of expectancy to punch lines which are not very special. One example is that audiences are provided information that a big personality is coming but find out later that it is not so famous a name. Or, in another pattern the personality is a physically big person, meaning the audiences were misled by the comment.

Manga (cartoon), Animation, and others

Yume Ochi

This is a punch line in which a story develops full of events, only to end with the conclusion that 'it was a dream.'
It is sometimes used when the story becomes too outrageous or when it is necessary to put an end to the story at one stretch. When used casually in movies or manga, productions can be considered to be corner-cutting. As a hint, the characters fall asleep or pass out in the middle of the story.

It is sometimes used to make parodies of gakuen mono (a story of school life) and tokusatsu (a program using a lot of special effects photography).

Gakuya Ochi

Like the above-mentioned 'gakuya ochi' in owarai, it is not funny unless one knows the affairs of artists or of the business. This is not a favorable ending, as in yume ochi.

The common method is that the artist him- or herself, as well as the editor, appears in the story and the artist gets told off about the slow progress or the low quality of the production. Rettsuragon' by Fujio AKATSUKA (appeared in "Weekly Shonen (boy) Sunday" from 1971 to 1974) was a cartoon which pursued this method of gakuya ochi to the extreme.

This word also means provoking a laugh by things relating to methods of expression.
For example, in manga, one of the characters is doing something quicker than usual and, when asked by some other character the reason why, he or she answers that it is to save the page; this is also called 'gakuya ochi.'
Although it is called 'ochi,' it is rather similar to kusuguri (making the audience or the readers laugh with the entertainment and writings on purpose) in rakugo.

Bakuhatsu Ochi

This is a cartoony punch line with an explosion at the end of the story. In most cases, this method is used to forcibly end the story. However, there are some exceptions that have a fully worked-out plot to take the story to bakuhatsu ochi, such as manga called 'Super Bomberman' by Atsushi MUSASHINO (appeared in "Monthly Korokoro Comic" from 1993 to 2002).

Ochi Implying 'Oretachi no Tatakai wa Korekarada' (meaning, Our Battle Goes On)

This kind of ochi can often be seen in pieces whose discontinuance was decided because of the closing down of the magazines or unpopularity of the works. In this case, all plots which were supposed to come up in the course of time cannot be explained, so that the story has to have a vague ending implying the main character's future move. As a result of this, hints dropped in earlier episodes cannot be explained in most cases and it leaves a bad taste in the mouths of both artists and fans. However, turning people's understanding of the circumstances to good account, this kind of ending is saometimes used in gag strips and gag animations as a predictable punch line. In such cases, as this ochi is used on the assumption that readers (or viewers) know this is typical of discontinued pieces, it also has an aspect of 'gakuya ochi' at the same time.

[Original Japanese]