DocWatson (docwatson42) wrote,

Reverse image search for anime and manga

When attempting to identify an anime- or manga-related image, try the browser add-on Image Search Options, for both Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, which searches a wide variety of image sites and search engines (a number of which are helpful on their own). The sites searched include:

* Specialized anime/manga reverse image search engine.
General image tool/(reverse) image search engine.

1 Searches mostly Japanese anime/manga line drawing sites, especially bulletin boards.
2 Useful, but does not work with older browsers. Be sure to persevere past the first page of results.
3 Searches mostly anime/manga image sites (see the home page for the list).
4 AKA "Regex Search"—extracts exif information.
5 Good for both anime and still images. Home site of the Image Search Options add-on.
6 Works, but is not generally applicable for anime and manga, though it occasionally has answers the specialized search engines lack.

What Image Search Options does is to launch a search in each of selected search engines/sites in a separate tab of the user's browser. I recommend unselecting Cydral, GazoPa, and "Regex Search" (unless you're really interested in technical details), and installing the Google Images modification detailed on its homepages.

Other useful sites include:
  • The Doujinshi & Manga Lexicon's Image Search (the site is not a glossary, but actually a comprehensive dōjinshi and manga database)
  • The Overbooru (a master list of anime/manga/game image sites)
  • DLsite—page down for the English links (DLsite is a large, Japanese- and English-language pay-per-download site for the sale of dōjin and some (legal) professional products)
  • IQDB's 3D site search (for real people—idols, cosplay, and Asian models)

IMHO SauceNAO is the place to start for identifying anime. If SauceNAO doesn't have the correct answer, and the image has a border or other extraneous parts, try cropping the image. After a search, it shows a small thumbnail of the image on the top left. Just click the thumbnail and it will take you to a new page. From there highlight what section of the image you want cropped and click modified search.

If SauceNAO still doesn't have the correct answer, then click its provided links to Google Images' Search by Image and/or IQDB, and then IQDB's search link to TinEye. If none of those yield what you seek, try Ascii2D, and The Doujinshi & Manga Lexicon if the image seems to be from some type of manga. (N.B.: Of the sites searched by IQDB, Anime-Pictures and The Anime Gallery require users to log in to view images that are rated "ero"/"explicit"; and The Doujinshi & Manga Lexicon's images are mostly covers.) If you can't find it any other way—especially if it's a 3D CGI image—DLsite features a tag-based site search engine with a huge number of options to customize searches (click the "Advanced Search" option in the upper right of its English top pages), though the results are products and their thumbnails, not individual images, and slogging through them is often time consuming.

Note that if you are searching for one part of an image (e.g., one character's face from a collage of faces from different series), then what you need to do is limit your search by cropping the picture to exactly what you want to find, either in the image itself, or by using SauceNAO's cropping feature. Also, higher resolution and more complete images are better, as are those that are closest to the original.

Note also that Xamayon, the creator of both the Image Search Options add-on and SauceNAO, is looking for feedback, generally responds to E-mail, and planned (as of April 2013) to update both Image Search Options and SauceNAO's database within the next two or three months, spare time permitting. Unfortunately, this has yet to happen.

Additionally, of the two *boorus with which I am familiar, Gelbooru is better for searching because
  • it regularly downloads everything that Danbooru has
  • it allows non-premium users to both
    • use three search terms (whereas Danbooru allows only two); and
    • to display results that include the loli tag

while Danbooru
  • provides information on individual artists
  • lays out its tags in the most logical manner—in separate headings for "copyrights" (titles, etc.), characters, artist, and (general) tags

Both use color-coded tags, as is the usual practice, at least among *boorus.

For verifying an image actually is from a particular series, I like to start with, because while it is (mostly) in German (there is an English language option, but this is only good for menu items), it's a good place for sample screenshots; its character pages are also good. E.g., Case Closed and its characters (click the "thumbs" option; each of the character images is clickable, and the links lead to individual pages). The Anime News Network Encyclopedia, on the other hand, tends to have more information on series, is easier to update (and thus seems to be updated more often), allows for more than one official Web site link, and is natively in English.

To access Ascii2D, answer the question "あなたは18才以上ですか?" ("Do you 18 years old or older?"), click "はい" ("hai"—"yes").

To use Baidu image search: from

  • Click "图 片" (the sixth option from left).
  • At the resulting, click the icon inside the search box.
  • In the popup search box, either
    • Paste the URL of the image; or
    • Click the unselected option "从本地上传" to browse your computer's files and upload the image you want.

The search will start automatically. However, Baidu may be of limited utility, as it (per Chinese law) censors its content, and also uses a proprietary "DNA copyright recognition" technology to screen out potential copyright violations.

(Since I originally wrote those directions, Baidu Images has been updated, and no longer works with my browser, but the directions are the same.)

As for Yandex, there is an English-language version, Yandex Images (, but its help and filters and advanced search options pages do not mention a reverse image search option, either sourcing from a user's computer or from a URL.

However, the Russian-language version does have a reverse image search option.

  • Go to either the homepage or the reverse image search page.
  • In the search box, either paste the URL of the image; or
    • Click the icon in the search box, and
    • Click the button in the popdown menu (labeled "еще можно
      Загрузить картинку
      или перетащить её сюда") to browse your computer's files and upload the image you want.

Also, if you use Yandex, you may want to change the settings to allow for adult images.

(Comparing Yandex Images to Google Images (search term: [kitten]), I actually like Yandex's layout better, at least as it appears in my antiquated browser.)
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