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In a manga, while a guy was sleeping, someone used a marker to write on him. He wrote on his forehead and 空回り人生 on his chest. Considering it was a joke, can be offensive or funny in some way? I think that 空回り人生 could mean something like loser, but I don't understand why he wrote . It is neither a reference to the personality of the character nor to the plot of the manga.

I know cow can be an insult in English, but what about Japanese?

You can see the page in question here.

  • Can you provide some context? Did this guy go to bed right after eating, maybe? – Chocolate Nov 7 '16 at 4:31
  • Unfortunately there isn't context because is one of a series of 1コマ drawings at the end of the manga. – Marco Nov 14 '16 at 0:07
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I think it depends on the context. But maybe...

In キン肉マン(kin-niku-man), an old famous manga, many heroes have a kanji on their forehead. Be affected by this manga, writing a kanji on the sleeper's forehead became a common prank in Japan. Typically, the kanji is [肉]{にく}(meats), because this kanji is on the main hero's forehead.

Next, there is a proverb 「[食]{た}べてすぐ[寝]{ね}ると[牛]{うし}になる(If you go to bed as soon as eating, you'll become a cow.)」 in Japan.

So I guess:

Why a kanji is written on the sleeper's forehead? --> Because it's a common prank with the sleeper in Japan, as drawing eyes on the eyelids.

Why the kanji is 牛? --> Because he is sleeping (if he went to bed just after eating).

Of course, if a cow has a special meaning in the manga, the kanji 牛 may also has a different meaning from my estimate.

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