|Kanji in this term|
The literal sense is a compound of 二 (ni, “two”) + 枚 (mai, counter for flat things) + 目 (me, ordinal marker), literally “second sheet, second flat thing”. The idiomatic usage arose from a convention during the Edo Period wherein a kabuki play's handsome character would be listed second on signboards.
- Used other than with a figurative or idiomatic meaning: see 二, 枚, 目. (the second sheet or other flat thing)
- a handsome male character, especially one that gets involved in a romance during the story
- (by extension) a handsome man, a male love interest
- 二枚目半 (nimaime-han, “a comic character who is also the male love interest”, literally “second-and-a-half sheet”)