Although writing conventions in Japanese influence the choice of script on most occasions, non-standard selections of orthography have been noted throughout the history of the written language. Despite this, empirical study has only provided perfunctory explanations of this phenomenon. What little inquiry exists often ignores context, and has focused almost entirely on the use of katakana. This study attempts to fix some of these issues and further the understanding of this feature of written Japanese, contextually examining and comparing variation between all the Japanese scripts. Data is taken from the speech of non-native Japanese speakers across four manga series, with the study employing the theory of indexicality to explain how an author's non-standard selection of orthography plays a part in transmitting information to a reader. (c) 2015 Japanese Studies Association of Australia.