Created By: Sackett on May 26, 2012 Last Edited By: peccantis on February 29, 2016

Big Anime Eyes

Anime and manga commonly emphasise the eyes by drawing them unrealisticly large.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

Exaggeratedly large eyes are one of the most famous and recognisable elements of anime and manga. Large eyes are ubiquitous in shonen and especially shoujo, which also happen to be the two best known demographics outside of Japan. Chibi style, again common in manga and anime aimed at kids and teens, exaggerates the eye size even further.

With "anime eyes" not only the size increases, but also the shape is exaggerated (and usually gives a hint whether the character is generally active or passive), the iris and the pupil grow in proportion and change shape to compliment the general eye shape, and especially in the romantic genre, the reflections are greatly exaggerated. Horizontal lines above the eyes represent the folds of the upper lid and are not necessarily realistic for Asian characters, but serve as a visual anchor that makes for a lightning-fast distinction between a narrow eye and a half-closed eye. The range and flexibility of the eyebrows is also exaggerated.

Large eyes emphasise the youthfulness and cuteness of a character. They also make it easier to convey complex and nuanced emotions. Eyes are an important tool for emotional communication for humans; the difference between Japanese and occidental smileys (which focus the information on eye and mouth shapes, respectively) would suggest that the importance of eyes is even higher in East Asia.

Thus big eyes are very very popular for characters intended to be cute and endearing, and in genres which rely greatly on emotion and melodrama. Even in works that employ more realistic proportions use eyes as a major tool. Only in the gag genre and some more experimental styles are eyes downplayed.

On the other hand, characters with small and possibly oversimplified eyes are usually intended to be incredibly ugly, and are used more as tools for gags rather than fully-fledged characters. Characters with no eyes at all are the faceless mass, part of the background, moving standies, or perhaps intended to be as emotionally distant from the other characters and the reader as possible.


Examples:

No straight examples please.

Also no general aversions please. Aversions from uniformly large-eyed genres are ok. (Good luck finding those).

Playing with a Trope examples are welcome from all media.


Info on YKTTW:

Up for Grabs

The image linked is from http://sarac-portfolioportal.com/home.html who draws anime caricatures for pay. For the YKTTW it serves as a good example, but if we want to use it for the actual page we'll need to ask permission.

Community Feedback Replies: 31
  • May 26, 2012
    ShiningArmor87
    • Lampshaded in an issue of the The Simpsons comic book where Comic Book Guy lived his life as a Japanese cartoon, and did so with the help of some extra-large contact lenses.
  • May 26, 2012
    Koveras
    I dunno if it's a distinct trope, since big eyes are practically synonymous with the anime and manga medium as a whole (though it's technically not true: large eyes are generally an attribute of the Bishoujo style, rather than the medium itself). At best, this can be used in instances where an Art Shift gives all character large eyes in an attempt to look Animesque, but the title and the write-up should be clear about that.

    And btw, TVT engine doesn't allow hotlinking images from other sites.
  • May 26, 2012
    animeg3282
    There are many manga styles from the old style shoujo manga, to Puni Plush and other modern moe styles, etc, etc. But yes, this is a super trope. BTW Haibane Renmei is an anime in the small eyed style.
  • May 26, 2012
    SKJAM
    I inverted this for a chapter of my Yu Gi Oh Manga Synoptic Theater--Anzu sees an American comic book and complains that all the characters have "unrealistically small eyss."
  • May 26, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    This is one of those tropes that I think hasn't been made because it seems we all think the page is here.

    And it should be noted that this covers manga, and all media with similar styles.

    Plus it should be noted that Osamu Tezuka was the Trope Maker, inspired by the big eyes in the Classic Disney Shorts.
  • May 26, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Mentioned on the Puppy Dog Eyes page.
  • July 16, 2012
    MsCC93
    Almost every character from [[Anime|Pokemon]].
  • July 16, 2012
    Jir
  • July 16, 2012
    TonyG
    • Invoked on Robots. As Fender is taking photos of Rodney, he asks for "big anime eyes".
    • Ironically, two of the best known anime directors, Hayao Miyazaki and Katsuhiro Otomo, generally avoid large eyes in their works.
  • July 16, 2012
    raven2785
    You might want to check Good Eyes Evil Eyes and steal some material from their description.

    also fro the description:

    In Japanese culture, the eyes are the most important part of the face. Japanese has many proverbs about eyes, and one of them says "the eye talks as much as the mouth does", which means you can express and read emotions through eyes. In other words, Japanese view the eyes as a window to the soul.
  • July 16, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ So it's strongly related to Windows To The Soul.
  • July 17, 2012
    Rognik
    Also related directly to anime, when there are characters who have large eyes and those who don't, the ones with smaller eyes are not considered as beautiful as the ones with the saucer-eyes. (Typically, it's either the guys or gonk-type girls who fall victim.)
  • July 17, 2012
    peccantis
    I went and edited it.

    It's still Up For Grabs.

    Tareme and Tsurime are not subtropes; they occur and apply with eyes of all sizes.

    I have the thought that shoujo publications such as Nakayoshi and Ribon have production criteria covering among other things the proportional eye size of the characters. Can anyone confirm?

    About the page image... provided we get the permission, I'd prefer the non-chibi one.
  • July 17, 2012
    TheHandle
    Well, it would be nice if the picture was a proper reflection of how well-drawn anime eyes look, rather than this talenteless, bland, completely-missing-the-point parody. It's a sort of a trend among Western "manga artists" that they get the art horribly, hopelessly wrong, or that, at best, they seem to be stuck in The Nineties.
  • July 17, 2012
    peccantis
    Sure, and a composite of big, realistic, and real eyes would be great as well.
  • August 14, 2012
    Noah1
  • August 14, 2012
    acrobox
    You should mention that Big Anime Eyes were originally inspired by Big Disney Eyes.
  • August 14, 2012
    peccantis
    Go ahead, mention it yourself. Up For Grabs and everything.
  • August 14, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    So what would make good examples? Lampshading?
  • August 14, 2012
    ccoa
    Referenced in the web round-robin short story "Lungfish Alpha" features a future in which people can make quite literally whatever physical modifications to their bodies that they want. The main character, Itsuko, was born to a pair of anime Otaku.
    They'd geneered their daughter to resemble the characters they loved: ridiculously colored hair, extended legs and arms, a tiny mouth and eyes that took up 70 percent of the face.
  • December 24, 2012
    Thinker
    There was an anime I saw a lot of years ago, but I don't remember the title; it was some sort of space adventure or alien invasion thing. Most of the characters had big anime eyes, but there were a couple of characters, one a scientist and the other a kid, whose eyes were little dots very close together. So does anyone know the title of that anime?
  • December 24, 2012
    DRCEQ
    This would work as a Useful Notes, as the whole large eyes in Anime thing was directly influenced by 20's and 30's American cartoons such as Betty Boop and Mickey Mouse.
  • December 24, 2012
    KarjamP
    The image's copyrighted.

    We can't have that.

    original image can be found here. Notice it says "Sample".
  • December 24, 2012
    Dawnwing
    Literature:
    • In the fourth book in the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, there's a clique called "manga-heads", who get surgery to make their eyes appear larger and who have crazy hairstyles in order to look like they're from manga.
  • December 31, 2015
    Noah1
  • December 31, 2015
    sablesword
    Tabletop Games:

  • December 31, 2015
    DAN004
    Examples would be references, lampshades or discussions about big anime eyes.
  • January 1, 2016
    DragonQuestZ
    As I noted, since Disney does this, and inspired it, this need not be limited to anime and manga. It could cover any time eyes are drawn larger to help make them more expressive.
  • February 28, 2016
    STARcasticOreo
    • WOOT WOOT, THE NOOB IS HERE*
    How about the NPC Mii Siobhán from Wii Sports Resort? She has extremely large eyes. http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/w__/images/0/0e/Siobhán.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20150107190528&path-prefix=wiisports

  • February 28, 2016
    DAN004
    So we're going to list only references, discussions, lampshades etc and not straight examples, right?
  • February 29, 2016
    Snicka
    ^^^ If we go that route, how do you like the name Exaggerated Expressive Eyes?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=0809n22bnr1s10yqefvay5kj