Animation Anatomy Aging

Marie Antoinette, from her teens, to her twenties, to her thirties, goes from rounded to almond-shaped eyes, and from a curved to angular face.

In Real Life, people's bodies change as they get older, and a few of these changes are near-universal, to indicate at least the general age of a person.

In drawn media, the subtler changes aren't always as easy to show compared to real life, so there are standards to make these changes more noticeable in stylized formats.

For Anime, Manga, and Animesque shows, ageing often follows this pattern:
  • Child: Character is round and chubby, no difference between boys and girls. Eyes the size of saucers.
  • Pre-teen: Girls develop A-cup breasts. Boys develop baseball caps. Eyes begin shrinking.
  • Teen: Analogous to real world adulthood. Teen boys may develop a physique to rival the Big Guys, girls will completely fill out.
  • Adult: Eyes are smaller, and almond-shaped, although still larger than reality. Features become much sharper.
  • Old: Slight shrinkage, wrinkles form, and grey hair.
  • Geezer: A hunched, shrivelled prune of a person who is 3 feet (1 meter) tall, often with a perpetual squint.

Compare Good Eyes, Evil Eyes, Fun Size.

Contrast Older Than They Look, Younger Than They Look.

Works where this is especially noticeable:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Rose of Versailles features this across the main characters. Marie Antoinette is shown in the page example.
  • Completely ignored in La Seine no Hoshi, a Rip Off of The Rose of Versailles with Zorro elements. While the series covers about the same time span as The Rose of Versailles, none of the characters age (or change their clothes.) Most painfully obvious in the heroine's sidekick, a boy of about 11 years, who never shows any sign of maturing over the course of 20 years!
  • Galaxy Express 999
  • Record of Lodoss War: Particularly apparent with Parn and Deedlit (even though she's an elf!), if you look at the difference in their designs between Records and Chronicles of a Heroic Knight. In the former, Parn is barely more than a boy, all huge-eyed and smooth-faced. His design has rougher lines and more narrow eyes many years later, and the young-looking design is found in the new generation of heroes, instead, particularly in Spark.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. The Distant Finale seems to suggest that greater age gives you a squarer jawline, in addition to the requisite smaller eyes and wrinkles.
  • Ooku characters tend to die young or retire, but the shogun Tsunayoshi and her companion Yoshiyasu start showing their age after a while.
  • Candy Candy
  • The child characters in Wandering Son age visually over the several years the manga takes place. Their faces in particular have leaned down and become less round.
  • Nicely depicted on this page of Trinity Blood manga.

    Video Games 
  • The Kingdom Hearts series has the teenage characters subtly but noticeably age a year; at 14, his eyes are larger and his cheeks are chubbier.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time features a seven year time skip, and has several small children who grow up into attractive men and women. Compare Link at ten with his round face and big, innocent eyes and at seventeen, with narrower eyes and more chiseled features.
  • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon follows Marth's life and begins the story with Marth at a young(er) age. His expressions in cutscenes are very calm and passive-looking, but after the second half of the game, his age seems to progress, as his hair is longer, his skin is slightly darker, and his face bears an angry, yet confident expression.
  • In the first Jak and Daxter game, the 15-year-old Jak's eyes take up about a quarter of his face. In the second game, his eyes have shrunk enormously—even though there is only two years between the games. The change shows the torture and experminentation has aged him prematurely, as well as turning him from a (quite literal) Wide-Eyed Idealist into to a cynic Anti-Hero. Compare.
  • Klaus from Story Of Seasons is a bachelor targeted at those who like older men. The main thing that indicates his age is that he has very faint, soft lines under his eyes.
  • MapleStory player character designs all share the same body type and are all interchangeable, leaving only the design of the faces to express the apparent age of a class's "canon" appearance; The farm boy turned hero Evan has very large eyes, while the queen of the elves Mercedes has much narrower eyes.

    Western Animation 
  • In South Park, the kindergartners' eyes are a good 50% of their face. Older kids have smaller, but round eyes. Adults have eyes a bit smaller than that.
  • Happens to Candace in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb's Quantum Boogaloo".
  • In KaBlam!, all the adults in the Henry and June shorts have tiny eyes. The main duo, being somewhere around ten, have pretty big eyes (at least in the later seasons).
  • Flashbacks in Avatar: The Last Airbender give all the main characters huge eyes (including, strangely enough, Azula) and round faces.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, oddly enough, inverts the pattern for most female characters. From birth through adulthood, their eyes get larger as they grow older—larger both in absolute size, and in comparison to their head.


    Anime and Manga 
  • Rumiko Takahashi's older characters practically define the "prune" style, e.g. Happosai and Cologne in Ranma 1/2, and grandmother Godai in Maison Ikkoku. In one Ranma episode, Mousse gets smacked when he puts on his glasses to see Cologne, and screams "Ahhhhh! Mackerel jerky!"
  • The toddlers in Gakuen Babysitters are particularly stylized in this fashion. They have large eyes, are about the size of infants in comparison to the older characters, and have round and chubby bodies and cheeks.
  • Fairy Tail plays this trope straight, but the most notable example is Master Makarov. At 88 years old, he's about 2' tall, and he shrunk a lot. In a flashback to when he was 40, he's still short, but he's at least 5' tall.

  • In Up, Carl is perfectly round as a child, but becomes more angular in shape as he ages until he resembles a cube. Ellie, on the other hand, remains rounded throughout.

  • Soseki from Harvest Moon: A New Beginning plays with this, mostly mentioning how he is apparently older than the rest of the bachelors. Out of all the bachelors, he is drawn with a more sharply-angled face and it does make him look older... but not by a whole lot.

    Western Animation