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Cheeky Mouth

"Like the majestic flounder, some characters have features that drift to the side of their head. Side-mouth is how to avoid lip and chin motion when animating on the cheap. It's not a style or a good excuse to avoid learning to draw expressions in profile.''

In larger budget productions, there's sometimes a dedicated animator just for the lips of characters, due to the squash-and-stretch aspect of the face deforming on a cartoon character. In cheaper animation, artists will use tricks to minimize the amount of distortion to the face, so you just animate a mouth moving on a static face.

The problem occurs when you see characters in profile (that is, when they're facing to the side of the camera, so you see half of their face), since the face should be animated. Lower budget cartoon (especially anime) artists tend to actually show the (already small) mouth from a 3/4ths viewpoint, even if the face and lips are still in profile. Since small noses often require drawing them to a point, this creates a weird flounder/Picasso effect or 'snout' as the character's mouth is no longer centered but completely on the side of the face.

This is understandable for animation, as it's a budget saver and makes production go faster. This trope becomes artifactual in other media, specifically comics. Despite the fact this trick is really necessary only in a moving picture medium, a fair number of amateur artists do this, either due to inexperience, laziness, or adherence to the visual trope. This effect can be averted by simply avoiding profile altogether and doing 3/4 points of view instead. When it comes to time savers, some artists will cite preference for this kind of drawing with other short cuts such as the Pac-Man mouth.

Compare Cheated Angle.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Any anime and manga are subject to this trope at some point. Due to that, it may be nigh-impossible to list all anime and manga that uses this trope.
  • Pani Poni Dash! uses this.
  • An eyecatch for Azumanga Daioh features Sakaki drawn in this style.
    • Most of the series uses this, actually.
  • Happens a lot in the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, even though there isn't any need for lip flap. In this case, it makes the artwork more dynamic.
  • Particularly visible in Bleach at some points.
  • Used in both the anime and manga versions of Zatch Bell!.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann perpetrates this often, despite the reasonably high animation level. Or maybe they spent all their budget on the giant robots.
  • Kyouran Kazoku Nikki uses this (when they are visible at all) for almost the entire cast, except for the lion Teika, who just doesn't get that many spoken lines.
  • Done quite frequently in Yu-Gi-Oh!!
  • A common occurrence in Pokémon.
  • Appears a couple times in both the Hellsing OVA and TV series.
  • All over the place in Slayers.
  • Fairy Tail does it with female characters in comic situations. In more serious situation, the females suddenly get a normal mouth, and the guys never have it happening to them.
  • Happens a few times in the anime Ergo Proxy. The animation quality is generally very good, so cheeky mouths that appear can be actually particularly glaring.
  • Happens in episode 10 of Nichijou where Mai blows a bubble and eats it.
  • Typical in Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • Extremely common in Il Sole penetra le Illusioni. It appears to be an actual artistic choice.
  • The image shown above is from K-On!. Take note that the girls' lips are still drawn as part of their facial profile while they talk.

    Comic Books 
  • Cerebus the Aardvark does this by design. Cerebus always has one of those, even when his snout does not obscure the view. When viewed en face, he has two of those.
  • Archie Comics characters often seem to have their mouths shoved over to one side of their faces, even when they're facing the camera!

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Pointed out in a Dilbert anthology by author Scott Adams, who prefers the Cheeky Mouth look.
  • Self-mocked by Bill Amend in this Foxtrot strip. A slight variation, since his comic is not animated and is not usually in profile.
  • Curtis; check out, for instance, the Curtis strip in here.

    Video Games 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog is usually depicted with a side-mouth, along with much of his supporting cast such as Knuckles who is almost never seen any other way. However, most characters in Sonic Adventure and its sequel were modeled with their mouths dead-center in the front of their faces, which looked awkward enough that subsequent games made it a deliberate art design choice that Sonic's mouth should always be at the side.
  • Ty the Tasmanian Tiger has a cheek mouth on either side of his face. The effect is somewhat... odd.
  • Jingle the reindeer in Animal Crossing has his mouth texture permanently on one side of his face. When you talk to him, he will often ask you specifically to make sure to only look at his "good side."
  • Character Portraits in Machine Knight will normally make use of this, but certain characters will move their lips at the edge of their face - others, however, will obviously not, as if the lead artist couldn't decide if this trope was in force.

    Webcomics 
  • Dominic Deegan consistently uses this every time a head is seen in profile view, except for when the character wears a mask or similar face-veiling headgear.
  • Megatokyo.
  • Misfile, though it stopped, possibly from reader complaints. There's at least one commissioned artwork where the only correction was specifically to remove a cheeky mouth.
  • Referred to as "Flounderface Disorder", and strongly discouraged, in this Lackadaisy Expressions Tutorial.
  • Taken Up to Eleven sometimes in Penny Arcade, where characters' mouths reach past the edge of the face when they shout (like, here for instance).
  • Concession.

    Western Animation 
  • Done on Total Drama Island with most characters. Heather is the most notable exception.
  • Look closely and you'll notice The PJs does this. And it's done in claymation.
  • Can appear when a cartoon character has a big nose or snout that would obscure the mouth needed for an expression. Example: some Tove Jansson's illustrations of the Moomins show it.
  • This seems to be a genetic trait of the female side of Angelica Pickles' family. Both her and her mom have their mouths drawn far off to the side inside their cheeks. Even when you're looking at her full profile, her mouth is always drawn inside one of her cheeks instead of being where it actually should be like every other character in the series.
  • Rigby from Regular Show.
    • Rigby is Cheated Angle personified. When his snout points up, his eyes move down to the bottom of his head.
  • All the characters in The Mr. Men Show when viewed from the side.


Cave MouthMouthful Of IndexCheshire Cat Grin
Cartoon JugglingLazy ArtistDull Surprise
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alternative title(s): Cheek Teeth; Flounder Face
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