A Serious Look At Big Anime Eyes

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

Kyoto Animation is one of Japan's most famous anime studios. Besides its shows, the studio is famous for another thing: large eyes.

Many anime characters have abnormally large eyes. And many studios in Japan have their own house style. Kyoto Animation is no exception! What's interesting is that the anime characters it creates often have similar eyes, hence the clever pun "Kyou Ani-Me" (京アニ目), which means, "Kyoto Animation Eyes."

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

[Photo via 2ch]

The anime K-On! (lede image) was, in particular, noted for huge eyes, thus leading to the term in Japan けいおん目 or "K-On! eyes."

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

[Image via GA]

The big K-On! eyes are not entirely Kyoto Animation's fault. Below, you can see how the original manga (top) compares with the anime (middle).

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

[Image via けいおんファンサイト]

Those are the voice actors on the bottom.

Huge eyes, of course, originally came to Japanese manga via the big-eyed characters found in highly influential Western cartoons, such as the work of Walt Disney and Max Fleischer. (Read here for more on the development and meaning of anime.)

At this point, though, modern anime and manga are probably drawing more on dominant Japanese stylistic conventions than directly from, say, Betty Boop cartoons.

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

[Photo: maiki_doramu]

This is evident when you see drawings of people practicing their Kyoto Animation eyes.

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

[Photo: Furan495Toho]

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

[Photo: chiu_1234]

But what exactly makes a Kyoto Animation eye a Kyoto Animation eye? That's a trickier question than you'd think.

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

[Photo: kinokio0121]

This is a close-up of your typical Kyoto Animation style eye.

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

[Photo: eroron_eroron2]

Using a practice drawing by Twitter user eroron_eroron2, let's analyse the different parts of the Kyoto Animation style. Note that there are sometimes reflections in the bottom part of the eye, too.

If we look through anime the studio's created, we do see a definite pattern. Again, this is not a bad thing! This is Kyoto Animation's style.

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

[Photo via NicoHaya398]

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

[Photo via Other_8909]

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

[Photo via NicoHaya398]

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

[Photo: nnshrk63]

There are caveats, such as anime boy characters whose eyes are slightly smaller. This is a way to make them appear cooler. Anime boy characters with big eyes can be cuter.

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

[Photo: Rin874_252521]

Also, Kyoto Animation's style has developed and changed over the years.

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

[Photo via 2ch]

There are some nuances, even in recent work from Kyoto Animation. For example, this is from 2014:

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

[Photo via 2ch]

And this is from 2015:

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

[Photo via 2ch]

They're not exactly the same eyes, but you can tell that Kyoto Animation created these images.

A Serious Look at Big Anime Eyes

[Photo via ettirgam2]

And that's the way it should be.

Top image via avaronsukareto


Comments

    Wish you guys would look more at anime side mouth

    Last edited 22/10/15 4:34 pm

      Hardly a big piece, but: http://www.kotaku.com.au/2014/07/for-some-folks-side-mouth-ruins-anime-faces/

        My favourite: http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/t_original/790657953392348077.jpg

    I never realised that the preference for large eyes was influenced by Western cartoons and had always thought it was because in anime they are the locus of emotion so they needed to be larger to properly convey moods. I guess that's probably true but only because they were drawn large in the first place. Kinda makes it interesting that people criticise big anime eyes when really it was the West that influenced it in the first place.

    I like Kyo-ani more for the legs and feet.

    Kyoto animation should just call themselves "Moe Animation" and be done with it.

      Isn't there a studio called 'Moe Animation' already? (Although the 'moe' stands for 'Master of Entertainment)

    Pfft, fans of anime from the 90s scoff at the idea that modern anime Kyo-ani or otherwise has too big eyes. Go watch Saber Marionette J or Slayers and then we'll talk.

    Last edited 24/10/15 12:16 am

      Those eyes are massive... they might as well be humanoid Waddle-Doos.

    Yeah. They look like anime eyes to me... sorry!

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