Why do manga and anime characters have big eyes?

Ever wonder why manga and anime characters have big eyes? This is a popular topic, especially by parents who think big eyes have some dark and secret mystery. In this article, we will try to understand the whole story behind the big eyes in anime and manga.

There are several explanations behind the big eyes in the anime and manga characters, and almost all are correct. I personally believe that the main reason is fashion, the effect, the trends ... Someone started and continued! Of course, there are reasons to use big eyes, and let’s try to find out now.

The more childish the anime style, the bigger the eyes. Some examples are in comedy anime and chibi characters.

Why do manga and anime characters have big eyes?

Who started manga and anime with big eyes?

Before the birth and fame of manga and anime, Disney was already making characters with big eyes like Mickey Mouse and the Betty Boop. Apparently Betty Boop was one of the favorite characters in Osamu Tezuka, known as the manga god for creating the first manga and animation that popularized the industry.

Inspired by the character Betty Boop, Osamu Tezuka launched the famous manga Astro Boy in 1952 ushering in a new era. The next mangakas that emerged after Osamu, were inspired by him and also created characters with big eyes and this became something common.

In reality, the big-eyed culture may have emerged long before that. Illustrations by Yumeji Takehisa and Katsuji Matsumoto already represented kawaii characters with big, round eyes since the first world war. In his day this was not well regarded, and was even considered to be commonplace.

Why do manga and anime characters have big eyes?


In reality, the big, round eyes should not be seen as a predominant factor in Japanese works. Works like Gundam, and several other Jump Comics and Studio Ghibli franchises use different types of eyes and facial shapes. Some characters may have small eyes and large noses, while others do not even have noses.

Others claim that it all started with Disney’s 1942 film Bambi. Deer and deer are popular in Japan and tend to live together with the population in some cities like Nara. The film’s popularity in the country must have encouraged Osamu Tezuka and other mangakas to choose this type of art.

In the 90s, several anime appeared that tried to get closer to realism, using small eyes, big noses and other aspects that made the characters more realistic following the western trend of superhero animations. Success did not reach the unexpected, because the characters seemed lifeless.

Why do manga and anime characters have big eyes?

Why is eye size important in animation?

It doesn't matter if the eye is big, medium or small, the main reason why the Japanese use eyes that stand out on the characters' faces is because they are the windows of the soul. The eyes captivate the spectators representing emotional and sentimental expressions of the character. That perfectly explains Disney's success!

Larger eyes make it easier to represent emotion more accurately, making characters easier to relate to. The position of the eyes, the shapes, colors of the pupils and irises and their gradations allow animators and designers to share the whole personality and history of a character with only the face.

Why do manga and anime characters have big eyes?

The size of the eyes can even hold the viewer back and prevent them from noticing some flaws in the animation or the scenery. You notice that sometimes a manga has a super detailed drawing of the character's face, but the rest is totally rough and incomplete.

The big eyes help to understand a character's emotional reactions without having to use dialogue.

Other reasons for big eyes in anime and manga

This trend was also perpetuated because large eyes are aesthetically pleasing in Japanese culture, so much so that some Japanese try to enlarge their eyes and feel envious of Westerners. The Japanese mysteriously are attracted to different things, this also explains the characters' colored hair.

Why do manga and anime characters have big eyes?

Another reason is that humans naturally like babies. Babies have big eyes, so humans tend to like people with big eyes. This is very much related to the kawaii culture (cuteness) that grew as a fundamental part of Japanese culture in that century.

Using big eyes on anime characters appeals to the viewer's inner child. It doesn't matter if he is an adult or if the manga or anime is aimed at an adult audience like a seinen. Removing the work from realism with big eyes makes it even easier to use violence and sex without alienating and generating arguments.

Why do manga and anime characters have big eyes?

The same anime can have different characters with different eye sizes. Sometimes one may even have a nose and another one may not! The truth is that there is no specific reason other than that it is an artistic detail that helps to captivate the readers. This is nothing more than an important cliché of anime, manga and even games.

There is no conspiracy with demon as parents think. Unfortunately, several stereotypes have spread around Japanese animations, which created ideas that have nothing to do with artistic style. What do you think of big eyes in anime characters? We appreciate the comments and shares!

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