Published on Aug 21, 2020

Anime Eyes Background Images

License Info: Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC

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.

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. It’s important to note that older shonen (and some newer ones) avert big anime eyes, with the eyes instead tending to be either narrower or realistic.

With “anime eyes”, not only does the size increase, the shape is also exaggerated (and usually gives a hint as to 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.


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 works that employ more realistic proportions use eyes as a major tool. However, out-of-context- or over-use of large eyes can, intentionally or unintentionally, place a portrayal in the Uncanny Valley. 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.

Anime Eyes Background images gallery for free download


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