From the very onset of my discovery of anime, I’ve noticed one of its staples amidst Western fans and critics alike have been the “huge, sparkly eyes”. It can’t be denied — it’s become such a staple that there are now contacts to simulate the look of them, and also stuff like this.
It’s especially striking since in a lot of more common anime (and art in general) large eyes are used to define the looks of children, but adults (women especially) retain very large and child-like eyes as well. This may derive from a common inability to distinguish adults from children in art (something which bothers me a lot, as I prefer adults to be cute, but in a grown-up way, if they’re going to be cute at all)…or it may just be a “stylistic choice” to have adults resemble children, which at any other time would be creepy.
“Big”, however, should not be a catchall term for “detailed,” “elaborate,” or “shiny”, all of which anime eyes can also be. And it never stuck with me in correlation — lots of cartoon characters have big eyes, and other things out of proportion to the rest of their bodies. Lots of Western cartoon characters are also not intended to be as “realistic” as lots of anime characters, too, but they’re all still cartoons, many still subject to the ridiculousness that cartoons entail.
So, I give to you, a very random post of huge-eyed characters who aren’t from anime. You probably already knew they had huge eyes but you never thought “whoa, that guy has friggin’ huge eyes,” did you?
5. Tom (and Jerry)
Forever a great cartoon. The eyes aren’t elaborate at all, but they were very emotive, like lots of animation from that era.
4. Betty Boop
Actually, her entire head is notably huge in proportion to the rest of her. Classic as hell, but a little disturbing when you think of it.
3. Scrooge McDuck
As if anthropomorphic ducks weren’t scary enough, those eyes can probably shoot lasers. (By the way, why aren’t there more characters with laser-shooting eyes? Personally I find it creepy, but lots of people seem to like that.)
2. Tiny Toons
As tinier, toonier versions of the Warner Bros. greats, they of course all had to have enormous eyes. Look at them. Staring into you.
Considering that Spongebob can barely lift a barbell made of plush toys, eyes that size really should be weighing him down. Spongebob’s eyes have also elicited hilarious, hilarious “wrath” by being turned upside-down in the hands of overactive imaginations.
Also a close candidate: Squidward.
Another runner-up: Tweety Bird.
Both of these characters’ eyes add up to an estimated 70% of their body weight.
Just like lots of anime, (1) many adults still watch these shows (when available), even when they were (2) originally intended for children.
Wow, this is making me incredibly nostalgic. See, most of these guys harken back to a time where cartoons had lasting appeal to all audiences. But that’s another article for another blog…
Anyway, a reminder from the artist in me: eyes are diverse. They should be drawn in a way suitable to your style. I wasted a lot of years trying to replicate the look of “anime” eyes before I started branching out more into drawing them however I like. Eyes in anime themselves are diverse, as designers and manga-ka develop their own styles according to their needs. So, be original.
One last link should give you an idea of why I personally love larger eyes in all kinds of works (and relates directly to my distaste for most of the things I drew in 2007). Research explains why large eyes populate animation in general, especially considering that real eyes take up so little of our cranium: emotional investment.