Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Empty Eyes

In Japanese, reipu-me レイプ目, "rape eyes," is the most common term for eyes drawn without a sparkle. It's sometimes abbreviated to re-me レ目.

Synonyms in Japanese include utsuro-me 虚ろ目, "vacant eyes," maguro-me マグロ目, "tuna eyes," yandere-me ヤンデレ目, "yandere eyes," and sen'nou-me 洗脳目, "brainwashed eyes," In English: empty eyes, dead eyes, lifeless eyes, soulless eyes, and mind-broken eyes.

The situation can be described as hairaito ga kieru ハイライトが消える, "the highlight disappears," because the white sparkles on the drawings of irises are called highlights, or me ga shinderu 目が死んでる, "the eyes are dead."

Example of vacant eyes.
Anime: Goblin Slayer, ゴブリンスレイヤー (Episode 1)


In manga and anime, empty eyes are used for various reasons, but, in general, they represent some sort of mental collapse.


Traditionally, they're used when a character has been traumatized by something.

Kotoura Haruka 琴浦春香, example of "vacant eyes," utsuro-me 虚ろ目.
Character: Kotoura Haruka 琴浦春香
Anime: Kotoura-san 琴浦さん (Episode 1)
  • Context: a girl is despised by her mother.
  • anata nanka umu-n-janakatta.
    [I] shouldn't have given birth to [someone] like you.

Normally, this would be some seriously depressing stuff, but it's actually often used as a joke in comedy anime.

Aqua アクア, example of vacant eyes.
Anime: Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! この素晴らしい世界に祝福を! (Episode 5)
  • After being useful for once, Aqua becomes traumatized.

Since a lot of times the trauma comes from rape, the empty eyes are often drawn on rape victims, which is where the term "rape eyes" come from.

Akaza Akari 赤座あかり, example of empty eyes (レイプ目).
Character: Akaza Akari 赤座あかり
Anime: Yuru Yuri ゆるゆり (Episode 5)
  • Context: Akari is a victim of non-consensual hand-holding.

Of course, that sounds kinda weird because "rape eyes" sounds like it's the eyes of the rapist, just like the expression "rape face," but it turns out we're talking about the eyes of the victim of rape, literally the opposite of what you'd expect. Don't ask me. I didn't make up the term. I'm just explaining it.

  • seishin houkai
    Mental collapse. (technical term.)
    • In the anime fandom, "mind break" is a term for characters becoming mentally broken from sexual pleasure.
  • kairaku-ochi
    Pleasure fall. Pleasure drop. (literally.)
    • Refers to situations where a character loses their morals after indulging in (sexual) pleasure. Including but not limited to non-consensual acts. For example: a knight being assaulted by the enemy and then turning into a slut.
      • kukkoro
        (abbreviation of.)
      • ku' korose!
        Gh, kill [me]!
        Refers to situations where a character defeated in battle and captured begs their captors to be killed so they can die as proud warriors, specially when the captors don't comply and they're taken alive as a hostage, brainwashed, sold in slavery, and stuff like that.
    • ochiru
      To drop. (in the sense losing one's dignity, falling from grace, becoming a lowly something, etc.)

Anyways, the so-called "rape eyes" can show up in a variety of situations that, as it turns out, have nothing to actually do with rape.

Takakamo Shizuno 高鴨穏乃, example of vacant eyes.
Anime: Saki Achiga-hen 咲-Saki-阿知賀編 Episode of Side-A (Episode 3)
  • Shizuno is temporally traumatized after losing really badly in mahjong.

The term reipu-me レイプ目 can still be used in these situations in Japanese. As I mentioned before, it's the most common term to refer to this thing.

However, some people don't like the word "rape," for obvious reasons, so they prefer to call it something less heavy, like utsuro-me 虚ろ目, "vacant eyes," or maguro-me マグロ目, "tuna eyes." The latter is used because the eyes are dead like a tuna's.

There are also cases it's not made explicit what exactly happened to the character.

Toa トア, example of empty eyes (レイプ目).
Character: Toa トア
Anime: Tsuki ga Michibiku Isekai Douchuu 月が導く異世界道中 (Episode 4)
  • Context: apparently, Toa was forced to participate in magical experiments, or at least that's what other characters guessed.


Sometimes, the empty eyes are used when a character has simply given up fighting or resisting something, rather than being outright traumatized by something. In other words, empty eyes can represent hopelessness.

Manga: Goblin Slayer, ゴブリンスレイヤー (Chapter 6)
  • naremasu yo
    [You] get used to [it].

Another way to describe these eyes that have been given up on things, specially when they is:

While reipu-me is more for things like trauma, me ga shinderu is usually for when a character's eyes suddenly change while they say negative things.

A forehead shadow often accompanies the empty eyes in this case.

Anime: Machikado Mazoku まちカドまぞく (Episode 12)
  • Context: something good happens to Chiyoda Momo 千代田桃.
  • iya, matte yo
    No, wait.
  • nanka okashii
    Something is weird.
  • {watashi ni konna happii ga furikakaru} hazu ga nai
    There's no way {something happy like this would happen to me}.
    • furi-kakaru
      To fall on [someone]. To befall.
      (compound verb.)

This seems to include fearful scenarios:

Harpy, ハーピィ, Aurora Suya Rhys Kaymin オーロラ・栖夜・リース・カイミーン, example of empty eyes (レイプ目).
Left: Harpy, ハーピィ
Right: Aurora Suya Rhys Kaymin オーロラ・栖夜・リース・カイミーン
Anime: Maoujou de Oyasumi 魔王城でおやすみ (Episode 5)
  • Context: Aurora, who wants to sleep well, sets her eyes on harpy's feathers, and says something abominable, leaving her empty-eyed.
  • ne, sono tsubasa, toreru?
    Hey, [your] wings, can [they be removed]?
    • toreru - "to be able to take [off]." In this case, Aurora is asking if one would be able to take them off, which ends up meaning if they can be removed.
  • e? toremasen.
    Eh? [No, they] can not.

Furthermore, when a character's eyes lose the highlights because they've given up on someone, as in, they're so grossed out they've lost hope in that person as a human being, they think someone is a lost cause, there's a different term for that:

Kotegawa Chisa 古手川千紗, example of disgusted face, gomi wo miru you na me ゴミを見るような目.
Anime: Grand Blue, ぐらんぶる (Episode 1)
  • Context: it was like she was looking at walking garbage.
  • {{gomi wo miru} you na} me
    Eyes {like {[they] are seeing trash}.
Yame Yukana 八女ゆかな, example of gomi wo miru you na me ゴミを見るような目.
Anime: Hajimete no Gyaru はじめてのギャル (Episode 1)
  • Context: a guy begs a gyaru ギャル to date with him, prompting her to stare down at him with utter disgust.
  • dogeza
    The name of the prostration pose.

Empty Mind

Empty eyes are sometimes used to symbolize a empty mind, that is, the character eyes are vacant because they don't have thoughts. There's a few ways this is used.

Fading Consciousness

Characters whose consciousness is fading, or has faded, may get drawn with empty eyes.

Momoki Run 百木るん, Tennouji Nagisa 天王寺渚, example of empty eyes (レイプ目).
Top: Momoki Run 百木るん
Bottom: Tennouji Nagisa 天王寺渚
Anime: A-Channel, Aチャンネル (Episode 2)
  • Context: Run and Nagisa decide to turn on the heater to dry their rain-drenched clothes quicker, turning the room into a sauna.
  • aa, ishiki ga mourou to shite-kita
    Aah, [my] consciousness is getting hazy. (literally.)
    • mourou - hazy, cloudy, blurry. An antonym for hakkiri はっきり, "clear," "precise."
  • Run, miro yo, oashisu ga mieru
    Run, look, [I] can see an oasis.

Soulless Eyes

Sometimes, when a character literally dies, their eyes are drawn without highlight. Similarly, when a character doesn't exactly die, but their spirit is taken away or something and the body stops moving, the eyes are drawn without highlight to symbolize their mind (i.e. soul) is gone.

Furthermore, machines, dolls, etc. may sometimes be drawn with soulless eyes when they aren't moving. For example, a doll may show up first with soulless eyes, and then when a soul is placed in the doll and it starts moving, the eyes gain a sparkle.

Mind Control

Empty eyes are also drawn on characters that have been hypnotized, brainwashed, or under some other form of mind-control. While under the effects of hypnosis, etc., they aren't thinking, they're just following commands, so it's like their head is empty, too.

Character: Grey, グレイ
Anime: Black Clover, ブラッククローバー (Episode 150)
  • Context: Grey is hypnotized by a butterfly.
  • saimin
    • Not to be confused with:
    • sen'nou

In some cases, spinning eyes are used instead of empty eyes when a character is mind-controlled.

Clear Mind

In some cases, empty eyes are drawn in characters that have a clear mind, as in clear of irrelevant thoughts and noise.

For example, empty eyes can be drawn in a character that's so extremely focused in a task that they aren't thinking at all.

Gon Freecss ゴン=フリークス, hunting, example of vacant eyes used in a focused character.
Anime: Hunter x Hunter (2011) (Episode 15)
  • Context: Gon Freecss ゴン=フリークス hunts, making sure he's so extremely calm that he's become one with his surroundings, imperceptible to his prey.
  • mu ni naru
    To become nothingness. (literally.)
    To think of nothing. To make your mind clear and empty of thoughts. (e.g. to meditate.)

Although this is typically used in serious situations, some authors do have managed to make it a joke.

Crimvael クリムヴェール, example of empty eyes used in a character with an empty mind.
Anime: Ishuzoku Reviewers, 異種族レビュアーズ (Episode 8)
  • Context: Crimvael クリムヴェール becomes free of carnal thoughts after partying too hard.
  • kenja taimu
    Sage time. (literally.)
    Sexual slang referring to the period of time after a guy ejaculates in which he's no longer horny and able to think clearly.


Characters that are mentally unwell or unstable can also have have empty eyes drawn on them. This happens when they snap and stop thinking like a normal person, usually doing something completely insane and disturbing, like murdering everybody.

In this case, a co-occurring practice is drawing a small iris (well, smaller than usual,at least), so that the sclera, the white of the eye, is visible on all four sides around the iris (shihakugan 四白眼), making the character appear wide-eyed. 

Character: Excel, エクセル
Anime: Excel♥Saga, エクセル♥サーガ (Episode 1)
  • Context: after brutally murdering the series author like a bloodthirsty psychopath, Excel regains her senses, her eyes regaining highlight to symbolize that.

Yandere Eyes

A certain type of dere, the yandere ヤンデレ, which is mentally sick somehow and in love with someone, is famous for featuring empty eyes from time to time, hence why the eyes are also known as "yandere eyes."

Kinjou Miyoko 金城美代子, also known as Eraser イレイサー, example of yandere eyes.
Anime: Handa-kun はんだくん (Episode 9)

Another way to describe these is just as yabai やばい, "dangerous."

ああ 大丈夫だよ 彼女は いやいや どう見ても目がヤバイよ
Manga: Handa-kun はんだくん (Chapter 19, 半田くんとストーカー)
  • Context: two guys are looking for a dangerous stalker.
  • aa
  • daijoubu da yo, kanojo wa
    • kanojo wa daijoubu da yo
      She's alright. (in other words, it's not her.)
  • iya iya
    No, no.
  • dou mitemo me ga yabai yo
    No matter how [you] look at [it], [her] eyes are dangerous!


Eyes that are drawn without highlight but don't represent anything—they're just part of the design of the character—are called beta-me ベタ目 instead.

Morita Mayu 森田真由, example of beta-me ベタ目.
Character: Morita Mayu 森田真由
Anime: Morita-san wa Mukuchi 森田さんは無口 (Episode 1)
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