Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Heart Eyes

In anime, sometimes a character's eyes change into hearts. The term for this in Japanese would be haato me ハート目, "heart eyes," but other phrases can be used to describe it, like me ga haato 目がハート, "the eyes are hearts," or me ni haato 目にハート, "hearts in eyes."

This includes heart-shaped pupils and irises, too. Some related words are haato maaku ハートマーク, "heart mark," i.e. ❤, and haato-gata ハート型, "heart-shaped."

Souryuuin Akemi 奏流院朱美, example of heart-shaped pupils.
Anime: Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru? ダンベル何キロ持てる? (Episode 1)


As one would expect, this sort of eye normally shows up when a character is in love with another character.

Kukuri ククリ, heart eyes. Background: suki スキ (好き), "[I] love [him]," repeated a bunch of times.
Anime: Mahoujin Guruguru 魔法陣グルグル (2017) (Episode 5)
  • Background: suki スキ (好き), "[I] love [him]," a bunch of times.

This also happens with love at first sight, which is pretty much how heart eyes are normally used in western animation.

Katsuragi Kamui 葛木カムイ, example of heart eyes.
Anime: Cardfight!! Vanguard (Episode 5)

The heart eyes aren't used only with pure love. It's also used with impure love, when perverted characters be lewding on other characters. This, too, happens sometimes in western animation.

Ristarte リスタルテ, example of heart eyes.
Anime: Shinchou Yuusha 慎重勇者 (Episode 11)

So far, the way heart eyes are used in Japanese anime is pretty much identical to how it's used in western animation. There is, however, one way which heart eyes are used in Japan that isn't shared with the west.

Extrapolating from lewding, heart-shaped pupils are sometimes used to indicated lust and are generally associated with sex. They're often combined with ahegao アヘ顔 in pornographic (hentai) illustrations, doujinshi 同人誌, etc.

Naturally, these aren't really common in your average anime because scenes depicting sex aren't really common in your average anime, but they do show up from time to time.

Yame Yukana 八女ゆかな, example of heart-shaped pupils.
Anime: Hajimete no Gyaru はじめてのギャル (Episode 1)
  • Context: the main character imagines himself getting laid with a girl.

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