And kanji with manga
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.
Character: Souryuuin Akemi 奏流院朱美
Anime: Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru? ダンベル何キロ持てる? (Episode 1)

Usage

Love

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.
Character: Kukuri ククリ
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.
Tsuchida Kanae 土田香苗, example of "heart eyes," haato-me ハート目.
Character: Tsuchida Kanae 土田香苗
Anime: Amagi Brilliant Park, 甘城ブリリアントパーク (Episode 8)
Katarina Claes カタリナ・クラエス, example of heart shape at the bottom of the iris.
Character: Katarina Claes カタリナ・クラエス
Anime: Otome Game no Hametsu Flag Shika Nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei Shiteshimatta…, 乙女ゲームの破滅フラグしかない悪役令嬢に転生してしまった… (Episode 8)

Love At First Sight

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

Tsukino Usagi 月野うさぎ, example of heart eyes.
Character: Tsukino Usagi 月野うさぎ
Anime: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon, 美少女戦士セーラームーン (Episode 1)
  • hito-me-bore
    一目惚れ
    Love at first sight.
    Single-eye falling-in-love. (literally.)
    • horeru
      惚れる
      To fall in love with. (becomes boreru due to rendaku 連濁.)
Katsuragi Kamui 葛木カムイ, example of heart eyes.
Character: Katsuragi Kamui 葛木カムイ
Anime: Cardfight!! Vanguard (Episode 5)

Lust

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.
Character: Ristarte リスタルテ
Anime: Shinchou Yuusha 慎重勇者 (Episode 11)
Uzume うずめ (female), versus Veronica Vasilyevna Vonitsky ヴェロニカ・ワシーリエヴナ・ヴォイニーツカヤ (male), in a reference to the reaction guys meme, known in Japan as gaijin yonkoma 外人四コマ.
Top: Uzume うずめ (female)
Bottom: Veronica Vasilyevna Vonitsky ヴェロニカ・ワシーリエヴナ・ヴォイニーツカヤ (male)
Anime: Onigiri 鬼斬 (Episode 4)

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.
Character: Yame Yukana 八女ゆかな
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.

Single Heart Eye

In older manga and anime, sometimes eye symbols were applied to a single eye, rather than both. For reference, an example of a character with just a heart shape in just one eye:

きれいだしやさしいし明るいし可愛いし・・・ オレ胸キュン!だぜ
Manga: Glass Mask, Garasu no Gamen ガラスの仮面 (Chapter 10, 冬の星座)
  • Context: the audience watching the theater play Futari no Joou ふたりの女王, "the two queens," is charmed by the adorable queen Ardis.
  • kirei dashi, yasashii shi, akarui shi, kawaii shi...
    きれいだし やさしい 明るいし 可愛いし・・・
    [She] is pretty, is gentle, is cheerful, is cute...
    • akarui
      明るい
      Bright. Well-lit. The opposite of dark.
      Cheerful.
  • ore, mune-kyun! daze
    オレ胸キュン!だぜ
    [I'm in love!]

Non-Japanese

There are examples of heart pupils being used similarly in anime based on non-Japanese sources. I haven't checked if the manga which they're based on also have heart pupils, or they were added only in the anime production. For the sake of reference, I'm including them here.

Shi Miao 時秒, example of heart-shaped pupils.
Character: Shi Miao 時秒
Anime: Ani ni Tsukeru Kusuri wa Nai! 兄に付ける薬はない! (Episode 4)
  • Ani ni Tsukeru Kusuri wa Nai!
    兄に付ける薬はない!
  • Based on the Chinese web manhua 快把我哥带走.
Yu Mira 유미라, example of heart-shaped pupils.
Character: Yu Mila 유미라
Anime: The God of High School (Episode 1)
  • The God of High School.
  • Based on the South Korean manhwa 갓 오브 하이 스쿨.

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