And kanji with manga
Sunday, January 12, 2020

>_< - kazari-me かざり目

In anime and manga, when a character's closed eyes are drawn like this (>__<), that is, as a greater than and less than symbol together, the term for that in Japanese would be kazari-me かざり目 or, less commonly, but more literally, futougou-me 不等号目.

Izumi Konata 泉こなた, example of kazari-me かざり目.
Character: Izumi Konata 泉こなた
Anime: Lucky☆Star, らき☆すた (Episode 1, OP)

Examples

For reference, some examples of kazari-me かざり目.

Examples of kazari-me かざり目. Characters Kurumizawa Satanichia McDowell 胡桃沢=サタニキア=マクドウェル, Shiraha Raphiel Ainsworth 白羽=ラフィエル=エインズワース, Chisaki Tapris Sugarbell 千咲=タプリス=シュガーベル, and Tsukinose Vignette April 月乃瀬=ヴィネット=エイプリル.
Top-left: Kurumizawa Satanichia McDowell 胡桃沢=サタニキア=マクドウェル
Top-right: Shiraha Raphiel Ainsworth 白羽=ラフィエル=エインズワース
Middle-right: Chisaki Tapris Sugarbell 千咲=タプリス=シュガーベル
Bottom-left: Tsukinose Vignette April 月乃瀬=ヴィネット=エイプリル
Anime: Gabriel DropOut, ガヴリールドロップアウト (Episodes 4, 5, 6, 5, 10, 4)

As you can see above, these eyes can be drawn basically any time a character is strongly closing their eyes, regardless of what emotion they're feeling—laughter, awe, distress, etc.

The style also varies. Sometimes they're perfectly angled ><. Other times the lower line is straight, because the top of the cheeks in anime are usually represented by making the bottom of the eye flat.

Yashiro Nene 八尋寧々, example of kazari-me かざり目.
Character: Yashiro Nene 八尋寧々
Anime: Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun 地縛少年花子くん (Episode 1)

Sometimes they're drawn as bold, thick lines, other times they're drawn as soft, parallel lines.

Kagamihara Nadeshiko 各務原なでしこ, example of kazari-me かざり目.
Character: Kagamihara Nadeshiko 各務原なでしこ
Anime: Yuru Camp△, ゆるキャン△ (Episode 1)

Now, I don't know if I'm right about this, but in my mind, the bottom line is supposed to be eyelashes, and the top line a very strong wrinkle on the eyelid.

However, for some reason, some of these have the wrinkle drawn as an eyelash, which makes no sense, physically speaking, so maybe the way it makes sense in my mind isn't the way that makes sense in the minds of some artists drawing this stuff.

In more simplified cases, the closed eyes become a single large X.

Hanabishi Miki 花菱美希, Segawa Izumi 瀬川泉, example of X-shaped closed eyes.
Left: Hanabishi Miki 花菱美希
Right: Segawa Izumi 瀬川泉
Anime: Hayate no Gotoku! ハヤテのごとく! (Episode 10)

As Kaomoji

As kaomoji 顔文字:
  • >_<
  • >﹏<
  • >▽<
  • >ヮ<
  • >ω<

Terminology

As you might expect, basically nobody really calls such eyes by anything at all. If you really needed to talk about them, you'd just type >< online or describe it out loud instead.

目が大なり小なり

Since in Japanese the "greater than" symbol (>) is called dai-nari 大なり and the "less than" symbol is called shou-nari 小なり, the eyes can be described as:
  • me ga dai-nari shou-nari
    目が大なり小なり
    [The character's] eyes are ><.

不等号目

The term futougou-me 不等号目, "inequality symbols' eyes" is another way to describe them.

If X > Y, or X < Y, then X ≠ Y.

In other words, > and < are both "inequality symbols," futougou 不等号, as opposed to the equality symbol (=).

This term is clearly too mathematical to catch on. While some people do call it futougou-me, that's not really the common term for the thing.

かざり目

The term kazari-me かざり目 is more commonly used.

This kazari 飾り means "decoration," and comes from hana-kazari 花飾り, "flower decoration," which means, of course, that you're probably wondering what in kamisama's name do flowers and decorations have to do with anime squinting eyes.

Nothing. They have nothing to do with it. Absolutely, utterly nothing. It's a terrible term. But what can I do about it?

Anyway, the origin of this kazari-me term comes from an user on Pixiv who draws ungodly amounts of these >_< eyes. The name of the user? Albert Einstein Hana-kazari 花かざり. So the term is named after the Pixiv user.


The user was registered in 2015, which means we've gone, like, decades without a proper term for this >_< thing. For example, Lucky Star was broadcast in 2007, it already predated the term by 8 years.

Since in the user's name kazari かざり is spelled with hiragana, it follows that the term is always spelled as kazari-me かざり目, never as kazari-me 飾り目.

Similarly, if one were to translate it to English, "decoration eyes" would be wrong, "Kazari eyes" would be right, since the kazari refers to the user in this case, no to the "decoration" meaning.

References

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