Thursday, January 16, 2020

shiitake-me しいたけ目

In anime and manga, when a character's eyes become four-pointed stars, sparkling with excitement, desire or ambition, the most common term for that in Japanese is shiitake-me しいたけ目, literally "shiitake eyes," as in the shiitake mushroom.

Another way to describe them is me ga shiitake 目がしいたけ, "the eyes are shiitake." Since they also resemble stars, a less common term is hoshi-me 星目, "star eyes, "me ga hoshi 目が星, "the eyes are stars," or me ni hoshi 目に星, "stars in eyes." Alternatively, me ga juuji 目が十字, "the eyes are crosses."

Sakuranomiya Aika 桜ノ宮愛香 and Kouichi 香一, example of me ga shiitake 目がしいたけ, "the eyes are shiitake mushrooms."
Anime: Blend S, ブレンド・S (Episode 5)

Terminology

A question you may be having right now is: why in the world is this called shiitake eyes???

I mean, no matter how you look at it, these are star eyes. Or sparkling eyes. Not "shiitake eyes." That sounds stupid.

Izumi Konata 泉こなた, example of sparkling eyes, me ga shiitake 目がしいたけ.
Anime: Lucky☆Star, らき☆すた (Episode 2, Altered)
  • me ga kagayaku
    目が輝く
    The eyes shine.
  • me ga kirakira suru
    目がキラキラする
    The eyes sparkle.
  • me ga shiitake ni naru
    目がしいたけになる
    The eyes become shiitake mushrooms

In case you've never seen a shiitake before, allow me to save you a Google search:

A photo of shiitake しいたけ mushrooms being sold.

The shiitake mushrooms are basically the most mushroom-y, mushroom-shaped mushrooms in the mushroom kingdom ever. They look nothing like the sparkling four-pointed star pupils that this article about.

So why are the shiitake eyes called shiitake eyes? How does that make any sense?

As it turns out, it's common to add "decorative cuts," kazari-giri 飾り切り, onto the mushroom cap of the shiitake, and such cuts are often cross-shaped.


For the record, these decoratively cut shiitake aren't used as literal decorations. You don't cut a mushroom and hang it on a wall or something. It's food. It goes into hotpots and so on.

A food anime gif. Example of shiitake しいたけ mushrooms with "decorative cuts," kazarigiri 飾り切り.
Anime: Amagi Brilliant Park, 甘城ブリリアントパーク (Episode 9)
  • sukiyaki
    すき焼き
    (this sort of dish.)

In other words: the term shiitake-me doesn't come from the shiitake mushroom itself, but from the cuts you cut into the shiitake mushroom.

Obviously, the shiitake don't have a monopoly on cuts—it's not like you couldn't cut a cabbage, or a tomato, or an apple the same way—and yet it's called shiitake-me, because it's the shiitake, and not anything else, that's usually decorated with these cross-shaped cuts.

Furthermore, it's not like the cuts need to be cross-shaped. You can cut them however you want.

Example of shiitake しいたけ mushrooms with "decorative cuts," kazarigiri 飾り切り.
Anime: Mawaru Penguindrum, 輪るピングドラム (Episode 21)
  • Here, the shiitake have eight-pointed stars cut on their caps.

Despite the seemingly endless possibilities for kazari-giri shapes, the term shiitake-me applies pretty much only to the four-pointed star pupils, and not to anything else. You can't call heart eyes shiitake eyes just because you can carve a heart into a mushroom..

Most shockingly, five-pointed star eyes don't count as shiitake-me.

Oginome Ringo 荻野目苹果, example of star-shaped pupils.
Anime: Mawaru Penguindrum, 輪るピングドラム (Episode 4)
  • me ga hoshi ni natta
    目が星になった
    The eyes became stars.
  • me ni hoshi ga aru
    目に星がある
    There are stars in the eyes.
  • This is hoshi-me, not shiitake-me.

This is fine, though, because five-pointed star pupils are unusual in anime, and don't really mean anything, while the four-pointed star pupils are very common in anime, and usually mean a character is excited about something.

They're clearly different kinds of eyes.

Even more shockingly, it's pretty much obvious that the pupils are supposed to be sparkles, they're drawn like sparkles, not drawn like mushroom cuts, however, if there are sparkles in a character's eyes, and they're not one big cross, that doesn't count as shiitake-me.

Tiramie ティラミー, example of sparkling eyes.
Anime: Amagi Brilliant Park, 甘城ブリリアントパーク (Episode 5)
  • The pair of small sparkles in each of this Tiramie's eyes do not constitute shiitake-me.
  • If it was just one big cross then it would be shiitake-me, but two small crosses don't count.

This is what happens when you let fans name things. Chaos. Absolute chaos.

Doma Umaru 土間うまる, example of me ga shiitake 目がしいたけ, "the eyes are shiitake mushrooms."
Anime: Himouto! Umaru-chan 干物妹!うまるちゃん (Episode 2)
  • Does this count as shiitake-me?
  • There's a big cross in it, so yes?
  • But there are small sparkles, so no?
  • I mean, this isn't how you'd cut the kazari-giri thing.
  • If this is shiitake-me, then sparkles are shiitake-me, and sparkles aren't shiitake-me, ergo, this isn't shiiitake-me.
  • WHY DOES THIS HAVE TO BE SO COMPLICATED???

Doma Umaru 土間うまる with actual shiitake mushrooms as eyes.
Anime: Himouto! Umaru-chan 干物妹!うまるちゃん (Episode 2, Altered)
  • Fixed it.

Alright, but how about this:

Shibata Genzou 柴田源蔵, example of sparkling eyes.
Anime: Hataage! Kemono Michi 旗揚!!けものみち (Episode 8)
  • The sparkle is bigger than the eye now.
  • Geometrically, there's no iris circle to represent the cap of the shiitake.
  • Does this count as shiitake-me?
  • Am I the only one here who cares about whether it counts or not?
  • This is extremely frustrating.
  • I probably should have been writing about grammar instead.

Examples

The shiitake-me are often used when a character is excited about something, when they're filled with "expectation," kitai 期待. What exactly they're expecting varies.

Maybe it's something they're going to get, or to buy.

Example of me ga shiitake 目がしいたけ, "the eyes are shiitake mushrooms."
Anime: Mahoujin Guruguru 魔法陣グルグル (2017) (Episode 10)

Maybe they've already gotten the thing.

Hoshikawa Mafuyu 星川麻冬, example of me ga shiitake 目がしいたけ, "the eyes are shiitake mushrooms."
Anime: Blend S, ブレンド・S (Episode 1)
  • me ga juuji ni naru
    目が十字になる
    The eyes become the 十 character.
    The eyes become crosses.
    • juuji 十字
      The character juu 十, which looks like a cross. The meaning of this character is the number"ten," by the way.

Maybe it's edible.

Ana アナ, example of me ga shiitake 目がしいたけ, "the eyes are shiitake mushrooms."
Anime: Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia, 絶対魔獣戦線バビロニア (Episode 3)

Maybe it's intangible. Maybe they're just dreaming of the future.

Kukuri ククリ, example of me ga shiitake 目がしいたけ, "the eyes are shiitake mushrooms."
Anime: Mahoujin Guruguru 魔法陣グルグル (2017) (Episode 8)
  • touzoku
    とうぞく (盗賊)
    Thief.
  • Context: Kukuri ククリ imagines the hero, Nike ニケ, as a thief.
  • She thinks he looks cool any way.

Yashiro Nene 八尋寧々, example of sparkling eyes, me ga shiitake 目がしいたけ.
Anime: Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun 地縛少年花子くん (Episode 2)
  • Nene 寧々 dreams of a prince charming.

Maybe they're even expecting anything, or excited about anything. Maybe they're just very glad about something that happened, or something they've heard.

Anyway, due to the emotions involved with these sparkling eyes, they're pretty much always accompanied by a smile, and often accompanied by determination.

Constant

Although uncommon, some characters have shiitake eyes built into their design, so their eyes are shiitake no matter what emotion they're having.

Mizunokouji Asuka 水乃小路飛鳥, example of me ga shiitake 目がしいたけ, "the eyes are shiitake mushrooms."
Anime: Urusei Yatsura うる星やつら (Episode 156)
  • Mizunokouji Asuka 水乃小路飛鳥 and her family have permanent shiitake eyes, or rather, starry eyes.

Most of the time, however, unusual pupils that are part of a character's design and cross-shaped will have round corners, and best resemble a flower like the four-leafed clover, so they're called clover eyes instead of shiitake eyes.

Nia Teppelin ニア・テッペリン, example of clover-shaped pupils, me ga kuroobaa 目がクローバー.
Anime: Tengen Toppa Guren Ragan 天元突破グレンラガン (Episode 10)

Tachibana Sylphinford 橘・シルフィンフォード, example of clover-shaped pupils, me ga kuroobaa 目がクローバー.
Anime: Himouto! Umaru-chan 干物妹!うまるちゃん (Episode 1)

References

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