Tuesday, February 4, 2020

ⓛ ω ⓛ - Cat Face

In anime, sometimes a character's face becomes cat-like in reaction to something. Although there doesn't seem to be an exact term for this cat face in Japanese, it can be referred to by the "cat eyes," nekome 猫目, and "cat mouth," nekoguchi 猫口, featured in this expression.

Misaka Mikoto 御坂美琴, example of cat face.
Character: Misaka Mikoto 御坂美琴
Anime: Toaru Kagaku no Railgun, とある科学の超電磁砲 (Episode 7)

Examples

When the cat face is used in manga in anime, it's generally for one of these two reasons:
  1. The character feels mischievous.
  2. The character feels anxious.

The exact rendering of the expression varies: sometimes there are cat eyes and a cat mouth, other times just cat eyes, or just cat mouth. In rare cases, cat ears and even a cat tail may sprout out of nowhere.

There are two major variants worth noting.

The cat face drawn with vertical irises normally has mischievous meaning: it's used when a character feels playful, is about to prank someone, or had its curiosity piqued by something.

Misaka Mikoto 御坂美琴, example of cat face.
Character: Misaka Mikoto 御坂美琴
Anime: Toaru Kagaku no Railgun, とある科学の超電磁砲 (Episode 7)
  • Context: Misaka notices something extremely interesting.

Conversely, the ones drawn with wide-eyed normally have the anxious meaning: it's used when a character is sweating cold, nervous, worried about something.

Koshigaya Komari 越谷小鞠, example of "cat eyes," nekome 猫目.
Character: Koshigaya Komari 越谷小鞠
Anime: Non Non Biyori のんのんびより (Episode 2)
  • Komari follows a stranger.

As one would expect, there are exceptions.

Yue ユエ, example of cat face.
Character: Yue ユエ
Anime: Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou ありふれた職業で世界最強 (Episode 7)
  • Vertical irises, but sweating cold.

Handa Sei 半田清舟, angry and frustrated, example of "cat eyes," nekome 猫目.
Character: Handa Sei 半田清舟
Anime: Barakamon ばらかもん (Episode 8)
  • Wide-eyed, frustrated and probably very angry.

Some more examples:

Killua Zoldyck キルア=ゾルディック and Gon Freecss ゴン=フリークス seeing treasure, example of cat face expression in anime.
Left: Killua Zoldyck キルア=ゾルディック
Right: Gon Freecss ゴン=フリークス
Anime: Hunter x Hunter (1999) (Episode 57)
  • Killua becomes cat faced after learning how much money the treasure is worth.

Haruno Haruka 春野はるか, example of a character's eyes becoming "cat eyes," nekome 猫目, as they're wide open due to be being surprised, nervous, or flustered.
Character: Haruno Haruka 春野はるか
Anime: Go! Princess Precure (Episode 1)

Fujimura Taiga 藤村大河, example of cat face.
Character: Fujimura Taiga 藤村大河
Anime: Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (Episode 11)
  • A teacher making her students hate her.
Kobayashi Rindou 小林竜胆, example of cat face.
Character: Kobayashi Rindou 小林竜胆
Anime: Shokugeki no Sōma: San no Sara 食戟のソーマ 餐ノ皿 (Episode 5)

Momomiya Ichigo 桃宮いちご, example of cat face.
Character: Momomiya Ichigo 桃宮いちご
Anime: Tokyo Mew Mew, 東京ミュウミュウ (Episode 1)

Kaomoji

As kaomoji 顔文字:
  • (ⓛ ω ⓛ)
  • (ⓛ ᆺ ⓛ)

Tsukimiya Utsugi 月宮ウツギ, and Koyuki Seri 小雪芹. Example of cat mouth, cat ears.
Anime: Boku no Tonari ni Ankoku Hakaishin ga Imasu. ぼくのとなりに暗黒破壊神がいます。 (Episode 1)

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