And kanji with manga
Monday, February 24, 2020

Dark Circles Under Eyes

In anime, sometimes a character has dark spots under their eyes, usually dark blue, or eye bags, baggy eyes, which are permanent and part of their design.

Kuroki Tomoko 黒木智子, example of character with dark circles under eyes.
Character: Kuroki Tomoko 黒木智子
Anime: Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! 私がモテないのはどう考えてもお前らが悪い! (Episode 1)

In Japanese

In Japanese, the word kuma 隈 means a "dark spot," not to be confused with the homonym kuma 熊, which means "bear" instead. Since kuma 隈 isn't a jouyou kanji, it's often spelled with katakana instead: kuma クマ.
  • me no kuma
    クマ
    The dark spots of the eyes.
    The dark circles of the eyes.

To say "under," "bottom," or "below," you you qualify the direction shita 下, "down."
  • me no shita ni kuma
    目の下クマ
    Dark spots under the eyes.
    Dark circles under the eyes.
  • me no shita ni kuma ga aru
    目の下にクマがある
    There are dark circles under the eyes.
    To have dark circles under the eyes.
  • me no shita ni kuma ga dekite-iru
    目の下にクマができている
    Dark spots have been created under the eyes.
    Dark spots came to exist under the eyes.
    To have gotten dark spots under the eyes.

In general, anime characters have this, in which the color of skin around the eye changes.

Apart from this, there's also "eye bags," in which the area under the eyes swells and then there will be a shadow under that swelling.
  • fukuramu
    膨らむ
    To swell.
  • me no shita no fukurami
    目の下の膨らみ
    Swelling under the eye.
  • ruidou
    涙堂
    (the technical term for it.)
  • namida-bukuro
    涙袋
    "Tear bags." (a more common term for it.)

Meaning

There are various reason for characters to have dark circles under their eyes:
  1. The character is mentally exhausted. Often, from lack of sleep, either because they keep watching anime until too late, or devote themselves too much to work or studies to have time to sleep.
  2. The character is spiritually exhausted. They've gone through traumatic experiences, or have seen to much of something unpleasant.
  3. The character is physically exhausted. They're sick, they have anemia, they've been poisoned and are about to die, and so on.
  4. The character is simply creepy or gloomy, like some sort of ghoul, or other creature of the darkness.

Characters with dark circles under their eyes tend to be antisocial. The reason varies: they may be too fixated on whatever makes them lose sleep to care about people, or they're actually mentally unstable from trauma, or they're just done with everything to care.

Art-wise, periorbital dark circles are normally rendered with either a darker skin color or using blue. Real dark circles aren't blue, but some anime art styles prefer to use vibrant colors, and avoid using less vibrant darker colors.

Sometimes, lines are drawn under the eye to represent wrinkles. Since the color of the lines is darker than the skin, sometimes just drawing them is enough to make the area under the eyes appear darker than normal.

A nurse, example of dark circles under eyes.
Character: unnamed nurse
Anime: Shingeki no Kyojin 進撃の巨人 (Episode 13)

Examples

For reference, some examples of characters with dark circles under their eyes:

Asagaya Minoa 阿佐ヶ谷未乃愛, example of dark circles under eyes.
Character: Asagaya Minoa 阿佐ヶ谷未乃愛
Anime: Animegataris, アニメガタリズ (Episode 2)
  • Minoa suffers from sleep deprivation after watching anime until late once.

Kuroki Tomoko 黒木智子, example of character with dark circles under eyes.
Character: Kuroki Tomoko 黒木智子
Anime: Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! 私がモテないのはどう考えてもお前らが悪い! (Episode 1)
  • Tomoko suffers from sleep deprivation due to playing games and watching anime until late practically every day.

Kashiwazaki Sena 柏崎星奈, example of anime fang, yaeba 八重歯.
Character: Kashiwazaki Sena 柏崎星奈
Anime: Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai 僕は友達が少ない (Episode 2)
  • Sena suffers from sleep deprivation due to playing games until late.

Fuwa Hyouka 不破氷菓, example of character with dark circles under eyes.
Character: Fuwa Hyouka 不破氷菓
Anime: Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai 下ネタという概念が存在しない退屈な世界 (Episode 2)
  • Hyouka is researcher dedicated to science.

Sucy Manbavaran スーシィ・マンババラン, example of character with dark circles under her eyes.
Character: Sucy Manbavaran スーシィ・マンババラン
Anime: Little Witch Academia (Episode 1)
  • Sucy is an eccentric witch.

Staz Charlie Blood ブラッド・チャーリー・スタズ, example of character with dark circles under his eyes.
Character: Staz Charlie Blood ブラッド・チャーリー・スタズ
Anime: Blood Lad, ブラッドラッド (Episode 1)
  • Staz is a vampire.

Inaba Ryou 因幡良, example of character with dark circles under eyes.
Character: Inaba Ryou 因幡良
Anime: Kengan Ashura ケンガンアシュラ (Episode 11)
  • Ryou is an assassin, and therefore someone from the shadows.

Leyss レイシ, and Aloe アロエ, example of character with dark circles under eyes.
Left: Leyss レイシ
Right: Aloe アロエ
Anime: Ishuzoku Reviewers, 異種族レビュアーズ (Episode 5)
  • Leyss and Aloe have had customer-facing jobs for too long.
  • yasa-gure
    やさぐれ
    Originally a term used by delinquents: someone who has left their home.
    From there: a homeless person.
    Recently: someone irresponsible, that doesn't care about doing things properly. Thoughtless.
    • The word yasa やさ means "home," and comes from saya 鞘, "scabbard." A blade returns to the scabbard just like a person returns to their home. The verb gureru ぐれる means hazureru 外れる, "to disconnect." [やさぐれる - gogen-allguide.com, accessed 2020-02-24]

Oriki Yuuri 折木有里, example of character with dark circles under her eyes.
Character: Oriki Yuuri 折木有里
Anime: Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry, 落第騎士の英雄譚《キャバルリィ》 (Episode 2)
  • Yuri-chan ユリちゃん is anemic, hence the dark—or rather, blue—circles under her eyes.

All Might オール・マイト, example of character with dark circles under his eyes.
Character: All Might オール・マイト
Anime: Boku no Hero Academia, 僕のヒーローアカデミア (Episode 2)
  • All Might is anemic, hence the dark circles under his eyes.
  • He doesn't have black sclerae, by the way, that's just a shadow.

References

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