Thursday, February 20, 2020

shirome 白目

In Japanese, shirome 白目 means literally "white eye," and normally refers to the white part of the eye, the "sclera," kyoumaku 強膜, but can also refer to a character that has fully white eyes..

It's also spelled hakugan 白眼.

Vega ベガ, example of character with full white eyes.
Character: Vega ベガ
Anime: Street Fighter II, ストリートファイターII (Movie)

Meaning

Normally, shirome 白目 refers to the white part of the eye, the sclera. The term kurome 黒目, literally "black eye," would then refer to the non-white part of the eye: the iris and the pupil.

Diagram of shirome 白目 and kurome 黒目.

Facial Expression

The word shirome 白目 can also refer to expressions in which a a person's eyes are fully white, because they've rolled their eyes back.
  • shirome wo muku
    白目を剥く
    To bare [one's] sclera.
    • Compare with:
    • kiba wo muku
      牙をむく
      To bare [one's] fangs.

In anime, a shirome expression is used when a character is tense. When they're shocked by something, by the actions or words of someone. When they're speechless, in shock, disbelief, due to fear, or, sometimes, about to explode with anger, frustration, or annoyance.

Sucy Manbavaran スーシィ・マンババラン, and Akko アッコ, Atsuko Kagari アツコ・カガリ, example of eyes turned white.
Left: Sucy Manbavaran スーシィ・マンババラン
Right: Atsuko Kagari アツコ・カガリ
Anime: Little Witch Academia (Episode 10)

Kanzaki Aoi 神崎アオイ, eye twitch.
Character: Kanzaki Aoi 神崎アオイ
Anime: Kimetsu no Yaiba 鬼滅の刃 (Episode 24)

Akaza Akari 赤座あかり, example of hair strands sticking out of an overwhelmed character.
Character: Akaza Akari 赤座あかり
Anime: Yuru Yuri ゆるゆり (Episode 1)

Olivia オリヴィア, eyes turned white due to fear.
Character: Olivia オリヴィア
Anime: Asobi Asobase あそびあそばせ (Episode 4)

Among such expressions, when the whole character is drawn in black and white, or other monotone, and they're realizing someone is terrifying somehow, that's a meme called osoroshii ko 恐ろしい子 instead.

Mile マイル, Adele von Ascham アデル・フォン・アスカム, example of osoroshii ko 恐ろしい子.
Character: Mile マイル
Anime: Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne! 私、能力は平均値でって言ったよね! (Episode 7)

This originates in a manga that used this sort of expression a lot.

A collage of faces like osoroshii ko 恐ろしい子.
Manga: Glass Mask, Garasu no Gamen ガラスの仮面 (Various Chapters)

Characters

In anime, sometimes a fully white eye is part of a character's design. They're always white-eyed no matter their expression, the kurome simply isn't drawn.

Himejima Gyoumei 悲鳴嶼行冥, example of character with full white eyes.
Character: Himejima Gyoumei 悲鳴嶼行冥
Anime: Kimetsu no Yaiba 鬼滅の刃 (Episode 23)

Related Terms

If a character does have kurome, but most of their eyes are shirome, that's called sanpakugan 三白眼 or shihakugan 四白眼, depending on the eye shape.

Endou Saya 遠藤サヤ, example of tiny irises, shihakugan 四白眼.
Character: Endou Saya 遠藤サヤ
Anime: Dagashikashi だがしかし (Episode 2)

If the sclera is black instead of white, the term for that is kuroshirome 黒白目.

Ashido Mina 芦戸三奈, example of black sclerae, kuroshirome 黒白目.
Character: Ashido Mina 芦戸三奈
Anime: Boku no Hero Academia 僕のヒーローアカデミア (2019) (Episode 18, 文化祭)

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