And kanji with manga
Thursday, February 13, 2020

Three Eyes

In anime, some characters have three eyes, with the third eye often being in the middle of the forehead, displaying some sort of special power.

Not to be confused with having 3 eyes.

Pai パイ, Sanjiyan 三只眼, example of three-eyed character.
Character: Pai パイ, Sanjiyan 三只眼
Anime: Sazan Aizu, 3×3EYES (Episode 2)

In Japanese

There are two ways to refer to three-eyed characters in Japanese:
  • mittsu-me
    三つ目
    Having three eyes.
    • This also means "the third one" in a series.
  • dai-san no me
    第三の目
    The third eye.
  • tagan
    多眼
    Many-eyed. Having three or more eyes.

In general, the focus of three-eyed characters isn't in the fact that they have "three eyes," mittsu-me, in number, but that they have a third eye, dai-san no me, which is a special eye, different from their pair of normal, human eyes.
  • See tagan 多眼 for characters with more than three eyes or more.

In some cases, the character isn't born with three eyes, but acquires the third eye somehow, and with that third eye they gain some sort of ability.

The terms magan 魔眼 and jagan 邪眼 tend to refer to eyes that have some sort of ability. They aren't necessarily used toward a third eye, though. Some characters with two eyes also have one eye called a jagan. In particular, characters with two different-colored eyes.

Examples

For reference, some examples of three-eyed characters.

Homogenous

Characters from three-eyed fantasy races tend to have a third eye that's practically identical to the other two eyes, emphasizing that it's a completely natural eye.

Tenshinhan 天津飯, example of three-eyed character.
Character: Tenshinhan 天津飯
Anime: Dragon Ball, ドラゴンボール (Episode 93)
  • mittsume-zoku
    三つ目族
    Three-eyed clan. (of which Tenshinhan is a descendant.)

Mamejirou 豆次郎, and Saty サティ, example of three-eyed character.
Left: Mamejirou 豆次郎
Right: Saty サティ
Anime: Blood Lad, ブラッドラッド (Episode 1)

Heterogenous

Characters who have a special, magical, cursed, or acquired third eye, tend to have heterogenous eyes: the third eye doesn't match their two human eyes.

Hiei 飛影, example of three-eyed character, jagan 邪眼.
Character: Hiei 飛影
Anime: Yū☆Yū☆Hakusho 幽☆遊☆白書 (Episode 8)

Vertical

Some three-eyed characters have a third eye that opens with a vertical slit instead of the more common horizontal orientation.

Paimon パイモン, a djinn, example of three-eyed character.
Character: Paimon パイモン
Anime: Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, マギ (Episode 5, Censored)
  • A djinn.

Symbolic

In some cases, the third eye isn't an actual eyeball. It's just a symbol drawn on the forehead.

Yuugi 遊戯, with an eye on his forehead.
Character: Yuugi 遊戯
Anime: Yu☆Gi☆Oh, 遊☆戯☆王 (1998) (Episode 1)

Tainaka Ritsu 田井中律, with "eye," me 目, written on her forehead.
Character: Tainaka Ritsu 田井中律
Anime: K-On!!, Keion!! けいおん!! (Season 2) (Episode 8)

Unusual

Although most three-eyed characters have a third eye on their forehead, that's not always the case. For example:

Midori ミドリ, example of three-eyed character.
Character: Midori ミドリ
Anime: "Space Patrol Luluco," Uchuu Patrol Luluco 宇宙パトロールルル子 (Episode 3)
  • Midori, who is an alien, has a third eye attached to an antenna-like hair.
  • She also has jagged teeth.

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