And kanji with manga
Monday, April 6, 2020

Dot Eyes

In manga and anime, "dot eyes," ten-me 点目, refers to eyes drawn as mere dots, which typically mean a character is surprised. In Japanese, dot eyes is also an expression that means a person (in real life) feels surprised.

The "Three Butterfly Sisters," Kochou San-shimai 胡蝶三姉妹, example of "dot eyes," ten-me 点目.
Characters: "Three Butterfly Sisters," Kochou San-shimai 胡蝶三姉妹
Anime: Kimetsu no Yaiba 鬼滅の刃 (Episode 25)
  • ・ᗜ・

This term applies only to small black dots representing the whole eye. Eyes drawn as vertical bars are called konsento-me コンセント目. Normal eyes with irises drawn as solid circles are called beta-me ベタ目. If the irises are drawn as small dots, that is, if the character has small irises, they may have sanpakugan 三白眼. If there are no irises, and the eyes are white circles with black outlines, they're called zero-me ○目, circle eyes.

目が点になる

The phrase me ga ten ni naru 目が点になる means that someone's "eyes become dots." In manga and anime, this typically means the character feels surprised or astonished.

From there, the same phrase is also used in real life Japanese when someone is surprised by something.[目が点になる - デジタル大辞泉 via dictionary.goo.ne.jp, accessed 2020-04-06]
  • me ga ten
    目が点
    The eyes [are] dots. (abbreviation.)
  • me-ten
    目点
    (another abbreviation.)

Examples

Dot eyes are a type of "deformation," deforume デフォルメ.

Characters that have normal eyes just change into these eyes temporarily when they're surprised, though it can also happen whenever a character is drawn simplified with chibi proportions: larger head, smaller body, etc.

Sawatari Uki 猿渡宇希, Hatoya Kohane 鳩谷こはね, example of "dot eyes," ten-me 点目, and >_kazari-me かざり目.
Left: Sawatari Uki 猿渡宇希
Right: Hatoya Kohane 鳩谷こはね
Anime: Anima Yell!, アニマエール! (Episode 1)

Oginome Ringo 荻野目苹果, example of "dot eyes," ten-me 点目.
Character: Oginome Ringo 荻野目苹果
Anime: Mawaru Penguindrum, 輪るピングドラム (Episode 7)

Some characters have dot eyes as part of their design, in which case they don't represent any particular emotion. For example:

Churuya ちゅるや, example of nekoguchi 猫口. The text says nyoroon にょろーん, her catchphrase, which doesn't really mean anything.
Character: Churuya ちゅるや
Anime: Nyorōn☆Churuya-san にょろーん☆ちゅるやさん (Episode 1)

References

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