The Basics of Anime - Expressions

Drawing by naruto224.deviantart.com

One of the good reasons why Japanese anime and manga is so popular because of their expressions. In order to portray emotions we must have actions, gestures, movements and reactions. Without it, we're neutral and we cannot guess what do we meant of our actions. In Western and Japanese animation, the most obvious way to tell a cartoon character's feeling is that by looking their face.

Blushing displays the redness on the face and usually you can find in the person's cheek. It also results to emotional response like embarrassment, shame or being in love. In anime and manga especially if their genre contains romance, a character who shows blushing indicates he/she likes another person of the opposite sex although he or she cannot admit his/her feelings for a moment. Blushing can also add the cuteness effect.


Sweatdrop indicates that they are worried on a particular situation. Sometimes, it also indicates confusion. Mostly, the sweatdrop can be located at the side of their head.

The Red Vain / Popped Vain

Can you see a red cross on a character's head? It's called the red vain or sometimes, referred as a popped vein. It indicates that the character is angry (sometimes being annoyed or frustrated).

Funny Eyes

If you watch any modern anime especially if the genre has comedy, you may see these character's reaction like this. The eyes of the characters show in the picture above has squiggly eyes with white pupils. This kind of expression is used to determine confusion, happiness, anger or hopelessness.

It's also optional for creators to make puppy dog eyes huge and cute like in this example.

The XD

If you tried using Yahoo! Messenger or Facebook and posted the word 'XD,' it means extreme happiness (or sometimes frustration). The 'X' means squiggly eyes and the 'D' is the mouth.

and lastly...

I cannot even tell this kind of emotion if it is angry because of pain or what (I think Lelouch seems quite freaky especially he has two Geass in his eyes). Oh yeah, this kind of emotion shows anger in serious way and commonly you can see that if the anime contains action or drama.

Well, these are the basic facial expression you see in many anime. There are lot of varieties of expressions that I cannot explain,though. It's up to you if you want to discover more like in this website at http://www.mangatutorials.com/tut/expressions.php

* Anime Character Expressions: The Roundup.(July 14,2006). http://www.basugasubakuhatsu.com/blog/2006/07/

Draw Anime Expressions/ Manga Expressions: How to Draw Manga /Anime Facial Expressioms with Drawing Lessons. http://www.drawinghowtodraw.com/drawing-lessons/

* Some screencaps found in the internet.

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