Closed-Eyes Syndrome

So I’ve been exploring the world of Anime, and one thing I’ve noticed is the tendency for characters to close their eyes a lot. Most often, this seems to happen when they get especially happy or giddy and is thus accompanied by a smile of some sort. A character who yells is often animated as having tilted their head back, with closed eyes and an oversized mouth. However, it seems to extend beyond that as well. Often, a character’s eyes will be closed even while delivering normal dialogue. By itself, it’s not all that unusual, but it seems to happen quite frequently in most anime that I’ve watched. Maybe I never noticed it in other animation, but it seems to be much more frequent in Anime than anywhere else. I don’t think there’s anything especially wrong with it, except insofar as I always notice when it’s happening.

There’s apparently a trope for eyes always shut, but that seems to apply to particular characters who never open their eyes:

This describes a character who appears to have their eyes shut constantly, except, perhaps, for a few instances of surprise or shock. Nevertheless, they still give every indication of being able to see – which implies that this characteristic is actually more of a pronounced squint.

This is an old device to imply wisdom; more recently, it’s been subverted as a device to show “wise guys”.

I’m not familiar with any of their examples, but again, I’ve noticed that eyes are closed a lot more often in Anime than in other animation. For example, I’ve been watching Martian Successor Nadesico, and closed-eyes syndrome seems to be operating in full force:

Yurika from Martian Successor Nadesico

OMG, I’m so happy I simply must close my eyes!

More examples below the fold.

Closed-eyes syndrome was prevalent in Vandread and Vandread: Second Stage as well. Examples below, including one where at least 6 characters are doing the eyes closed thing…

BC Closes her eyes when she talks to Bart in Vandread: Second Stage

The crew in Vandread celebrates Christmas by... closing their eyes!

A holiday celebration calls for closed eyes!

Haibane Renmei also prominently features the closed-eye syndrome:

I am so happy that my eyes have closed

I am going to close my eyes even though I am talking to you...

I think that last screenshot is the only one I have that shows someone who is just talking normally with their eyes closed. Most of the other screenshots are of the more common “I’m so happy I’ve closed my eyes” variety, but that’s only because I rarely take a screenshot of random characters talking normally with their eyes closed. I had to dig our my copy of Haibane Renmei to get it, though I’ll note that I was able to pull several screens from the first 5-10 minutes of the first episode.

Perhaps I’m being overly observant, but it’s Wednesday night and my brain is fried and I wanted something easy to write about. So there. I’ve finished the first 2 discs of Martian Successor Nadesico, but unfortunately, I have to wait a little longer for disc 3, as Netflix doesn’t have a copy at my local shipping center (I’m lucky in that I live very close to one of their shipping centers, but sometimes stuff that’s out of print like this series are scattered throughout the country, so it takes a little longer to arrive). It shipped today from NY, so I should get it tomorrow or Friday. I don’t think I’ll be able to finish the series by Sunday, but I’ll probably have an update.

Incidentally, Netflix has lowered their monthy fees again. That’s two times in the last month or so. I don’t especially follow the industry, but I assume this is due to competition from other companies like Blockbuster. The funny thing is that when I saw that price drop, I immediatly thought about how that meant that I would have less access to their “Watch Instantly Online” service (which basically says that you can watch 1 hour for every dollar you pay a month – so I used to have 18 hours of free watching, but now I only have 16 hours). As my friend Dave noted in the comments to a recent post, it seems like an awkward way of determining the viewing allowance. But then, I’m not complaining. I think Netflix should be applauded for simply giving us new functionality for no extra charge. I just thought it was funny that their price cuts also cut their viewing allowance.

9 thoughts on “Closed-Eyes Syndrome”

  1. For another example, look at this:

    Scroll down to the picture of “absurdly powerful student council”. The big guy on the left is it.

    I saw the trope many times before, but this is what I am watching currently.

    BTW, something is wrong with your captures of Haibane, they are badly squished. It was a 16:9 format video, but captures are 4:3.

  2. I forgot to mention, since you’re not as afraid of “gotchas”, that none of the examples you mentioned actually match the trope, because the trope is “_always_ closed”. Yurika sure likes to do it, but by default she has these perfectly round eyes (which are tropic by themselves, but in a different way).

  3. Interesting. Any noticeable different between the rates of male vs. female characters with this trait? Because the first that pops into mind with the description of eyes closed, head tilted back and mouth open is a typical depiction of sexual ecstasy/orgasm. Given the reputation for anime to have very sexualized characters, it wouldn’t surprise me if the eyes closed thing stems from the same subconscious or semi-conscious place where the skimpy outfits deemed appropriate to fight crime/supernatural enemies comes from.

  4. Yeah, I know the trope I referenced is not what I’m actually observing – I’m just observing that people seem to close their eyes a lot more often in anime than other animation.

    And now that you mention it, the Haibane sreens are definitely off. That’s very odd, as I just took the screencaps with Cyberlink like I normally do. Not sure what happened there. I’ll look into it.

    Sov, both male and female characters do it, but it’s hard to really say, as the series I’ve watched have all been primarily focused on women – Vandread is about a female pirate ship with three males (in a universe where males and females are at war with each other), Haibane Renmei has males, but the story focuses on a group of females, and Martian Successor Nadesico has both, but seemingly more females than males. So yeah, I’m seeing it more with the famale characters… but only because there are more of them overall. To be honest, the eyes closed, head tilted back, mouth open thing isn’t what I’m primarily noticing. I’m noticing it in normal conversation and when people are happy (this is why most of the pictures above are similar).

  5. Ok, screenshots are fixed, though I’m still not sure why cyberlink was messing up the ratio. I had it set to use the “Original Video Source Size” for the aspect ratio, and that kept spitting out squished images. I changed it to use “current video window size” and it seemed to work fine. A bug, I guess.

  6. “Original video source size” means the raw video on the DVD, which is always 720*480 irrespective of the show aspect ratio. That setting means “Don’t do any resizing for me.”

    It’s the one I use for my frame grabs, and then I reformat them using Paint Shop Pro 8.

  7. I wonder if it has to do with a cultural difference in how we view emotion? That is, that they’re using the eyes to depict extremes of emotion in ways that we might usually use the mouth, maybe?

    Think of the ways that we use emoticons- in the States, 🙂 = happy.

    In Japan ^_^ = happy.

    There’s an article here that talks about that:

    (obviously, this is pure conjecture on my part)

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