Red, White, Green, Yellow… : Explaining the Meaning Behind Eye Colors in Manga & Anime

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Although manga are usually black and white in the original, they often get digitally colorized versions, which actually reveal a lot more than you’d think. One of the aspects that always gets revealed are the color of the characters’ hair and eyes, which is something that isn’t usually observed when reading the original manga unless the author provides us with specific information about a character. In this article, we will explain what specific eye colors tell the readers about the characters.

What do the different eye colors mean in anime?

Believe it or not, like hair color, eye color in manga is also highly symbolic. A character with a certain eye color usually means something significant in that aspect. Although this does not necessarily have to be the case, it usually is, and we will explain here what each color tells us about a specific character.

White

White eyes, as such, don’t exist, but grey eyes do, and they usually have the same meaning as brown eyes (see below). White is often used to symbolize that a character is shocked, angry, or defeated/dead. Still, in such a situation, their irides completely disappear, and their whole eyes become completely white, but these are special situations.

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Black 

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Black eyes are very common in anime, and because of that, they often carry no meaning whatsoever. Many protagonists have black eyes, and even more supporting characters have black eyes. They usually have no symbolic meaning and are black because it seems natural and doesn’t require too much effort. Black-eyes characters are either completely normal, or it is impossible to tell anything about them based on the color of their eyes.

Red

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Red eyes are not that common in human characters in anime, but when they appear, they usually mean some trouble. Characters with red eyes are dangerous, regardless of which side they’re on, and they can often be brave and quite aggressive. As this color is usually related to non-humans, especially demonic characters, human characters with red eyes commonly have a supernatural (most often demonic) trait.

Blue

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Unlike the real world, where blue is relatively rare, this color has been quite popular in manga and anime for some time, and it was most usually associated with protagonists, giving them a special trait. The meaning can be quite complex, though, as the color can symbolize innocence (usually in younger characters) and extreme coldness (usually in adults), depending on the character.

Green

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Although seen in real life, green eyes are very rare in anime, and they are more or less a new phenomenon that has rarely been seen before. They usually signify a gentle and special character, although the ”special traits” don’t necessarily have to be superhuman or supernatural. If you see a green-eyed character, expect a lot from them in the series.

Yellow

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Yellow is also a rare color, but it is interesting from a symbolic perspective. Rarely seen in the slice-of-life series, this color usually tells us that a character is very clever and cunning; also, neko-type characters often have yellow eyes. Sometimes, robots or aliens can also have yellow eyes, but this is not the same situation as in most cases, and you can immediately see that they are not human by looking at them.

Brown

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In the world of anime, brown eyes are the most common ones, and in that aspect, they usually signify a very common and normal character. They are mostly given to secondary characters, and if seen in a protagonist, they usually symbolize that he comes from a humble background and possesses no special skills. They are very common in slice-of-life anime, although they also appear in other genres (in fantasy anime, they are usually associated with characters without special powers).

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Purple

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Purple is one of the rarest colors in the world of anime and manga, and while we can see various colors in such a series, purple is nevertheless quite rare. Purple is almost never associated with supporting characters and is most often seen in the main ones, regardless of whether they are protagonists or antagonists. They usually symbolize a character who is mysterious and often very powerful.

Are eye colors in anime and manga the same?

Eye colors in anime and manga are similar to each other. However, there are other circumstances where the manga and anime’s eye colors are not the same at all. Most of the time, it happens due to a technical error with the anime artists. Sometimes, the creator and the management decide to change the portrayal of the character at the last minute once the anime is produced. 

But in popular anime series like One Piece, Haikyuu!!, and Bleach, the eye color from the colored page into animation is similar to make it more original. However, One Piece is also known to change the color of a character in the anime version, not just with their eyes, but with their overall color theme.

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