Aesthetics: tsundere facial expressions


I noticed something interesting the other day about an anime character’s face. I was trying to explain to my roommate why I found the above ‘tsundere face’ cute, but I had a surprisingly hard time describing her exact facial expression. All I could say was that the she looked something along the spectrum of feeling concerned, mad/annoyed, flustered, and/or shy.

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Now these aren’t all tsundere characters/faces, but these are the expressions in question. You’ll notice that they have two conflicting expressions in common: concerned or angry eyebrows and an embarrassed blush. What’s makes these faces even more interesting is that even though we can infer the emotion(s) that these characters are experiencing — via mirror neurons or something, right? — when you think about it, these expressions do not exist in real life.

Part of my job involves teaching kids how to derive emotions from facial cues. I’ve had to Google terms like “kid crying ice cream” or “girl proud game medal” and come up with a backstory to give contextual cues for the target emotion being taught. If I had to do that with these faces, they’ll be something like the following:

  • I like you but I’m mad at you for the fact that you don’t know that I like you
  • I’m embarrassed that you may have realized that I like you
  • I don’t like you but what you did just now was nice
  • Of course I like you, you’re my friend aren’t you

It’s this kind of self-perpetuated embarrassment that comes from establishing that you’re not the type of person to show feelings. My friend Helena offered a possible explanation that we as humans do actually make all these facial expressions as a reaction to a scenario but only one at a time, whereas these characters are showing all of the expressions in one dramatized face. This is certainly an interesting idea.

If I had to make a guess, I would say that these faces contain expressions of vulnerability that evoke moe. You get the feeling that you should be extra sensitive to these characters because they look strangely frustrated/upset. It’s the anime culture’s way of illustrating tsundere, characters known for struggling with such repressed reactions stemming from past trust issues. Somehow this translates to cute; idk LOL.

On a much broader topic of character design and their purposes, RCAnime has a video called What Goes into the Character Design (in Anime)? that you may want to check out.


Images are from Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata, et al


Aesthetics: colour palette


Note: I am not an expert on this topic, but I thought the information I came across was worth sharing.

Before we get started, we need to understand what hue, hint, shade, and tone means:


I found this webpage (source of image above) to be helpful in understanding the differences. Basically, hue is the basic colour wheel. Add white and you get tint, add black and you get shade, and add grey (black and white) and you get tone. Now let’s actually take a look at some of the current seasons’ anime:


First up is Maid Dragon from Kyoto Animation, which mostly uses hues and tints. I noticed that this series is extremely colourful, as almost every scene contains ROYGBIV (colours of the rainbow). If you look at the scene below, the background is actually a rainbow gradient that complements with the characters’ hair colours.


As you can see, this is a huge contrast to Urara Meirochou, from J.C.Staff, which mostly uses tones. On top this, there’s a certain filter on the colours that tones down the lighting (I said before that the series has an “earthy” feel). Urara also uses a lot of patterns (not pictured) which makes for a nice presentation.


Now let’s take a look at Demi-chan, from A-1 Pictures. This series is a mix of hue and shade (maroon and deep green), apart from the tint for the blue flame. This along with that fact that the show has minimal use of gradients gives the series a certain flatness.


The last example is from Gabriel Dropout, from Doga Kobo. The colours might look similar to Demi-chan but Dropout uses tints (especially in the hair) which makes it noticeably brighter.

I found the following breakdown on the internet somewhere. All the anime are from Kyoto Animation:


Although this is all pretty interesting, this is about all that I can offer on the subject. If you want to learn more, here is a Pinterest board that has a lot of inforgraphics on colour, such as ones on the psychology of colour.

Speaking of colours, though, I’m going to mention some of my favourite music videos. I’ve always liked cmyk (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) used in music videos because it makes the scenes look dazzling and surreal at the same time:

Big Sean – Bounce Back

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Big Sean – Moves

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Rae Sremmurd – By Chance

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Next, Tyler, The Creator is known for his bright and saturated pastel colours in his music videos:

Tyler, The Creator – IFHY

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Tyler, The Creator – Tamale

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And although I don’t really know how to describe the colours for this one but I really like the colour palette on Kanye West’s Runaway as well:

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And of course, Drake’s Hotline Bling has some really pretty colours too:

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Lights and sounds are so interesting. The fact that they both behave as waves, the fact that this property allows them to interact with our physical environments in predictable yet beautiful ways, the fact that our bodies have organs that can detect these vibrations in meaningful ways, and the fact that we use this as a medium to create art… it’s mind-blowing. Just how cool is that this is the world that we exist in? And we associate and express our emotions through lights and sounds, even thought we only have access to a fraction of the whole spectrum. I wonder just how much unseen and unheard things are out there. I wonder what God can see and hear.


Image is of Kosaki Onodera from Nisekoi by Co1onel

Credit goes to /u/Chariotwheel and /u/Takana_no_Hana for providing the discussion on r/anime.