Anime Vocab Lesson: Chibi

Cutie little cherubims abound in modern anime, but what does the term chibi mean? Well, unlike kawaii, which simply means cute, chibi (from the Japanese slang for small) is actually a specific art-style which involves drawing well-known characters as uber cute caricatures of themselves, often with large heads, and tiny bodies.

Onigiri 8

Rarely are whole series done in the chibi style, often it is used briefly, for comedic effect, or for one-off episodes. Occasionally, serious anime, such as Fullmetal Alchemist, will throw in a moment of chibi to temporarily lighten the mood. In an episode of Onigirichibi is a curse placed on the characters that they must reverse. Other times, characters acting particularly immature are briefly depicted in this style.

DanMachi 1

Chibi started in anime advertisements, but quickly leaked into anime themselves, and soon no series was safe from the chibi treatment. Much of the anime community is divided over this development, some viewers seem to enjoy it, others absolutely hate it.

So, what do you think? Does chibi contribute to the story or distract from it? Let us know in the comments below or by reaching out to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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