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One of the most distinctive aspects of Japanese comics and animation is the size of the characters’ eyes. From a design standpoint, larger eyes make are easier to emote with, and some of anime and manga’s most expressive, and thus memorable, characters have had some of the biggest eyes. As the eyes became bigger, anime artists were left with less and less space to draw the nose and mouth, both of which are often tiny compared to those of Western cartoon characters.

But there’s only so much room on the face, and now we’re seeing the twistedly logical conclusion to the big-eyed trend in the growing popularity of otherwise cute female manga characters with only one eye.

Every few years seems to bring a new fetish to the forefront of manga character design, whether it’s girls with glasses or girls with cat tails. The one-eyed girl craze, though, is pretty out there even by manga standards. As you might expect, it didn’t originate in the industry mainstream, but instead through Japan’s dojinshi, or independent comics scene.

Making a particularly strong push for cyclopean characters was the online dojinshi art community known as pixiv (proving that spelling your name in all lowercase letters is the shorthand for hip and edgy the world over). After noticing the growing number of works by its members featuring one-eyed girls, pixiv declared that the first day of every month would be known as “One-Eyed Day.” Why that specific day? Because “the first day” and “One-Eyed Day” are both pronounced the same way in Japanese: hitotsu me no hi.

Always loving a good pun, Japanese artists got right behind the idea, and the movement gained enough momentum that major publishers have started getting in on the monocular action. New to the pages of Tokuma Shoten’s Monthly Comic Ryu anthology is the series School Nurse Hitomi’s Infirmary. Main character Hitomi has just one eye, and her name even means “pupil.” She also has a gigantic chest (of course), although thankfully the artist decided to grant Hitomi the standard set of two separate breasts.

▼ However the exact sizes work out, a girl with breasts the same size as her eye will always be terrifying.

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Tokuma Shoten is also publishing Daily Life with Monster Girls. Among the many young, nubile creatures the series features is a one-eyed lass named Manako.

▼ “Ordinary”

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Rival publishers aren’t taking Tokuma Shoten’s attempts to corner the monocular market lying down though. Micro Magazine has entered the fray with Mako-san and Hachisuka-kun, the story of one-eyed high school girl Mako and Hachisuka, the cat-eared boy who is infatuated with her. The series’ second collected volume went on sale last month.

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Rounding out our collection of one-eyed heroines are characters from series Time Between Witch and Me, from publisher Shueisha, and Anarchy in the JK, bringing our total eyeball count up to five.

Time Between the Witch and Me

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But just what is the secret to these one-eyed girls’ success? Well, as we said above, the bigger the eye, the easier it is to convey emotion. Another theory that’s been put forth is that a funny feeling comes over guys if they gaze into a girl’s eyes long enough. This effect is inevitable with these charming cyclopes, since there’s simply no other place to look. Well, unless you happen to be talking to the aforementioned Hitomi…

Of course you can’t have eyes without occasional tears, and several of these characters are easily embarrassed or frightened. Mako cries when something surprises her, and panics when the smitten Hachisuka pleads with her to let him touch her eyelid, because whether you have one eye or two, that request is just freaky. Guitar-playing Yoshikawa from Anarchy in the JK is regularly flustered by the series’ frequent risqué jokes. Daily Life with Monster Girls’ Manako, being a sniper (we’re really starting to doubt the legitimacy of “ordinary” in that title), is too tough to get choked up, but nonetheless has her single eye tear up when it gets dried out by a steady gust of wind.

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There’s no telling how far this monocular movement will go, but in the meantime, we’ll be keeping an eye on it.

Sources: Hachimakikou, Niconico News
Top image: Hachimakikou
Insert images: Hachimakikou, FC2, Amazon Japan, Dreamlog, 2ch Radio