When an anime character is going to do something cool - or do something with fierce determination (Thank you @Ross Ridge), animators put in a sparkle on their eye usually accompanied by a metallic 'shiing' sound.

It seems like a reflection of sorts, but where did it come from originally? I haven't seen this in other media before.

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The shining in the eye trope, as you call it, has been around for decades; I even remember seeing it in some black-and-white anime. It is a way for the animators and mangaka's to show the character's intent, and it has many spin-offs like the glowing glasses, which usually means the wearer of the glasses has a malicious intent.

It has a lot to do with the common saying of a gleam in your eye. I am sure you have been told this or something like it at least once in your life. Japan has a similar saying, quite possibly adopted from watching US movies and cartoons.

Sorry, the explanation isn't as interesting as "why the Japanese think people are talking behind their back when they sneeze."

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    I'm not familiar with that saying, can you elaborate more about it in your answer? – Toshinou Kyouko Apr 9 '15 at 18:27
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    a gleam in your eye is another version of the phrase. dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/american-english/… – woodchuck Apr 9 '15 at 18:33
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    We would like to know the origin of this trope in anime, not its meaning. – nhahtdh Apr 9 '15 at 18:42
  • If you can find who started it and when all the more power to you. the epistemology of a word is more important then who first coined it as a word or phrase can have its meaning changed over time. – woodchuck Apr 9 '15 at 18:51
  • I guess this answer does make sense - I've seen that alternate phrase used in a lot of fiction, so I suppose it does stem from that – Toshinou Kyouko Apr 10 '15 at 9:31

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