Often in anime which features a character who wears glasses, when they take off their glasses, their eyes turn into a sort of puckered lip emoticon that looks like the number 3.

The meaning is fairly obvious, that the character looks drastically different or worse without their glasses on. But why is this icon used, specifically?

  • The meaning is fairly obvious, that the character looks drastically different or worse without their glasses on. I think you might be miss understanding the trope then, it is supposed to represent either that they are squinting to see, or to point out the jarring real life effect of seeing someone who has huge eyes when seen through heavily magnified glasses without their glasses.
    – Dimitri mx
    Commented May 26, 2015 at 20:35
  • @Dimitri I think I covered that, saying "different." If it's jarring to see someone without glasses due to the magnifying effect, it means they look different.
    – Whelt
    Commented May 26, 2015 at 20:37
  • Your title and your question body asks 2 different questions: one is "history", the other is "why is the icon used".
    – nhahtdh
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 12:41
  • 1
    The history would indicate why the icon is used... That's being rather picky about words. I think it's clear what I'm asking, but feel free to suggest an edit if you don't.
    – Whelt
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 13:36
  • @Whelt: History would suggest that you want to know the origin (anime/manga/etc. that starts the trope), which doesn't seem to be what you really want to ask here.
    – nhahtdh
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 16:28

2 Answers 2


The "3" is a stylized (and humorous) way of showing the characters squinting their eyes, which then look somewhat like a "3".

Most glasses wearer — especially the young ones — are short-sighted, so whenever they take off their glasses, they start squinting. The "3" is used in a similar fashion to depict pouting characters, like with the following emoji:


A variation of this is the famous へのへのもへじ (henohenomoheji), which uses Hiragana characters that look somewhat like facial features and is used almost exclusively for humorous purposes:

enter image description here
Image taken from RocketNews24

  • Note that squinting helps whether far-sighted or near-sighted. It works very like stopping down the aperture on a camera lens: less light, but what you get is more sharp.
    – mattdm
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 21:23

In this scene, Marii goes on to ask "Why the Nobita Face?". The fact that she refers to the trope as thus would indicate that it's the origin or at least the most famous version of the trope.

From a previous question I asked:

From the Doraemon Wikia:

Nobita's eyes are never drawn consistently. Sometimes they look like the number 3, sometimes they're black beaded, and sometimes, like in the case of the recent movies, they're normal eyes.

enter image description here

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