The squinting face that anime characters make can express a range of expressions. Here are two examples:

enter image description here From this alone we might be inclined to call it the "cute crying face." However, consider the next picture:

enter image description here

The character (Rokka from Shoujou Yokai) still uses the same face, but does not display sadness. For context, the character was being used as a weapon to punch a villain in the manga and was happy to be able to defeat the villain.

From sadness to happiness to frustration, it cannot be pinpointed to one particular emotion. They do have cuteness in common, although it's not always used to emphasize cuteness.

What is this face called exactly? Does it even have a name?

  • that eyes is just one of "closed eye" to looks more cutesy. Can you imagine both of those picture using Gin's(Bleach) or Hazama(Blazblue) "Closed eye" ? Apr 2, 2016 at 10:45
  • I like to call it rekt face
    – jcoc611
    Apr 2, 2016 at 14:52
  • 5
    Sometimes Japanese students are taught how to remember the difference between > (dai-nari 'greater than') and < (shō-nari 'less than') by telling them dai-nari shō-nari forms a >< face :-) The expression dai-nari shō-nari means 'to a greater or lesser degree; to some extent' in Japanese.
    – user225
    Apr 2, 2016 at 20:21
  • Notice how this face is NEVER used in serious situations... (at least from what I have seen)
    – nulldev
    Apr 3, 2016 at 0:36
  • The second one looks like "agony" to me. Apr 3, 2016 at 5:53

4 Answers 4


In the media/anime-verse, they do not have any specific name for themselves.

The eyes themselves form a part of the Wingding Eyes:

For animated characters, the eyes are the windows to the soul—literally. So literally, that their eyes become their innermost thoughts projected in very clear symbols for all to see.

For example, the common ones mentioned include:

  • X or +: Dead or knocked out. Comical depictions of corpses or ghosts will have their tongues sticking out as well as this.

  • Spirals: Dazed, confused, terrified, dizzy, or knocked out.

  • Stars: Excitement, determination and dreaming of fame and fortune

In the real world, these >_<, >o<, >△< are a part of Kaomoji:

Kaomoji (顔文字) is a popular Japanese emoticon style made up of Japanese characters and grammar punctuations, and are used to express emotion in texting and cyber communication.

As mentioned on the site:

Japanese emoticons are extremely diverse. Some of Internet sources state the number of 10000 but, in fact, there are much more of them. Such diversity may be explained by at least two factors:

  • Unlike Cyrillic and Latin alphabets, which are usually written in single-byte character sets, Japanese writing requires a minimum of double-byte sets with a wider scope of characters;
  • Kaomoji can express not only individual emotions, but also complex actions, objects, and even whole stories.

>_<, >o<, >△< and other expressions can be interpreted in different ways in the anime, depending on the scene being depicted, the character, the Wingding Eyes and their combination with the expression put on the characters' face.

The most common uses in anime are to depict:

  • Anger
  • Excitement
  • Embarrassment
  • Frustration
  • Jealousy
  • Pain (or to brace yourself against an incoming impact)

I don't know of a particular name for >_<, but if we take a look at the emoticon Unicode block we can see the following emoticons with > and < for eyes:

😫    U+1F62B    TIRED FACE
😧    U+1F627    ANGUISHED FACE

I checked these on Chrome and Firefox, but note that not all of them are always drawn with > and < for eyes. For example, the last two are drawn with round eyes for the Twitter emoji project.

From this, we can gather that at least the Unicode name for > and < eyes is "tightly closed eyes", although "persevering face" is also pretty appropriate for some situations.

(Side note: reverse image searching the first screenshot causes Google to suggest "anime sad face")


I think it would be more correct to call >_< wincing or bracing, based on our real world expressions:

enter image description here


make a slight involuntary grimace or shrinking movement of the body out of pain or distress.

It's usually a face you would make if you are bracing yourself for something bad, trying to hold back some pain.

I'd argue that the first face is more like >△< which is slightly different. This is more of a complaining/moaning face:

enter image description here

The subtle difference is that the former is bracing for something unpleasant, the latter is complaining about it.

There are several other related emoticons for different expressions, such as feeling shifty

>_> <_< >_>



or restful


as well as combinations of other eyes and mouths


  • 1
    Lots of thing in anime are based on the real world that may not be immediately obvious - see the teardrow or cross symbols that anime characters often have for example. To me at least, the second image looks like she is bracing herself for impact. I haven't seen the show in question but as the OP says, it is a crying face, so she's in some sort of discomfort - even if that discomfort is embarassment, etc Apr 2, 2016 at 17:03

The symbols you typed are called kaomoji. According to Symbol Go, kaomoji are Japanese emoticons. These are text symbols, which are different from emojis (e.g., ⛄).

Unlike emoticons such as :-) kaomoji can be read without tilting one's head to the left; rather, they are read horizontally, such as ( • ‿ • ). Emotions can be expressed by changing how the eyes, mouth, and face are represented. For example, eyes can be represented as ^_^ for joy, O_o for confusion or -_- for shrug or a whatever feeling. Arms and hands can even be added. For example, ᕙ( •̀ ‿ •́ )ᕗ has flexing arms, while ( •̀ ‿ •́ ) does not.

Source: Symbol Go

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