Who let the Chibis out?

1. Mirmo, Rima, Yashichi and Marumo (Mirmo de Pon!)

Mirmo and the gang are chibi love fairies that have been assigned to help the protagonists in their love troubles. These chibis are drawn with a super deformed type of chibi art leaving them with no nose and a balloon like body.

Remember those cute characters that you see on the early morning TV cartoon shows? No not the animal characters that you mostly see on western cartoon shows but that of the popular Japanese Anime shows? If not an anime fan, you might not know what they are called, but you can definitely agree that they are very childlike and too cute for their own good.

These peculiar and interesting characters are called “Chibis” or a “Chibi” (ちび or チビ) which originated from Japanese Anime. The term Chibi, which means small, is actually a slang word that came up due to these small characters’ recognition in both Anime and Manga (a form of Japanese comics). Chibis are very well known for their tiny and adorable appearance. Some of their recognizable characteristics are that they are wide eyed, largely headed and small bodied characters. The Chibi’s head is typically twice the size of its body and in some cases the Chibi is used to depict comical situations in the Anime or Manga.

Mirmo, Rima, Yashichi and Marumo

Chibis are there to emphasize cuteness, being adorable, being huggable and a break from otherwise boring situations in the story. More often than not they can easily catch one’s attention and liking; unless you find them weird then it really depends on your take on proportion.

One of the earliest and well known Chibi in Japanese and Western animation is “Chibiusa” she is a character in the 1993 anime Sailor Moon, and is portrayed as the smaller version of the lead character Usagi (Rabbit). Thus playing with the name Chibi and Usagi, comes Chibiusa (Little Rabbit).

In case one is not familiar with Anime, they will be very confused if both are the same or different. Chibis are part of Anime. It is only a form of art in an Anime, and is not an entirely different sense from the former. Anime has a lot of character types to offer and Chibis are one of the easiest and most noted ones to create. Due to the ease of creating them, a lot of artists tend to create Chibi forms or Chibi fan art of their favorite Anime shows.
Drawing Chibis enable the artists to express their own version of the character without following too closely or being trapped with the original character artwork. Yes, there may be original Chibi characters in an Anime show, but a popular trend for artists is creating their own Chibi versions of a non Chibi character as well. Chibis are very fun to draw and every artist can incorporate their own technique, touch or style on the Chibi character that they are working. In other cases, even non Anime shows have Chibi fan arts.

Popular western movies, books and even cartoons can also have Chibi versions from fans who are artists. These makes the characters look different from the way they are before and give a more pleasant and funny scenario to the drawing. There are even some artists who like to draw crazy faces on the Chibis they are working on because no matter how terrible the faces are, they will always look funny, adorable or cute when drawn on a character with a big head and small arms and limbs.

Chibis Characters

Ran, Miki, and Su (Shugo Chara)

2. Ran, Miki, and Su (Shugo Chara)

The guardians from Shugo Chara are a great representation of cute and magical main chibi characters. They help the main human protagonist into finding her true self and who she really wants to be in life.

Konata Izumi, Kagami Hiiragi, Tsukasa Hiiragi, and Miyuki Takara (Lucky Star)

3. Konata Izumi, Kagami Hiiragi, Tsukasa Hiiragi, and Miyuki Takara (Lucky Star)

This Chibi art incorporates less deformity. This is still branded as chibi even if the characters have almost proportionate sizes because of how little the characters look despite being in high school.

AmericaAlfred F. Jones (Axis Powers Hetalia)

4. America/Alfred F. Jones (Axis Powers Hetalia)

This is another form of Chibi art that gives the characters a bigger head, small limbs and wide eyes. Even though the character has a normal form in the Anime, he still changes into his chibi form for the more comical interactions.

Sasame and Kei (Nukoduke!)

5. Sasame and Kei (Nukoduke!)

A very popular character in Japanese anime is the cat girl or cat boy. These are chibi version of the said characters and are depicted as to give off the more cute and adorable chibi versions of the already cute and adorable regular cat girls and boys.

Aisaka, Taiga (Toradora)

6. Aisaka, Taiga (Toradora)

An example of how horrible expressions can still look cute when drawn on a chibi character. This is also a sample of a comical scene wherein if done with a regular character would not look as funny as done with a chibi character.

Nakahara, Sunako (yamato Nadeshiko Henge)

7. Nakahara, Sunako (yamato Nadeshiko Henge)

The scene clearly sets the boundaries between regular looking characters as compared to chibi characters. In this scenario, when the main protagonist Sunako transforms into her chibi self, she is easily picked up by the shirt by a regular character. It may look off at first, but it’s funny and perfect for the scene.

Reborn (Katekyo Hitman Reborn!)

8. Reborn (Katekyo Hitman Reborn!)

Reborn is a character drawn in form of a baby but is fully adult in mind. A person in a baby’s body would not be able to walk and talk like Reborn, but because he is chibi he can. Another great thing in drawing chibis is you have the freedom to recreate the facial features without making it look less chibi.

Hamtaro (Hamtaro)

9. Hamtaro (Hamtaro)
It is not only magical beings, half cats and people who can be in chibi form, animals can too. With animals there is more room for creative juices to flow on drawing a chibi. An artist can also choose to highlight a certain part of the animal such as the ears or the eyes.

Chibiusa (Sailor Moon)

10. Chibiusa (Sailor Moon)

Chibiusa is the first known chibi in Anime. She is characterized with a larger than normal head, even larger hairstyle and wide eyes. The big and wide eyes have been then used as a trademark for creating chibi characters afterwards.

Chibi Artists

There are many Chibi artists in the Japanese Animation industry and here are some Manga and Anime artists who have created successful chibi characters.

  • 1. Kagami Yoshimizu (Lucky Star)
  • 2. Hidekaz Himaruya (Axis Powers Hetalia- Webcomic)
  • 3. Yoshito Usui (Crayon Shin Chan)
  • 4. Naoko Takeuchi (Sailor Moon)
  • 5. Puyo and Nyoro~n (Suzumiya Haruhi-chan no Yuuutsu)
  • 6. Ritsuko Kawai (Hamtaro)
  • 7. Kakifly (K-On!)
  • 8. Akiyuki Shinbo (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
  • 9. CLAMP (Cardcaptor Sakura)
  • 10. Hideaki Sorachi (Gintama!)

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