Chibi (slang)

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Example for a character drawn in chibi style

Chibi (ちび or チビ) is a Japanese slang word describing something short (a thing, an animal or a person). It comes from the verb 禿びる (chibiru), which means "to wear out and become shorter" (for the tip of something).[citation needed] The term is widely used in Japan to describe a specific style of caricature where characters are drawn in an exaggerated way. Typically these characters are small and chubby, with stubby limbs and oversized heads to make them resemble children. This style of artwork, also known as super deformed, has since found its way into anime and manga fandom through its usage in manga works. "Chibi" can be translated as "little"(e.g. Chibi Maruko-chan, which means Little Miss Maruko etc.), but is not used the same way as chiisana [小さな] / chiisai [小さい] (tiny, small, little in Japanese) but rather cute.[citation needed] One example of the usage in Japanese which brought the term to the attention of Western fans is Chibiusa, a pet name for the diminutive daughter of Sailor Moon formed from Chibi Usagi ("Little Rabbit").[1]


The head of a super deformed character is normally anywhere between one third[2] and one half the character's height.[3] In addition to their modified proportions, super deformed characters typically lack the detail of their normal counterparts. As a result, when a character of average proportions is depicted as a super deformed character, certain aspects of his or her design will be simplified and others will be exaggerated. Details such as folds on a jacket are ignored, and general shapes are favored. If a character has a signature characteristic (odd hair, a particular accessory, etc.) this will typically be prominent on the super deformed version of the character.[4]

Media usage[edit]

The "chibi" art style is part of Japanese culture[5][6][7] and is seen everywhere from advertising and subway signs to anime and manga. The style was popularized by franchises like Dragon Ball and SD Gundam in the 1980s.[citation needed] It is also used as comic relief in anime and manga, giving additional emphasis to a character's emotional reaction.

The super deformed art style has also appeared in anime-influenced American series[8], such as Homestuck, Teen Titans or Avatar: The Last Airbender's Super Deformed shorts.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sailor Moon volume 3 translation". Retrieved 2008-05-23.
  2. ^ "A Super Deformed Tutorial" on
  3. ^ "Action Tutorial". Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  4. ^ How to Draw Manga Volume 18: Super-Deformed Characters 1: Humans. ISBN 9784766114355
  5. ^ "Japanese student turns philosophers into super-deformed anime-style characters - WOWJAPAN". 4 August 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  6. ^ Rose, Mike. "Clash of Clans ' 5 keys to success". Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  7. ^ "Why Japan Is Hands Down The Coolest Country On The Planet - SMOSH". Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  8. ^ "Applying 2D Japanese Super-Deformed character to traditional American animation" (PDF). Retrieved 5 July 2018.