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Anime Character Design: the Forehead of Doom

Written by HotAnime

anime character design Kobayashi Dragon Maid and anime technology

When manga and anime creators go to design new characters, they blend various character traits like glasses, “twintail” hair and those charming crooked fang teeth in ways that will hopefully endear the characters to fans. Since all characters need to be unique in some way, it can be a challenge to come up with new visual features, and one approach is to use hair ornaments, such as a unique hairclip or hairband, that becomes that character’s signature feature. In the currently running Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, there’s a girl at Kanna’s school named Riko who has a forehead that’s so shiny, it’s actually reflective, which might be a new trend in anime character design. It’s common for Japanese girls to be nervous about their foreheads, and most carry oil-absorbing sheets with them so they can make sure their foreheads are free of oil or sweat, lest they be embarrassed if senpai notices his reflection. The fact that Riko acts so haughty yet doesn’t know she’s got a “Forehead of Doom” problem is supremely kawaii.

One cool aspect of animation is how it can express any idea without limitation, since anything that can be drawn on paper of can be animated. This extends to technology, and it’s quite common for anime to show us fanciful glimpses of possible futures. While we struggle to imagine what kinds of robots we might actually live alongside someday, we can take some useful ideas from Fyu-Neru from Guilty Crown (a robot with wheels and legs which can store and playback all kinds of information), or the Tachikomas from Ghost in the Shell. Often the technology shown in anime becomes another “character” in the story, like role cell phones play in Steins;Gate or School Days, or the augmented reality tablet computers seen in Robotics;Notes. Animation can even show is technology that could never exist. In Wings of Honneamise, the glorious film that was the first work by Studio Gainax, we see a country on another planet design and launch a manned rocket into orbit, but one built using clockwork analog computers and other archaic systems we could only imagine, never actually create.

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