Super-Deformed

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At the drop of a hat.
"More chibis," Simon said gloomily. All the characters on screen had turned into baby-sized versions of themselves and were chasing each other around waving pots and pans.
Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes

An artistic style in anime that is generally considered both "cutesy" and humorous, in which a character is rendered in a shorter, rounder form somewhat resembling a caricature of themselves as a plump toddler.

Although most commonly used in parody or as part of promotional material, it can be found in some shows at points of extreme comedy/slapstick, or when characters are seen to be acting extremely "cute" or immature. This use of Artistic Age can mask the true age of characters, making forty somethings and fourteen year olds seem the same age.

Also known as "chibi" (Japanese for "small") in some circles, although not just confined to anime—it's a very common form of Fan Art. Name any popular character, chibi exists of them. In fact, it's almost as common as Rule 34.

In older video games with small characters compared to screen, Super-Deformed style was used mainly due to graphical limitations so a head size wouldn't be just a single pixel. In newer games, characters in cutscenes or character portraits will still depict them in more realistic proportions (for an example, in Disgaea and Cave Story). See Graphics Induced Super Deformed for that.

Compare Top-Heavy Guy. Contrast to Noodle People. See also Big Head Mode.

A Sub-Trope of Fun Size.

Not to be confused with The Grotesque.

Examples of Super-Deformed include:


Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Around 2009, Kellogg dropped its Don Hertzfeldt-inspired "Crazy Good" ad campaign for Pop-Tarts toaster pastries in favor of "Made for Fun", which has super-deformed CGI children along with far-less-deformed adults. But then you realize that the kids' heads are bigger than those of the adults, and the only conclusion you can draw is that adults in this world don't eat Pop-Tarts. This video exposes the Fridge Logic.


Anime & Manga[edit | hide]

  • At least a quarter of Dragon Half is spent with various characters—up to and including the story's Big Bad—Super-Deformed.
  • Azumanga Daioh, naturally, plays this to total exhaustion.
  • The magic knights of Magic Knight Rayearth punctuate their rather serious situation with occasional brief forays into Super-Deformed comedy.
  • The deities and demons in Ah! My Goddess can transform into multiple Super-Deformed miniatures of themselves. There is also a spinoff of Ah! My Goddess called Adventures of the Mini-Goddesses which concentrates solely on the goddesses' miniature selves (and a rat of their acquaintance).
    • When the rats turned into Ninja-girls showed up, Keiichi referred to the first of them as Super-Deformed. This was after she'd used an air pump, nozzle in her mouth, to increase her size.
  • Similarly, the trainee angels and demons in Wish have chibi forms; Angels being full-size during the day and chibi in the night, and vice versa for the demons.
  • Rozen Maiden contrasts its characters' elegant designs with ventures into Super-Deformed states.
  • In The Wallflower when Sunako is in one of her darker moods (i.e., almost all the time) she is shown in Super-Deformed style. She only looks normal when she is kicking ass in one form or another.
    • She later gains a "hybrid" form, that is sort of "elegant chibi".
  • Displayed and somewhat subverted in Fushigi Yuugi. For most of the characters, it's simply an artistic style; for the shape-shifting Chichiri, comments by other characters imply he actually takes on that appearance, or at least the height.
  • Sailor Moon characters (particularly Usagi) often lapse into chibi style.
  • Happens occasionally in Love Hina.
  • School Rumble, too, uses this with some frequency.
  • Some of the episodes of Kimi ga Nozomu Eien had short comedy sketches after the closing credits starring chibi versions of "Ayu-Ayu" and "Mayu-Mayu", an interesting contrast to the generally serious nature of the anime itself.
  • The characters of High School Kimengumi spend almost half of their time in chibi form.
  • Surprisingly prevalent in Gundam. SD Gundam is a sub-franchise in and of itself with model kits, shows, and games. Some stories (like the comedy shorts and BB Senshi Sangokuden) have the super-deformed mecha as characters who talk and interact with super-deformed human characters, while in others (like the SD Gundam G Generation games) the mecha are still piloted weapons as normal. Interestingly, the design of the super-deformed MS has evolved over time: in earlier works they had proportions like regular SD characters, while later works like SD Gundam Force and MS Saga use a less exaggerated version where the head and torso are large but the limbs are still detailed and jointed, making them more reasonable.
  • Prince of Tennis occasionally has entire episodes devoted to showing the adventures of the super-deformed main characters in alternate universes. When the first of these gag episodes was shown just before a much-anticipated showdown, it cemented the show's reputation as one of the most bi-polar creations in all of anime.
  • Ginji of GetBackers sometimes becomes super-deformed for extended periods of time, even when the rest of the characters are drawn normally. Other characters even comment on it in the manga.
  • The Tokyo Mew Mew manga includes a few side stories called Petite Mew Mew, set in a fantasy land and involving kid/chibi versions of the major characters playing in a kindergarten.
  • Used heavily in Kare Kano. The female lead spends at least half her time onscreen in this form.
  • Very frequently appears in the Pretty Sammy series.
  • Bamboo Blade uses this in its Post Episode Trailer, though usage of it within episodes isn't uncommon.
  • Final Approach switches to super-deformed on a regular basis.
  • Aria is well-known for having its characters switch to Super-Deformed mode extensively, which is probably only topped by ...
  • Hidamari Sketch (pictured above), where the girls become Super-Deformed at the slightest provocation, adding immensely to their cuteness factor. There is even a Fan Nickname for its kind of Superdeformation: wideface. Or Nutbladder face.
  • The DVDs of Mariasama ga Miteru contain parody Omake episodes in which all the characters appear in Super-Deformed mode.
  • Slayers does this quite frequently for a laugh. One notable instance in Slayers Next has Lina casting a Dragon Slave to save Seillune and Amelia asking Shabranigdu to make it work; Gourry and Zelgadis are quick to berate her in Super-Deformed style ("You're a shrine maiden! Don't pray to Dark Lords!").
  • Transformers Victory uses chibi versions of the characters on its title cards and eyecatches.
  • Though its maintenance mode may suggest otherwise, Kemeko from Kemeko Deluxe is surprisingly stumpy for a human-piloted machine.
  • Even Neon Genesis Evangelion has this, including the Rei clones and a Deformed version of Unit 01.
  • Chopper in One Piece gradually turned into a chibi version of his original design as a result of Art Evolution, making him even more of a Ridiculously Cute Critter. However, the only time it really fits is in his Chopperman persona. KYUUUN SPAAARK~!
    • Luffy's Heroic RROD after using Gear 3rd has him temporarily turning into a chibified version of himself.
  • In the Shirow Masamune manga Dominion Tank Police, the puma sisters join the police force. Ani-puma gets bored, and wants to go out on a tank police raid. But she is over six feet tall, and can't fit in their mini-tank. Ani-puma is a type of android (or bioroid, who can tell with Shirow), and she reveals the power to release all the water in her body, and become a chibi version of herself. After the raid, Ani drinks up the contents of several water coolers, and embiggens herself again.
  • The "Science Lesson" segments of Gunbuster, where Chibi Coach, Noriko and Kazumi discuss the "science" the show runs on.
  • Koihime Musou makes extensive use of this.
  • Suzumiya Haruhi has usually avoided this (with the exception of some of the novel pictures). The anime version of the Nyoron Churuya-san Yonkoma finally invokes this, with predictably adorable results. Nyoron~
    • There's Suzumiya-chan for your chibi fix of that series. For an inversion, the normal characters and in one episode a blushing shoujo Itsuki are used for comedic effect.
  • Hikari's SD mode in Amanchu arguably tends to be rather jarring, especially since it's used a lot, even in situations where one normally wouldn't do that. My gosh, does Amano have to make her eyes so creepy?
  • Yoake Mae Yori Ruriiro na: Crescent Love uses this quite a bit.
  • The manga version of Harukanaru Toki no Naka de has chibi-style Omake, sometimes in Yonkoma format (such as "Go Go Haruka Kindergarten").
    • Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Hachiyou Shou (both the TV series and the two-episode OVA with the same title) occasionally has short comical scenes with the character rendered in "chibi" size; also worth mentioning are the "Kotengu Classic" segments, always done in this style (if only because Kotengu is "chibi" by default).
    • There's also a "chibi" Hot Springs Special for Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima uses this sparingly, although Misora does it in her drawings. While it doesn't use it often in the traditional sense, it makes up for it with Chibi-Setsuna, a shikigami that Setsuna uses to remotely contact people. When Chibi-Setsuna disappears, Chibi-Sayo (a Super-Deformed voodoo doll that Sayo possesses) pops up.
  • Eyeshield 21 had a joke-strip about this with cell phones. Monta asks whether cell phones should be equally proportioned to their head for actual talking, at the cost of a huge and inconvenient size, or if they should be small like in real life, meaning you can't both listen and talk over the phone. Monta and Sena decided it's best just to stay normal.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist likes using this to lighten up an otherwise depressing series. Though in the 2003 anime version, it drops this halfway through (with the exception of the Chibi Wrap Party OVA). This trope gives Armor!Al a chance to be absolutely adorable.
  • Happens sometimes in Bleach, for example in anime episode #24 when Orihime was trying to deny that she was hungry.
  • Happens a lot in Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru. Sometimes they stay in chibi-mode for a moment when in the "real world", then immediately transform back to normal.
  • After its first season, the Ranma ½ series has Eye Catches with the characters in Chibi form.
  • Happens quite often when Keima is explaining something to Elsea in The World God Only Knows.
  • Sora no Otoshimono: Enter Tomoki Sakurai. A chibi 24/7 plushie. He only grows life-sized when he starts taking things seriously which is... well, according to how the story is played, rarely.
  • Though it comes and goes with humorous scenes in The Weatherman Is My Lover, the producer is notable for never appearing as anything but Super-Deformed, even when the rest of the characters are in their normal state.
  • Similar to Hidamari Sketch above, in Sketchbook the characters become chibified all the time. Especially Sora, who possibly spends more than half of her panel appearances Super-Deformed.
  • Berserk's Puck. In the latter part of the manga, he's relegated to so much comic relief that he's most always playing this trope.
  • Kimi ni Todoke does this a lot.
  • Happens a lot in Kaichou wa Maid-sama. It's practically the the three idiots' default design.
  • The Record of Lodoss War series had a bit at the end called "The Second Part", where Chibi versions of the characters ran around acting ridiculous. These skits were often a silly version of the episode you'd just watched, but often (especially in the second half of the show) The Second Part was following it's own inane plotline.
  • Often used in Sket Dance, combined with Exposition Diagram, when recapitulating the previous chapters of a Story Arc.
  • Sengoku Basara has "Mini Basara," which is hilarious and adorable.
  • Happens frequently in The Secret Devil-chan", mostly with Kogure.
  • Occurs often in Axis Powers Hetalia, usually in funny moments like drunk England.


Comics[edit | hide]

  • In The Sandman, Abel tells a sweet story about how he and his brother Cain came to live in the Dreaming. It's far more sugary than what really happened, and is drawn in this style by vaunted Jill Thompson.
    • She went on to produce two actual Endless kids' books in the same style, The Little Endless Storybook and Delirium's Party.
  • I.s.o., always with adorable and amusing results.
  • Every so often, the characters in Scott Pilgrim are rendered like this.
  • One issue of Justice League had Superman perceive everyone like this.
    • Not to mention (seemingly) the entire inhabitants of the 5th dimension.
  • Stephanie Brown narrates history of the Batfamily to Wendy, complete with a chibi Darkseid.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Inverted in the Precious Girls Club books. Precious Moments drawings, figurines, animated specials, etc. ordinarily use SD proportions, roughly 2.6 heads tall, for child characters. To appeal to young girls, the Precious Girls Club brand extension intentionally went with less-deformed proportions while keeping the distinctive eye shape.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]


Toys[edit | hide]

  • Hasbro has chibi lines of several franchises. "[Word related to franchise but not always actual franchise name goes here] Heroes" is usually going to be chibi. In fact, guess who makes the toyline for the Super Hero Squad?
  • Bandai has created toyline history by doing this with Mobile Suit Gundam. Even without tie-in anime like SD Gundam Force or BB Senshi Sangokuden Brave Battle Warriors, the SD Gundam line has spawned over three hundred model kits and countless other forms of merchandise.
  • Nendoroid figure line from Good Smile Company is this to all sorts of anime characters.
  • A British company, Speed Freaks Studio, makes super-deformed clay models of real life cars and bikes, including Ferraris and Lotuses, as well as super-deformed clay models of people.


Video Games[edit | hide]

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • The now-defunct Ghastly's Ghastly Comic has chibis as subspecies of humanity. One recurring character, Chibi-Sue, is a thirty-six-year-old chibi woman who can't have a normal relationship, as the only men interested in her are pedophiles. She also lacks fingers (a common trait of super-deformed characters), making her life suck all the more.
  • Durkon, Belkar and all other dwarf and halfling characters in Order of the Stick have smaller bodies than humans and elves but their heads are the same size, and so look disproportionately large on them.
    • Lampshaded by Belkar here.
  • The Succubus protagonist from Krakow, Kia, has a demonic spell that can Chibi-fy people—including herself. Two words: Chibi Nazi!
  • Loserz used this as a kind of special effect several times, like here.
    • There's also this one. The author himself defines the last panel as "the best panel EVER".
  • Occasionally used in Everyday Heroes, for example here.
  • The characters of Misfile periodically become chibified.
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures will turn a scared character into this form for a panel.
  • Lilformers does this with Transformers and other pop-culture characters.
  • Lizzy, page 30 makes fun of these.

Lord CJ: I'm a chibi, ain't I kawaii...?

Web Original[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]