Anime is known for being an incredibly colorful form of media, from its characters’ hair to their costumes to the general aesthetics and the settings. One particularly eye-catching feature that anime characters can have is red eyes. Red eyes are something that tends to be associated with all things evil.
Consider the depictions of evil beings, hellish monsters, or even those infected with vicious diseases from across the media.
From Anakin Skywalker to the infected, zombie-like humans in the 28 Days franchise, there is no denying that red eyes often have negative or evil connotations. This isn’t always the case, though, especially not when it comes to anime characters.
There are demonic characters that will have the archetypal red eyes to emphasize their role in anime, but they aren’t necessarily evil beings.
Red eyes can have a wide range of meanings in anime, but they are also an attractive feature that can make a character more likely to attract the attention of their fellow characters and- by extension- the viewer, the reader, or the player.
With this in mind, we are going to be looking at ten characters across a wide range of anime shows that have gorgeously piercing red eyes! Let’s get started.
Sebastian Michaelis – Black Butler
We’re kicking off the list with a bit of a stereotypical red-eyed anime character, as this one is actually a demon! However, Sebastian Michaelis- the deuteragonist of the Black Butler manga and anime- is far more than just your run-of-the-mill, evil demon risen from the bowels of the underworld.
Black Butler is set in Victorian London and focuses on a twelve-year-old earl named Ciel Phanthomhive who loses his parents and his dog after an attack on his manor house. Ciel is kidnapped and sold to a cult of demon worshippers who abuse him frequently.
Upon the performance of a sacrificial ceremony, a demon appears, but things don’t go to the cultists’ plans when the demon claims that Ciel was the one who summoned him. The demon slaughters the cultists and remains with Ciel, who names him Sebastian Michaelis after his deceased canine companion.
Sebastian takes on the stereotypical traits of a typical, handsome anime guy, even if underneath his prim and proper facade he is a bloodthirsty demon (that is an anime trope in itself, but that would be a list for another time!).
His red eyes contrast with his pale skin, dark hair, and sophisticated demeanor, acting as an excellent hint to the truth that lies beneath his perfect exterior.
Japanese Voice: Daisuke Ono
English Dub: J Michael Tatum
Scar – Full Metal Alchemist
An antagonist turned anti-hero, Scar is a nameless serial killer from the popular Full Metal Alchemist anime and manga. He is named for the prominent scar on his brow and- of course- his distinct red irises.
Scar’s red eyes aren’t made to make him seem more dangerous. They reflect his heritage, as they are unique to his native nation of Ishval. His eyes are not used to emphasize this intimidating nature, as he hides them behind sunglasses most of the time.
He does this to make sure that he isn’t found to be an Ishvalan refugee. He is certainly a vicious and threatening individual, but he is also one that has shown moments of kindness during his endless quest for vengeance after the slaughter of his family and his people.
His red eyes are a symbol of who he is, who he once was, and a way to provide a permanent connection to his lost family.
Japanese Voice: Ryotaro Okiayu (2003) and Kenta Miyake (2009)
English Dub: Dameon Clarke (2003) and J. Michael Tatum (2009)
Shana- Shakugan No Shana
Shana is the female protagonist of the Shakugan no Shana anime, which focuses on an age-old battle between the human world and a parallel universe known as The Crimson Realm.
The Crimson Realm is populated by Crimson Denizens who manipulate a power called the Power of Existence. Shana herself is a Flame Haze- former humans who make deals with a Crimson Lord (a Crimson Denizen with superior power) in exchange for special abilities.
She resembles a school student of around 11 or 12 years old due to the effects of being a Flame Haze causing her to stay at the age she was when she made her pact. Shana naturally has dark brown hair and eyes, but when her powers are activated, both her hair and her eyes transform to a brilliant crimson red.
This is another variation of the red eyes anime trope, this time using it as part of a supernatural transformation to show the nature of a character’s powers. Shana’s striking red eyes that occur when she shifts into her Flame Haze form are one of the most eye-catching that anime has to offer.
Japanese Voice: Rie Kugiyama and Yui Horie (Drama Disk).
English Dub: Tabitha St. Germain (Geneon) and Cherami Leigh (FUNimation).
Juuzou Suzuya- Tokyo Ghoul
One of the protagonists of the Tokyo Ghoul anime series, Juuzou was an anti-hero for a decent amount of time before he became a major protagonist. Juuzou is an interesting character who has questionable morals due to the way in which he was treated whilst growing up.
He lost a sense of right and wrong and ceased to feel any fear or pain when it came to other people or living creatures in general, such as animals. He can be childish and fun-loving, but can also suddenly lash out with brutal and unpredictable, destructive tendencies.
His lack of human emotion makes his red eyes feel all the more sinister, though not in the way that they might for a character who is purely evil. Juuzo’s red eyes are instead unsettling, much like he is as a character.
Juuzo also has bright white hair, pale skin and wears matching red hair clips, making his outward appearance seem almost ghost-like and further emphasizing the redness of his eyes.
Japanese Voice: Rie Kugimya
English Dub: Maxey Whitehead
Megumin- Kono Subarashii Sekai Ni Shukufuku Wo!
The KonoSuba anime series focuses on a young boy named Kazuma who is transported into the fantasy world of an MMORPG after he dies. He brings together a group of dysfunctional adventurers to form a party, including Megumin.
Megumin is a talented arch wizard, and the first to join Kazuma’s party. She has dark brown hair and bright red eyes. Megumin is eccentric, loud, and sometimes a little arrogant, but she is also intelligent, adept at magic, and has a fair amount of common sense.
Despite her childish tendencies, there is no denying her skills. Megumi’s red eyes are notable as they are flamboyant as she is, reflecting her exuberant personality pretty well.
Japanese Voice: Takahashi Rie (anime) and Uchida Maaya (drama disk)
English Dub: Erica Mendez
Inori Yuzuriha- Guilty Crown
Inori is the female protagonist of the Guilty Crown anime, and she is a member of a resistance guerilla group known as “Funeral Parlor”, an organization created to restore the independence of Japan following a takeover by an international organization called GHQ.
Inori is a multifaceted character, acting as both an Internet sensation in the form of an online singer called Egoist, but also as a dedicated member of the resistance.
Inori’s red eyes match the rest of her look perfectly, as her main outfits tend to consist of a color palette of red, white, and pink (including her hair). Inori has a darker side to her too, as she kills soldiers from GHQ and mentions killing a group of students who were assaulting her.
Her red eyes are an extension of her natural prettiness, but they are also a hint of what lies beneath her calm and collected demeanor.
Japanese Voice: Ai Kayano
English Dub: Alexis Tipton
Akame- Akame ga Kill!
Akame is the titular deuteragonist of this particular anime, with large red eyes that contrast her long black hair beautifully. Akame was sold to the Empire to be trained as an assassin, but she defected to the rebels and became dedicated to overthrowing the Empire’s regime.
Much like Inori, Akame’s red eyes are well suited to her color palette, mainly consisting of blacks and reds. However, her eye color also suits her well, as she is a highly-skilled assassin who was put through a tortuous training regime against her will.
They reflect the darkness within her, as she is a character who tends to hide her emotions. Despite her trauma, she is not quite as cold as she appears. Instead, she is just kind of socially awkward.
She certainly cares for her friends, but in the heat of battle, she shows no mercy and will kill as many people as she has to. This ruthless nature comes across with her red eyes.
Japanese Voice: Sora Amamiya
English Dub: Molly Searcy
Kagura is one of the incarnations of the big bad from the Inuyasha anime, Naraku. She is pretty stereotypical with her red eyes, as she is a major villain in the series and red is a common color used for eyes when it comes to antagonists or demons in anime!
That being said, that doesn’t make her red eyes any less beautiful or sinister. The red of her irises complements the deep black of her hair, but it also contradicts the nature of her outfit. Kagura wears a traditional Japanese kimono that Kagura dancers wear.
She also wears a kosode, an obi sash, a pair of earrings, and hairpins in the same style as that of a traditional Japanese woman. She looks like a regular person, but her red eyes are what give away her true, sinister nature.
Japanese Voice: Izumi Ogami
English Dub: Janyse Jaud
Raika Oda- Papa No Iukoto Wo Kikinasai!
Raika is a beautiful anime lady who has dark and long blueish black hair and striking red eyes. She is the only member of the Street Observation Research Society in the anime series Papa no lukoto wo Kikinasai!
Despite the attention that she gets for her beauty, Raika is not a fan of talking and is very hard to read, keeping her emotions to herself at all times. Raika’s red eyes are particularly striking, much like the rest of her is.
She is said to have many men infatuated with her, and this emphasis on her beauty is likely why a strong color such as red was chosen for her eyes.
She is shy and keeps to herself, and yet she finds herself the subject of unwanted attention constantly due to her external beauty. What better way to make a character attract as much attention as possible than by making their eyes red?
Japanese Voice: Yui Horie
Motoko Kusanagi- Ghost In The Shell
Let’s finish this list off with a particularly iconic character in anime: Motoko Kusangi, the protagonist of the future-based Ghost in the Shell anime series, as well as the manga series.
She has appeared in several film and anime adaptations, though her character is a bit different in the films compared to the anime. Motoko is a cyborg and a major, employed as squad leader of a fictional division of the Japanese National Public Safety Commissioned known as Public Security Section 9.
She earned her credentials and made the rank of major following her service in the Japan Ground Self Defense Force. Although her physical characteristics- and her mental ones- have been changed from story to story, her red eyes stay the same (as does her violet black hair).
This gives her a unique look that differentiates her from the rest of the crowd. As a cyborg, she is designed to be as close to a human as possible in terms of realism. It is her eyes that give her away as being so much more than initially meets the eye.
Japanese Voice: Atusko Tanaka and Maaya Sakamoto (Arise).
English Dub: Mimi Woods (1995), Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (S.A.C), Alison Matthews (S.A.C OVAs), Peggy O’Neal (S.A.C Young Version), and Elizabeth Maxwell (Arise).
There you have some of the most gorgeous and eye-catching (see what we did there?) red eyes that anime has to offer.
Opting to give an anime character red eyes immediately makes them stand out from the crowd, but as you can see from this diverse list of characters- with different backstories, different personalities, and different motives- this can be for a wide variety of reasons.
No matter how or why an anime character needs to be made unique, you can be sure that red eyes are sure to do the trick.