However since this is a subject I care dearly about, it will be properly punctuated and capitalized & etc. for easier reading, since not everyone knows Vermouthese.
I want to start out by saying not all anime is bad, and it’s okay to use shorthand expressions if you’re doing something like a doodle comic that you don’t want taken seriously. Sometimes it’s just fun to let loose and use symbols to get across an idea instead of slaving over something that you don’t particularly care much about, or something that’s just a joke anyhow.
In many contexts, anime shorthand mood symbols will in fact ruin the mood of a piece, and I highly suggest that people do not use them in most circumstances. This is very noticeable in the Arkh Project’s comic.
In page 1, fourth panel, Haruka’s expression is entirely communicated in symbols- the blue vertical lines and the sweatdrop. Take those away…
No mood communicated at all, just a blank expression. The body posture is flat, the face is neutral.
This, my friends, is what I like to call “laziness.”
It may not be intentional, and in most cases it isn’t. But communicating a mood through facial expressions is key to drawing humans.
On page 2, there is a series of basically pointless panels- 3, 4, and 5. Certainly, they’re a bit cute, but they communicate nothing. The “awkward silence” fifth panel is essentially dead once you take out the shorthand expression marks (as poorly photoshopped by me).
On the same page (without addressing the “chibi flail” panel, because my distaste for chibis is a whole other post on its own), there is this panel:
I’m assuming this is meant to be irritation and disbelief, judging by the symbols. When we take those out, however, along with the text to remove context clues…
“Like. Oh my god. Stacey. Look at her dress.”
Or something of the sort, I’m not even sure. Again, mostly blank expression- the only things giving Haruka any sort of mood were the symbols of the popping veins and the zigzag irritation lines radiating from her head.
Now if I were to do a quick and dirty redraw to give her an actual expression to match her words…
Even without the text you can tell she’s pretty irritated by something, if not what precisely.
The following panel isn’t much better, to be honest.
Let’s take away the ~blushu blushu~ and the dialogue and see what her face is telling us without the symbols.
Nada. Got about as much expression as cold mashed potatoes. However, if we don’t rely on symbols and give her a real expression…
Her body posture is still stiff, but at least she’s not blanky mcwhateverface anymore.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is don’t take shortcuts if you’re working on something you actually care about. If it’s something you want to show to other people and say “hey, I made this, I’m really proud of it,” or whatever, then don’t half-ass it. Iconography can be handy in some situations, but to be honest, until you have the skills to communicate something without shorthand, try to skip the symbols whenever possible. To be honest, they will hurt you in the long run by causing you to stagnate- you will default to those symbols instead of taking the time to actually draw out what they’re meant to represent.
I had an anime phase. So has just about everyone else on god’s green earth. You can move past the symbols, trust me.
If you think you’re relying on them too much, try drawing your own face in a mirror. You don’t have to be perfect, and you can exaggerate the expression as much as you like, but see if you can do it without resorting to “bulging vein in head for anger” or “sweatdrop for disgusted” or “blushing for happy” or whatever it is you’re stuck on.
I’ll be interested to see the results.