Ask Rie – What is a Chibi? 29 Jun 2017

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Published on: June 29, 2017

Dear Rie,

I keep hearing the term “Chibi” around my board game group. I’ve seen a few games that are considered “chibi”, but I still don’t understand what they are. I’m also wondering what the best way to pronounce it is. I’ve read a few different ways to say it, and my friends can’t agree on it.

-Clueless
Dear Clueless, the term “Chibi” is a Japanese slang term that roughly translates to little. There really isn’t hard/fast rules for something to be chibi. Usually when you see chibi figures in models, they’re going to be short in stature with a large head that is either 1/2 or 1/3 of the overall size and characteristically shaped eyes. They’re usually painted up very bright with an over-exaggerated shine to them. They are typically painted up in what could be called a cartoonish style of paint. One common misconception is that Chibi means short and deformed which is not true.

As far as pronunciation goes, it should be said “chi-bee” not “chee-bee”.

– Rie

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