Here’s why Itachi has lines under his eyes:
The lines accomplish a few things.
First, they manage to demonstrate Itachi’s growth in age and maturity throughout his existence in the series.
Beyond that, they also represent his growing feelings of stress and worry, all while conveying his declining health as he suffers from a terminal illness.
So if you want to learn all about the meaning of the lines under Itachi’s eyes, then this article is for you.
Let’s get right into it!
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What Are the Lines Under Itachi’s Eyes? (2 Types)
This might seem like a simple question, but Itachi is a character that appears in a lot of episodes of both the manga and the anime.
He is drawn in great detail more than a few times, so there are a few lines we could potentially be discussing.
For the most part, you might be talking about the dark, thick lines that sometimes make up the bottoms of his eyes.
Or, you could be talking about the deep, creased, groove lines that run across his cheeks.
#1 The Groove Lines
The most prominent lines under Itachi’s eyes are the long groove lines that run diagonally across his cheeks.
Hopefully, we’re all on the same page.
The lines first start to appear even when Itachi is a pretty young child, and as he ages, they grow longer and more pronounced.
These are most likely the lines you had in mind when you started reading, and they’re clearly the most notable lines under his eyes.
I’ll definitely explain the reasons why they are drawn a little later.
But, there are arguably some other lines that we can discuss, and I want to be thorough.
There are also pictures and moments in the anime where Itachi has particularly dark and thick lines forming the bottoms of his eyes.
On the chance that you were referring to this part of his animation, then we can actually focus on different overall reasons.
In either case, the lines are there, and I’ll take you through the styling and what it is conveying.
Why Are the Lines There? (6 Reasons)
Ok. We talked about where the lines are.
Now, let’s get into what they mean.
Why is Itachi drawn this way?
I actually made it decently far into this discussion without giving away any major plot points, but that ends here.
This is your official spoiler warning.
In order to explain Itachi’s eyes, I have to discuss major events related to the Naruto manga and the two anime shows: Naruto and Shippuden.
Itachi is a significant character, and the styling of his face is intended to reflect events where he is a major player.
If you want to avoid spoilers, you have to stop here. You have been warned.
#1 Aesthetic Reasons
The first reason for the lines actually doesn’t involve any spoilers at all.
Any time a character is drawn, some of the stylings are going to be chosen for their aesthetic value.
While Itachi’s eye lines do portray things, they are also distinctive features.
The presence of the lines, especially the long cheek lines, makes it very easy to identify Itachi when he shows up on the screen.
Over the course of the many Naruto chapters and episodes, we see a lot of different members of the Uchiha clan.
They are often drawn with similar aesthetics to try to portray the close familial relationships in the clan.
Itachi’s lines allow you to recognize him instantly, even before you get much chance to know the character.
This is especially true in flashbacks that show both Itachi and his father.
It’s no accident that they look a lot alike, but the lines allow you to readily identify Itachi and distinguish the two characters.
#2 Conveying Maturity
Another reason for the long cheek lines is to convey maturity.
To some extent, they’re pretty much always on Itachi’s face, but you get to see plenty of flashbacks where Itachi is a young child.
When he’s very young, the lines are very short.
As Itachi ages, the lines grow longer.
This is a simple animation or drawing technique that allows you to recognize Itachi’s age and maturity as his character progresses through the greater story.
Especially when you see flashbacks that include an adult Itachi, you can tell that he is still younger than the current point in the story because the lines are shorter and less pronounced.
#3 Showing Fatigue
So far, I’ve been talking about the prominent cheek lines, but I promised to explain the dark bottom eye lines too.
These are not present every time we see Itachi.
In fact, they’re not present in the majority of his manga or screen time.
But, they are starkly present when Itachi has his final showdown with Sasuke, and in the events leading up to that point, they seem to grow darker and thicker each time we see him (although maybe not with perfect consistency).
This is because Itachi has a terminal illness.
Every time we see him, he is closer to death and more fatigued.
These dark eye lines are portraying Itachi’s gradual, inevitable decline into poor health.
It’s subtle, but it makes it easy to believe the first time you’re told that Itachi is dying.
#4 Worry, Stress, and Regret
That really does cover the lower eye lines.
The rest of this is back to the cheek lines, and in my opinion, we’re at the primary reason for their existence.
Sure, these lines let you recognize Itachi, but any aesthetic choice could have done that.
He could have worn a yellow bandana or something to get the same effect.
The lines also successfully convey age and maturity, but his height and face size also change, and those are sufficient.
The lines under his eyes are there for a specific reason.
Itachi, among all the characters in Naruto, seems to experience a stronger sense of responsibility earlier in his life than anyone else.
You might find a few characters that you could argue feel more responsibility, but it’s a short list.
This sense of responsibility leads Itachi into a very stressful life.
It starts at an early age, and you can see the lines first appear when Itachi is very young.
As he ages, he takes on more and more stress, and the lines grow longer and deeper.
These very much are supposed to be worry lines.
Itachi worries a lot.
He feels a lot, and it’s actually a major secret right up until after his death.
He’s portrayed as the villain who slaughtered Sasuke’s clan, but when the full truth comes to light, Itachi’s worry lines help to convince you that he really was acting in the best interests of Sasuke and the leaf village throughout his life.
This is a man who joined the evilest organization in the world (the Akatsuki) just to keep an eye on them and protect his home from them.
It’s easy to believe that he felt a lot of stress, and worry lines are probably easier to draw than indigestion.
#5 Itachi’s Early Responsibilities
Thinking about Itachi’s childhood really helps to sell this point.
He was the youngest leaf ninja to ever join Anbu (the ninja special forces).
As an Anbu member, he had to kill at an incredibly young age, and he took on dangerous missions from the start.
That’s already a huge amount of stress for a child, and it’s why you can see Itachi’s worry lines begin when he is clearly not an adult yet.
Then, he basically determines the fate of the village and his clan when he is still in his late teens.
Itachi slaughters his own people and even his very parents, all to prevent a civil war in his home.
Can you imagine something more stressful?
Yet, he was not yet 20 when this happened.
I’m underselling this.
Most people estimate that he was about 13 when he slaughtered his own clan.
After that point in the story, Itachi is always drawn with long worry lines, but they still get longer and thicker over time.
#6 His Relationship With Sasuke
Arguably, Itachi’s relationship with his brother, Sasuke, was the ultimate source of worry.
One thing that became unmistakably clear by the end of the series is that Itachi cared about Sasuke more than anyone or anything else.
He would have burned down the whole world just to protect his brother.
And, he made some very hard decisions in the name of protecting Sasuke.
Itachi decided that slaughtering the Uchiha was preferable to civil war specifically because he was confident that the Uchiha would lose the civil war and that Sasuke would be at serious risk as a result.
Instead, he bargained with the leaders of the village to let him preemptively end the civil war.
In exchange, they had to protect Sasuke.
It wasn’t an easy decision, and Itachi continued making decisions in a similar manner.
He joined Akatsuki so that he could keep an eye on the organization and prevent them from attacking the village where his brother lived.
The problem is that these decisions to protect Sasuke came at the expense of their relationship.
Itachi knew his brother would hate him, and he even added that into his calculations for protecting Sasuke.
When Itachi realized that he had a terminal illness, he antagonized Sasuke on purpose.
He goaded Sasuke into becoming stronger to kill him, all in the hopes that it would empower Sasuke.
If Sasuke was strong enough to kill Itachi, then he was probably also strong enough to protect himself.
Plus, Itachi figured that Sasuke would awaken his Sharingan through that process, and he even banked on Sasuke taking his eyes to grow even stronger.
It all, more or less, went according to Itachi’s plan, but the plan itself was beyond stressful.
In order to protect Sasuke, Itachi had to make his brother hate him more than anything else in the world.
It would probably give us worry lines too.