An eyecatch (アイキャッチ aikyatchi?) is a scene or illustration used to begin and end a commercial break in a Japanese TV program, especially in anime and tokusatsu shows, similar to how "bumpers" into/out of commercial breaks are used in the United States. The term is used, in Japan, to refer to all kinds of bumpers.
Unlike in American programs, in which bumps are typically supplied by the network (when they have them at all), eyecatches are almost always produced by the production company and considered a part of the program itself, rather than (or also serving as) a segue into a commercial break. They are typically 2–5 seconds long. Eyecatches for children's programs are often longer and more elaborate, while eyecatches for programming for adults may consist of nothing more than the program's logo against a black background.
Most programs use the same eyecatch in each episode, but a few change them every week, or rotate a stable of repeating eyecatches. The program The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a noted exception; there is only one eyecatch in the entire series, which is contained in the first program and is meant to be a riff on anime clichés. Other anime without eyecatches include Elfen Lied, The Big O, Fullmetal Alchemist (in the first series) and Naruto.
Often, especially in programs aimed at children, the eyecatch has a secondary purpose: marketing. Pokémon is one of the examples (see below); the purpose of the eyecatch of Pokémon is to help children learn to identify the characters and thus increase brand awareness. Likewise, there is a recent trend among magical girl anime in Japan of using the eyecatches to show the heroine having fun with some gadget or toy, such as those featured in Pretty Cure. The item featured is then made into merchandise and sold. Thus, the eyecatch both creates a product and provides it with free advertising.
There have also been times, at least in anime, where multiple eyecatches are displayed throughout each episode that do not necessarily have to do with commercial breaks. The eyecatches in this case tend to be around five per episode. Examples of this type can be found in such anime as Rec and Tsuyokiss. More over, this is also seen in the anime Pani Poni Dash! where the eyecatches often have scenes pertaining to the episode in question.
Some anime like Katekyo Hitman Reborn! have different eyecatches for every story arc.
- In One Piece, the eyecatches up to episode 206 consist of a series of Wanted posters, each depicting one of the show's central characters, who are all pirates and therefore wanted criminals, as well as a piece of music unique to that character. The character featured is usually central to the episode's plot. Starting with episode 207, the show switched to wide screen, so each of the main characters gained short eyecatch animation.
- In D.N.Angel, the eyecatch consists of an animated feather with the show's logo in the corner along with dramatic music. In the fifth episode, as a joke on the phenomenon of the eyecatch itself, this animation is used not only for the commercial break, but during every major scene transition, appearing a half-dozen extra times without explanation. At the end of the episode the eyecatch appears again, causing the characters Risa Harada and Riku Harada to yell "ENOUGH ALREADY!" at which point the eyecatch music winds down like a switched-off record. This is a rare occurrence of anime characters breaking the fourth wall to acknowledge they are in a TV show.
- In Pokémon, the eyecatches challenge viewers to identify one of the series' 493 fictional creatures, which is obscured in silhouette. After the commercial break, the answer is revealed. The idea remained in the English version of the television anime as a "Who's that Pokémon?" segment, with the modified background image, until the beginning of the Advanced Generation era (Advanced Challenge in America), when they switched to "Trainer's Choice."
- Death Note utilizes the eyecatch as a means to educate the viewer about the rules of the Death Note. Each eyecatch reveals a new rule, coinciding with the motives of the main character, and does not interrupt the plot itself.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh GX, eyecatches are used with one or two characters which are currently dueling against each other or has the episode centered mainly on them.
- In the second season of Kaleido Star, an eyecatch is used before and after a commercial break that shows a super deformed Sora Naegino possibly practicing moves on the trapeze and tightrope.
- In Yu Yu Hakusho, the eyecatch is super deformed-forms of the main characters attacking eyeball monsters that turn into the kanji of the title of the show with red and black background. Yusuke also shoots the kanji with his Spirit Gun a few extra times to line them up, with the background turning light blue, and Botan subsequently appearing. Finally, Koenma falls on top of Kuwabara's head.
- Some series has in each episode a different eyecatch with an exclusive artwork related to it, like in Dragonball GT, where every week a group of the show's characters are stuffed in a car driving somewhere. Some come to the extent of putting two new ones (at the start and end of the break respectively) every week. One example is Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
- In Shuffle!, it uses two sets of eyecatches, one for generally comedic episodes, another for the dramatic episodes. The comedic eyecatches shows Primula's stuffed toy doing moves a la Street Fighter and sharing a squid with another cat; the dramatic eyecatch shows the major female characters in the nude with the censored bits cleverly hidden.
- In Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-Chan, the eyecatch is (with one exception) Dokuro accidentally killing herself in one of several ways.
- In GaoGaiGar, the eyecatch includes technical descriptions of GGG mechs, equipment, Gao Machines and so on with small but readable English text describing in more detail, this trend is continued in OVA sequel GaoGaiGar Final.
- In Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, Lucia flips a card and show the expression of the heroines, which character they drew. When the commercial is over in the second half of the eyecatch, they will show which character they have flipped.
- In the first season of Keroro Gunsou in which Sgt. Keroro emerges from the water with a sign bearing the title of the series, the word "EYECATCH" in English can be seen printed in the background.
- Bokurano also uses this. Every episode, the chairs of the remaining pilot(s) spin inside Zearth. As the current pilot's chair is chosen, the remaining pilot/s say "Bokurano~".
- In Hetalia: Axis Powers, eyecatches are often used to switch scenes. A Hetalia eyecatch consists of the Hetalia logo and a character popping out from behind the logo, saying "Hetalia" in a high (but not too high) pitched version of that character's normal voice. The character can pop out anywhere from behind the Hetalia logo.
- In Slam Dunk, the first eyecatch (with yellow background)features rukawa wearing his white jersey trying to shoot the ball. When he shoots the ball, the camera turns to the ring to reveal that sakuragi has removed the basket. He is later shown holding the basket and laughing at rukawa. The screen then reveals that the scene is inside a TV set and the Slamdunk logo with blue background Covers the screen to start the commercials. After the commercials, the eyecatch (with pink background) features sakuragi attempting to shoot the ball with rukawa looking dismayed. Sakuragi Even attempts to shoot many balls then the screen reveals the scene inside a TV Set and the screen is covered with a SLam dunk Logo with a blue background. THe next set of eyecatches featured Sakuragi smiling close-up at the camera and performs a Slam Dunk twice while flashing a peace sign. Akagi , Looking like a giant gorilla appears in front of sakuragi, startling the latter, then while smiling receives a gorilla punch then the scene is also revealed to be inside a tv set and the slam dunk logo appears minus the blue background. The next eyecatch features akagi, looking like a gorilla attempting to perform a slam dunk, and when he does, The Net collapses sending akagi falling to the floor and shows sakuragi holding a screw behind his back and laughs. Both Men are wearing their Red Jerseys. the next eyecatch features sakuragi wearing a blue sleeveless shirt and white shorts dribbling the ball and looks at haruko who seems to be watching him. While Distracted By Haruko, Sakuragi is subsequently bumped by Akagi, Miyagi and Mitsui with akagi pushing sakuragi off their path and grabbing the ball. Rukawa is just behind them. Haruko then attempts to chase after rukawa but is run over by the three girls who often cheer for rukawa. Haruko is seen lying on the ground then rukawa holding the ball appears and covers the screen partially. Sakuragi Later appears and throws a white pillow to rukawa, freezing the scene and ends in similar manners. The next eyecatch features Haruko in her uniform attempting to offer flowers to rukawa, but is later snatched of by sakuragi with a net and takes Rukawa's place and takes the flowers and laughs. He is then Run Over by rukawa in a bicycle and the eyecatch ends. The next eyecatch features Sakuragi and Miyagi with the latter attempting to shoot the balls. Ayako then appears from the left side of the screen and Miyagi chases her. Sakuragi then attempts to shoot many balls and haruko subsequently appeared from the right side of the screen and sakuragi chases her. Rukawa then appeared and looks on. the next eyecatch shows Sakuragi and Kiyota(The only Non-Shohoku Player to appear in a Slam Dunk Eyecatch) who seems to be doing a one-on-one in front of a cage.As one tries to Grab the ball from the other, Akagi then appears, and is laughed at by sakuragi and nobunaga then haruko appears. the two are then revealed to be inside the cage and haruko and akagi are the ones who are outside. The Piece of wood is actually a Keep away sign. The next eyecatch features sakuragi attempting to perform a slam dunk. Haruko is also seen observing sakuragi. As he tries to dunk the ball, the ball misses and rukawa appears and dunks the ball and sakuragi is hanging from the ring with his hand. Haruko then chases after rukawa and sakuragi looks in dismay. The next eyecatch features mitsui in his school uniform and holding a ball and views himself at a mirror, and smiles. Sakuragi holding a fishing rod then places a wig that resembles mitsui's long hair and then laughs. Angered, Mitsui removes the wig and throws the ball at sakuragi and sakuragi's hair flies off revealing it to be a wig revealing his semi-bald haircut then mitsui stands proudly. All the characters are shown in their chibi forms
- In Kamen Rider Faiz, the eyecatch has the Driver System saying, "Kamen Rider Faiz...In A Flash!"
- In Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger, the eyecatch features the ranger(s) of the episode shooting the screen, while DekaMaster slashes the screen and DekaBreak punches it.
- In Tensou Sentai Goseiger, the eyecatch involves the character(s) of the episode transforming to a Gosieger, and then changing to a Gosei Card while the title card appears on the bottom right of the screen. When the break ends, it goes in reverse.
- In Engine Sentai Go-Onger, the eyecatch is the five primary mecha shown in a race and BOMPER as the referee, with the viewers told to make a guess who wins. After the break, the winner is shown and that mecha says a short catchphrase. All five mecha tie in the eyecatch for the finale.
- In Choudenshi Bioman, the eyecatch features a normal version of Red one and small versions of (Clockwise from bottom left) Blue 3 that seems to be sliding from Red one's Right shoulder, Pink 5 that seems to be performing a superkick, Green 2 who seems to be levitating from red one's left shoulder and yellow 4. The title card is also seen in the bottom right of the screen. After the break, Bio Robo is shown who seems to be running and holding the bio sword. The Title Card can be seen on the bottom left of the screen.
- In Choujin Sentai Jetman, the eyecatch before the break features the jetman team (in their suits) posing somewhere in a side of a mountain. Their positions from left to right(from the viewer's view) featured Black condor seating with his right leg over his left leg, white swan stands behind him, Red Hawk is at the center, Yellow Owl is in a side view, and sitting beside him is Blue swallow.. the end of the commercial break features the Jetman team in their Human forms in the same positions
- In Zyuranger, the eyecatch before the break features the main 5 zyurangers in their vehicles and stopping in front of the camera. The title card can be seen on the bottom right of the screen. After the break, the eyecatch features the main 5 mecha