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Chibi (ちび or チビ), a Japanese slang term for "small person" or "small child," is a style of character art illustration often featured in works of anime and manga in which the cartoon characters are portrayed as small and chubby caricatures with stubby limbs and oversized heads. While the term is used broadly among the native speakers when referring to a cute child, "Chibi" is primarily associated with the "super deformed" style of caricaturization within the English-speaking Otaku fandom.
The super deformed style of character art has been featured in Japanese anime and manga since as early as the 1980s with SD Gundam, a series of illustrations which depicted various Gundam mechas with disproportionately oversized head. The earliest known illustration of a SD Gundam was submitted by a junior high school student to Bandai's "Model News" magazine and the concept became serialized as 4-pane comics.
The super-deformed style was first introduced to the Western audiences through a number of diminutive characters featured in the Japanese manga/anime series Sailor Moon, most notably the character of Chibiusa, a pet name given to the daughter of Sailor Moon, and Chibi Chibi, a three-year-old civilian identity of Sailor Chibi Chibi (shown below).