From Death Note to Gundams, Cowboy Bebop to Naruto and Pokemon, to Kiki’s Delivery Service, and everything in between, anime has been a poignant influence in many men’s lives since adolescence.
The sometimes visionary, philosophical messages proposed by these series aren’t as common in many other forms of media.
The powerful imagery that accompagnies these messages makes them the perfect basis for incredible, symbolic tattoos.
Or, you know, they can simply be a public display for your favorite character without any deeper meaning. Just the same as anime is filled with nuance and creativity and all kinds of human emotion, so too can the anime tattoo.
For the light-hearted, a simple Pokeball on the shoulder is simply a reminder of the carfree exploits of youth, just as a Sonic the Hedgehog on the ribs can be a reminder of the hours marathoning TV shows with siblings on the family couch. These comical, quirky figures are fun conversation starters, and their images hold a special place in our memories.
Of course, for the more devout anime fan, certain symbols from a touching manga can have a much deeper personal meaning. As a result, these images make for a more personalized tattoo meaning. A Geass, for example, might be a reminder to you about your metaphorical mission in this life.
Whatever direction you choose to go with your anime tattoo, the rich artistic base to pull from will certainly leave you satisfied.
Anime Tattoo Ideas
The ultimate fan of Goku and Dragon Ball Z would love to have a twin of this anime tattoos. It is one of the coolest full back tattoos in terms of composition, color and style. Tattoo artist captures the energy, vibrancy and the exaggeration of the facial features of an anime character particularly the large round eyes, thick dark brows, button nose and with a large ear to complement the big hair. The closed fist raised up in the air looks larger than life because of dragon details at the background which matches its color tones perfectly. Tattoo artist filled in negative space with Dragon Ball Z popular details. What is really striking is the composition, how the content was placed to fit the canvas and focus on the subject matter to make everything look cohesive. Then the play of colors all throughout to make the piece balance, aesthetic wise. Realism was also used by artist with the shading and contouring to add depth without losing the comic book appeal of the tattoo.
Here is the laid back but highly skilled, Kakashi Hatake, featured on this calf tattoo using the water color style of tattooing. This is more subdued design of this ultra-popular anime. The main character is outlined in fine lines but shaded to provide contrast so there will be more depth to make him look realistic. The background is subtle with no outlines, just the shading and some shadows. Kakashi is easily recognized due to certain characteristics which are uniquely his: face mask, hair- its color, texture and style.
Alphonse, in his full metal gear tattooed on a forearm. This anime tattoo is stunning in its color palette. The shades of bluish gray are maximized to bring out the metal finish that the viewer should see upon seeing this creation. Alphonse, is a well-known character in the anime planet, so it is imperative that the artist’s interpretation must be recognizable, too. Its shading details is meticulous and smart playing with contrast to add depth and definition resulting into a more realistic tattoo.
This is a great new school tattoo style of an anime theme. It is inked in full vibrant and brilliant colors of Super Saiyan, the powerful version of Goku. It is lined but shaded with contour and highlights for added depth for added dimension. Artist captured the added energy and muscle tone of the character as well as the exaggerated facial features. This is one sticker you would want to have on your arm.
This is another concept of anime tattoo which can be explored. This endearing character in the Dragon Ball Z universe, captured in one of his lighter scenes is well executed in new school style but retaining the comic book vibe. The color palette is bright and intense consistent with the theme, shaded with highlights and contour for added dimension.
A black and gray tattoo of a comic book illustration on the upper arm of the wearer. This is a cool concept to a comic book inspired tattoo. The artist captured the elements of anime from the facial features to the tousled look for the hair, a storyline that promises to be complex very soon and limited animation.
A Kakashi portrait executed in realism style of tattooing. This is his classic stance captured as captured by the artist. His hair drawn with volume and texture in ash gray. He has the mysterious quality surrounding his persona as the custom and stylish mask covers half of his face. Kudos to his glam anime artist, his character was styled very well. And in true anime fashion, there is a developing story in this portrait which makes you want to stay on and wait with what’s going to happen next.
A full sleeve tattoo executed in new school style with the deeply saturated colors. Shades of green and blue were smartly used to shade the piece to make the ink work cohesive and balanced in terms of aesthetic. Facial features look highly expressive and exaggerated.
This is a cool and sexy silhouette of a female anime character given form and personality by a play of beautiful colors from the shades of cool blue to the hot and fiery shades of a flaming fire. Black was added for depth setting a fierce tone to this lovely figure carrying a couple of samurais.
A black and gray comic book inspired illustration depicting a story of inner struggle and a tribute to the anime’s largest appeal to its followers is the complexity of its plot. This creation is a monochromatic piece but the artist found a way to communicate the energy through its drawings, adding some details into the facial expression, the stylized hair and the shadowing to add more contrast.
This is a cool anime tattoo inked on the calf. It tells the viewer of a powerful story of a man harnessing his gift, calling on nature to be one with him achieving his goals. This is a well detailed ink work, captured the flow and energy of the water up to the hand that controls it. The deeply lined eyes reveal determination and persistence. Tattoo is small and color palette is muted compared to the other vibrant colored pieces but what it lacks color, its content compensates for it.
An illustration of anime characters in black ink, outlined in fine lines. These are five lovely heroines of the anime planet strategically scattered on the back of this canvas. It has the potential of getting transformed into a fabulous piece one shaded with the brilliant colors of the comic world.
A stunning abstract piece of an anime fight scene. It is striking in color with respect to saturation and contrast. The gorgeous shade of sapphire against the hot flaming tangerine with a hint of black splattered at the edges for added contour.
This Naruto character seems to be popular among the fans. Kakashi Hatake is distinctly recognizable because of his mask which is sleek and custom made for him, his forehead protector containing the Hatake family emblem, and then his very powerful eye, Sharingan eye. In the Naruto world, Sharingan is an ability that allows the user to copy an enemy’s technique simply by viewing it. For Kakashi he uses it to create a localized interdimensional space-time warp, allowing him to target any object and send it to another dimension. This tattoo is of new school style, vibrant colors and powerful shading and contouring for added depth yet the comic vibe is still very much present.
A samurai between his teeth while defending his self, a swordsman determined to become the best at what he does and a competent leader in his crew. His name is Rorona Zoro also known as the “Pirate Hunter” Zoro. He is from the alternate universe of One Piece, a Japanese Manga series. The tattoo itself is in black and gray, mostly, a hint of red was added on the features belt. The illustration is simple but shaded artistically and skilfully to make it look dimensional, not flat.
This anime tattoos feature the Dragon Ball universe with Super Saiyan at the center. This is one the most successful series from the comic book to TV series, films the video games. Goku is endeared to his millions of fans so it’s not surprising that he is one of the favorites among tattoo pieces. This full back tattoo has the beginnings of a great masterpiece. This will definitely look awesome once all the characters are shaded, negative spaces filled in at the background. This is a great ink creation of Goku, he looks powerful, energetic and determined to do what needs to be done. The detail work for his hair is amazing. Contoured to add depth and look more realistic, the same style is applied to the rest of his structure.
Anime Tattoo FAQs
Are anime tattoos illegal?
It is perfectly safe and legal to use anime as a content for tattoo on whichever part of the body. The anime fandom is huge community that made this genre grow and thrive for the several decades. It’s a huge market for the tattoo industry, and at the same time the amount of content which can be derived from anime is tremendous. There is no way that freedom of expression can be snipped in this manner, and definitely not anime when at its core, is storytelling. Elaborate, yes, but still travelling on the same road as freedom of expression. Tattooing and anime are seatmates in the world art, both endeavors should grow along side one another.
There was a social media chatter sometime 2015, when a twitter account posted a link headlining an article declaring anime tattoos as illegal. The article further cited “unsavoury gangster links” and “unlicensed IP [intellectual property] exploitation,” a group comprising every major anime studio (except Gainax) has warned fans that body-art is no longer permissible. Posted on April 1, 2015, fans declared it as hoax shrugging it off as a prank since it was posted on April Fools Day. However, in some other parts of the globe wherein April Fool’s is not part of any tradition, gained traction in some other social media sites but was never taken seriously by the anime fandom.