Anime Tattoo Guide For Japanese Animation Lovers

Anime tattoo lovers are before all – anime lovers. The influence of this amazing world of Japanese animation has spread into the tattoo world quite easily, thanks to its unique aesthetics.

Anime has made a tremendous impact on the world at large and in the 21 first century, it’s bigger than ever.

No matter your favorite genre, there is surely an anime out there for you, whether you like comedy, action, romance or horror.

And for many of us, we grew up watching anime and continue to enjoy our favorites to this day – including the tattoo artists here at Tattoo Stylist.

Now, in front of us lies the difficult task of trying to summarize the anime tattoo world into one blog post.

We’ll try to answer what are the most common anime symbol tattoo designs and to give you tattoo inspiration for the world’s favorite anime characters like Naruto, Dragon Ball, Pokemon and more.

To check out some of the best anime tattoo designs we’ve found, scroll down and take a look!

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Every Tattoo Has A Story – What Do People Get Anime Tattoos?

The anime world has a plethora of series and an even larger army of fans.

The people who love and enjoy the genre have spent literally dozens of hours with these characters and their stories. So much so, that the journeys of the characters have become the fans’ journeys, too.

It is easy to relate to these, all things considered, human characters and what they go through.

Maybe a particular anime “hits close to home” for the fan and they found the characters relatable.

For example, in the case of Pokemon and given the number of episodes, the series has been with some people for the most part of their lives.

Some of them might’ve used playing the games to get them through dark times, happy times or hard times.

Many that decide to get an anime tattoo get something classic like from an old Ghibli movie or something that’s nostalgic like Pokemon.

The majority of people connect anime tattoos with the Japanese culture, just like they would do with cherry blossoms.

Getting an anime tattoo is also a great way to show your love for this form of art. The scenes or characters from your favorite series is just a way of showing your fascination with it.

When it comes to meaning, the particular anime image that you choose for the tattoo designs actually determines the meaning.

That said, if you choose a superhero or villain from an anime movie, your anime tattoo could mean that you relate to their character or you just liked it very much.

If your favorite character has an animal with them, like a wolf or bear, you can also include them for added meaning.

A ninja design like Naruto represents a symbol of strength and courage, and so having him as a part of your anime tattoo will help portray these traits while, for example, adding the famous Sonic can symbolize speed.

There are of course ultra-hardcore anime fans that would get the totems from their favorite anime series as a way of identifying each other.

All in all, anime series do serve many life lessons to its fans, and that’s why they are so relatable in the end.

One of these are the Dragon Ball Z life lessons, that include:

  • The harder you work on yourself, the more successful you’ll become.
  • No matter how successful you are, there’s always someone out there who’s achieved more.
  • Life’s challenges are never-ending.

And it’s life lessons like these that make anime series legendary.

Best Tattoo Style For An Anime Tattoo

Given the fact that anime series are illustrated, translating them to the illustrative world of tattoos was a no-brainer.

There are many fans of the anime shows that want to make the connection they feel with the said character eternal.

Even though anime has been influenced by the West, especially the work of Walt Disney, Japanese animation has developed a distinctive visual style that is very artistic, dramatic, and unparalleled globally.

How does this style connect with the tattoo art? Mostly with three commonly used tattoo styles for an anime tattoo.

New School Tattoo Style

The New School tattoo style surged from the American traditional style with a modern, bold and more 3D aesthetic.

It also features a very vibrant color palette, much like the anime cartoons, which made these two worlds an instant match.

New School tattoos are also very illustrative in themselves, featuring a more fantastic perspective to elements, with attention to details parallel to the ones in anime. That said, with these two, you can perfectly keep the color, detail or the depth of the art piece.

Anime cartoons are also known for a use of bold colors and details to tell a story, so combining these two for a tattoo is the perfect match.

Illustrative Anime Tattoo Style

Since we are talking about fan art for an animated genre, illustrative tattoo style comes in as a handy option for those wanting a more sleek, stripped down look.

The main difference to the previous style is the level of depth your tattoo design will have.

If you’re looking for a tattoo that looks more like a 2-dimensional sketch or a manga scene, you should go for an illustrative anime tattoo.

Japanese Anime Tattoo Style

Japanese style of tattooing is all about rich shapes and over-exaggerated features.

This style also doesn’t shy away from deep colors, mythological characters and dramatic perspective.

That said, if you want an anime tattoo that looks full, impactful and covers a larger space on your body, Japanese style is definitely one to consider.

This style lends itself really well to anime series that are geared more toward the horror genre, because of the effects such designs can create.

Best Anime Tattoo Placements

The anime world is so rich and full of scenes to reference, that sometimes an anime tattoo calls for a large piece.

Especially if you want to dedicate your new ink to a more elaborate story like Pokemon, or Naruto, going for an anime tattoo sleeve might be your best shot.

Smaller pieces are perfectly fine, too (who hasn’t yet seen Ariana Grande’s adorable Chihiro tattoo?), and in fact are common.

Anime hand tattoo is a popular choice, as well, as it gives you the opportunity to feature a character boldly and completely on a reduced space.

Below you will see anime tattoo designs in all shapes an size, so let’s jump into it!

Anime Tattoo Ideas

To help you with your research for your next tattoo design, we went on a hunt through Instagram to find the best anime tattoo ideas.

Take a look below to check them out all:

Death Note Tattoo

Death Note is a Japanese manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata.

Story

The story follows Light Yagami, a teen genius who discovers a mysterious notebook: the “Death Note”, which belonged to the Shinigami Ryuk, and grants the user the supernatural ability to kill anyone whose name is written in its pages.

The series centers around Light’s subsequent attempts to use the Death Note to carry out a worldwide massacre of individuals whom he deems immoral and to create a crime-free society, using the alias of a god-like vigilante named “Kira”, and the subsequent efforts of an elite Japanese police task force, led by enigmatic detective L, to apprehend him.

Air time

A 37-episode anime television series adaptation, produced by Madhouse and directed by Tetsurō Araki, was broadcast in Japan on Nippon Television from October 2006 to June 2007.

Death Notes tattoos

This dark themed anime series is very popular among the horror tattoo lovers. Death note tattoo designs can feature blood, the demon-looking Ryuk character and other eery elements.

Naruto Tattoo

Naruto is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto.

Story

It tells the story of Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja who seeks recognition from his peers and dreams of becoming the Hokage, the leader of his village.

The story is told in two parts – the first set in Naruto’s pre-teen years, and the second in his teens.

Success

Naruto is the fourth best-selling manga series in history, selling 250 million copies worldwide in 46 countries, with 153 million of the sales in Japan alone and remaining 97 million copies elsewhere.

Naruto tattoos

Bright colors and a vibrant aesthetic make Naruto tattoos very popular among its fans, from small pieces to elaborate Naruto tattoo sleeves.

Sailor Moon Tattoo

Sailor Moon (later as Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon) is a Japanese shōjo manga series written and illustrated by Naoko Takeuchi.

Story

The series follows the adventures of a schoolgirl named Usagi Tsukino as she transforms into Sailor Moon to search for a magical artifact, the “Legendary Silver Crystal”.

She leads a group of comrades, the Sailor Soldiers (Sailor Guardians in later editions) as they battle against villains to prevent the theft of the Silver Crystal and the destruction of the Solar System.

Air time

It was originally serialized in Nakayoshi from 1991 to 1997; the 60 individual chapters were published in 18 tankōbon volumes.

The manga was adapted into an anime series produced by Toei Animation and broadcast in Japan from 1992 to 1997.

Sailor Moon tattoos

This anime is a favorite when it comes to the tattoo world, with Sailor Moon tattoos appearing in almost all anime tattoo top charts.

One Piece Tattoo

One Piece (stylized as ONE PIECE) is a Japanese anime television series based on Eiichiro Oda’s manga series of the same name.

Story

The story follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, a boy whose body gained the properties of rubber after unintentionally eating a Devil Fruit.

With his crew of pirates, named the Straw Hat Pirates, Luffy explores the Grand Line in search of the world’s ultimate treasure known as “One Piece” in order to become the next Pirate King.

Air time

One Piece premiered in Japan on Fuji TV in October 1999, has aired over 970 episodes, and has been exported to various countries around the world.

One Piece tattoos

These tattoos are usually very vibrant and colorful.

The scenes they feature vary from the fighting scenes to the more funny ones capturing the characters having fun.

Princess Mononoke Tattoo

Princess Mononoke is a 1997 Japanese epic fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, animated by Studio Ghibli.

Story

Princess Mononoke is set in the late Muromachi period of Japan (approximately 1336 to 1573 CE), but it includes fantasy elements.

The story follows a young Emishi prince named Ashitaka, and his involvement in a struggle between the gods of a forest and the humans who consume its resources.

The term Mononoke is not a name, but a Japanese word for supernatural, shape-shifting bein gs that possess people and cause suffering, disease, or death.

Airtime

The film was released in Japan on July 12, 1997, and in the United States on October 29, 1999. It was a critical and commercial blockbuster, becoming the highest-grossing film in Japan of 1997, and also held Japan’s box office record for domestic films until 2001’s Spirited Away, another Miyazaki film.

Princess Mononoke Tattoos

The princess and her beautiful wolf are the common elements featured in the Princess Mononoke tattoo designs, with different interpretations and versions of the scenes from the movie.

Spirited Away Tattoo

Spirited Away is a 2001 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, animated by Studio Ghibli.

Story

Spirited Away tells the story of Chihiro Ogino (Hiiragi), a 10-year-old girl who, while moving to a new neighbourhood, enters the world of Kami (spirits of Japanese Shinto folklore).

After her parents are turned into pigs by the witch Yubaba (Natsuki), Chihiro takes a job working in Yubaba’s bathhouse to find a way to free herself and her parents and return to the human world.

Yubaba takes away the second kanji of her name, Chihiro, renaming her Sen. Haku later warns her that if she forgets her name like he has forgotten his, she will not be able to leave the spirit world.

While working, she invites a silent creature named No-Face inside, believing him to be a customer.

Release

Originally released in Japan on 20 July 2001 by distributor Toho, the film received universal acclaim.

Spirited Away Tattoos

Spirited Away tattoo designs can feature different characters – lovely Chihiro, the dragon Haku, the spirit No Face, and other small characters and scenes from the castle.

Berserk Tattoo

Berserk is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Kentaro Miura.

Story

Set in a medieval Europe-inspired dark fantasy world, the story centers on the characters of Guts, a lone mercenary, and Griffith, the leader of a mercenary band called the “Band of the Hawk”.

Miura premiered a prototype of Berserk in 1988. The series began the following year in the Hakusensha’s now-defunct magazine Monthly Animal House, which was replaced in 1992 by the semimonthly magazine Young Animal, where Berserk continues to be published intermittently. Miura died of aortic dissection in May 2021, leaving it unclear whether the manga will continue to be serialized.

Airtime

Berserk was adapted into a 25-episode anime television series by Oriental Light and Magic, which covered the Golden Age story arc, and was broadcast from October 1997 to March 1998.

Berserk Tattoos

Again, with the Berserk tattoo designs we have a more dark vibe, especially since it’s set in the cruel and obscure medieval European times.

There is the small token tattoo many fans get, all the way to entire Berserk tattoo sleeves.

Dragon Ball Z Tattoo

Dragon Ball is a Japanese media franchise created by Akira Toriyama in 1984.

The anime, particularly Dragon Ball Z, is also highly popular across the world and is considered one of the most influential in boosting the popularity of Japanese animation in Western culture. It has had a considerable impact on global popular culture, referenced by and inspiring numerous artists, athletes, celebrities, filmmakers, musicians and writers across the world.

Story

Dragon Ball was originally inspired by the classical 16th-century Chinese novel Journey to the West, combined with elements of Hong Kong martial arts films.

The series follows the adventures of protagonist Son Goku from his childhood through adulthood as he trains in martial arts. He spends his childhood far from civilization until he meets a teen girl named Bulma, who encourages him to join her quest in exploring the world in search of the seven orbs known as the Dragon Balls, which summon a wish-granting dragon when gathered.

Along his journey, Goku makes several other friends, becomes a family man, discovers his alien heritage, and battles a wide variety of villains, many of whom also seek the Dragon Balls.

Release and air time

The initial manga, written and illustrated by Toriyama, was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1984 to 1995, with the 519 individual chapters collected into 42 tankōbon volumes by its publisher Shueisha.

Toriyama’s manga was adapted and divided into two anime series produced by Toei Animation: Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, which together were broadcast in Japan from 1986 to 1996.

Success

Since its release, Dragon Ball has become one of the most successful manga and anime series of all time, with the manga sold in over 40 countries and the anime broadcast in more than 80 countries. The manga’s 42 collected tankōbon volumes have sold over 160 million copies in Japan, and are estimated to have sold more than 250–300 million copies worldwide, making it two best-selling manga series in history.

Dragon Ball Tattoos

Since this series has such a long history and huge success, the Dragon ball tattoo designs are as varied and diverse as possible.

From colorful, elaborate fighting scenes with Goku, to small outlines of the main characters, the elements of this series are so recognizable that they can offer something for every tattoo lover.

Pokemon Tattoo

Pokémon (an acronym for Pocket Monsters in Japan) is a Japanese media franchise managed by The Pokémon Company, a company founded by Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures.

Story

In Pokémon, humans, known as Pokémon Trainers, catch and train Pokémon to battle other Pokémon for sport.

The concept of the Pokémon universe, in both the video games and the general fictional world of Pokémon, stems from the hobby of insect collecting, a popular pastime which Tajiri enjoyed as a child.

Players are designated as Pokémon Trainers and have three general goals: to complete the regional Pokédex by collecting all of the available Pokémon species found in the fictional region where a game takes place, to complete the national Pokédex by transferring Pokémon from other regions, and to train a team of powerful Pokémon from those they have caught to compete against teams owned by other Trainers so they may eventually win the Pokémon League and become the regional Champion.

Games, shows and other works within the franchise are set in the Pokémon universe. The English slogan for the franchise is “Gotta Catch ‘Em All!”.

There are currently 898 Pokémon species

Release and air time

The franchise was created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1995, and it’s still active to this day.

Pokemon tattoos

With such a huge number of characters – both human and Pokemon – the Pokemon tattoo designs are as versatile as an anime tattoo can get.

You can get a specific Pokemon tattooed, or a combination of them in a scene to create an elaborate Pokemon tattoo sleeve.

Fullmetal Alchemist Tattoo

Fullmetal Alchemist is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa.

Story

The steampunk world of Fullmetal Alchemist is primarily styled after the European Industrial Revolution.

Set in the early 20th century, in a fictional universe in which alchemy is a widely practiced science, the series follows the journey of two alchemist brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who are searching for the philosopher’s stone to restore their bodies after a failed attempt to bring their mother back to life using alchemy.

Release

It was serialized in Square Enix’s Monthly Shōnen Gangan shōnen manga anthology magazine between July 2001 and June 2010; the publisher later collected the individual chapters into twenty-seven tankōbon volumes.

The manga has sold over 80 million volumes worldwide, making it one of the best-selling manga series.

Fullmetal Alchemist tattoos

Fullmetal Alchemist tattoo designs are often centered around the steampunk totem symbol of the series. It can also feature other elements and symbols, usually to create an abstract design that is dark in nature.

Attack on Titan Tattoo

Attack on Titan is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama.

Story

It is set in a world where humanity lives inside cities surrounded by three enormous walls that protect them from the gigantic man-eating humanoids referred to as Titans; the story follows Eren Yeager, who vows to exterminate the Titans after a Titan brings about the destruction of his hometown and the death of his mother.

Release

Attack on Titan was serialized in Kodansha’s monthly shōnen manga magazine Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine from September 2009 to April 2021, with its chapters collected in 34 tankōbon volumes.

Attack on Titan Tattoos

Attack on Titan tattoo designs can feature the main characters Captain Levi or Mikasa, as well as the wings and the Ackerman clan.

Are you looking for a custom anime tattoo design? We got you.

Our expert tattoo artists will provide a quick initial draft to get you going.
Happy inking ❤

Milena Petrovic

Milena Petrovic

Co-founder of Tattoo Stylist

About the author

Milena has decided to start an organization that will create a safe environment for everybody to get their first, second or third tattoo and to encourage young people to transform their ideas into tattoos safely, with talent and vision.

You can find her writing about tattoos on Quora or updating our Pinterest profile with awesome tattoo ideas!