Anime is an incredibly popular cartoon genre all over the world, and some hardcore fans choose to show off their love through body art. If you’re getting an anime tattoo, you want to be sure that you’...

Anime Tattoos: All You’ve Ever Wanted To Know

Anime is an incredibly popular cartoon genre all over the world, and some hardcore fans choose to show off their love through body art. If you’re getting an anime tattoo, you want to be sure that you’re getting the best artwork possible, as with any tattoo, so it’s important to look into different tattoo styles to see which ones fit best. Some work better than others when it comes to anime tattoos, and not every style does this genre of tattooing proper justice. We offer advice on which tattoo styles are best suited to anime tattoo designs, and show you some of our favorite tattoos out there right now. If you don’t know much about anime, be prepared to make a list of must-see series and films, and get some inspiration into your next tattoo.

New School Anime Tattoo Style

The New School tattoo style is the best one suited for anime tattoos, and there’s a good reason why we say that. This style is known for its bold, vibrant colors, and use of detailing and shading to create depth and a 3D effect. 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. New School tattoos tend to feature cartoon-style designs anyway, so your beloved anime characters can easily be depicted in a tattoo using this tattoo style, without having to compromise color, detail or depth. A number of anime cartoons are drawn using a similar aesthetic to the New School tattoos, the only thing you need to do is make sure you find an artist who excels in this particular tattoo style to do the ink for you.

Illustrative Anime Tattoo Style

As far as tattoo styles go, Illustrative works with almost any kind of cartoon-type of design. The only difference between choosing an Illustrative or New School anime tattoo is the level of depth you want – do you want it to have a 3D effect, or do you want a tattoo that looks like a sketch or a painting? Both are great options, but with the Illustrative style, there tends to be more of a 2-dimensional appearance. If you’re looking for an anime tattoo that’s true to the original manga style, Illustrative may be the best style option for your ink.

Japanese Anime Tattoo Style

Japanese style of tattooing is all about sharp angles and over-exaggerated features. 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. The process is normally done by hand, using specialized tools, so it takes longer than those done using tattoo machines, but the experience is a unique one that you’re unlikely to forget. If you want a true Japanese tattoo featuring anime designs, consider going with a Japanese style.

Most Popular Anime for Tattoos

We scoured the internet to find the best anime tattoos that pay tribute to some of the most popular anime series and feature films. We delve into some of these shows, and give you some inspiration by showcasing the designs that we thought made for top notch anime tattoos. Learn about some of the most widely known anime series and gather inspiration for your next tattoo, all in one spot!

Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Z Tattoo Sleeve

Dragon Ball Z is an anime series that first aired from 1989-1996. There was a second round of episodes of the series which aired from 2009-2011, and a continued run from 2014-2015. This anime series is considered a childhood classic for many young adults. The show focuses on a boy named Goku and his friends as they defend the Earth against evildoers, robots, and other creatures from the universe. The original series followed the main character from childhood to adolescence, while the follow-up series continued into his adult life, with the addition of his own children and their adventures. Dragon Ball Z is one of the most recognizable names in anime cartoons, one that many are familiar with even without ever having seen the show.

It should come as no surprise that Dragon Ball Z is one of the top choices for anime tattoo designs. This Goku sleeve is one of the best we’ve come across, due to the amount of detail and the story it tells. Every piece of negative space in the area is filled in by something to do with the show, making an entirely DBZ themed sleeve. Hardcore fans take note – this is how you rock a killer Dragon Ball Z tattoo.

Sailor Moon

If you were a girl in the 90s, odds are you’re familiar with Sailor Moon and her planetary gang. Along with her Sailor Soldiers, the titular school girl turns into her alter ego to fight off dark forces who try to capture the Legendary Silver Crystal, and save the solar system. The show ran from 1991-1997, making a huge cultural impact that lasts even now. Female crime fighters took the stage, and have continued to do so since the show’s run.

There are many design options for Sailor Moon tattoos, and there’s a huge variety of anime tattoos dedicated to Sailor Moon out there. The symbols for each Sailor are a popular choice, as is Sailor Moon’s crystal wand, but we felt that this particular design is one of the best we’ve come across. It encapsulates the heroine herself in her classic post-transformation pose. There’s zero question that anyone who has a tattoo like this is a huge Sailor Moon fan.

Sailor Moon Full Color Tattoo

Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop is an anime cartoon set in the future following the adventures of a bounty hunter and his associates. This show had a short run in the late 1990s, but is considered one of the greatest anime series of all time. Cowboy Bebop is said to be responsible for introducing a new audience of viewers in North America to anime in the 2000s after its initial run in Japan.

As far as anime tattoos go, this design is a winner. It features the main character and creatively adds some details of the show using his hair as a frame. The spaceship that the characters travel in is just as much of a character on the show as the people in it, so it’s fitting that it would be featured in an anime tattoo that pays tribute to the iconic show. There are tons of design options for anime tattoos of this particular cartoon, but this one is our favorite Cowboy Bebop one so far.


Trash Polka Style Naruto Tattoo

Initially published as a manga comic in 1997, Naruto was adapted into an animated series which aired from 1999 to 2014. Naruto is the third best selling manga series worldwide, making it one of the most popular anime series in the world. The two-part series follows teen ninja Naruto Uzumaki on many adventures as he seeks to be recognized by his village, while showing that he would be fit to, one day, become the leader of the village.

We chose this trash polka Naruto tattoo as our favorite because it’s so incredibly unique. This is the first anime tattoo that we’ve seen done in this style, and it works perfectly with this design. The chaotic style emphasizes the tumultuous nature of Naruto’s journey to become accepted and admired. Before seeing this design, we wouldn’t have said that trash polka is a good style for anime tattoos, but, clearly, we were mistaken.

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki Cat Tattoo on Shoulder Blade

This 1989 anime feature film focuses on the story of a little girl witch in a new village as she uses her ability to fly to start a delivery service and earn an income. It was written, produced and directed by Studio Ghibli favorite Hayao Miyazaki, and has become wildly popular since it was first released in Japan. The film didn’t reach the US until 1997, where there were 2 versions dubbed in English, one of which was released by Disney. The Disney version features a number of famous voices such as Kirsten Dunst as Kiki, Phil Hartman as Jiji, Janeane Garofalo as Ursula.

Jiji the cat is by far the most beloved character in the film, so it should come as no surprise that fans of the movie choose to get his likeness when it comes to their anime tattoos. We’ve chosen this one to feature as it has not only Jiji with his adorably large eyes and red bowtie, but he’s surrounded by Susuwatari – the infamous sootballs of the Studio Ghibli universe. It’s a simple design but this anime tattoo shows clear love for this famous movie.

Death Note

Death Note Evil Face Tattoo

Death Note is a controversial anime series that has been adapted and rebooted a few different times. Originally a manga comic, it spawned an anime tv series which ran from 2006- 2007, with two TV movies made in 2007, and then 2008. Years later the series was rebooted, with a live-action feature film released to mixed reviews in 2017. On its original release in the 2006, there were attempts to ban the show due to violent content and a spike of copycat crimes in Japan, but this controversy only seemed to help the series become a cultural phenomenon.

We chose this truly terrifying depiction Ryuk as one of the best anime tattoos we’ve come across, because it really is the stuff of nightmares. He’s a horrifying and evil character, and this black and grey tattoo emphasizes each of his features to illustrative that. From his pointed teeth to his pig nose, it’s clear that this tattoo artist did the character of Ryuk justice, even if L is still fighting for it in the Death Note universe.

Spirited Away

Spirited Away Tattoo on a Forearm

Spirited Away is the 2nd highest grossing anime film of all time, and most successful film in Japanese history. It was originally released in 2001 in Japan and won the Academy Award for best animated feature two years later. Spirited Away is about a young girl whose family moves to a new neighborhood, and enters into the spirit world. Her parents are turned into pigs by the local witch, and the girl must take a job as a way to free herself and her parents from the world of spirits.

We love this simple, yet somehow complex geometric blackwork tattoo as our favorite for this anime tattoo, because it features the major players in the story. There are many scenes going on in this one anime tattoo, and the more you look at it, the more details you notice in the design. No Face is a super popular choice for anime tattoo designs, but we like that this particular tattoo features more than just that famous character.

My Neighbor Totoro

Studio Ghibli Anime Tattoo Sleeve

The late 1980s was a great time for anime feature films, especially those made by Studio Ghibli master filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. My Neighbor Totoro follows two young girls as they move into a farmhouse and encounter friendly woodland spirits. This anime classic has become a huge cultural icon, both the film and its characters, amassing a major cult following worldwide. Totoro is considered one of, if not the most, popular Japanese anime characters.

We love this collage sleeve anime tattoo, because it incorporates all of the most popular characters in Studio Ghibli universe, with Totoro being front and centre in the design. The entire area is filled in with details from these anime features, and the use of illustration and colors really make the overall design pop.


If you know nothing about anime and have never seen an episode in your life, chances are pretty good that you’ve at least heard of Yu-Gi-Oh. The show initially aired from April to October of 1998, spawning a feature film the following year, and then the ever-popular trading cards. The series is about a boy named Yugi who gets bullied while trying to play various games that he loves. He comes across an ancient puzzle, the Millennium Puzzle, which allows his body to act as a host to gambling spirit. Whenever he or his friends are threatened from that point on, he channels this spirit and challenges people with dark hearts to Shadow Games which reveal their true nature.

The show only aired for a few months in one year, but it’s still just as popular among 90s kids as it was then. We chose this anime tattoo of Toon World from the show as our favorite Yu-Gi-Oh tattoo, because of the vibrant colors and more subtle reference to the series. It’s not immediately clear that this is an anime tattoo, it’s one that only true Yu-Gi-Oh fans will get.

Houses and Books Tattoo Representing Yugioh

Anime tattoos are the perfect way to show your love of the genre, and to rep your favorite characters. You can go the obvious route and have the characters largely featured, or you can take a more subtle approach using symbols and landscapes from your favorite animated series. Whatever option you go with, there’s a ton of room to be creative with your anime tattoo, just make sure you choose a tattoo artist who’s skilled in whatever tattoo style you ultimately want your tattoo to be in.

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