Anime is taking over American pop-culture and those iconic characters seem to be popping up everywhere—including the tattoo world. At Hart & Huntington Orlando, we've been getting more and more requests for these fantastical characters, so we're going to give you a closer look into the world of Anime Tattoos.

Anime, short for animation, is what people living outside of Japan call cartoons or movies produced within Japan. Anime, the word used exclusively for animation, is primarily based on Japanese-style comic books and graphic novels that non-Japanese fans coin manga. While manga is typically black and white, anime is full of bright, vivid colors. But one thing’s for sure, if you’ve seen an anime character you’ll know it! They have a look and feel all their own.

The beloved anime characters are easily recognizable—with large glistening eyes, very small mouths, broad heart-shaped faces, pointy chins, and large hair. But not just any hair. Luis Morales, Hart & Huntington Orlando tattoo artist says, "The hair has a certain flow that is contoured by lighting, shadows and color variations." So what are some of the other characteristics of a "sugoi" or "amazing" anime tattoo? “Making the tattoo look as much like the characters as possible and mimicking the same characteristics used by the animation artist,” says Stephanie James, another one of our creative minds and tattoo artists at Hart & Huntington Orlando.

"Anime uses clean, bright colors and proper proportions. If you're not using the rules of Anime, it will not reflect the style. It will just look like a general cartoon."

Stephanie James

Like any other tattoo, the attention is in the details. Chris Edge, tattoo artist at Hart & Huntington Orlando, shares, "A really good anime tattoo is not too far off from what defines any good tattoo—being easily recognizable from across the street. It's all about capturing the essence of the characters and their individual style. But if you want to break it down to the nitty-gritty, a really good anime tattoo will have super solid outlines, a lot of heavy contrast, and really, really good color." Talk to any of our Hart & Huntington Orlando tattoo artists, and they will all agree that color is one of the most important aspects of an anime tattoo. Morales says, "Color saturation and vibrance very specific to the character is critical. Anime fans know their stuff, down to the details, and they know what they want to see in their character.” But it goes beyond that.

You need to have some vision, a story creation line because when you develop a character, you need to respect who they are, what kind of powers they have, and the exact color.

Luis Morales

So, do you need to find a tattoo artist that knows anime inside and out? Not necessarily. But it helps. "Finding a person who's gonna love what they're putting on you and is going to go that extra mile to be more creative, maybe add to your idea because they know the content of the show, movie, or book is an awesome thing to look for in any tattoo artist," Edge says.

    "You want someone who will be excited about what you're asking for. When a tattoo artist loves the content, it kicks into high gear. This is what separates a tattoo that you're going to love from a cookie cutter design found on the internet."

    Chris Edge

    Stephanie James couldn't agree with her colleague more. "You gotta love what you do," says James. And, James loves nothing more than seeing her ideas come to life—being able to create something that can be a part of that person forever. "That's another fun part of my job—helping people create the design they envision and then bring that idea to life" James says. Whatever you have in mind for your tattoo, one of the first things you want to think about is placement—and not just for an anime tattoo. This applies to any style tattoo you are considering. Do you want big or small, inconspicuous, or a tattoo that covers most of your leg?

    Whether you are looking for something wild and large or super obscure, placement is the first thing to think about with any tattoo.

    Stephanie James

    Think about whether or not your anime or manga tattoo will be a standalone piece, integrated into other pieces, or even a full sleeve. That will help you narrow down your character and also dictate the size. The details will evolve from there. You will want to consider a more prominent placement if you have an idea for something very intricate with many characters and details. If you are looking for a small placement, consider the most important characters and details and go from there.

    Anime tattoos are a great expression of escapism and mysticism. For super-fans they carry great significance and an emotional attachment. But even if you aren't an anime super-fan, the bottom line is—these iconic tattoos just look damn good.

    Stop into Hart & Huntington Orlando and chat with one of our tattoo artists. There's no doubt they can bring your vision to life, and chances are they will help evolve your tattoo into a piece of art beyond your wildest dreams. So…”kakatte koi yo.”

    Hart & Huntington Orlando Tattoo Artists Share Their Favorite Anime Characters and Shows.

    Chris Edge

    • Death Note 
    • Attack on Titan

    Luis Morales

    • Gon, Hunter X
    • Goku

    Stephanie James

    • Ending Yoshi
    • Cowboy Bebop
    • Naruto