As denizens of the internet and card-carrying members of the anime community, we’re all very familiar with memes. They run the gamut from endlessly adaptable screencaps and common tropes to inspired remixes and dances that sweep conventions all over the world. Today, we’re taking a look at five of the most iconic memes the anime fandom has ever created, just to show that weeb culture is truly a wondrous thing.
5. Eurobeat Songs from Initial D First Stage
The 1998 street racing anime Initial D (along with its many sequels) is a veritable fountain of memes. We’ve got hilarious CG cars, distinctly unattractive character designs, “multi-track drifting”... but above them all towers the infamous Eurobeat-infused soundtrack. “Déjà Vu”, “Running in the ‘90s”, and “Gas Gas Gas” have all become household names among anime fans, and YouTubers continue to create Eurobeat remixes of popular anime songs to this very day! If you’ve never heard the Eurobeat version of “Daddy Daddy Do”, you’re seriously missing out.
4. The Yamcha Pose from Dragon Ball Z
Yamcha’s crumpled death pose is a particular favorite of Japanese otakus, stemming from an early episode of Dragon Ball Z where a single weak enemy self-destructs and manages to kill the poor sap in one hit. It’s often used as the Japanese equivalent of “epic fail”, and the pose has become so ubiquitous over the years that it’s shown up in two Dragon Ball Z video games. Plus, there’s even an official Bandai figure of Yamcha in this exact same pose, and its description states that “With it, you can bring a hopeless battle feel to any everyday scene.” Yamcha should be proud of his legacy, especially since he never did anything important after that.
3. Truck-kun from Every Isekai Ever
Isekai anime are so common these days that they’ve all started to blend together – many of them use the same tired tropes over and over, such as the protagonist getting run over by a truck while trying to push an oblivious child out of the way. This is all to facilitate the main character’s reincarnation while immediately establishing them as a good person, of course, but it’s so morbid and specific that it’s become a meme. Our favorite send-up of “Truck-kun” actually comes from Zombieland Saga, where the speeding vehicle unceremoniously kills main character Sakura within the first five minutes of the show to the tune of screaming death metal. Definitely some of Truck-kun’s finest work.
2. To Be Continued from JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is one of the weirdest anime franchises known to man and boasts a fiercely devoted fanbase, so naturally, it owns a sizeable chunk of the meme market. It’s hard to pare such a wealth of fabulous poses, hammy lines, and inexplicable torture dances down to just one meme to rule them all, but we’d say that the most pervasive Jojoke among the wider anime community is the “To Be Continued” arrow used at the end of most episodes. Countless YouTube compilations edit the arrow (as well as the first season’s ED, “Roundabout”) on top of famous cliffhangers or videos taken seconds before disaster. Some adventurous congoers have even cosplayed the “To Be Continued” arrow!
1. The Hare Hare Yukai Dance from Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)
If you were an otaku in the mid to late 2000s, you knew that Haruhi Suzumiya was the undisputed goddess of anime. Kyoto Animation’s first breakout hit The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya practically took over the whole community, and the dance featured in its ED “Hare Hare Yukai” became a staple at anime conventions the world over. There were live performances with Haruhi’s seiyuu Aya Hirano, instructional videos, flash mobs, and even prison inmates in the Philippines who danced along to the J-pop tune. To this day, cosplayers gather together to recapture the joy that “Hare Hare Yukai” brought to them almost 15 years ago.
Other iconic anime memes include the “Caramelldansen” dance (almost as popular as “Hare Hare Yukai”), the infamous “anime was a mistake” quote mistranslated from an interview with Hayao Miyazaki, Fist of the North Star’s badass one-liner “Omae wa mo shindeiru”, Fate/Stay Night’s delightful fansub line “People die if they are killed”, and 4chan’s intentionally terrible Meduka Meguca threads.
What did you think of our list? Did we miss any of your favorite anime memes? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!