I’m a huge fan of memes. I know, I hate that I like them, but they’re an undeniably important part of internet culture. They’re dumb, they often make no sense, and they killed humor in a lot of ways, but they’re fun. And as someone who runs an anime blog and also likes anime, yeah, I do enjoy some anime memes, so I thought it’d be interesting to look at some of the best and most important ones we’ve all come to love.
Nico Nico Niiiiii ~
Let’s start off with one that is basically anime memes in a nutshell. It’s dumb, really dumb. It can be kind of annoying, it came out of nowhere, and I’ll never get how it got popular. The line is the catchphrase of Nico Yazawa from Love Live, which is probably largely known by people because of this meme. The meme is, like most, a very simple thing. It’s this clip, but most of the time, only using the like, two-second “Nico Nico Ni” part. In under 10 years, it has almost 9 million views. Quite a bit.
Certainly, some people may find this line cute, but something about the way it was said clearly made it more obnoxious to some, and that’s why it’s remembered. People made remixes of it, distorted the clip, and put it over various visuals like cars, threatening to break people’s nico nico kneecaps. It’s a wild meme but really does show how the smallest clip or insignificant thing can go viral when it comes to the internet. Here’s a great post going more in-depth about the actual meaning of the line.
I love this stupid image so much. I still, years after this became viral, can’t stop laughing at different edits of this scene. This meme, again, is a very simple thing. It’s just a scene of Sasuke from Naruto Shippuden, in this case, being choked by his brother. For some reason, in 2019, this old scene took off, and people started to edit Sasuke being choked by everyone, from other anime characters to choking himself to being choked by real people. It just makes no sense, but it’s the funniest stuff. Not much to talk about, really. It just strangely went viral, but scroll through some of these if you want a good laugh.
Is This a Pigeon?
This is potentially the biggest anime meme of all time or at least pretty close. Largely because most people on the internet have seen this picture at some point or one of its various edits, regardless of if they know anything about anime. The origin of this one isn’t all that obvious but isn’t important to its use either. It’s a clip from an early 90s anime you’ve never heard of called The Brave Fighter Of Sun Fighbird, where this character incorrectly identifies a butterfly as a pigeon due to being an android learning about the world. So really, people use the meme correctly within its own odd context, even for most of the edits.
While you can just post this as a reaction image to someone clearly confused about something, oftentimes, people will paste text over the android or butterfly to express similar feelings of confusion. The meme has been popular for a while, has grown to be one of the biggest image memes on the entirety of the internet, really, and has many, many uses out there because of it. It’s a wonderfully stupid image that’s beautiful edited or not.
Get in the Robot, Shinji!
This meme has different names, all of them explicit, but the one you’ll see floating around the most is usually get in the damn robot, Shinji. This is another interesting meme in the way that no character in the anime actually says this line like this, despite it being very on brand for the show. Basically, this line is just a fun thing to say, kinda like a catchphrase, every time Shinji from Evangelion refuses to pilot his EVA unit, which is quite a lot.
This meme has been around since 2008, it seems, and it’s one of the first things I think about when I hear Evangelion, so that should show you how much it has spread. Perhaps that’s largely because many people don’t like Shinji or are annoyed with him very quickly, so yelling at him feels good. I don’t know, but as someone who likes him a lot, I still want to tell the boy to get in the damn robot from time to time.
People Die If They Are Killed
Now, we’re getting into some of the good stuff here. Pidgeon meme is still more widely used, but when it comes to stupid anime translations or lines taken out of context, nothing looks worse than when Shirou drops the absolute truth on us in Deen’s Fate/Stay Night and tells us that people do in fact die when they are killed as we all expected.
This line deserves an entire post dedicated to it one day, but for as dumb as the line looks, especially in the same franchise where another character says, “the archer class really is made up of archers.” But both lines actually make sense in context, even if they are a tad weird. Rin is referring to the fact that the class called “archer” has a lot of bow users. Dumb, yes, but a perfectly acceptable line.
Shirou’s line actually makes sense, believe it or not. While it’s obvious that people die if they’re killed, what this line is in reference to is Shirou discussing his own morality and the fact that as a human, his body won’t regenerate, and he’ll feel pain like all humans. He’ll die when and if he’s killed. That’s where the line comes from. Still, a strange way to word it, but it makes perfect sense.
It’s over 9000!!!!
I think pretty much everyone knows the origin of this meme. There’s no editing involved. This meme is literally just the famous voice clip from Dragonball Z. Vegeta scans Goku’s power level. He sees it’s over 9000 and yells about it. And thus, a meme was born. A meme’s survivability definitely has something to do with how versatile it is, and I say it’s over 9000 all the time. It’s just a nice repeatable line that basically everyone knows at this point.
You Are Already Dead
Ah, another famous one I feel like most people don’t know the origin of. The more famous line is actually the Japanese line, though, the Omae Wa Mou Shindeiru, usually followed by Nani?! with some sound effect. This comes from Fist of the North Star, which I think a lot of people have heard of, regardless of if they connect the dots of where this meme came from.
Like many of the bigger ones, This meme is very widely used, actually, even if it’s only in very specific situations. If I appear behind someone in a game and wack them, or if an enemy teleports or appears behind me, you’ll usually hear me say the famous Omae wa mou shindeiru, usually followed by that nani, or just saying the nani. It’s just a good clip and a meme that, while very specific, has situations that comes up fairly often, as strange as that is.
Heart of the Cards
I’m hesitant to call this one a meme because it isn’t really infamous, so much as it’s just a popularly used line, but if it’s over 9000 counts, then so does this. English dubs give us lots of good meme material and stupid lines, but Yugi’s famous “believe in the heart of the cards” for literally anything, like it’s some deity to him, is pretty high up there.
English dubs used to be a national treasure, I swear. They were so enjoyable in the past. Now, while they’re probably a more consistent quality overall, they just don’t give us the heart of the cards, or the sometimes brutal insults in the first season of Pokemon, or any of the great moments we remember. I’ll always believe in the heart of the cards, ok? No matter how many years pass.
Top 10 Anime Memes
This isn’t talking about the top 10 anime memes, actually. This is talking about the anime meme that is making fun of top 10s. The meme seems to have originated from WatchMojo videos on YouTube that often do Top 10 videos on a variety of topics, including anime. The biggest of these people will say is anytime someone betrays someone or something shocking happens, you’ll usually have the one person that says “top 10 anime betrayals” or something like that.
It’s yet another very versatile meme that people can say almost like a catchphrase, and because of that, it has stood the test of time, and I often find myself saying the exact same thing. In a lot of ways, I feel like meme and internet culture has basically destroyed humor, making it more akin to repeating lines at certain times rather than actual jokes, but hey, it’s still kind of funny.
There are obviously many more anime memes out there and even more important or well-known ones. The point of this was never to make a perfect list, as I could never do that, but just give a little run down to some of my favorites, and I think I did that. Stick around to see a more in-depth look at the origin of these memes in the future, as I’d love to do that.