There are many things synonymous with manga and anime that pretty much everyone adores. One such aspect of anime that has remained consistent since the early going is the tendency for anime characters to strike a truly over-the-top pose that seems highly impractical yet immensely satisfying to watch at the same time.
These poses have become a part of the public consciousness — even those that have never watched anime might recognize them from memes, and easter eggs tucked away in other media.
Updated on November 13, 2022, by Ritwik Mitra: Most anime definitely go above and beyond when it comes to making their scenes as flamboyant and entertaining as possible. Even a single conversation can end up having an energetic personality of its own, with characters emoting in a way that is completely unthinkable in real life. One need only see the many poses that characters pull off in anime to see just how iconic they really are, with the best of the bunch being mentioned below. Chances are that a person even remotely familiar will be quite familiar with the majority of poses on this list.
20/20 The Ginyu Force (Dragon Ball)
The Ginyu Force is one of the most notable groups of villains in the Namek Saga, appearing around a time when Vegeta and the Z Warriors were trying their hardest to get the Dragon Balls and revive their friends. After the death of Zarbon and Dodoria, Frieza decided to pull out all the stops in a bid to try and secure his wish.
The manner in which the Ginyu Force appears and poses seems absolutely ridiculous… but that betrays the true extent of their powers. They wipe the floor with the heroes, although Goku comes and saves the day by showing how strong he’s become after training extensively.
Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the greatest anime ever made, with its characters being quite memorable in their own right. One such character who is one of the most entertaining parts of the show is Major Armstrong.
This bald hulk has some amazing shapely muscles — something that he is acutely aware of. He never misses out on an opportunity to flex his muscles and show his body off, and viewers love him all the more for it.
18/20 The Pillar Men Introduction (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a series full to the brim with over-the-top and memorable poses. Araki loves to break all the bones in the body of his heroes with their poses, and it seems that the villains have been given the same treatment as well.
This can be seen with the introduction of the Pillar Men, who are easily three of the strongest villains in the series. The fact that the first thing they do after regaining control over their bodies is pose shows exactly what JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is all about — style, substance, and a lot of entertainment in one amazing package.
17/20 Guts Crouched In Berserker Armor (Berserk)
The Berserker Armor is one of the most iconic pieces of equipment in anime history. The manner in which this armor pierces Guts’ flesh to make him more effective is absolutely brutal and proves just how much of a monster Guts really is that he’s able to annihilate pretty much everyone with this armor on.
One of the volumes of Berserk covers penned by the late great Miura shows Guts crouched pensively in this armor. This shot is so iconic that Miyazaki decided to use the same pose for Artorias, who is one of the best video game bosses of all time.
16/20 Instant Transmission (Dragon Ball)
Instant Transmission is a technique that is used to great effect in Dragon Ball. Goku learned this technique when he was stranded on Yardrat, allowing him to move at the speed of light and essentially transport himself whenever he wanted.
The simple shot of Goku putting two fingers on his forehead is infinitely memorable and something that fans have replicated many times. Since the Instant Transmission technique has been used several times across the series, this pose hasn’t died down in pop culture and won’t anytime soon, either.
15/20 Shaft Head Tilt (Multiple Shaft Anime)
Only in the world of anime can a simple head tilt become the stuff of legends. The anime studio Shaft has created several series that feature this iconic Shaft head tilt.
Watching these anime characters break their neck just to look behind them with some swagger never fails to be entertaining. The frequency of the Shaft head tilt is one of the major reasons why it’s so iconic.
14/20 Drive Shot (Captain Tsubasa)
Captain Tsubasa is one of the most well-known anime soccer personalities around. His stories and the numerous anime series he’s been at the forefront of have made him a household name.
Even people who don’t know much about Captain Tsubasa never fail to recognize his iconic Drive Shot pose. It always precedes a powerful hit that is almost always destined for the top corner.
13/20 Saitama’s Confounded Pose (One-Punch Man)
One must give due props to ONE and Yusuke Murata for creating one of the most iconic manga panels of all time. The idea of a confused and unimpressed Saitama nonchalantly saying ‘ok’ has become a legendary pose of its own.
Given how funny One-Punch Man is, it was a given that one of its brilliant comedic moments would become immortalized in pop culture history. It’s fitting that this hilarious panel managed to earn this honor.
12/20 Ken Kaneki Cracking His Knuckles (Tokyo Ghoul)
While this might not be a pose per se, one can definitely count Kaneki’s impulsive knuckle cracking as an iconic part of his character and Tokyo Ghoul in general. The manner in which he developed this technique is no laughing matter.
After being tortured both physically and mentally by Yamori for ten days, Kaneki finally broke and embraced his ghoul powers. This led to him adopting the same behavior that Yamori used during the torture, which became a salient part of his character.
Watching Edward join his palms and perform alchemy without drawing a circle was easily one of the best moments in Fullmetal Alchemist. After discovering this talent of his, Edward ended up using this unique alchemy technique many times in battle.
Any fan of Fullmetal Alchemist will wholeheartedly agree with the fact that its battles became all the more engaging after this change. It was a great way to cement the competency of a protagonist who hadn’t really showcased his powers properly up till that point.
10/20 Gendo Ikari’s Finger-Tenting (Neon Genesis Evangelion)
Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most legendary anime of all time. The ‘antagonist’ of the series has immortalized himself with a pose that has gone down in the annals of anime history.
Gendo’s Ikari’s patented finger-tent is easily one of the most recognizable and beloved poses in anime history. It’s a great way to show that this character might not be as great as one might think — there’s a sinister side to him that doesn’t come out unless completely necessary. The fact that modern anime like Attack on Titan also pays homage to this pose is a testament to how popular this finger-tenting really is.
9/20 Spirit Gun (Yu Yu Hakusho)
Before working on Hunter x Hunter, Yoshihiro Togashi tried his hand at another legendary anime series. Yu Yu Hakusho was an instant classic whose first episode set the stage for a great romp through a world infested by demons.
Watching Yusuke point his finger to launch a terrifyingly powerful Spirit Gun never gets old. While the anime’s quality might’ve petered out near the end, the iconic Spirit Gun pose will never cease to be amazing, regardless.
8/20 L’s Thinking Stance (Death Note)
In terms of legendary anime, no one should fail to mention Death Note. The most beloved character on this show has a pose of his own that is quite a treat to witness.
Watching L squat in his seat and ponder over the puzzles and mysteries that are central to the show is oddly thrilling. It’s a testament to the brilliance of L as a character that such a basic pose ended up being wildly entertaining in its own right.
7/20 Gainax Pose (Multiple Gainax Productions)
Any anime fan worth their salt must’ve heard of the legendary Gainax pose. It’s an iconic pose that is used almost universally across most Gainax productions.
The most notable example of a show where this pose appears is Gurren Lagann. Watching either a character or their mech stand with their arms crossed in such an unapologetically cool manner is always amazing, regardless of how impractical the act of cracking said pose might be.
6/20 The Team Rocket Pose (Pokemon)
One of the most popular IPs of all time, Pokemon has been a stalwart part of pop culture since its debut in 1996. Even since then, a slew of games, anime, movies, merchandise, and the like has been released to massive commercial success. There’s an iconic duo featured in this show that has become a mainstay of the show since its debut.
Jessie and James, the two major members of Team Rocket, have been a constant source of comedic relief across all seasons of Pokemon. The pose they crack as they introduce themselves has become the stuff of legends due to its over-the-top and hilarious nature.
5/20 The Spirit Bomb (Dragon Ball)
The Dragon Ball series has been home to some of the best and most iconic moments that most people remember long after they’re done binging through this iconic shonen series. One such move that most people remember fondly to this day is the patented Spirit Bomb.
Goku learns this powerful move while training with King Kai and never fails to whip it out during critical moments in the show. For the most part, this technique is always successful… and even when it isn’t, the fallout is still spectacular in its own right.
4/20 Shadow Clone Jutsu (Naruto)
The Shadow Clone jutsu is easily one of the most used jutsu in Naruto, with the Number One Knucklehead Ninja using this technique to great effect. Watching Naruto grow from being overly reliant on this jutsu to using it as a base to power up his other techniques is nothing short of amazing.
This “pose” might not last that long, but it would be impossible to talk about iconic poses and stances in anime without mentioning the hand signs required for the Shadow Clone jutsu. It’s truly one of the most recognizable hand signs in Naruto by a country mile.
3/20 Josuke’s Flamboyant Pose (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
If entries to this list weren’t limited to one per series, then one could argue that the entire list would be covered by JoJo poses. Araki’s artwork is truly breathtaking and makes each and every one of the iconic poses in JoJo come to life in the best way possible.
A special mention goes out to the seemingly backbreaking pose by Josuke Higashikata in Diamond is Unbreakable. It’s an awe-inspiring sight that further cements the iconic statute of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
2/20 The Super Saiyan Power-up Pose (Dragon Ball)
Any person who saw Dragon Ball Z as a kid would be lying if they said that they never tried to go Super Saiyan at least once. After all, screaming your lungs out to attain a vast reserve of power sounds like the most awesome thing ever as a child!
This pose has remained constant throughout the entirety of the Dragon Ball series, and it’s easy to see why. Watching your favorite Saiyans transforming to attain greater power never gets tiring!
1/20 The Kamehameha Technique (Dragon Ball)
However, it would be impossible to talk about iconic poses in anime without mentioning a pose that pretty much everyone tried out as a kid. The Kamehameha is the most popular technique in Dragon Ball, with the pose that’s cracked upon releasing the beam becoming the stuff of legends.
The Dragon Ball series has definitely changed and evolved quite a bit since its inception. However, the fact that the Kamehameha technique has remained mostly unchanged to this day is an indication of this technique’s winning formula.