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Boost Your Anime Meme Knowledge with These Essentials

How good is your anime meme knowledge?

Is your anime meme game strong? And no, we’re not talking about your personal ability to make and share cool memes. (We’re trusting that’s awesome — go you!) No, we’re talking about the stuff inside anime: the references it makes to other shows over the years. You may have seen certain shots, characters, and quotes crop up throughout the years. But can you tell where they’re all from?

Here are just a few people, things, and lines that anime loves to reference within itself. How many do you already know?


“Three times faster!”

Char Aznable goes three times as fast!

Even if you’ve never seen a single episode of Mobile Suit Gundam, you probably know Char Aznable is nothing to sneeze at. Amuro Ray’s mighty rival has appeared in multiple series (under multiple names), and fans still recognize him as one of the great baddies of anime. For better or for worse, his custom robot has also inspired something of a meme.

If you ever hear someone referring to something going three times faster because it’s red… well, you have Char to thank for this. His bright red custom Zaku was modded to move at triple the speed of others of its type. In fairness, no one actually believes a lick of red paint caused the upgrade. But you know how these things begin.



Balse! (As seen in No Game, No Life)

It’s the anime meme that broke Twitter, and it also shows up here and there in other series. The epic moment from Studio Ghibli‘s Castle in the Sky, where our heroes hold hands and utter an ancient spell, made news as fans across Japan posted along with it. Naturally, this moment has made its way into more than just online references. Shows like No Game, No Life worked the moment in — appropriate, since its heroes are big nerds. (We say affectionately.)


The end of Ashita no Joe

A certain Ashita no Joe reference

The statute of limitations is probably up for the source of this anime meme, but we’re still going to tread carefully. After all, the recent Megalobox was the first many people had heard of Ashita no Joe. (Yet another reason we’re showing not the moment itself, but one of many references to it.) You won’t need to have seen much anime to have seen references to this iconic moment. It looks like that. Maybe with a boxing ring sketched in behind it. This final moment of the series is so famous, the manga page was actually displayed in the British Museum for a time (yes, really — our writer went and saw it). Now, it’s shorthand used pretty much everywhere you look.


The mere existence of Rascal the Raccoon

Rascal the Raccoon

Rascal the Raccoon was the anime adaptation of Sterling North’s autobiographical novel Rascal: A Memoir of a Better Time. In it, our young protagonist bonds with a baby raccoon, but must eventually release it into the wild when he realized raccoons make terrible pets. This heartwarming story of youth, summer, and letting go didn’t necessarily register, as people across Japan decided raccoons would make great pets.

Nonetheless, the (literally) invasive Rascal remains a popular character. You’ll see him crossed over with pretty much every anime in existence, from Attack on Titan to Demon Slayer. References to the series itself also appear in other series, especially the bittersweet scene where young Sterling takes Rascal out to the forest in his homemade canoe.


Lady Oscar

Marie Antoinette and Lady Oscar, from The Rose of Versailles

The fan-favorite heroine of The Rose of Versailles has become something of an anime meme, herself. A symbol of romance, heroism, and tragic love, she’s inspired jokes and one-off characters in everything from Pokémon to the .hack series. There was even a Lupin III crossover where Lupin fought Lady Oscar for the treasure of Marie Antoinette!

In particular, the names “Oscar” and “André” are used for dramatic couples — after the heroine and her childhood friend, separated from her by social strata.

What other anime in-jokes and memes have you spotted lately?

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Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. Beyond the world of anime, she's a writer for Doctor Who expanded universe series including Iris Wildthyme and the City of the Saved, as well as an editor for the critically-acclaimed Black Archive series.