In an age of anime and tattoo lovers, we often find people combining their love for both to come out with intricate designs and references, minimalist tattoos to keep the references subtly, or sometimes even big statement pieces.
Sometimes people intend to get tattoos related to the anime for the internal meaning it holds or for the significance of the plot, or sometimes it’s just a goofy, fun design to get. Sometimes it may even be for the love towards the character and the comfort they provide.
Here is one such list, where we will bring you 15 subtle anime tattoos that cleverly hide references.
1. Pochita from Chainsaw Man
Unless you’ve watched Chainsaw Man, it is difficult to infer who this cute creature with an odd chainsaw sticking out from between his head is. A Pochita tattoo is a pretty smart option for an anime tattoo if you don’t want to be too apparent or flashy with its reference and if you are a fan of Chainsaw Man.
2. Summoning the Divine Dogs in Jujutsu Kaisen
One of the more subtle anime designs to understand the reference is this design of Megumi summoning the Divine-dogs shinigami. Unless you have watched the anime, it is practically impossible to understand what this tattoo actually refers to, unlike Jujutsu Kaisen fans, who would not take a minute to identify this hand gesture. This is a pretty smart design for anime fans who want to put their love for the anime but not be very showy with it, either. It is definitely one of our picks for subtle anime tattoos that cleverly hide references.
3. The Red String of Fate from Kimi no Nawa
Could you even be an anime fan if you couldn’t identify this red string of fate? Kimi no Nawa is often symbolized simply with a red string which forms a major part of the plot. This is a minimalistic art piece that holds meaning and still manages to hide the reference well!
4. Ponyo and Sosuke holding hands in Ponyo
A doodle of Ponyo and Sosuke is as simple as a reference can get. It may seem like any usual sibling duo to others, but to every Ghibli fan, it is easily recognizable that the tattoo references its classic movie, Ponyo. The love between the two children stood out throughout the movie, and it may definitely hold meaning for people believing in love from younger ages. It is a minimalistic anime tattoo that subtly hides the reference to its anime.
5. Tanjiro’s earrings from Kimetsu no Yaiba
How would you identify your favorite character’s earrings as a tattoo design unless you’ve watched the show? Exactly. This design from Demon Slayer is so vague for non-anime fans; trying to identify the circular thing in the middle and its rays – is it a sun? The overall design is so beautiful with Tanjiro’s earrings between the waves – it would definitely be one of my favorite anime tattoos that cleverly hide references.
6. The Scouting Legion logo from the Attack on Titans
This logo of the Scouting Legion of the anime of Attack on Titans may be a common pattern for the anime weebs, but a non-anime fan would not be able to understand its reference. In its simplicity, the blue and white-winged tattoo subtly gets the reference across!
7. The Gold Fish from Ponyo
Another tattoo design from Ponyo is the cute goldfish forms swimming around. This minimalistic tattoo is the cutest anime tattoo you’d come across today! This is again one of the tattoos whose design you wouldn’t quite understand until you have watched the anime, which does get the purpose across – to subtly hide the references of the anime!
8. Kaneki’s finger cracking in Tokyo Ghoul
This design refers to the finger cracking of the main character Kaneki from Tokyo Ghoul. It is a slightly uncommon design for a Tokyo Ghoul tattoo, but it is definitely a smart one! It is a hand movement of Kaneki’s that most fans are fans of and love to imitate as well! Normally presumed as a hand gesture, only anime fans would be able to decode what it actually means.
9. Cracked mirror Hisoka from Hunter x Hunter
This is one of the coolest anime tattoos I have seen! A cracked mirror design for two halves of a face is visually such a cool concept! Hisoka is a popular character in the anime world, but if not familiar, he may just come across to people as a hot clown. This tattoo is a clear reference to the anime Hunter x Hunter to all the anime fans out there, but it is one of the cooler designs to get on the subtle side.
10. Shadow Clone Jutsu from Naruto
Here is another vague anime hand gesture tattoo design, but this time it’s from Naruto. The shadow clone jutsu is almost hard to understand unless you’ve watched the show. The clone jutsu is one of the smartest ways to trick your opponent by making multiple clones of yourself, and it can surely be used as a couple or a bestie set of tattoos if you’ve spent so much with your said partner that they’ve become a clone of you. But in all, the clone jutsu anime is a really smart idea to get if you are looking for subtle anime tattoos as a Naruto fan!
11. Gin’s mask on Hotaru form Hotarubi no Mori e
Another subtle and minimalistic anime tattoo is this one of Hotaru from Hotarubi no Mori e. For a split second, she may come across as a ‘Pinterest anime girl’, but upon taking a closer look, you notice Gin’s kitsune mask on Hotaru’s face, and you understand the reference. Quite several people keep the movie close to their hearts because of its peaceful, romantic themes, and for someone believing in eternal love, a tattoo with a Hotarubi no Mori e reference would certainly hold meaning. A slightly larger tattoo design, yet subtly hiding the reference, could be opted by people to get themselves.
12. Luffy, Ace and Sabo from One Piece
This tattoo is definitely one of the vaguer ones when it comes to anime tattoos. An anime fan would get the One Piece reference, but it would certainly be difficult for a non-anime fan to understand, let alone identify these three characters. It is a smart yet effective anime tattoo to cleverly hide the reference by hiding the faces!
13. Soot Spirits from Spirited Away
The soot spirits from the Ghibli classic Spirited Away are a dear favorite character for the fans! The small spirits with cute stars would be a classic anime tattoo design for an anime fan. They may come across as cute cartoon characters, but an anime fan could never miss out on the hidden reference!
14. Jiji, the adorable cat in Kiki’s Delivery Service
Kiki’s cat from the movie Kiki’s Delivery Service is easily one of the cutest anime cats out there. This cat with entirely black fur and big round eyes wins the heart of people; and, for some, melts. This tattoo design is a winner – it has Jiji’s cuteness along with Kiki’s broom and definitely is a subtle tattoo that subtly gets the anime’s reference across to fans!
15. A floral InuYasha
An all-time favorite anime, InuYasha, has been around for quite a while now. This white-haired human-dog spirit really blew up in popularity in the mid-2000s. The long white hair with dog ears on top is a distinguishable feature of Inuyasha which sets him apart from other anime characters. This tattoo with the cherry blossom is a neat design and subtle one that gets the reference across only to anime fans!