Top 15 Most Iconic Moments in Anime History

You know the moments. There are some moments in anime that are so amazing (or amazingly meme-able) that they transcend the fandom. Everyone ends up knowing about them. Sometimes they bring new watchers to a series, but mostly they serve as tender little memories that you hold in you heart to fondly remember all your many weeb adventures. So what moments do we think endure the draining and corrosive passage of time?

Spoilers? I will try excessively hard to not. (Let me know if I slipped up somewhere in the comments.)

“Bang” – Cowboy Bebop

Anyone who thought that Cowboy Bebop would have a happy or even an innately satisfying ending clearly wasn’t watching very closely. Melancholic throughout, Cowboy Bebop hosted a brief clash that it had been swaggering its way up to and ending with a literal “Bang” of the snazzy finger gun variety. Perhaps the only legal way to end a story following the classically cool Spike Spiegal.

“I will take a potato chip…and EAT IT!” – Death Note

The memes! I can still recall the very variety of bananas that the anime community went when Death Note was a currently airing show. It had its two meme moments, the potato chips and the delete. However, Kira sinisterly eating potato chips while he carried out his current scheme that involved killing people was…a glorious moment in anime history.

Goku’s Super Saiyan Virginity – Dragon Ball Z

Keep your ASMR, guys. All it takes is watching Goku screaming furiously for what feels like forever as he turns Super Saiyan the first time. The flickers of the hair, the surge of the aura, the intense clenching of the butt cheeks – it all builds to that perfect moment of surging power that will quickly become meaningless in the following arcs as every Saiyan with a drop of the blood gets to go Super Saiyan and beyond.

The Ending of Berserk (1997) – Berserk (1997)

Considering how the beginning of the anime started, you should have seen demons coming. However, somewhere along the way, you get all caught up in the camaraderie of the Band of the Hawk and just sort of forget. It makes what happens at the end jarring. Not just jarring, but the the kind of jarring that leaves you sitting slack-jawed for minutes afterwards. You watch it and you never forget.

“Ed…Ward” Nina Tucker – Fullmetal Alchemist

FMA, like DBZ or most other popular series, has a lot of iconic moments. However, it’s hard to talk about Hughes, okay? (Because emotions…and more major spoilers.) So instead, let’s talk about the more meme-able minor spoilers of Nina Tucker who the series spends some time making you think is cute only for her father to do something terrible to her.

Breath of Fire Awakening – Demon Slayer

This is of more recent memory, but not even the most cynical anime fan can deny in good sense that Demon Slayer is a sensation. You don’t become a sensation for no reason. One of those reasons is that visually brilliant and shiver-inducing scene where Tanjiro awakens the Breath of Fire. The animation was enchanting. The emotion was overwhelming.

The Colossal Titan Appears – Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan has one of the more jarring first episodes of any series. You expect Titans to attack from the title, yes, but you don’t expect them to do that…to all those people. However, while even those moderately large Titans are the things of nightmare, the Colossal Titan has a design that burns itself into the back of your eyeballs.

“Believe in the Simon that believes in you!” Toppa Tengen Gurren Lagaan

Toppa Tengen is burning machismo molded into the shape of an anime series. As such, it has a number of memorable lines and moments. However, nobody say this particular moment when the burning machismo in the shape of a man…gave some good advice. ;_;

That Time Saitama Needed More Than One Punch Against Boros – One Punch Man

As a superhero show about a hero that can take things out in one punch, “ugh,” you might sigh. You know what we all know. Eventually he will need to use more than just one punch. However, what we didn’t expect was it to take so long for them to break down and use it. Pleased as we were, the flurry of delirious animated action when Lord Boros appeared was glorious. Remember that one moment Saitama got knee’d to the moon? I’ll never forget.

Gon’s Rage – Hunter x Hunter

Anyone who has watched this scene knows what you mean when you say Gon’s rage. It is perhaps one of the most affecting anime scenes of the shounen genre where you can feel the pure rage as Gon spirals out of control on Pitou viciously.

Let Me Borrow Your Gun – High School of the Dead

Not all iconic anime scenes are good. This is proof. High School of the Dead, throughout its run, became famous for making the zombie apocalypse boobylicious. However, this scene, which happens pretty close to the end, it just…the most ridiculous. It’s as if it became aware of what it was somewhere along the line, perhaps when the women were wearing only aprons and in a kitchen, and just decided to go all in with it.

These lovely ecchi moments have truly ensured that there will be a whole new generation asking anime fans “Isn’t anime just porn?” <3

“What’s 1,000 minus 7?” – Tokyo Ghoul

One of the most gruesome torture scenes in anime comes unexpectedly in Tokyo Ghoul. It becomes one of those scenes that you feel in your hopefully uninjured fingers when you think about it. As anime fans, we are not used to that kind of cringe, just the kind of cringe we get when we see someone wearing a Naruto headband in public.

EVA Unit-01 Berserk Mode – Neon Genesis Evangelion

NGE has so many iconic moments to it. Human Instrumentality. Congratulations. Shinji spanking it to someone in a coma. It was hard to pick just one, but I have a passion for visceral scenes of raw emotion, so I picked that one time that Shinji just let his EVA unit go berserk all over an angel. The roar of the EVA unit alone was so affecting and the lovely violence that came after was some of the best work in the series that already consisted of top marks.

The Bike Slide – Akira

Akira has had a big effect on anime and has become a classic. As such, you will find a lot of Akira inspiration in some of the most unexpected places. However, the most immediately noticeable is when he slides on his bike. The angle and the pure fluidity for the time were perfect, and you can find it scene for scene referenced in other series.

Jojo, let’s just say all of it. – Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

The thing about Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is that once you get into it, you are all in. Annoyingly in. Flooding the internet with memes in. Now things like Za Warudo, It was me, Dio, and Oh, You’re approaching me are now iconic anime scenes because of your damnedable memes. Some say you do the Lord’s work getting more people into anime. Others argue you should pick a more approachable anime other than Jojo to do that.

What is your favorite iconic moment from anime history? Share it in the comments section below.

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