10 anime characters we've all tried to copy as kids
One of the most interesting aspects of the anime medium is seeing the different series most popular with each generation, as well as which anime characters become generational icons. My Hero Academia, for example, is slowly but surely on its way to becoming one of the flagship new-gen anime, with sentimental superhero Deku turning into a potential icon.
One key criterion for an anime character to become a generational icon, however, is the character having some aspect that fans can’t help but emulate. While this typically comes in the form of transformations, techniques, or attacks, fans can even emulate the overall vibe and aesthetic of a character if they’re popular enough.
Here are 10 anime characters we’ve all tried imitating as kids.
10 classic anime characters that fans tried to imitate
At one point, nearly every kid who grew up in the 1990s or early 2000s found themselves attempting to imitate this anime character’s iconic move. Goku’s Kamehameha is something everyone has tried to copy. In fact, many were so confident they would successfully execute the move that they always aimed at the sky so as to not potentially blow up the Earth or anything on it.
Goku would also eat massive amounts of food after playing hard on the field or in a practice session, which kids would always try to mimic. If nothing else, parents were at least happy their kids were learning to finish their meals.
The hand signs for Naruto’s trademark Shadow Clone Jutsu are something every child who grew up watching the Naruto series tried to mimic at some point. Those lightning-fast hand signs always evaded kids who were watching live, resulting in tons of mid-2000s YouTube videos on how to perform all of the hand signs seen in the series.
While parents may have been confused about what exactly their kid was trying to accomplish, each and every Naruto fan wanted to mimic their favorite series’ protagonist.
3) Monkey D. Luffy
Luffy’s iconic Gear Second pose from One Piece’s Enies Lobby arc is something that is still being mimicked by kids today. Thanks to the series having transcended generations with its incredible 25-year ongoing run, both 90s kids and the children of today find themselves with their knees pointed outward and their fist to the ground as they shout "Gear Second."
Fans also try and replicate Luffy’s stretchy Gum-Gum powers in general, always holding their arms out or kicking out a leg with bated breath to see if, just maybe, they’ll finally stretch.
Avatar Aang may not be a true, inarguable anime character, but the Avatar: The Last Airbender series certainly makes enough thematic and stylistic choices to be included here. Furthermore, the series’ bending powers (of which Aang can use all four) were some of the most mimicked moves among children who grew up watching the series.
Whether it be kicking the ground in hopes of activating Earth Bending or throwing water around in the shower to try and master the Water Whip, every 90s kid tried this at least once. Unfortunately, no one ever did prove themselves worthy of being the next incarnation of the Avatar.
Inuyasha’s Sesshomaru is a particularly interesting case. He wasn't the star of the series at any point but was one of the most beloved characters. His aloof nature and Demon Lord status served to distinguish him during a time when many supporting anime characters were indiscernible from one another.
Children who grew up watching the series particularly imitated his use of Tenseiga, a sword that could hurt no living being but could revive the dead. Kids used both of the sword's abilities in mimicked playtime, whether to justify taking a swing at their friends or “revive” someone who had been eliminated from a game.
6) Son Gohan
Whereas Goku’s most mimicked anime character aspect was his Kamehameha, 90s kids instead tried to follow Gohan’s suit when it came to Super Saiyan transformations. Indeed, Gohan’s Super Saiyan 2 transformation seen in the Cell Saga instantly captivated every kid watching, as did the not-quite-PG-13 carnage that followed.
This scene undoubtedly started the trend of kids screaming at the top of their lungs and flexing their entire bodies in a fruitless attempt to go Super Saiyan. While none of us have successfully done so thus far, we’ve also never quite stopped believing that it just might happen one day.
7) Roronoa Zoro
One Piece’s Zoro has one of the most unique ways of fighting when compared to other prototypical swordsman anime characters, with no one else in the medium using his Three-Sword Style. This inventive approach sees him don a sword in each hand as well as a third in the mouth, which he can then use to attack opponents by moving his neck in rapid, forceful directions.
Despite how dangerous it may be, 90s kids found themselves constantly trying to emulate it, grabbing a third kendo stick at karate practice or having an extra knife in their mouth at dinner.
8) Sasuke Uchiha
Sasuke’s most desirable trait to replicate is his visual jutsu, the Sharingan. These enchanting eyes of ruby red with black detailing allowed their users to see almost anything and everything around them in great detail, despite how fast it was moving or how far away it was.
Despite these fantastical eyes clearly being just that, 90s kids constantly found themselves shutting their eyes with incredible force in an attempt to activate their own Sharingan. Sadly, this never happened, but like the Super Saiyan 2 transformation, many still try to achieve it today.
9) Spike Spiegel
Spike Spiegel is a particularly interesting case, with no particular abilities or transformations that Cowboy Bebop fans wanted to emulate as children. Instead, his overall cool-guy, smooth aesthetic is what kids were desperate to emulate, mainly thanks to Sunrise Studios’ incredibly crisp animation of Spiegel’s iconic fight sequences and solo shots.
Even if there wasn’t anything in particular to emulate, kids from the show’s heyday remember modeling their words, movements, and even wardrobe after Spike.
10) Sailor Moon
The Sailor Moon anime’s titular character and her interstellar appearance changes were something boys and girls alike mimicked during the 1990s and early 2000s. Being marketed to both boys and girls for its hovering subject matter, the series was incredibly popular, with many kids mimicking the celestial sequences which primed the Sailor Warrior transformation.
Although not as popular as Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon was undoubtedly a close second in that time period, being nearly just as popular. As a result, the titular anime character’s enchanting transformation became one of the most mimicked anime trends of the time.