Soot Sprite Tattoos: History, Meanings & Design

Soot Sprite Tattoos: History, Meanings & Design

If you’re a fan of anime films, you may be looking for a tattoo to commemorate your love for them! Perhaps one of the simplest and cutest tattoos to get feature Soot Sprites!

These easily-recognizable characters feature in not one, but two incredibly popular anime movies created by Studio Ghibli. With their huge eyes, fuzzy black designs, and sometimes skinny arms, the Sprites are great illustrations for tattoos. Anyone showing off an inked Sprite is sure to catch the eye of others who have great taste in animated films!

Let’s dig into Soot Sprite Tattoos: history, meanings, ; designs!

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What is the History of Soot Sprite Tattoos?

If you’re considering these little fuzzballs for your next tattoo design, it may interest you to know their history!

Sprites were designed by Hayao Miyazaki and first made their debut in a film called “My Neighbor Totoro,” which is a 1998 anime film about two little Japanese girls interacting with kind forest spirits. 

One of these types of spirits are the Sprites, who basically infest the girls’ new house and are discovered when they move in. Their father dismisses their existence as a trick of the light, but the girls know that the Sprites are real. The friendly little fuzz balls notice that the children are kind and decide to peacefully move to a new home.

The Sprites were popular enough to make another appearance in a different film produced in 2001 by the same studio, “Spirited Away,” a Japanese fantasy involving a girl who is trapped in the spirit world and looking for a way out. 

Spirited Away won several awards and gained so much popularity, especially among fans of anime, that many of the spirit characters it featured, including Soot Sprites, became recognizable all over the world.

The spirits in each film are heavily inspired by the Shinto folklore of Japan. In Shinto folklore, the “kami” are timeless spirits who interact with the human world for good or evil. The Soot Sprites are reminiscent of these stories, helping the characters in the films they are in!

The sprites are named after soot because of their appearance: they are cute, ping-pong ball-sized critters made of fuzz which disintegrate into soot if they are stepped on. They get around by floating or hovering, usually in groups, and have large, cute eyes. These sprites are helpful and gentle in both films they feature in. 

In Japanese, they are also called Susuwatari, which means “wandering soot,” though other nicknames identify them as living black dust bunnies!

Because the Sprites are easily recognizable and cute for their sheer simplicity of design, they make excellent and eye-catching tattoos!

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What Do Soot Sprite Tattoos Symbolize?

Sprite tattoos are symbolic of what the characters themselves represent.

Usually Soot Sprites are known for rewarding good people with kindness, being benevolent spirits. 

For example, in the film Spirited Away, the main character discovers the Sprites working to carry coal, and after helping them, finds that they are willing to help her in return.

Similarly, in their debut in My Neighbor Totoro, they are fine with leaving the empty house they’ve been living in and choosing another home once they find out that the main characters moving in are good people.

Therefore, Soot Sprite tattoos symbolize good deeds getting rewarded, or simply good fortune. This is especially true when you remember that these Sprites are based on the ancient Japanese Shinto stories, where spirits help or harm the humans they encounter.

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What Do Soot Sprite Tattoos Mean?

Because of their popularity and status as recognizable characters from the famous Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro, most Soot Sprite tattoos mean that the wearer loves anime!

However, there are more than one meaning to Sprite tattoos, as seen in the list of popular tattoos below:

  • Sprite with Kompeito Candy
  • Sprite and No Face
  • Sprite and Chihiro

Let’s take a more detailed look at the Sprite tattoos and their different meanings!

Sprite With Kompeito Candy

This tattoo features one or more sprites happily holding or scattered near small, star-shaped candies. These candies can be found in Japan, and are the favorite food of the Sprites in the film Spirited Away. 

In fact, the images of the Sprites enjoying Kompeito are so iconic that it’s harder to find illustrations of Soot Sprites that aren’t also holding the candy! 

This tattoo may simply mean the wearer loves Spirited Away, or it could mean that they have a sweet tooth that helps them to find Soot Sprites relatable.

Sprite and No Face

Many tattoos of the Sprites are accompanied by characters from Spirited Away, but the most common version includes the spirit No Face. No Face helps the main character just as much, if not more, than the Sprites in the film. However, No Face is not nearly as cute as they are, and he accidentally causes trouble for Chihiro, while the Sprites simply aid her in doing chores.

If you find a person with a Sprite and No Face tattoo, it’s another indicator that they love Spirited Away. However, it can also mean that they relate to No Face’s desire to be helpful even though he messes things up.

Sprite and Chihiro

Finding Sprite tattoos that feature them interacting with the main characters from My Neighbor Totoro is tough, but they have a much more direct role in helping the main character from Spirited Away. Therefore, you may see a tattoo of the little girl, Chihiro, accompanied by happy Sprites!

Sprites are discovered and aided by Chihiro in the film, and decide that one good turn deserves another. They help her do her work in the film’s main setting, the bathhouse. In this film, the Sprites are known for needing a job to do. Otherwise, they turn back into simple soot.

This tattoo can be another example of the wearer’s admiration for Spirited Away, and could also mean that the wearer relates to working as a team toward a common goal, like the Sprites do with Chihiro!

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Characteristics and Styles of Soot Sprite Tattoos

Soot Sprite tattoos are almost always completely black, since the characters themselves are designed as pitch black with white eyes. Even when the tattoo includes other items, like teacups or characters, a black design is most common.

The most frequent example of color in Soot Sprite tattoos is found in the ones that feature the Kompeito candy, which comes in a variety of colors. 

Sprite tattoos are simple in design and style, usually because the characters themselves are not detailed and as easy to draw as they are cute. Sometimes a Sprite tattoo creates a pattern by stringing the sprites together in a bracelet or anklet design, and sometimes the character stands alone.

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Where Do Soot Sprite Tattoos Usually Go?

Because the shape of a Sprite tattoo is often just a round black fuzzball with eyes, there is freedom to place the tattoo almost anywhere on the body. The hands and wrists are popular because the design is small and simple enough to fit there while catching the eye.

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In summary, Soot Sprites have been popular as tattoo designs since their debut in two prominent anime films, and are usually a sure sign that the wearer of the tattoo is a fan of the films and anime in general. The Sprite tattoos are typically characterized by black designs, can be seen on hands or wrists, and symbolize rewards for good deeds!

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