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In Japan, the seiza (literally "correct sitting") position is a very formal kind of kneeling, sitting on your heels with big toes crossed. The position features heavily in tea ceremony, meditation, martial arts, and other formal rituals. This is not an easy position to get used to, and can become uncomfortable very quickly.
In anime, a character's tolerance of seiza immediately separates those who possess charm and grace from those who merely want to show that they do. Any character who lacks sufficient natural dignity must then undergo a heroic battle not to squirm, fidget, or otherwise show any sign of the agony that she is in.
This is sometimes used as (another) method to out the wannabe-ojou, while casting a quietly respectful light on another character.
Note that in some martial arts such as iaijutsu, practitioners use a sort of half-seiza called tatehiza. While the left leg is in the full seiza position, the right leg is planted on the ground so the practitioner is on one knee. It allows for a quicker transition to standing.
- Pictured above: Sailor Moon had an episode that played on this: neither Usagi nor Chibiusa was able to last through a tea ceremony (whereas Mamoru, Haruka and Michiru did much better), while their slapstick attempts to remain dignified highlighted the Victim of the Week (a Child Prodigy tea ceremony master that Chibi-Usa kinda crushes on)'s "pure heart."
- A teacher in Mahou Sensei Negima used seiza as a punishment while on a field trip. Some students took to it better than others.
- Notably, he also punished one of his fellow teachers along with the students, on the basis that it appeared that said teacher was helping them break curfew. Apparently, if a co-worker lacks tenure, you get to do that sort of thing.
- Said teacher was also only ten years old.
- Said teacher also used improperly-created magical copies of himself to hold down the fort while he went out on some magical errand. Hilarity Ensues.
- Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl: Yasuna and Hazumu can sit in seiza; Tomari and Asuta can't.
- In the Ranma ½ manga and one of the OVAs, there is a form of martial arts called the Martial Arts Tea Ceremony, conducted entirely from seiza. Ranma requires a ribbon tied around her ankles to stay that way for the entire fight.
- In Ai Yori Aoshi the entire cast take part in a tea ceremony where they sit like this. Kaoru, Aoi and Miyabi who all come from rich families find little problem with this while the rest of The Unwanted Harem squirm — and of course find another point to moe over Kaoru.
- Yuuki in Mugen Densetsu Takamagahara Dream Saga uses seiza as a punishment.
- Happened in the animated version of Yoake Mae Yori Ruriiro na. There, also used as a punishment.
- Happens as a punishment to Lavi and Allen in D.Gray-man.
- In The Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya light novel, when the cast films in Tsuruya's house, Kyon tries to imitate Yuki, who is sitting in what's described as seiza. He can't take it for more than a couple of minutes.
- Asagiri no Miko, episode 17. The two junior members of the cast fidget and squirm in the seiza, while the rest hold their position with grace.
- Rurouni Kenshin once featured Himura Kenshin's legs going numb (and him falling to the side) during a rather long tea ceremony with Shinomori Aoshi.
- In the first episode of FLCL, after hitting Naota, Haruko didn't squirm while in seiza, she rolled and slid around, seemingly at random.
- She also managed to maintain it perfectly, so even though she was freaking out trying to figure out what to do about running over Naota, she was doing it with style.
- The Manhwa Rebirth has this happen to Remi while trying to do a meditation, and gets the Paper Fan of Doom as punishment.
- When the title character of Hikaru no Go takes the exam to become an insei, his mother is convinced that he will fail, seeing that the boy "can't sit seiza for five minutes". Had seiza been a criteria for Go ability, she would have been right.
- Amusingly, he DOES wind up maintaining seiza for the duration of his exam - solely because he becomes so absorbed in the game that he forgets about the discomfort. Immediately after the game is over, he collapses from leg-cramps.
- Twentieth Century Boys: Shouhei Chouno is kneeling in front of the portrait of his legendary grandfather. He's been trying to follow in the grandfather's footsteps and has so far been a failure. He vows to keep trying, and starts to stand up to stride off dramatically, only to find that his legs have gone to sleep.
- The protagonist of Skip Beat breaks her ankle shortly before one of these. All in all, she does pretty well, right up until she faints from the pain.
- We get shown a short scene in To Aru Kagaku no Railgun during the Midsummer Festival, where Mikoto, Uiharu and Saten are all participating in a tea ceremony with Saten sweating and squirming in her seat. The other two don't look to have any problems.
- In the first half-season's opening credits of Hanasaku Iroha, there is a scene where Ohana and Nako, dressed in kimonos, are getting up from the seiza position. While Nako gets up normally, the much less experienced Ohana crumbles down with a painful face expression.
- Erika in episode 7 of Heartcatch Pretty Cure.
- Also, we have a brief moment like this in episode 5 of Smile Pretty Cure.
- In Parallel Trouble Adventure Dual, the Earth Defense Force's inexplicable Traditional Japanese Obaa-Sama at one point drags most of the main cast into some Flower Arrangement training on the reasoning that 'During times of war, it is doubly important to maintain a high level of culture'. The training includes sitting in Seiza, and while all the girls manage just fine, Ordinary High School Student Kazuki almost instantly collapses as his feet fall asleep. Followed seconds later by Mad Scientist Ken Sanada. How Ken's daughter, Mitsuki, wound up being so comfortable with Seiza is somewhat of a mystery. The other two girls, however, are easily explained, since one of them is from an old Japanese family, and the other is an Alien Bioroid Energy Being Cloudcuckoolander, who most likely can't feel pain anyway.
- Extremely averted in Undocumented Features, where anyone who has need to get into seiza will do so without squirming or any other problems. In another Eyrie work, Neon Exodus Evangelion, the main characters can even get into seiza in the EV As.
- In Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, Richard Brown does a highly exaggerated version of this, especially for live action, as part of his instruction in being a samurai.
- Done as a punishment to Momotaros and Urataros of Kamen Rider Den-O, pictured above.
- One of the training minigames in Kengo: Master of Bushido has the player meditate in seiza with a man standing behind him with a board. Fail to keep a bobbling cursor in the middle and your character will squirm, earning him a smack. Mess up enough and you fail.
- Largo from Megatokyo gripes about the position early on in the series. Turns out Piro's friend sold his chairs.