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 he or 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: Erika in episode 7 of HeartCatch Pretty Cure!.
- Sailor Moon had an episode that played on this: neither Usagi nor Chibiusa was able to last through a tea ceremony, while their slapstick attempts to remain dignified highlighted the Victim of the Week's "pure heart."
- Minor character Nitta-Sensei in Mahou Sensei Negima! used seiza as a punishment while on a field trip. While some students took it better than others, he also punished one of his fellow teachers (the protagonist, none the less) 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. note
- 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-chan requires a ribbon tied around his/her ankles to stay that way for the entire fight.
- Played completely for laughs in a later episode, where the mere idea of the Iron Lady that directs the Martial Arts Tea Ceremony standing up from the seiza position terrifies everyone in the tea ceremony dojo...
- 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 seiza 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 Sigh 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.
- Shrine of the Morning Mist, 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, dignity, and grace.
- 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.
- 20th 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.
- Skip Beat! has its protagonist, Kyoko Mogami, have worked in a ryokan since childhood and was trained in tea ceremony. As such, she's quite used to sitting in seiza and manages to remain graceful, even if her feet are falling asleep. This becomes particularly impressive when she substitutes an actress in a scene requiring seiza, but Kyoko has a sprained ankle at the time. She still sits in proper seiza and looks on serenly... until the pain gets so bad that she becomes catatonic and ends up fainting.
- We get shown a short scene in A Certain Scientific 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 and, while Nako gets up normally, the much less experienced Ohana crumbles down with a painful face expression.
- In Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure, 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 Cloudcuckoo Lander, who most likely can't feel pain anyway.
- Used in Hekikai no AiON for Seine and Tatsuya while Tsukasa scold them for sneak out of the house for a midnight stroll.
- Used in the Anpanman episode Tendonman and Chawanmushimaro. The Donburiman Trio, eager to get some of Chawanmushimaro's chawanmushi (well, mainly Katsudonman and Kamameshidon. Tendonman was the one that was actually invited.), sit in this position through one of Chawanmushimaro's poetry sessions. Chawanmushimaro's an expert at sitting like this, but the Donburiman Trio show absolute discomfort, wriggling their feet constantly. When Baikinman shows up, the trio jump up to run away...and promptly fall flat, forced to crawl and lay down to support themselves for a while.
- In episode 22 of Saint Seiya Omega, Ryuhou's seiza is flawless during the tea ceremony with Haruto's father, but as soon as he thinks nobody is watching him, he begins to squirm and fidget.
- Great Teacher Onizuka: After some particularly over the top antics (even for him), Onizuka gets punished by being tied up in seiza position (along with weights just to make it all the worse).
- In the original Digimon Adventure series, Sora recalls how her very traditional and strict mother Toshiko scolded her for being unable to correctly sit in seiza, nevermind that she had an injured foot at that time.
- In Strike Witches, there is a short story of Fusoan Shimoraha teaching Orussian Pokryshkin seiza for mental training. Pokryshin had so much trouble with it, she later adapted it as a form of punishment for the rest of of the Brave Witches.
- Nove makes Einhart do this during a next episode preview in ViVid Strike! as punishment for risking her championship title without permission.
- During the Pokémon Sun & Moon arc, Ash falls victim to this while praying to Tapu Koko before his battle against Kahuna Hala. Fortunately, Hala is rather understanding of this.
- One Piece: According to Trolling Creator Eiichiro Oda, failing to bow to the Hiking Bear will cause it to force you into this position for one hour. While this never happens on-panel, one of the video games features it as an obstacle.
- Cells at Work: Platelets!: In the "You've Been Invited" chapter, the Platelets are invited to a tea party and go to other cells for instructions on proper etiquette. Dendritic Cell teaches them about how to behave during a traditional tea ceremony leading to their legs falling asleep from sitting in seiza.
- In one of the side-stories of Albedo: Erma Felna EDF, the mother of the titular heroine drinks tea while been in seiza. In this case this is justified because the planet when Erma, her mother and their whole family hails from a planet that shares many of the Japanese cultural traditions, with some British ones.
- 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 EVAs.
- Fate/Harem Antics: Taiga Fujimura makes Rin Tohsaka and her Servant Francis Drake sit in seiza as punishment after Drake blew up the school. Drake is not affected, while Rin's feet go numb.
- Angry White Pyjamas: An Oxford Poet Trains with the Tokyo Riot Police by Robert Twigger. Twigger, an English man living in Japan, took an aikido course. One lesson consisted of sitting in seiza for an hour without moving, which was particularly hard for Westerners who had not grown up with seiza. By the end, most of the class were hallucinating from pain.
If you stop when 'it hurts' you may be doing the safe thing, but you are not commanding your body, it is commanding you. There may be a time when your life depends on who is in command.
- Journey to Chaos: Kallen Selios, arrogant mana mutation field agent, demonstrates Hidden Depths in this fashion during Looming Shadow. She has to take part in a formal tea ceremony with the lightning goddess, Ligol, while in this position. Failure to do so is punished by lightning strike. She passes effortlessly, while her sidekick, Emily, is less naturally composed.
- 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.
- Averted in Destiny 2 the Warlock "Sit" emote is this with hands planted on their waist and no squirming, fitting since they're the mostly serious Kung Fu Wizards of the Guardians ( well, Gun Fu Wizards technically.)
- Largo from MegaTokyo gripes about the position early on in the series. Turns out Piro's friend sold his chairs.
- In The Legend of Korra, while meditating for airbending practice, Korra and the airbending kids are in this position.