What comes to mind when you think anime? Awesome plots, impossibly spiky hair?
Well, I think of “kawaii” animals, little adorable mascots helping the protagonists do cool/impossible things. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and take on many, many roles throughout the show. Versatile and heart-warming, these are the top ten cutest anime mascots/animal characters.
As usual, these are just my picks. If you know more, or know a cuter , feel free to add in the comments.
10. Ryo-Ohki — Tenchi series.
I first encountered the Tenchi series as a kid and thought it was pretty cool. Now that I’m older, and I actually understand what the story’s about, I don’t find it all that appealing. But this granddaddy of harem animes does have one redeeming feature I still love to this day: The Artificial Lifeform, Ryo-Ohki.
Ryo-Ohki’s the companion to Ryoko the space pirate, that can also turn into her spaceship. If that wasn’t cool enough, he’s genetic combination of rabbit and cat (a cabbit, if you will). This floppy-eared, carrot-loving space animal has the most adorable dough-eyed expression through most of the anime, and can even turn into a chibi-human. Cute and funny, Ryo-Ohki is one of those creatures you knew was destined to be a plush on someone’s bed.
9. Pikachu —Pokemon
I know, this is predictable as hell. But I also dare someone to tell me this isn’t true.
Ash Ketchum’s very first Pokemon was an excellent choice for the show mascot. Pikachu is fun because he’s an active, fun character, and his interactions with the other characters are very well written out. That, and he’s just drop dead cute.
The bright-eyed, bright colored electric mouse melted the hearts of kids in the 90s and created the massive adult Pokemon fandom that exists today. Powerful and mighty cute, Pikachu guarantees that your money will continue to funnel into Pokemon’s money machine.
8. Menchi — Excel Saga
Normal dogs aren’t good enough for this list, and this critter almost lost his spot to Ein from Cowboy Bebop. But Menchi, whose name literally means “mincemeat”, steals this one away for being not only one of the cutest dogs in anime but being one of the most pathetic.
First of all, they did a good job in making him just about the sweetest looking puppy, with his fluffy tail and big, sad eyes. But the added the component of the main character, Excel, keeping the dog around as emergency rations. It’s hard to watch the happy expression on his face when he escapes, thinking he’s finally free… only to know that Excel is somewhere around the corner, ready to lock him back up.
7. Hamtaro — Hamtaro
I could put the whole cast of this show here. Every animal in this show is an adorable, chibi-fied Hamster, off on great adventures in the backyard. But, but since we have to pick one, Hamtaro himself is a great pick, being one of the braver, more energetic ones in the group.
Hamtaro is a children’s anime/manga about a pet hamster going on adventures with his little friends. Forgetting that an odd number of people in this town have pet hamsters (suburban conformity strikes again), the show is a decent Saturday morning cartoon, and the titular Hamtaro is so cute you could just die. He’s always ready to help his friends, eager to go on adventures, and makes some of the cutest faces. I’d say people should check this out even if they aren’t kids, or make their kids watch it. I mean, it can’t be any worse than Teen Titans Go!
6. Keroberos — Cardcaptor Sakura
Behold, the mighty Keroberos! Guardian of the Clow Cards! Ancient being of power! Part time stuffed animal!
Keroberos used to be a massive lion type beast, complete with bad-ass mane and wings. But, after Sakura accidentally sets them free into the world, Kero turns into the itty-bitty cutie you see on the left and decides to make Sakura the next keeper of the cards.
Kero now spends a lot of his time in Sakura’s room or backpack, trying desperately not to get caught talking. All the while he acts like the show’s Obi-Wan: teaching Sakura how to use her magic, giving battle advice, and genuinely cheering her on. The fact that he’s actually essential to the plot, and becomes far more bad-ass as the series goes on, makes him a pretty cool character concept.
And that tail. So swishy.
5. Korin — Dragonball
Korin, whom I call Frumpy Cat, is an 800-year-old God of martial arts. He’s also what happens when Akira Toriyama uses his sleeping cat as inspiration.
One of Goku’s many tutors, Korin lives in a tower under Kami’s lookout. You can only train with him if A) you are pure of heart and B) you can climb the tower. Korin is also the only one who can grow senzu beans, the show’s insta-heal food, rounding out the “I’m a big deal” trope. And before you think “oh com on, a cat is the god of combat?” let me make it clear that this cat was stronger and faster than the superhuman Goku for a significant period of time.
But all the bad-ass in the world won’t save Korin from being one of the most snuggly creatures in anime. I don’t care how good he fights, he’s a plump feline with squishy paws and fluffy cheeks. As a cat lady, I approve.
Speaking of cats…
4. Kuroneko — Trigun
Did you know he had a name? Neither did I.
Oh my God, why is this cat so cute? He has no connection to the main characters, he shows up each time for less than three seconds, and he doesn’t even get his name mentioned in the entire show. How is he so adorable?
Well, besides the “derp” expression on his face, Kuroneko is a running gag that somehow never gets dull. He’ll be somewhere in the episode, usually at the height of some comedic moment, and then never be seen again. The sheer “wtf” of the moment, combined with his cute appearance, make him one of the funnier running gags I’ve seen in anime, and inexplicably adorable. Why is he here? Because random cats are funny. Always.
3. Tony-Tony Chopper — One Piece
If you follow my blog for any extended period of time, you’ll know that I freaking love One Piece. One of my favorite parts about the show is how Oda’s unrestrained creativity gives the world the freedom to be wacky, spastic, and awesome. In that same vein, we have Tony-Tony Chopper: The Doctor/Pirate Reindeer.
Chopper was a regular reindeer who ate The Cursed Fruit and can now turn into a deer/human hybrid in various sizes. His normal form is this very cute Chibi-Deer, with the big head and little body. The characters in show find him adorable when they don’t mistake him for a tanuki, and, because so many fans found him adorable, Oda actually made him cuter and even more chibi-like as the story went on.
So yeah, he’s a spastic, hyper, powerful chibi that got even more cute. Eat your heart out, Kawaii girls.
2. Luna — Sailor Moon
And here we have the one that started it all for me. Luna, the black cat with the big crescent moon, was what kickstarted my love of cats and got me interested in anime as a whole.
Luna is Usagi’s pet cat/mentor, and also an alien. Unbeknownst to most childhood Sailor Moon Fans, both Luna and her male partner, Artemis, are a separate race of cat aliens that helped the royal family of the moon before their kingdom got destroyed. Luna is here to guard the reincarnated princess, whomever that is.
This kitty is not just a sleek, elegant design. She’s smart, brave, clever, and super tenacious. This leads to occasional moments where she can’t do as much as she’d like (what with being a cat) but even those are too sweet for words. The perpetual straight man, and cheerleader for the girls, Luna is the favorite of many a Moon Girl.
1. Totoro — My Neighbor Totoro
To quote one of my favorite movies, HE’S SO FLUFFY!
My Neighbor Totoro is a Miazaki classic. In the film, Totoro is the giant forest spirit who interacts with two young daughters of a professor in rural Japan. Totoro himself has become an icon for anime and features one of my favorite designs for an animal: big bouncy tummy, Cheshire grin, and an adorable cat nose.
And if that wasn’t cute enough for you, his best friend is a much scarier cat-bus. Did I mention Japan is weird?
Joking aside, Totoro is the definitive cute anime mascot and arguably one of the first. He’s approachable, he’s marketable, and he’s well written. He’s not there to fill a “things in a kid’s show quota” nor is he useless fodder to draw in the kiddies. He’s an important part of the story, and one of the most huggable animals anime has to offer.
Who’s your favorite anime mascot? Feel free to comment below, and don’t forget to like the post. Click the follow button to get an update each time I post so you can get more!
Sorry about the day late post, I had to deal with an emergency, but everything should be back to normal as of this Saturday.