Are Anime Characters Based on Cats? Explained

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Ayush Rajan

Are Anime Characters Based on Cats

Anime has been a popular form of entertainment for decades. It has a unique style that is easily recognizable, especially with the characters’ big eyes and exaggerated features.

It’s not an overstatement to say that a good character can make or break an anime. No matter how great the story is, if there is no proper protagonist to carry it forward, the execution is more than likely to fail.

One of the most popular theories about anime characters is that Anime characters do not look Japanese they are based on cats. This theory has gained widespread attention and popularity on the internet. While this theory is not officially confirmed, many anime fans believe that there is some truth to it. This article will explore the theory that anime characters are based on cats.


Why, in Japanese anime, do none of the characters look Japanese?

Why, in Japanese anime, do none of the characters look Japanese?

While Japanese anime is created by Japanese people, many anime characters do not look Japanese. In fact, some anime characters have distinctly non-Japanese features, such as blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. This has led some people to wonder why anime characters do not look Japanese.

One theory is that anime characters are based on cats. According to Hantani Sadahiko, the goal of manga anime was neither Japanese nor Caucasian. Instead, the theory is that anime characters are designed to resemble cats. This is because cats are seen as cute and lovable in Japanese culture, and many anime characters are designed to be cute and lovable as well.


Another theory is that anime characters are designed to appeal to a global audience. Japanese anime has become increasingly popular around the world, and anime studios may be trying to create characters that will appeal to people from different cultures. By making anime characters look more like people from different parts of the world, anime studios may be able to attract a wider audience.

Significance of Cats in Japanise Culture

Before answering this question, let us take a look at the impact that Cats have had on us and the emotions they make us feel. In Japanese folklore, Cats are a symbol of good luck and fortune. They have protective powers and have made appearances in many tales throughout their history.

Influence of Cat in Anime


A better argument for the theory would be that cats are just very likable in general. With their calming appearance to their playful actions which make us feel warmth and comfort, they are undoubtedly one of the best species of animals if you are modeling a character.

In addition to this, it is also easy to point out various personality traits through them as they can either be a source of innocence and joy such as Doraemon, or showcase maturity and sensuality similar to Yoruichi from Bleach.

This allows mangakas and anime producers to incorporate them into a variety of genres be it romance, action, or mystery.

The Father of Manga, Osamu Tezuka, has also been outspoken about Disney’s influence on him and especially the popular cat character, Mickey Mouse, which influenced the design of Astro Boy.

Characteristics of Cat-Based Anime Characters

Yoruichi Shihōin

Anime characters based on cats have certain characteristics that set them apart from other characters. These characters are often designed to be cute, playful, and mischievous, with some even possessing supernatural abilities. Here are some common traits that cat-based anime characters tend to exhibit:

  • Ears and Tail: Cat-based anime characters are often depicted with cat ears and a tail, which are used to convey their feline nature. These features can be used to express a wide range of emotions, from happiness and excitement to anger and fear.
  • Playful Personality: Cat-based anime characters are often portrayed as playful and mischievous, with a love of fun and games. They are often shown chasing after toys or playing pranks on other characters.
  • Cuteness: Cat-based anime characters are designed to be cute and endearing, with large, expressive eyes and a soft, fluffy appearance. This is done to make them more appealing to the audience and to create a sense of empathy and connection.
  • Agility: Cats are known for their agility and grace, and this trait is often reflected in cat-based anime characters. They are often shown leaping, jumping, and running with incredible speed and precision.
  • Catgirls: There is a specific category of anime characters literally called “catgirls” which blend human and feline traits. They have cat ears, tails, fangs, etc. These overtly cat-human anime girls probably do take direct inspiration from cat attributes.
  • Independent nature: Many anime characters, especially younger ones or heroes/heroines, have an independent or free-spirited streak like a cat. They don’t want to be constrained by rules or social conformity.

10 Anime Characters that are Based on Cats

  • Boris Airay (Heart no Kuni no Alice): Has a mischievous and playful personality like a cat. Loves riddles and being carefree.
  • Koneko Toujou (High School DxD): Has cat ears, tail, and cat-like features. Cold personality and rarely shows emotion.
  • Schrodinger (Hellsing Ultimate): Playful and charming personality reminiscent of a cat.
  • Ao Nanami (Yozakura Quartet): Has cat ear-like antennas and beautiful blue eyes.
  • Ichigo Momomiya (Tokyo Mew Mew): Playful charm, as if her DNA merged with a cat’s.
  • Atsushi Nakajima (Bungou Stray Dogs): Faced difficulties like a stray cat.
  • Himari Noihara (Omamori Himari): Fiery cat spirit with a charming personality who protects the protagonist.
  • Kenma Kozume (Haikyu!!): Appearance, personality, and behaviors align with feline attributes.
  • Ikuto Tsukiyomi (Shugo Chara!): Has a mysterious and quiet cat-like personality.
  • Kyo Sohma (Fruits Basket): Many cat-like behaviors like loving fish and disliking restraint.

Are Anime Characters Based on Cats? True or False

Are Anime Characters Based on Cats? True or False

While there is a lot of evidence to show that many anime characters are based on cats, it is not enough to conclude that anime characters as a whole are based on cats. It is certain that cats have had a big impact on many mangakas, especially those who write on Romance and Slice-of-Life and other world topics, and have even caused an extended fandom dedicated solely to “Catgirl” characters.

At the same time, there is also not an ounce of evidence that can be seen about cats influencing series such as Death Note or Monster. It would be a massive disservice to the originality of creators just to boil it down to the statement “anime characters are based on cats” and hence while the theory is not entirely without merit, it is not something that can be applied to the anime industry as a whole.

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Ayush is a dedicated animanga enthusiast with a vast collection of experiences. With over 200 anime series and 300+ manga, manhua, and manhwa titles under their belt, Ayush's knowledge and passion are unparalleled.
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