I always like to research and read about pets in anime. Cute critters are my jam. The issue I run into though is that cute critters are most people’s jam and as a result, there are TONS of them in anime. There are entire long-running series that are just collections of cute critters.
As such, to make these posts work, I need to find a way to really narrow down the field. Honestly, even just trying to pick 5 cute cats or dogs in anime is almost impossible with the myriad of equally wonderful choices available to me. So this is how I decided to do it.
First, I’m sticking to pets for this one. That means no anthropomorphized characters or shapeshifters. Also, I’m going to try to stick animals that actually exist in this world. Sadly that rules out dragons and pokemonS. Finally, I wanted to really focus in on unusual pets. This is the criterion that caused me the most trouble because how do you define “unusual”.
Obviously, cats and dogs were out. Those are pretty standard pets and although I love them I think it would be easier to create dedicated lists for each. I also decided to rule out hamsters. We don’t see them as often but hamsters seem pretty popular in Japan and it’s actually common t a least hear that a character has a hamster. Unexpectedly I ended up ruling out turtles and most birds for the same reason.
When I started to look into it, there are actually a lot of pet turtles in anime. I don’t know if it’s because they are fun to draw and easy to animate or do people in southern Japan actually keep turtles often. In any case, a lot of anime have them. Birds are a bit different. There are a few normal Parrots and Pet birds in anime but I found that fantasy/adventure anime often had characters keeping a pet bird. I would say crows are most common but there are varieties of larger birds of prey or smaller songbirds that show up frequently throughout anime. So there you have it.
Oh yeah, one last rule. I am concentrating on pets so no beasts of burden or…food sources.
Man, this was way too long a setup. On to the cute critters!
5 – Ao – Yona of the Dawn
Ao is a squirrel and Shin-Ah’s companion in Yona of the Dawn. I live in Canada and calling squirrels unusual is a bit of a stretch. There are three in my backyard right now and this is a minimum for any given time. But you know what, there aren’t that many plain, run-of-the-mill squirrels in anime. In fact, there are very few squirrel pets in fiction in general.
Sure, you might see a flying squirrel here and there for those who want to be fancy but the standard brown variety is rare to see. Also, Ao is such a quintessential squirrel. In the first meeting with Shin-ha he tried to protect her from pouring rain with a large leak and she immediately just started eating the leaf. That is endearingly accurate!
4- Clara – Princess Jellyfish
I really love Princess Jellyfish, have I ever mentioned that? Clara is Tsukimi’s pet jellyfish. The show occasionally uses her as a framing device and narrator but it’s clear that she’s actually just a normal jellyfish that lives in an aquarium. Clara is also the inciting incident of the show. The story would never have happened if Clara wasn’t around, so she gets extra points for that.
I know that people who love aquariums do keep jellyfish at times and we see them in anime a lot because they make for really nice visuals. However, this is the only time I’ve seen a jellyfish being taken care of in a personal at-home aquarium. And from what I understood in the show, it’s not easy to keep them healthy and thriving in those conditions. But Clara is certainly well taken care of.
3. Pen Pen – Neon Genesis Evangelion
As a Penguin, Pen Pen is a species we see a lot in anime but rarely as a pet. For obvious reasons. Penguins aren’t exactly well suited to apartment life and Japan’s weather can get too warm for just about anybody, let alone a poor Penguin. This is why Pen Pen lives in a freezer most of the time. I have a feeling that Misato smuggled him back illegally…
I know I said wanted to stick to existing creatures and I’m not sure that Pen Pen’s exact breed does in fact exist. The wiki says he’s a warm water penguin (already pretty rare) and he’s obviously a crested penguin. I couldn’t find any breeds with his exact colors and none of the crested penguins live in warm water. However, he also lives in a freezer so he obviously he does like cold temperatures. I figure he could be a Macaroni penguin. They are probably the most common species of penguin in the world and tend to be super hardy so he could have adapted. That’s what I’m going with. Also, penguins exist so close enough.
3. Karl – Bungo Stray Dogs
Are you wondering who Karl is? Oh wait, when I formatted this I put in a picture didn’t I? Nevermind. Karl is Poe’s pet raccoon! Much like Ao, as someone who lives in Canada, raccoons aren’t exactly exotic in these parts. You can also just go on YouTube and find tons of people with pet raccoons. They’re super cute but don’t seem very trainable.
However, have you ever seen another pet raccoon in anime? I figure this will go one of two ways. Either my readers will think “huh, she’s right it’s super unusual for animes to feature pet raccoons” or they will food my comments with examples of animes with pet raccoons. It’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned!
Nagoya – My Little Monster
One of the more off-the-wall, elements of My Little Monster is that they were all taking care of a chicken. I have often seen chickens or rabbits as school pets in animes (I have never had a school pet in any school I attended and I think it’s probably for the best), but they rarely play an important role. Nagoya is present enough to have a name, that in itself is pretty unusual.
Meat- Do it yourself
Meat the pig is another common farm animal however we don’t see them as pets very often. Especially as big city pets like in Do it Yourself. Meat is also adorable. He’s n honorable mention though because the show makes it very unclear as to whether he can also count as a food source…
1. Raijinmaru – World Trigger
Let’s face it, Raijinmaru is probably the reason why I decided to write this post at all. Where else am I going to see a frekkin capybara? And such a regal one at that. Raijinmaru certainly s a princess.
Raijinmaru is a pet capybara. She doesn’t talk or does wacky antics. In fact, she pretty much only does things a capybara would, and as they are a social, laid-back, and very calm species that tend to be friendly to everyone, that’s how Raijinmaru is as well. She basically naps and eats and just hangs around.
And yet everyone loves her. I’m not just talking about the characters on the show. The fans love Raijinmaru. I do too. She really makes you want to go out and get a capybara which is legal in Canada, just sayin…
There you go. My very selective list of adorable and unusual anime pets. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have a Capybara please let me know all about it!