1. Kirara — InuYasha
There’s a lot to love about Rumiko Takahashi’s fantasy adventure series InuYasha. For instance, the dynamic duo Sango the Demon Slayer, the sole survivor of her massacred village, and Kirara, her feline fighting partner.
A “nekomata” or, “twin-tailed” demon cat, Kirara can transform from a kitten that’s about the size of half a loaf of bread into a ferocious and giant saber-toothed cat with fiery paws and the power to fly.
Kirara can withstand battles with sinister demons and has an uncanny ability to sense danger. She is just as perfect of a sparring partner as she is for cuddling and comforting Sango and her friends. This four-pawed warrior is one of the best, cutest anime animals companions around.
2. Yakul — Princess Mononoke
In Hayao Miyazaki’s ecofeminist supernatural thriller Princess Mononoke, the protagonist, Ashitaka, is accompanied by his sweet and loyal Red Elk, Yakul, for his entire journey. When a soul-eating illness infects Ashitaka after defending his village from a forest god gone mad, he follows the words of his village’s wise woman and heads west in search of a cure on Yakul’s back.
Despite Ashitaka’s cursed condition, Yakul’s love and trust in him don’t waver once. Even when facing violent bandits and the wrath of the Great Forest Spirit, Yakul remains courageous and steadfast. One of the most underrated, cute anime animals in the entire Studio Ghibli universe, you could say Yakul is especially deer to our heart.
3. Black Hayate — Full Metal Alchemist
Taken in off the streets of Central City, this playful Shiba Inu was adopted by Riza Hawkeye, a soldier and expert sharpshooter. Dubbed Black Hayate by Riza, he quickly became a soldier caliber partner.
He’s intelligent, quick to react to commands, and doesn’t hesitate to spring into danger when Riza is threatened. He also has the unique ability to detect Homunculi– the soulless and sociopathic part-human antagonists at the heart of the Full Metal Alchemist series.
With a name that directly translates to “Black Hurricane,” can we expect any less?!
4. Buyo — InuYasha
Kagome’s chonky calico cat is the reason why the 15-year-old middle school student ends up tumbling down the sacred well and falling back in time to feudal Japan in InuYasha. He’s not so much a guardian at her family’s Higurashi Shrine than he is a couch potato with a liking for tummy rubs.
Cute in a derpy sort of way, Buyo’s chill personality and majestic belly fluff are enough to win InuYasha over just moments after meeting him. It’s no easy feat, mainly because the hot-headed, quick to anger dog demon rarely likes anything.
5. Momo — Avatar The Last Airbender
Aang’s cute as a button pal, Momo, is a winged lemur and common animal companion to the peaceful Air Nomads. But much like how Aang is the sole surviving Air Bender, Momo is the last of his kind.
He loves snacking on apples and has gotten Aang and his friends Katara, Sokka, Toph and later, a reformed Zuko, out of many a sticky situation with his uncanny instincts. You can’t have a list of cute anime animals (even if the multi-award-winning Avatar The Last Airbender is technically an American anime*) without Momo!
Note: *I’ve included Avatar The Last Airbender on this list because all of the characters come from an Asian background and are visibly depicted as such in a world that also reflects Inuit, and East and South Asian culture, art, mythology, and history. The series employed cultural consultants for the entire 2005 – 2008 run of the show. I’ve included the spin-off, The Legend of Korra, for those same reasons.
6. Jiji — Kiki’s Delivery Service
Kiki’s pancake-loving familiar often has wise words of advice for the young witch in training. As Kiki’s best friend in Hayao Miyazaki’s 1989 movie Kiki’s Delivery Service, Jiji has just as prominent a role in this movie as Kiki herself.
The huggable black cat is there for Kiki when she’s homesick and hopeless just as often as he is when she’s soaring high on her successes. Unlike many of the other cute anime animals on this list, Jiji has an arc of his own. The ending is so awww-dorable it almost hurts!
7. Hamtaro — Hamtaro
This one is a throwback! One of the first popular mainstream animes to hit America, Hamtaro follows the adventures of the intrepid Hamtaro, a hamster who escapes his cage by day to explore the world around him.
Although Hamtaro spends most of his afternoons with his clumsy and chronically hungry BFF Oxnard, he’s equally at home at, well, home, with Laura, the little girl who adopted him. Hamtaro doesn’t have any magical powers or special abilities other than his knack for pulling disappearing acts on the daily and his tendency to cause mischief!
The only thing cuter than Hamtaro? Hamtaro chilling with his squad of hamster friends at their tricked out Ham-Ham clubhouse tucked into a tree in the woods!
8. Eevee (Species) — Pokémon
Sorry, Pikachu! These first-generation fox-like Pokémon take the cake when it comes to pocket monster cuteness. With sweet temperaments, small statures, copious floof, and extreme versatility*, Eevees are lovable traveling companions.
When they undergo “Eeeveelution,” they are formidable in the Gyms and battles with other trainers. While there’s no one “main” Eevee the anime, like Ash Ketchum’s Pikachu (named, um, Pikachu), the species is widespread in the Kanto, Johto, Sinnoh, and even Alola region video games for all your hoarding I mean erm, training, pleasure!
Note: *Eevees have extremely mutable genes and can evolve into drastically different Pokémon when they’re exposed to Elemental stones and rocks.
9. Ein — Cowboy Bebop
Having a cute animal companion hardly feels like an objective worth pursuing in a futuristic space-western world where a team of bounty hunters takes to the sky in search of crime syndicates in the Solar System. But then, the Cowboy Bebop team discovers Ein. Short for “Einstein,” the hyper-intelligent corgi becomes the Bebop crew’s “data dog.
A barrage of science experiments gave Ein his human-level intelligence and a set of extraordinary abilities like hacking computer databases with just his mind. He can communicate effortlessly with every animal he encounters and even play a mean game of Shogi, or Japanese Chess. He may be limited to a language of barks, yips, and growls, but the Bebop crew knows never to underestimate Ein’s brilliance.
10. Luna and Artemis — Sailor Moon
What cute anime animals roundup would be complete without Luna and Artemis? In the magical girl sci-fi, fantasy adventure series Sailor Moon, the crescent moon kitties Luna and Artemis are Mau– a species of wise and ancient alien cats.
Although Luna is technically Sailor Moon’s advisor, and Artemis is Sailor Venus’s partner, the duo is integral to giving the Sailor Guardians the training and magical relics they need to defend the Earth from foreign invaders who wish to harm it.
They’re also powerful enough to revive the dormant memories of each of the Guardians, and patient enough to re-educate them on the complicated history of the Moon Kingdom and Princess Serenity’s legacy.
11. Pabu — The Legend of Korra
In The Legend of Korra, a spin-off set in the Avatar The Last Airbender universe, this mischievous fire ferret is both the animal companion of an earthbender named Bolin and the official team mascot for Bolin’s Pro-Bending team.
Inspired by red pandas, the Korra animators shoot Pabu’s cuteness off the charts with his amusing antics (like performing circus tricks and acrobatic stunts on the reg) and affectionate temperament. Pabu is not as much of a fighting force as Bolin or Bolin’s Republic City Pro-Bending teammates. However, his spirited, larger than life personality makes him one of the best anime animals in recent years!
12. Akamaru — Naruto
In Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, Kiba is a dog-like ninja from the Leaf village known for fighting his opponents with his loyal pooch, Akamaru. The snow-white pup goes from being a pint-sized floof tiny enough to travel on Kiba’s head and shoulders to a battle-ready Ninken, or Ninja Hound enormous enough for Kiba to be able to ride by the end of the series.
Skilled in all forms of combat, Akamaru’s specialty is shapeshifting into Kiba to distract enemies. When he’s not fighting tooth and nail, this doggo loves to run around in the trees and spend low-key time with his ninja dog dad. Animal companions don’t come much better than Akamaru!
13. Appa — Avatar The Last Airbender
From the time Appa was a baby Sky Bison, he was Aang’s best bud! Although he and Aang were frozen in ice for a hundred years, once they were released and brought back into the world, it was as though the two hadn’t been separated at all.
Physically strong, capable of flight, and exceedingly bright, Appa is essential in times of peace and war. He’s the one to thank for ferrying Team Avatar all across the four nations and for restoring balance to the world! Aang wouldn’t have the means to travel or the support to pursue the rest of his Avatar training and help the persecuted people around him without Appa!
Like Jiji, Appa is an animal companion who is given storylines of his own throughout the Avatar The Last Airbender series. He even gets an entire tear-jerker of an episode, “Appa’s Lost Days.”
14. Teto — Nausicaä and The Valley of The Wind
Nausicaä and Teto don’t have the most auspicious meeting. In the opening scenes of Nausicaä and The Valley of the Wind, feral little Teto greets Nausicaä with a hard bite that’s deep enough to draw blood and make her wince from the pain of it.
But the fearful fox-squirrel quickly warms to Nausicaä, sensing the teen’s empathetic and fiercely loving nature. Faithful tiny Teto perches atop Nausicaä’s shoulders for the duration of the movie, as she attempts to calm stampeding Ohmus (tank-sized hard-shelled bugs!) and defend her village from enemy humans, deadly spores, and enraged giant insects.
15. Moon — Whisper of the Heart
Oh, Moon! Easily the King of sass among this gathering of the cute anime animals, Moon has an IDGAF attitude we could all learn from. This train hopping, dog taunting, free-spirited feline is key to setting the aspiring young writer Shizuku on the path to becoming a confident writer in Whisper of the Heart.
Coincidentally, Moon brings Shizuku to an antique shop. There, she meets the grandfatherly proprietor and his talented young violinist grandson, both of whom inspire her to be bolder and braver as she pursues her creativity and dreams.
Another tragically underrated Studio Ghibli movie, Whisper of the Heart and, by extension, Moon brings comedy and charm to the witty coming of age film in ways American animated films have yet to do.
16. Bôh — Spirited Away
A bully of a gigantic baby (literally), Bôh is irredeemably vile for much of his screen time in Hayao Miyazaki’s fantasy-adventure film Spirited Away… that is until the temper tantrum throwing hypochondriac is transformed into a chubby little mouse by his witch (again, literally) of an aunt.
As a chubby-cheeked rodent, Bôh becomes a playful, loving, and downright charming little guy. One of the cutest anime animals on the Studio Ghibli scene, Bôh joins the main character Chihiro’s ragtag group of supernatural friends. Bôh helps her muster up the courage to push onwards in her journey to rescue her parents and escape the spirit world she’s entrapped in.
17. Naga — The Legend of Korra
Avatar Korra’s best friend before she leaves her Water Tribe village to go to the bustling metropolis Republic City is her reliable polar bear dog, Naga. The behemoth bear-canine hybrid has the coloring of a polar bear and the facial features of a labrador retriever, giving her a look that’s both cute and cuddly but also imposing.
Naga is an ace animal companion whose loyalty and exceptional speed and agility enable Korra to evade being arrested by the Republic City police, halt enemy mecha tanks with her brute force alone, and rescue Korra from captivity. Naga can also sense the presence of dark spirits before they completely manifest– giving Korra and her team of Bender friends a heads up when danger comes knocking.
Did your favorite anime animal companions make an appearance in our roundup?! Would you add any other cute anime animals to the list? Paws for a sec and let us know in a comment below, or tweet us @GeekForTheWin!
Hiya, my name is Vicky and I’m your friendly neighborhood Marvel-loving, Studio Ghibli-obsessed, Queer Potterhead.
I may be in my mid-twenties but I’ve been an enthusiastic Potterhead for over a decade. I can’t go a day without firing off at least half a dozen Harry Potter references and have a small museum of Potter and Wizarding World merch… one with FAR too many Funkos.
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