Before we jump into my Top 10 list, I would like to provide some background on the nekomimi. Nekomimi literally translates to “cat ears” and refer to the cat-human hybrids that possess a human body with cat-like characteristics such as cat ears, a tail, and personality. Nekomimi hold a special place in the hearts of all their fans. With their lovable personalities and charismatic demeanor, what’s not to love? The nekomimi are also known as nekos or catgirls. They can also be referenced as nekomusume which translates to “the daughter of a cat”. These are often referred to as cat daughters or cat girls.
Another common topic in the realm of the nekomimi is bakeneko, which translates into “changed cat”. Bakeneko is often confused with the nekomata, which is another cat-like yokai. A yokai is known in Japan as a ghost or a phantom and also a supernatural spirit or demon. The cats in Japan are often seen as yokai for several reasons:
- The irises of their eyes change shape depending on the time of day
- They lick and ingest blood.
- They walk without making a single sound.
- They are difficult to control.
Their looks, such as their claws and teeth, often play a role in this description as well. The yokai date back to the Kamakura era, when historical lore describes cats that do strange things that make them seem quite suspicious. There was often fear that the bakeneko were feline demons who were there to cause mischief and trouble.
In some popular folklore, there was the idea that if a cat lived beyond seven years, the cat would kill the person that raised it. Because of this, some people decided while getting a cat how many years they would raise it before getting rid of it because of the fear the cat would eventually kill them if they didn’t listen to this absurd superstition. Also, if a human were to kill a cat, that cat would come back as a bakeneko and curse the human that brought about it’s untimely fate.
As these stories and superstitions evolved, it often led to more creative lore such as cats manipulating the dead, possessing humans, and shapeshifting into humans or other animals in order to trick people. The stories even began to leak over into China. In China, it is said that after a cat has been raised for three years or more by a human being, the cat would bewitch them. Cats with long white tails were known to do this. It was also believed that they could channel the spiritual energy of the moon. Many people in Japan began to cut the tails of cats because of this particular superstition, but with white cats, it did not matter if the tail had been cut or not. In these cases, many Asian cultures killed white cats out of fear they would be bewitched.
But don’t let those stories scare you! In Japanese culture, the term kawaii refers to something being cute such an item or person. The nekomimi definitely fall into this category in Japan. But why is this? Cats actually are far more important in many cultures and history than one might think. The Japanese have had quite a history with felines. Many, many years ago the Japanese people who were of a high stature lived with cats. There is a saying called Maneki Neko – which translates to “good fortune” in English. This is what you often see as a statue of a cat with a bent arm that waves back and form. It is a symbol of good luck, and this is why you see it in many Japanese businesses. The hope is that the luck of the cat will bring good fortune to the business.
The legend behind the popular figurine is quite interesting. An old landlord states that he saw a cat across from him waving his paw back and forth. Interested in the cat’s gesture, the landlord began to walk towards the cat. When he approached the feline, a bolt of lightning struck in the exact same place he was previously standing in. The landlord took this as a sign of good fortune and luck because of the cat’s waving.
In Japan there is also shrine – known as Neko-jinja – dedicated to cats. That’s right, a whole shrine to worship the cat! While cats were known to help control pests such as rats and mice, the Neko-jinja shrine was built in reference to an old tale about fishing. Fishermen used to think the presence of a cat at the docks and inns were a sign and prediction of fish and weather patterns. One day while collecting rocks for nets, a few fishermen witnessed one of the rocks falling and hitting a cat, unfortunately killing it. Because the fishermen relied so much on the cats, they took this cat’s death to heart and built a shrine in his memory on the island.
There are many more legends associated with our felines friends. For example, stories of the nekomata are very popular. Nekomata legend revolves around the belief that when a cat reaches a certain age, it will grow a second tail and take on human like qualities, such as standing up and speaking as if a human would. This brings us to our top 10 list!
Top 10 Nekomimi Cat Girls in Anime
1. Tsumiki Miniwa (Acchi Kocchi)
This purple-haired catgirl appears in the popular anime Acchi Kocchi. She is best known for having deep purple hair and eyes, and from time to time she takes on a different form with cat ears and a tail. This anime focuses on the romance between Tsumiki and a serious young gentleman named Io Otonashi. The show revolves around the fact they are not quite in a relationship yet, but are more serious than a friendship. Tsumiki, our favorite catgirl, is always pure-hearted, but she can also be very sarcastic and witty when she wants to be. She most often sprouts cat ears and a tail when she sees something that brings her joy, such as Io.
2. Laura Bodewig & Charlotte Dunois (Infinite Stratos)
This lovable duo is most known for their roles in the anime Infinite Stratos. Laura is a transfer student into the IS Academy, and she is also the representative for the country of Germany. Her appearance is quite unique in the sense that she has long and silky silver hair, her right eye is a deep red color, and she wears an eye patch over her left eye which is yellow. Charlotte is also a transfer student and represents the country of France. She is a spy with purple eyes with blonde hair. The two girls both tend to wear cat pajamas with ears on the hood. This is found to be humorous as Charlotte and Laura tend to be portrayed as very mature and put together. The cat pajamas seem to represent the child-like quality they both share.
3. Kirara Bernstein (GJ Club)
Kirara makes her debut in the anime GJ Club. She is the tallest and often the strongest out of all members of the club. She is known for her bright blue eyes and short blonde that resembles cat ears. Her most interesting quality is that she can talk to cats. She also often takes on the personality of a cat in the way that she eats quite a bit of meat and is very protective of the meat she eats. She only shares with a select few people and also has a phobia of spiders.
4. Blair (Soul Eater)
Blair is from the ever famous anime and manga series Soul Eater. Blair is one of the lesser-known characters in the anime. She is a black cat and possess several strong powers. The most important one is her ability to transform into a beautiful young human woman. She can create explosions in the shape of pumpkins and uses a giant flying pumpkin to get around. The show revolves around several characters with special abilities and powers that can be channeled through their souls. Since she is a cat, she has nine souls, and Blair also has the special characteristic of being able to channel her many souls.
5. Tatenashi Sarashiki (Infinite Stratos)
Tatenashi is also from the anime Infinite Stratos. She represents the country of Russia which compliments her excellent combat skills that earned her to advance to the Cadet level in the series. She is most recognizable for her short blue hair that pairs nicely with her dark red eyes. She is quite attractive in the respect that she’s quite curvy. She is also known for dressing quite suggestively. She also wears a pair of cat ears and a tail in a suggestive manner.
6. Ako Suminoe (Kiss x Sis)
Ako appears in the anime Kiss x Sis as a 17-year-old high school student. She has a twin sister, Riko. Her appearance is actually quite normal. She wears her red hair in a ponytail with a clip to keep her bangs out of her face and her eyes are a deep chocolatey brown. Ako is very successful and exceeds in everything she does. She prides herself in being very proper but can also be very emotional and secretly perverted. Within episode six of the anime, Ako changes her hairstyle to two pigtails and now has a pair of cat ears which then changes her name to “Ako-nyan”.
7. Koneko Toujou (High School DxD)
Koneko takes the form of a small girl from the anime High School DxD. She is known for her shockingly white hair and beautiful hazel eyes. In the anime she has a different form known as her Nekomata form. In this form she has a pair of cat ears the same color as her hair and two tails. During the transformation her eyes become more angular and cat-like. This makes her seem quite child-like and adorable – the same as a small kitten would be!
8. Cyan Hijirikawa (Show by Rock!!)
Cyan, also known as Shian, is the main character of the show Show by Rock!! Her most attractive feature is her large and bright turquoise eyes and her dark blue hair. Her hair falls in large ringlets, and she is often seen wearing the fluffy white hat of a maid. Furthermore, like most of our favorite characters, Cyan possess two black cat ears and a black cat tail. She also possess a large pink guitar called the Strawberry Heart. She also wears black and white striped socks that go above the knee, and she can often be seen wearing a pink bow with a bell around her neck – much how a cat would!
9. Mashiro Mitsumine (Mikakunin de Shinkokei)
Mashiro, a fairly young girl from the anime Mikakunin de Shinkokei (also known as Engaged to the Unidentified), is another one of our famous catgirls. She has long beautiful dark brown hair which is tied up into a white bow. At times in the series, her hair is very tail-like in the sense that it straightens, curls, and wags depending on what her mood is (very similar to a feline). Mashiro was able to enroll in a much older class due to the fact she’s able to use hypnosis to fit into crowds despite only being 9 years old.
10. Ao Nanami (Yozakura Quartet)
Last but not least is Ao Nanami. Ao is from the anime series Yozakura Quartet. She works for a life counseling office and is one of the main characters of this storyline. She is quite small with light blue hair that falls just below her chin. She is very pale and has deep blue eyes. Her hair has two “antennas” which are made to look like cat ears. She is mainly known for wearing a black hat that takes shape around her cat-like ears, but when she wants to be more discreet about her appearance, she will wear a black band to hide her ears.
The nekomimi and cats in general play a big role in culture in Japan. They are known for many things such as good fortune and are a huge influence in anime and manga. The relationship between people and cats can be traced back over 9,500 years and have been a hugely significant animal in many other cultures other than Japanese. So next time you come across a stray cat that wanders into your path, think of it as a sign of good fortune that’s to come your way!
Also be sure to check out my reviews of the best cat ear headphones! Cat ear headphones are one of my favorite ways of getting into the spirit of nekomimi. ฅ(=චᆽච=ฅ)