Why do anime characters look like cats?

Have you ever looked at one? Anime I looked the character straight in the eyes – figuratively – and thought, “Why do you look so much like this other, completely different anime character?” Because I did. In fact, I can name about 20 whose facial features look exactly the same, and no, they don’t exactly resemble humans. It wouldn’t be fun to write about.

However, these characters are eerily similar to cats. Big eyes, small noses and tiny mouths that border on cute and pretty (as pretty as a pixel can be). Now that you have the image of a cat in your head, you will notice that every single character just looks like a cat and you will be as crazy about it as I am. But don’t worry, I’m here to untangle the ball of curiosity in your head.

What are anime characters inspired by?

Mei Ai from the anime “The Girl I Like Forgot Her Glasses” holds her glasses in her hand and smiles.
Image via Crunchyroll

Unrealism is key in anime and manga, and if you are even a little against this idea, then you are wrong. From the powers to the world building to the character designs, anime is unrealistic and people shouldn’t even be the inspiration behind the characters we’ve come to know and love. This is where cats come into play.

Over the years, many have pointed out that while anime characters are typically inspired by Japanese characteristics, they often appear Caucasian. This has sparked heated debates online about the supposed “whitewashing” of characters, when in reality many were not intended to resemble humans at all – at least not completely.

The theory that these characters were inspired by cats went viral on TikTok and Instagram and is not entirely unfounded. Often the characters resemble cats in many ways, from the shape of the face to the nose or large eyes to give the characters a cute appearance. Several artists have also come forward to share how they transform a drawing of a cat into an anime character.

The theory is generally fun, but not particularly accurate. Several manga and anime have very different art styles. Take Jojo’s bizarre adventure, for example. It’s hard to imagine that Jotaro’s design was heavily inspired by cats. At the same time we have characters like Killua HunterXHunter or even Taiga Toradorawhose entire gimmick in the series revolves around their feline characteristics.

In general, art styles vary from story to story and author to author. It’s quite difficult to determine whether anime characters simply started following a cat-like pattern or not. However, if they resemble cats, it may just reinforce the fact that many characters are intended to be cute. Or “kawaii” if you will (I’ll get there). And let’s be honest: nothing is as cute as a cat.

Ultimately, the theory that anime characters have cat-like appearance is neither entirely true nor untrue. It’s certainly plausible, but there’s enough evidence to suggest that it may just be a coincidence. Ultimately, art style depends on the illustrator and animator, not a set-in-stone rule that dictates characters should look like kittens.

Lindsay Lowe

Lindsay Lowe is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Lindsay Lowe joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: LindsayLowe@worldtimetodays.com.

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