Honey’s is getting in the Halloween spirit with articles covering different aspects of the spooky season in relation to anime. In this piece, we’ll be counting down our top picks for the best black cats in anime based on their overall appeal and impact in their respective series and touch a bit on how black cats are viewed in Japanese culture.
Black Cats in Japanese Culture
In Japan, cats of all kinds have been considered to be symbols of good fortune and black cats are especially loved as talismans against misfortune and disease. In the Edo Period, it was believed that having a black cat for a pet could help with issues ranging from tuberculosis to love problems. Appreciation for black cats can be seen in everyday Japanese life today in things like maneki-neko and Yamato Transport’s iconic logo. This stands in contrast to many other cultures’ thoughts of black cats, such as in America and many European countries, where they are historically associated with witches and considered bad luck.
5. Sakamoto from Nichijou (My Ordinary Life)
We’re starting this list off with a cat worthy of respect, Sakamoto-san. Sakamoto was originally the pet of science teacher Kana Nakamura and called Taisho but ran away because of her irresponsible ownership and was adopted by Nano and Hakase Shinonome. Sakamoto is a middle-aged cat with the ability to talk thanks to a high-tech red scarf invited by Hakase. He is always trying to be treated with the respect of an elder (he is over 20 in cat years after all) and act mature but adorably can’t help but give into his cat instincts at times. Sakamoto, overall, is just a very entertaining character that plays off of Nano and Hakase wonderfully.
4. Jiji from Majo no Takkyuubin (Kiki's Delivery Service)
Jiji is Kiki’s pet and companion in this classic Studio Ghibli film and one of the studio’s most-loved mascot characters. Interestingly, Jiji’s personality is very different in the American version of the film compared to the original. In the U.S. version he is has a dry, sarcastic personality and is a little proud while in the original Japanese version he is much more calm and overtly friendly, always trying to help Kiki out. Director Hayao Miyazaki has said that Jiji represents the childish side of Kiki. When Kiki loses the ability to communicate with Jiji, this symbolizes her maturation. Jiji has one of the most iconic cat designs in anime with his large eyes, distinctive purple inner ears, and tiny nose often accompanied by an oversized bow.
3. Luna from Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon (Sailor Moon)
Luna is an intelligent talking cat from the planet Mau who serves as an advisor to protagonist Usagi Tsukino. Luna and her fellow cat companion Artemis were sent to Earth in order to awaken the Sailor Senshi. Despite her unusual identity, Luna looks pretty much like an ordinary cat save for a crescent moon-shaped symbol on her forehead. She also has a rarely-seen human form. Like Jiji, her English version is significantly different than her Japanese character with the English dub portraying her like an "English nanny" seemingly old enough to be Usagi’s mother, while she is much more like an older sister type in the original. In all cases, Luna is certainly one of the most well-known black cats out there and an important addition to her series.
2. Blair from Soul Eater
Blair is a monster cat with particularly strong magic powers who can transform into a human form and has a variety of pumpkin-themed magical abilities like explosive pumpkin-shaped magic weapons and a giant flying pumpkin to ride on. Blair’s personality is very mischievous and flirty, especially with Soul. Despite not actually being a witch, she wears a pointed witch-style hat in both of her forms and has a visual motif of large curls that play up her hat, hairstyle, and cat tail. Blair works at Chupa♡Cabra's cabaret club in Death City and is, for a cat, unusually fond of taking bubble baths. Blair’s seductive antics and creative design make her one of our favorite black cats ever, even if it’s a little ambiguous as to her color being really dark purple or black.
1. Mao from Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha (Darker Than Black)
Finishing off our list is one of the most badass cats ever, Mao. Technically, Mao is a human who used his Contractor animal possession ability to inhabit the body of a black cat (and later a flying squirrel) for many years. Mao is a fascinating character with a very logical personality. In battle he usually creates diversions to support Hei, he also is able to always send and receive information at all times due to his brain being connected to a wireless network. This connection also enables him to suppress his animal instincts. Mao’s most striking design features are his bright blue eyes and golden bell worn around his neck. Among anime cats, his design is more realistic which fits with the mostly serious tone of the series.
We hope you enjoyed this mini cultural window into the world of black cats and their incarnations in anime. As always please leave us a comment below if you enjoyed this article with some thoughts of your own. Sa-nyan-ora!
Honorable mentions: Arthur (Code Geass), Kuroneko (Trigun), Babu (Sankarea), Kamineko (Azumanga Daioh), Ta-kun (FLCL)