In various cultures and traditions of our time, a spirit animal refers to a spirit who guides and protects his or her ward on a specific journey. Additionally, the spirit animal and person are characteristically similar. Often, we also view spirit animals as a metaphor for a being or thing a person admires and relates to. In our case, we see in many anime the spirit animal as a sidekick, a close companion who is willing to do anything for the one he or she accompanies. A mentor, dependable, and all-around lifesaver, it is safe to say that many of these characters owe a significant debt of gratitude to their sidekick.
With that said, we present ten anime recommendations with the best spirit animals as sidekicks. We know there are many more series that capture the lives of these ride or die heroic creatures, so here’s what we’ve gathered so far! Enjoy!
10. Pupipo! (Pupipo)
- Episodes: 15
- Aired: December 2013 – March 2014
Pupipo! follows the life of a 5th-grade student, Wakaba Himeji. Wakaba has a fantastic ability that unfortunately marks her an outcast among her peers.
She has the ability to see spirits; the most frightening ones that mainly do a lot of harm to those who are close to her. With no friends or company, Wakaba leads a sad and lonesome social life. However, on several occasions, she brings home strays but is unable to keep them for very long. Showing concern for their daughter, her parents decide to allow her to keep her next stray. A peculiar little thing, Wakaba brings home a little pink monster called Pupipo.
What breed or species is Po-chan? No one knows for sure, but we come to see profound personal changes in Wakaba brought about by this entity, who also acts as a buffer for the things Wakaba sees. Also, Po-chan helped Wakaba emerge from her shell, as she makes friends and places herself in various social environments. Overall, Po-chan is a sidekick that shows how funny destiny can be.
9. Tenchi Muyou! Ryououki (Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki) (Ryo-Ohki)
- Episodes: 6
- Aired: September 1992 – March 1993
Tenchi Masaki is a 17-year-old boy who comes from a long line of priests and swordsmen. Proud of his heritage, Tenchi grew up hearing epic stories of his ancestors who used their power and talent to seal a demon inside a cave. Curious and eager, Tenchi does a little exploring at this very cave, stumbling upon the very sword from the story. Filled with awe and thinking nothing of it, Tenchi removes the blade from the seal, accidentally releasing the demon, a space pirate named Ryouko Hakubi. Harboring much frustration and anger, Ryouko lunges at Tenchi, but he counters and awakens his inner power. After seeing this, Ryouko takes an interest in her unlikely savior. From this moment, Tenchi is offered the chance to experience the legends that his ancestors have faced, exposed to great powers and creatures. Learning more about his family history, his power, and the threatening forces looming in space, the diversity of characters Tenchi interacts with are to thank for guiding him on the right path. In particular, Ryo-Ohki is a spirit animal sidekick that stands out from the crowd. Part cat, part rabbit, Ryo-Ohki is cute, powerful, and a force to be reckoned with.
8. D.N.Angel (With)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2003 – September 2003
D.N. Angel follows the adventure of a boy named Daisuke Niwa. From the beginning, Daisuke tells his crush, Risa, that he likes her. Unfortunately for him, she rejects him, leaving him heartbroken. Daisuke additionally experiences physical changes that he is unable to explain. Later, he's told of a strange genetic condition that allows the males of the Niwa family to inherit the spirit of Dark Mousy, which emerges when he thinks of his crush. To suppress Dark Mousy and return to normal, Risa must send those same feelings back to Daisuke. With is the Niwa family pet and Dark’s familiar spirit. When Dark calls for him, regardless of where he is,With can respond to his request, transforming into a black winged creature. With then can attach himself to his master. Along with other skills, With is an excellent companion for the family and an assistant to Dark.
7. Natsume Yuujinchou (Natsume’s Book of Friends) (Nyanko-sensei)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2008- September 2008
Natsume Takashi is not your average 15-year-old boy. He harbors a strange and terrifying secret involving youkai, as they continuously pester and chase him to fulfill a last request or release. This ability runs in the family, as Natsume discovers that his grandmother, Reiko, had passed on to him the Yuujinchou, or "Book of Friends," which contains the names of spirits whom she brought under her control. Now that Natsume is in possession of this book, he takes on this responsibility passed on by his grandmother. Natsume has help and guidance from Madara, commonly referred to as Nyanko-sensei, a mysterious feline spirit who has his reasons for sticking with him. As viewers come to learn Nyanko-sensei’s motives, we discover along the way that his skill and knowledge are beneficial to managing the Book of Friends.
6. InuYasha (Kirara)
- Episodes: 167
- Aired: October 2000 – September 2004
InuYasha is a fantastic fantasy adventure that is cheerful and refreshing from start to finish. InuYasha follows the story of a girl named Kagome Higurashi, a gal who leads a normal life until a demon drags her into a cursed well, transporting her 500 years in the past. Reborn with a wish-granting jewel called the Shikon, Kagome becomes a target for all evil forces. Fleeing and fighting, when they engage in a battle with a demon, the jewel shattered into many pieces. Enlisting the help of a demon named Inuyasha, the two of them make their way across feudal Japan in search of the jewel pieces.
InuYasha has a colorful cast of characters that illuminate its story. Kirara is the nekomata companion of Sango, the youkai exterminator who originates from a line of exterminators from a remote mountain village. At face value, Kirara usually appears as a tiny and cute kitty cat, but her true form is a ferocious, massive saber-toothed tiger-like youkai. You know what they say, “the best things come in small packages!”
5. Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro) (Totoro)
- Aired: April 16, 1988
My Neighbor Totoro is a staple anime film that everyone knows about, a Studio Ghibli classic! The story is about eleven-year-old Satsuki and her four-year-old sister, Mei. They recently moved into an old house in the countryside so old that it looks like a creepy haunted house. Satsuki and Mei’s dad is a busy professor but makes time for his girls while their mother recovers from illness at the hospital. While the girls are exploring their new environment, Mei meets various spirits of nature, naming the biggest one of them all Totoro! Totoro is one of many spirits of the forest. Mei and Satsuki develop a close bond with the spirits, further depending on them when things take a turn for the worse. As the girls are the only ones able to see Totoro, the three of them keep themselves occupied exploring the lush, green forest as this spirit animal sidekick shares warmth and comfort.
4. Gintama (Sadaharu)
- Episodes: 201
- Aired: April 2006 – March 2010
Gintama is an eccentric anime capturing the life of Gintoki Sakata in a time when aliens from outer space, the Amanto, have invaded Earth and taken over feudal Japan. After the invasion, swords are outlawed and the age of the samurai disappears. Gintoki remains true to the way of the samurai, though he isn’t your typical stoic swordsman, as Gintoki’s love for sweets along with his job as a yorozuya catch everyone off guard. Gintoki’s line of work is as interesting as they come, having to deal with hooligans frequently and getting into a ton of shenanigans. Humorous, entertaining, and overall exciting, Gintama is a series that never offers a dull moment.
Gintoki’s oversized pet dog, Sadaharu, is an inugami. With a friendly canine appearance, Sadaharu is taller than most humans, finding comfort in using people’s heads as his chew toys. Sadaharu was abandoned in front of Gintoki’s apartment and, after saving him, the two became a match made in heaven. Adding to Gintoki’s adventures, Sadaharu brings exhilaration to an already electrifying cast of characters.
3. Mahou Shoujo Madoka ☆ Magica (Puella Magi Madoka Magica) (Kyuubey)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2011 – April 2011
In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, we follow 8th grader Madoka Kaname, who lives an average normal life. One night, she has a nightmare about a future doomed with darkness and terror. Furthermore, the only resolution to save the future is to sign a contract and become a magical girl. Unalarmed and dismissing the thought as “only a dream,” she disregards the nightmare. Unfortunately, Madoka is unable to escape it, as elements slowly start to surface in her everyday life. As these components begin to shape into reality, Madoka must face the difficult decision of whether or not she should become a magical girl.
Along for the ride is a familiar named Kyuubey, the adorable yet frightful creature that grants any wish to a particular girl, on the condition that she becomes a magical girl, fighting against evil and other witches. After signing this contract, Kyuubey takes their soul, placing it inside a Soul Gem and replacing their body with a more durable shell to tackle on the most extreme battles.
2. Nanatsu no Taizai (The Seven Deadly Sins) (Hawk)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2014 – March 2015
The Seven Deadly Sins takes place in a parallel world similar to our Middle Ages. The Holy Knights of Britannia use powerful magic to protect the region but, unfortunately, their efforts are not enough, as a small band of Knights betrayed their allegiance in an attempt to overthrow the ruler of Liones. Defeated by the Holy Knights, rumors continued that these legendary knights, called the "Seven Deadly Sins," were still alive. Ten years later, the third princess of Liones, Elizabeth, embarks on an adventure to find the Seven Deadly Sins, take back her kingdom from the Holy Knights, and correct all injustices.
Hawk is a talking pig and Meliodas' companion. Even though he is a little guy, Hawk is strong and swift, no thanks to all the food scraps he eats at the Boar Hat bar. Most endearing about Hawk is that he is compassionate, courageous and protective of all his close friends, an exact definition of spirit animal sidekick.
1. Sword Art Online (Pina)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: July 2012 – December 2012
Sword Art Online is the story of a massive release and gameplay for the virtual MMO game, Sword Art Online. The game being highly popularized, gamers anticipate gameplay. Upon arrival, participants enter the game and realize they can’t log out. Causing a great deal of confusion, Game Master Akihiko Kayaba announces that he purposely trapped them to test players’ strengths and abilities. Moreover, harm inflicted in the game would take effect in the real world. Many are frightened by this but, emerging from the ranks, Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya takes the lead having been a beta tester for the game. From this moment, we watch Kirito face various challenges, meet new players, and gain levels and experience.
In this series, we encounter a petite Feathered Little Dragon called Pina. She belongs to Silica and is recognized as the first monster domesticated in the game. Pina is intelligent, responding to commands as well as being Silica’s protector. Often, in various MMORPGs, having a pet or spirit animal sidekick is a rewarding and satisfying experience, especially when they can be so helpful in gaining levels.
“Thank you for being a friend!” We hope you enjoyed our recommendations for top 10 anime with spirit animals as sidekicks! If you haven’t already, make sure to check out all of these great titles! Challenges are no longer difficult when you have your trusty sidekick beside you and these anime prove that it is true! As always, we truly appreciate you guys tuning in. Also, let us know if we’ve missed any other great, awesome series by commenting below! Thanks, and see ya!