Nyan-tastic! Nekomimi and You

by Shance and Yi.

otome youkai zakuro bunbun

Shance: Greetings! Again, it is I, Shance of Rainbowsphere. Some of you may have read about me when I penned a post about the Hime Cut hairstyle with Yi last year. Now I’m back for more. And this time, Yi decided that we should talk about a very popular trope in Japanese visual media: Cat ears, more commonly known as nekomimi.

Yi: Yes. Of all the wide ranging—often super weird and unexpected—anthropomorphisms anime have to offer, cats seem to gain especial favor among fans. Indeed, nekomimi has become anime’s own unspoken mascot for as long as I can remember.

catshadow catwoman

Shance: Nobody really knows when the nekomimi fad started, but some suggest that it started in the same era Western animation and culture started their own versions of animal anthropomorphisms, which date back to the 1940’s. While Western animation focused on creating costumed anti-heroes with a feline theme, the Japanese focused on elaborating on the cat in order to match a character’s behavior and characteristics.

nekomimi miwon

Yi: That feline characteristics grew to be the dominant presence in anime, as opposed to other animals, is perhaps not as arbitrary as it appears. Among our furry friends, the two that we are most familiar with today are dogs and cats. As the most popular and common house pets, we tend to feel more compassion and relation to puppies and kittens than, say, bears or raccoons, and definitely reptiles or fish.

We can further differentiate our preference for cats to dogs in anthropomorphism through an aesthetics approach. The difference lies in how we caricaturize these animals, and how easily their defining characteristics lend to zoomorphism. Although the ears and tails of both species are features that can simply be added to a cute girl, animal faces are much harder to adapt to that of humans.

mahou shoujo madoka magica akemi homura nekomimi hina hina

To illustrate this, let us do a little thought experiment. First, imagine a human face. Then adjust the features—nose, eyes, mouth, cheeks, or facial hair—to invoke an unequivocally feline look. Be sure, however, to still keep it distinctively human. I imagine most people have something that is reminiscent of “(o ω o)”. Moreover, I would guess the images we have lie closer to that of humans on the sliding scale of furriness.

We can try the same process with canines. For the sake of emphasizing a point (and also because I love my Cookie), let us  imagine a golden retriever and her long doggy snout. Now, constructing a zoomorphic face that incorporates defining canine facial features while retaining human enough forms, although possible, requires a slightly greater leap. Furthermore, the results are probably unsatisfactory on the first try.

arcueid brunestud tsukihime type-moon nekomimi minasuki haruka

Shance: That’s a very straightforward approach, Yi. And while comparison of physical traits between pets and humans give us a general idea of how cat ears became popular, another focal point to note is the behavioral characteristics of the animal in question.

Cats have been known to be very curious animals. Because of this innate curiosity, subsequent characteristics of the cat come into the fray, such as childish playfulness, agility, and mischievousness. Add in the already mentioned cute look, and you have a very genki character that sprouts cat ears whenever these cat-like characteristics surface. Furthermore, the general appeal of nekomimi comes from the fact that, with cats being cute, the characters that sport the characteristics of a cat are also seen as being cute. This helps a character exhibit an aura of cuteness, which then initiates a paternal protective reaction known to the otaku as moe.

arcueid brunestud tsukihime type-moon

If we are to take an example, a good one would be Arcueid Brunestud of Tsukihime fame. She has this bubbly, energetic personality that you usually see on characters that see everything from a child’s perspective. She’s always in awe with things that we perceive as simple and normal. She wants to try things that are totally new to her, and be excited before, during, and after experiencing them. And she’s a True Ancestor (Shinso, or what they simply call in Japan as “True Vampires”), which means she also has cat-like reflexes, aside from her cat-like speed and her weapon of choice: sharp claws from the nails of her fingers. Due to these characteristics, it was only a matter of time before the minds behind TYPE-MOON started drawing and writing scenarios with her being portrayed with cat ears. What do you think, Yi?

Yi: Precisely, Shance! Arcueid is a very telling example of how we attribute human characteristics—curious, playful, teasing—to animals, and in turn associate our imposed stereotypical behaviors of animals to our characters. In that sense, anthropomorphism and subsequent zoomorphism are a layered, well-constructed fiction. It is within this fantasy, in nekomimi, in kemonomimi, that we find escape and meaning beyond the boundaries of human conditions.

Shance: It’s a symbiosis that not only strengthens a character’s charisma, but also his or her importance to any plot or story. Of course, that only means that I have my own plethora of favorite nekomimi-clad characters, one of them being Arcueid.

ore imouto gokou ruri kuroneko nekomimi kunishige keiichi

Yi: As for me, I think my favorite example has to be Kuroneko. She is, after all, a carefully-constructed girl superimposed with all our favorite “feline” personalities (either by herself or by the anime).

hakase nichijou idu michito nekomimi

Shance: I guess that’s an obvious choice. If we go by the criteria you presented, another favorite of mine would be Hakase from Nichijou. With just a pair of cat ears, her cutesy, petite physique, and the seemingly mischievous gestures of a cat, she can already capture any viewer’s heart, moe or whatnot. Toss in a cutesy, cat-like catchphrase and that’s a hundred moe points tenfold! I guarantee you’ll have something pinch your heart after watching this.

Yi: Love it! ♥

Shance: I knew you would. Again, it has been nice and lovely to write in tandem with you again, Yi. Good night!

__________________________________________________
About the Guest Author:
Shance always brings fun, insightful, and fascinating topics to blogs. And, much like the last time we collaborated, this has been an extremely fun experience. Shance makes it feel easy. Be sure to visit Shance at the lovely Rainbowsphere as well!

About Yi

''lol...you're either sleeping or eating'' ''oh and watching anime'' ''and indulge in fashion.'' ... Ahh the busy life~
This entry was posted in Anime/ Manga, Editorial, Fashion, Guest Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

88 Responses to Nyan-tastic! Nekomimi and You

  1. Marina says:

    What a fun discussion! I loved reading both of your thoughts on feline characteristics, as well as the examples you gave of some of your favorites. I remember the first cat-filled anime to really grab my attention was ARIA, where Akari was pulled further and further into Cat Sith’s world after her encounter with the little ghost cat-girl. Neo Venezia became the first setting that I came to see as thoroughly made for both humans and cats, a world right on the misty edge between the light and dark.

    And thank you for that reminder of Nichijou and Hakase’s nekomimi moment! It spread a huge grin on my face :3

    • Shance says:

      Hakase is the very best example that I can think of that can combine everything about cat ears and being cute. I’m glad someone else shares the same sentiment. Cheers!

    • Yi says:

      I love those few episodes where the cat spirits away Akari too. They’re actually my favorite episodes in the entire series. Definitely shed a few tears out of just… nostalgia for a place I’ve never seen before.

      I think I can understand your sentiment. I love Neo Venezia…

      Cheers, Marina. Glad you enjoyed our efforts.

      p.s. Hakase put a huge grin on my face too. ^ ^

  2. gozieson says:

    Yay! Nekos X3.

    Yeah I have a soft spot for them and their personalities. They’re playfulness always catches my eye and the expressions which are catlike also add to the charm of catgirls.

    I have been thinking about catgirls in a real-world setting though of late. Biologically, if there is such a thing of catgirls existing it would be probable that their gene sequence may have been mutated to formulate the proteins similar to that of a cat while keeping the traits of humans. I also think that catgirls may have more (or less) chromosomes compared to normal humans which also include chromosomes found in cats and maybe other chromosomes from unknown origins.

    Though it would be highly unlikely that in the near future, biotechnologists (hopefully like myself in the future) can create stable gene sequences and find the correct pairs of chromosomes to create actual catgirls. I still wonder what it would be like to have catgirls in our world.

    • Shance says:

      Japan is currently delving into our brains for a solution. The end result is the Necomimi cat ears by NeuroWear. These ears read your brain waves and react to them, moving the ears. Here’s an example of its usage by singer Sakamoto Miu:

      The ears tweak and point upward when you’re surprised or concentrating, and relax and point downward when you mind is relaxed, laughing, or thinking cool thoughts. Neat, no?

      • Joe0Bloggs says:

        That’s at the same time the most useless and most awesome bit of research I’ve ever seen XD

      • Yi says:

        Yes, definitely super neat, Shance! I love this. ♥

        This may seem like useless research, but I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss it. The underlying principle–a mechanical response to emotions–can have so many wonderful applications besides cat ears…

    • Yi says:

      Yea, I think biologically, cat girls (or rather, cat ears) can possibly be engineered through gene manipulation. It would be highly difficult for now though. And, that’s without considering the ethical implications and debates that will no doubt follow such researches. It’s a fascinating thing to imagine! A future where cat girls are being made. That society’s values, how cat girls fit into society… etc.

      • gozieson says:

        Ah yes, on the topic of genetically modified organisms, studies and research are still going on about their implications on life on Earth. If GMOs breed together with other species of organisms, the results could be unsightly. Heard about superweeds? They’re weeds which have mutated or obtained a gene from a GMO which allows them to resist herbicide, resulting in the hybrid being a pain the side of farmers.

        Even though GMOs are a very treacherous topic to put forward, I would hope to be a biotechnologist someday so that I can assist in the ongoing study and research into GMOs. I would also like to study the DNA of other organisms to understand the traits which may benefit other people and the planet itself.

        • gozieson says:

          On topic, some scientists have decided to grop GM crops in caves underground to avoid the contamination of the gene sequences with other organisms so that they can safely continue research of the GM plants.

        • Yi says:

          I don’t actually mind GMO too much, and I find a lot of the objections to GMO a little too sensationalist for my tastes. In my field, however, we often have to face these things and address them… Even if it’s sometimes so baseless. GMO already has such reactions today; imagine how the public will react to nekomimis.

          With that said, when the genetic altering concerns humans, it becomes more of an issue. When it comes to dealing with human life, it’s a dangerous slope. There’s also the issue of creating/engineering the “ideal” person or even race embedded within this idea.

  3. chikorita157 says:

    In a sense, I think Japan’s obession with cats mostly contributed to the popularity of cat girls. It’s mostly has to do with their culture and the emphasis on cuteness. On the other hand, cats are fascinating creatures even though they tend to stay alone compared to dogs. But still, I kind of find the personalities of cat girls rather interesting, although they are there since they are cute.

    Ironically, I haven’t seen many anime with Dog Girls… Probably the only one I saw that places a lot of emphasis on it is Dog Days.

    • Shance says:

      I’m surprised you didn’t bring up notable ones from Touhou, like Inubashiri Momiji and Sakuya Izayoi.

    • Yi says:

      Cats gain a special favor in so many cultures. I think I’d tend to agree with you.

      As for wankomimi, they’re less common, but they are around. For example, in the doujin circles, ShizNat are often shown with puppy-ish qualities and dog ears. There’s also a visual novel some time ago, Wanko to Kuraso, that prominently features wankomimi.

      • Shance says:

        Another good example would be another famous visual novel that I can already label as a classic: Pure Pure. The game features a anthropomorphised dog in the name of Hinata.

  4. Pingback: Provocative Nekomimi (NSFW) – aloe, dream

  5. Ryan A says:

    “For the sake of emphasizing a point (and also because I love my Cookie), let us imagine a golden retriever and her long doggy snout.”

    Aww, it doesn’t quite work the same way as anthropomorphism, but I think it can still be cute. And I was kind of thinking about this the other day, because I was reading something tangential to Peter Pan and I remembered Tinker Bell… but I started thinking about how Tink turned into a person to confess her love for Peter in Hook. Maybe because it was Julia Roberts. So then I started pondering what pets would be like if they could turn human for a day or some short period of time. Of course I thought of Gypsy, but have you ever thought of something like that with Cookie?

    I take pleasure in the aesthetic but also like how characters interact with the idea of nekomimi or embody it, especially Azusa and Kuroneko. Azusa resists it and it becomes a ‘thing’ really, and she has that gentle (or wobbly) presence of a kitten. Kuroneko is great and more so when we see home side. She has an independent or unwelcoming tone, which gives the impression of a loner/stray, but she’s actually very warm when we see her with family. The personalities are distinct and surface in different ways.

    And Hakase and Nano are really adorable! Haha, I loved their sketches and had forgot about Nano’s “~moe~” response.

    • Shance says:

      I can’t agree any better on your opinion about Kuroneko. She’s like a feral cat who refuses to be tamed by anyone she doesn’t accept. Whether the cat ears compliment this attitude or it’s the other way around, I can’t really say. But like you and Yi said, she’s one of the best examples for the trope.

    • Yi says:

      Tinker Bell, how lovely~ As a child, I was so charmed by her. ^ ^

      Anyway, yes. I’ve definitely fantasized that about Cookie… more times than I care to admit. I think of all the things she might possibly say, and what human things we’d do. Perhaps the other thing I long for from her (and this likely stems from a deep love I feel for Cookie, as you undoubted feel for Gypsy) is some confirmation of our bond as something more than an innate canine loyalty to the pack leader.

      Loll, I guess I think too much, but I’m glad I’m not the only one.

      Thanks for bringing up Azusa. I had wanted to say something about her, but I just couldn’t find a place in the flow of the colloquium. You are totally right about Azusa. She feels like a kitten. That she is forced into this role, but eventually it becomes part of her identifying characteristics is also worth noting. Compared to her, Kuroneko feels like an adult cat, fully aware and confident in her feline self. It’s fascinating to see two very different approaches to cat-girls, and that cats aren’t just limited to a single set of characteristics when adopted to humans. Wonderful point!

      Love Hakase and Nano too. I want to watch Nichijou just for those two oddballs.

      Cheers, Ry. ^ ^

  6. Smithy says:

    I love catgirls/nekomimi girls in anime, cannot say for sure why but it’s a fetish in anime that just works for me. Though the same for ookamimimi, kitsunemimi girls. Xiao Mei? Goodness! Holo? Heavenly! Kuugen? Maniac! All those other cute kemonomimi girls like the Zakuro bunch~ ♥ (Even “Asobi ni Iku yo!” was bearable thanks it featuring catgirls!)

    For some reason the catgirl fetish just works for me in anime, simply irresistible. (Real people wearing cat ears… not so much, no.)

    But gene research into making cute girls with cat ears… mhh… potential!

    • Yi says:

      You really love those animal ears, don’t you? ^ ^

      I do too! I think they’re just so wonderful. The fluffy large ears, often accompanied by a lively tail… Irresistible indeed~

      However, I’m a bit hesitant about genetically engineering nekomimis. I worry about all the ethical implications a society with nekomimis can mean. But the potentials are indeed endless!

      • Smithy says:

        Ethical implications? Legality?
        [Darth Sidious] I will make it legal. [/Darth Sidious]

        On a more serious note, I don’t think it would work for me to see them in real life as nekomimi and cute anime girls stay within the realm of an irresistible but impossible fantasy.

        • Yi says:

          Not really necessarily about legality. I guess there are issues that can arise. Think genetically engineered people, children, or entire race. Or the social roles of nekomimi created. Stuff like that.

  7. jreding says:

    Shance and Yi, I hope you don’t mind a dissenting opinion as I am not very fond of nekomimi or catgirls. I quite enjoy the odd fetish myself and of course it’s up to everyone’s own preferences. After reading your inspiring post I’ve been wondering, though, why I don’t like these quite popular tropes.

    Re nekomimi:

    - My main reason is that I think nekomimi are somewhat degrading. (I don’t want to go into detail here in order not to offend you.) I felt a bit uneasy, e.g., when I watched the Azunyan scenes in K-ON season one as she herself did not seem to feel quite comfortable with this accessory.

    - Apart from that, nekomimi also prevent me from indulging into a show. The obligatory beach episode exists mainly for presenting the storie’s heroines in bikini resp. sukumizu but still it’s not so unrealistic and obviously fetish-oriented as nekomimi. Nekomimi take away my illusion of voyeuristically taking part in the girls’ everyday life. Azusa e.g. is cute enough as she is – she doesn’t need any enhancement imo.

    Re catgirls:

    I’m actually a bit afraid of catgirls or other human/ animal-hybrids. Humanoid youkai or angels are fine for me, though, as they are not quite close enough to humans (uncanny valley?).

    • Shance says:

      I think I can understand where you’re coming from. Basically, nekomimi is a trope that is mostly forced upon a person either because:

      a. that character needs more cuteness or sex appeal, or
      b. that character needs to conform to the viewers’ definition of what is “cute” or “sexy”

      I think Azusa’s case falls into the latter category.

      • jreding says:

        Shance, I think you mention an important point: “[…] that character needs to conform to the viewers’ definition of what is “cute” or “sexy” “ Personally, I wouldn’t relate Azusa to either of your categories. For me, she does not belong in the second category as she is already super cute w/o nekomimi. But one may have to differentiate between “cute” and “sexy”. Azusa is cute w/o nekomimi but imo not necessarily sexy, being a young girl. The nekomimi somewhat objectify her (see discussions below) thereby making it easier for the viewer to perceive her cuteness in a sexualized way (a bold statement, I know!). Insofar I agree with your second category re Azusa. Personally, though, I don’t appreciate her becoming more “sexy” as it spoils some of her cuteness.

        • Shance says:

          I can’t really say that Azusa doesn’t relate to the second category because the category itself only targets a certain demographic. Sure, there are some people who would love Azusa for what she is, but there are other people who did find her nekomimi mode more appealing.

          As for the “sexy” part, that’s where we go from the gray zone into the black. I agree with your sentiment of Azusa being seen in a sexual way through nekomimi, so we’ll try to connect things from there. Since nekomimi itself is a symbolic item of cuteness, we can’t dismiss the fact that nekomimi can have sexiness as a subsequent attribute. This goes into perversions of the trope, such as turning the girls that wear them into “sex objects” frequently featured in eromanga and doujinshi. Azusa, unfortunately, is no exception.

    • Yi says:

      Lovely comment, jreding. I was actually wondering if anyone would pick up on my slight objection to nekomimi and other similar “Disneyfication” of sorts from the few lines I talked about it. I’m very glad you shared your thoughts! I definitely don’t mind a “dissenting” opinion.

      I think what you find uncomfortable about nekomimis (and Azunyan) is that cat ears are, in a way, objectifying women and animals. We stereotype these women as adorable/ sex objects, and in a similar way, we objectify animals to be our human pets… There to cater to our whims.

      This is a rather feminist approach to this subject, and I tried to hint at it here in a few lines without getting into a huge rant:

      “in turn associate our imposed stereotypical behaviors of animals to our characters.”

      On a related note, it may interest you that animal rights movement begin near the same time as women’s liberation, and both have historically been very related causes.

      It actually makes me super happy, jreding, that you would follow up on this! I’m not offended at all!

      Now, as for the post, I (and I’m guessing Shance as well) wanted the direction to focus primarily on the type of personalities that are commonly associated with nekomimi. It’s a character-driven primer/exploration into this aspect of anime.

      Maybe we’ll do another post about the feminist implications another time. :3

      On another note, I wouldn’t say I find nekomimi freaky. Quite the opposite in fact. And as mildly degrading as they often tend to be, they are adorable!

      • jreding says:

        Haha, Yi, after following your conversation with maybebornagain I feel your reply is an example of what I was referring to in my comment re Letter Writing. You will now be known until the end of days as the person who compared women to animals ;-)

        Jokes aside, Shance and you have indeed mainly been writing about the various personality traits of cats and nekomimi wearers and quite entertainingly so! I’m looking forward to a possible feminist implications post, though!

        I’d like to clarify that it’s not nekomimi which I find freaky but catgirls. I mean if it’s somewhat degrading to impose nekomimi on a girl this applies even more to engineering a girl/ cat chimera just b/c it looks cute, no?

        As I wrote, youkai are a different thing for me, though. Can I imply from your pics that you watched Otome Youkai Zakuro? How about a post on this adorable show?

        • Shance says:

          I hope you stick around for our future colloquiums! As for the feminist implications, we’ll see about that. :)

        • Yi says:

          “You will now be known until the end of days as the person who compared women to animals”

          Oh gosh… please don’t. This completely takes everything I’ve said out of context. :(

          On engineering cat girls, I think the more dangerous idea is the social implications of these genetically created cat girls. After thinking about it more, there’s at least three ways a society with cat girls can go. One is creating a new race/species, cat girls, for other humans’ sake (e.g. servants, slaves, entertainment… etc.) Or, genetic/ developmental modifications as a fashion/ aesthetic trend, similar to breast implants or such. Yet another would be genetic modification and engineering future generations to have superhuman feline traits. The first and third are especially dangerous. The first for obvious reasons (discrimination, rights… etc. etc.). The third for its implications on human selections for traits at a genetic level. Fascinating to think about.

          I’m sure Shance and I will do another colloquium in time. And I might possibly expand more on this feminism idea in the future. (No guarantees though!)

          p.s. I have not actually seen Zakuro unfortunately, so I had mistakenly thought she was a nekomimi initially, resulting in this odd opening image of a kitsune. Heh.

    • Ryan A says:

      Azusa is cute enough. Although, I don’t believe the occurrence of her nekomimi was entirely driven by aesthetic as there is a chemistry between her, being the kouhai, and the older girls. The audience may find the end result most striking, if fan art speaks for the masses, but involving peer pressure turns the narrative detail into a form of light hazing, and I find this interesting case. I do not condone hazing or peer pressure fundamentally, but there are subtleties to the situation in K-ON! where it is meant to be fun rather than blatantly degrading, and as a result, becomes a bond between Azusa and the girls.

      I say “Azusa and the girls” in arguing that is the primary dynamic of K-ON!; it became a story about Azusa. But regardless, I feel nekomimi is another sentiment of the girls she’ll take with her into the nostalgic future.

      Cheers!

      • Yi says:

        True true. I enjoyed this hazing sort of interplay between the older K-On! girls and Azusa. There, nekomimi is almost used as a way to poke holes into her serious demeanor, make her a bit more vulnerable. It’s fun for the K-On! girls and the audience.

        “a bond between Azusa and the girls.”
        Indeed! From Mio to Azusa, the nekomimi and other embarrassing outfits have become a way of breaking the more serious/shy girls into K-On! club. It’s almost like part of their club tradition.

  8. fabricerequin says:

    The one that really hit it off for me was Tsubasa Hanekawa from bakemonogatari, her look with her voice Nyaahahah was simply drooling :3 then it was Zakuro from Otome then the list goes on. I cant say how come but for sure I got pull in by the cuteness.

    • Yi says:

      I have yet to see Bakemonogatari, but I do know of her. She is adorable!! Nekomimis are just irresistible, are they not? ^ ^

      p.s. Zakuro is actually a fox (first image is a bit misleading…), but she’s super pretty too.

  9. Pingback: Nyan-tastic! Nekomimi and You « Rainbowsphere

  10. foshizzel says:

    hhhhnngggg that Hakase video <3 I miss you Nichijou D:

  11. I didn’t watch Nichijou but that video made me go hnnnn~~~

    I guess dogs can’t be as successful anthropomorphisms (/zoomorphisms) because their snout is more prominent than that of a cat.

    As for my fav nekomimi, though I don’t think it counts as one is Hana-chan from GATE7 by CLAMP. She has a hood with nekomimi and I think it suits her facial traits and behavior (way more than the frog hoodie…) http://fuckyeahgate7.tumblr.com/post/18976617125

    Otherwise I’m more kitsune girls’ fan (let me think of Horo as one…)

    • Shance says:

      I believe the reason is that dogs are associated more with males. The ideal characteristics of a dog (loyal, active, loud, protective and aggressive) are attributes more prominently seen in men, hence them being associated more with dogs. Of course, there are some exceptions to this, an example being Sakuya Izayoi from Touhou.

      • Yi says:

        That’s a really good point, Shance. In fact, more often than not, if we do see wankomimi in anime/manga/games, it usually plays on the puppy angle or the blindly faithful angle, both of which are more traditionally feminine characteristics.

        • Shance says:

          A good example of a loud and agressive wankomimi character would be a favorite for the trope (for me, at least!): Sakamoto Mio from Strike Witches. She’s loud, she’s the oldest in the squad, and she never stops believing in her strength as a Witch, even when she went past her prime. Truly awe-inspiring traits!

    • Yi says:

      There’s a lot of factors at play here. I think the visual aspect is merely one among many. e.g. Shance makes a great point in the reply above.

      Ooh Hana-chan looks so adorable!! Love her. And I figured you’d be much more of a kitsune girl. ^ ^

  12. Aniplogs says:

    is it just me or is it nekomimis/catgirls today are being more into lolis? I’m not a hardcore otaku and I honestly not into Moe/Lolis and I still like the not-too-old fashioned characters. The only catgirl that I like was soul-eater’s Blair which is definitely hot! XD

    • Shance says:

      I don’t think the trope is strictly limited to loli. It works more effectively for them because of their age. Little girls who already have their innate cuteness benefit a lot from nekomimi simply because they are already cute. It may have a different volume of effect to an older person, but overall the effects are still the same.

    • Yi says:

      I’m with Shance on this. Even if there is a perceived trend of more loli nekomimis, but that would probably be because of a larger trend toward moe and lolis. It’s not a nekomimi exclusive thing. There’s also probably bias in what we view too.

      Thanks for visiting and the comment, Aniplogs!

  13. IMSirius says:

    Random thought: While I enjoyed ‘Asobi ni iku yo!’, I was irritated by the fact that the Catians had a set of “human” ears in addition to their cat ears. It made no sense! Humph.

    • Yi says:

      Haha, yes. That would bother me so much too if I see an anime with characters who have two sets of ears. It’s just weird!

      • Shance says:

        Like Ryan has said on a blog post, some media treat cat ears as purely aesthetic. That, or the character design and concept weren’t thoroughly thought out.

  14. Leap250 says:

    At first I found it weird whenever I saw Arcueid sporting nekomimi whenever I look for pics of her. Then I felt that it really did fit her character, so that gets me thinking – is there a character who wouldn’t pull-off a nekomimi?

    lol, and Holo needs her own -mimi fandom. Kitsunemimi! ^^

    • Shance says:

      I believe this trope is possible even for non-moe characters. Some are even unexpected to have an inclination for it, like Zenon Houjou from C³.

    • Yi says:

      Well, there are some characters who naturally feel more like other animals, e.g. dogs or foxes. In those cases, nekomimi would not seem as natural (but can probably still work). I guess in the end, animal ears always work. ^ ^

  15. glothelegend says:

    Feline >> [replace the "L"] >> Femine >> [repeat the "in"] >> Feminine

    I just figured out life.

  16. Tenchi Truth says:

    Can I just say I agree with you that it’s unfair how CSW got thrown out of the tourney. When AstroNerdBoy manipulated the vote in his favor in the last tourney, he was treated as a martyr and the blame was put on me because I campaigned against him. The fact is, I wouldn’t manipulate the vote in the first place because that’s wrong, and I would never vote for AstroNerdBoy if my life depended on it. To put it on me when he got scared and wanted to get a safe cushion of extra votes just shows that the tourney organizers are too easily manipulated. I don’t expect them to let my comment through at the tourney site because of how AstroNerdBoy has been telling everyone that I’m an evil psycho, but I just wanted to let you know that I agree with you completely because I know what it’s like to get a bad rap for supposedly manipulating the vote when all I did was campaign fair and square.

  17. maybebornagain says:

    It’s interesting that we can “we find escape and meaning beyond the boundaries of human conditions” by stereotyping the behavior of an entire species, isn’t it?

    • Shance says:

      It’s basically using that stereotyping behavior to make others see the characters in a different and more positive light. It’s not surprising to note it out given that we, as human beings, like to assimilate and integrate into ourselves the better characteristics of something else. I guess that’s human nature, too.

      • maybebornagain says:

        Is it really always positive characteristics, though? Aren’t cats also considered, for example, aloof?

        Of course, I think “assimilate” and “integrate” might be taking it a bit far. Isn’t it predominately an association? Wanting to be associated with something postive is hardly deplorable.

        • Shance says:

          My bad. Those were very technical and specific terms. But while we’re at it about human behavior, I guess you’re right: There are some qualities of the cat that, although not positive, are being associated to certain characters. I guess this creates a colorful personality of sorts for a character, which isn’t bad.

    • Yi says:

      @maybebornagain:

      That quotation was actually a minor jab at our treatment of animals. Much like how we objectify women, we object animals as well. We give attribute to them sets of human characteristics. (e.g. curious, aloof, proud cats and loyal, loving dogs… etc.) Then, based on these human conditions that we place upon animals, we objectify them into pets, because they are, after all, our companions.

      In a lot of ways, this is kind of a degrading, negative thing. Interestingly, animal rights movement started around the same time as women’s liberation. The two movements have also been closely compared and associated.

      As for nekomimi, in some sense, I feel like we use our objectification of animals to in turn objectify characters, creating a specifically designed fiction to cater to our needs and fantasies. A form of escape, I suppose—an out to having to deal with the more human aspects and consequences of objectifying women.

      It’s not really a positive thing I guess. And as I said in a reply above (to jreding), this idea deserves its own future post, so it became a mere passing thought here.

      But nekomimis sure are cute!

      • maybebornagain says:

        Ah, really?

        Your response to jreding makes sense – giving characters traits belonging to animals certainly isn’t conducive towards making that character seem independent or worthy of respect.

        However, I doubt personifying an animal really leads to objectifying it. Someone saying their cat is aloof is pretty silly, but I doubt it’s harmful. Stereotyping a species might be harmful (believing, for example, “all cats are aloof”), but aren’t all stereotypes the same?

        I’m sorry, but I’m really, really uncomfortable comparing a women’s liberation movement with one for animals. Maybe I need to grow up a bit?

        Nekomimis aren’t exactly my cup of tea, but I’m glad you like them!

        • Yi says:

          “aren’t all stereotypes the same?”

          Not necessarily. If I see someone with tattoos all over his body and walks around with a huge chain and base bat, I would stereotype that person as a criminal and avoid him. That’s unfair, but carry little weight.

          Stereotyping animals, on the other hand, can be bad, e.g. Jaws and the over-hunting of sharks, because sharks are aggressive man-eating evil things.

          “I’m sorry, but I’m really, really uncomfortable comparing a women’s liberation movement with one for animals. Maybe I need to grow up a bit?”

          I understand your hesitation. Perhaps it’s the sense that one holds far higher priority than the other. Or one is of heavier weight, and really not much of an issue for you.

          I’ll note first that historically, these movements are very much associated (and not just by me, but by those involved), especially during second wave feminism and in their inception. The comparisons are also still drawn by certain feminists and activists today. There is a lot of literature around comparing feminism and animal rights.

          Now, I’ll paraphrase what my professor says about this. A lot of times, people have this sense of priorities in what causes are worth our efforts. Before women’s liberation, it was civil rights. Then after that—today—it’s gay rights. In this mode of thinking, we are already setting up a hierarchy. Black people/ race issues are more important than women’s issues. So we had to “resolve” the race issue first. Then it’s finally women’s turn. And, women’s issues are, in turn, more important than gay rights. And finally gay rights more important than animals.

          On the other hand, if we get out of this frame of mind, and recognize that what we are ultimately dealing with are human issues. And all this oppression is a reflection on a human culture based around setting up privileges and discrimination based on arbitrary standards (skin color, gender…etc.), then the comparisons make sense. They all deal with this oppression based on an arbitrary line drawn between groups by those in power.

          Finally, I’ll put forth just a little bit of my opinion… I can understand why these movements feel very distinct. And I think I can understand people’s reluctance to compare the two. But I’d remind them that comparing the two in no way makes either seem less important, nor does it imply that you’re comparing women to animals. If anything, doing so can mean one understand ultimately that we are really addressing human issues.

          Also, PETA’s publicity stunts do not help… :(

          p.s. Just my opinion. Don’t think too much of it. ^ ^

        • maybebornagain says:

          Yiiiiii~ If you’re going to quote me, keep the context~

          “Stereotyping a species might be harmful…but aren’t all stereotypes the same [harmful]?”

          In your first example (which I really think is toeing the edge between a stereotype and a specific, armed person), the person is harmed by the stereotype – he doesn’t get to meet you! It isn’t as bad as driving entire species to extinction, but it is bad.

          “Perhaps it’s the sense that one holds far higher priority than the other” is about right. It may be a bit heartless, but I think humans are worth a bit more than other animals. Yes, with civil or gay or women’s rights we are dealing with human issues. But animal rights is an issue between humans and their (non-human) pets, so it can’t be just a human issue, can it?

        • Yi says:

          You’re right. That was unfair for me to quote out of context. In any case, we are in agreement.

          “It may be a bit heartless, but I think humans are worth a bit more than other animals.”

          Even if you think so, it doesn’t make the comparison any less legitimate. Again, I stress that comparing two causes does not make either less significant, nor does it mean to say that you think women are animals… I almost feel like you’re uncomfortable because you think that’s what it implies. It does not.

          The comparison/association drawn by feminists and activists is one between the movements, and more importantly, the underlying principles they are based on, and their approaches.

          And on another note, one could argue that animal rights issue is simply a human issue, but that gets into another huge long rant…

        • maybebornagain says:

          Oh-kay.

  18. @fkeroge says:

    It’s very nice to see a very detailed discussion on this topic mostly taken for granted by a lot of us viewers. Kemonomimi, particularly nekomimi, are a very integral part of anime culture, so we really should treasure its influence.

    • Shance says:

      I’m glad you have the same sentiments as I do. It’s not that I hate people who know nekomimi only because they’re worn by maid-ish waitresses working as some family restaurant or as a simple cosplay item, but I wish some people know there’s a meaning why people put these on, or employ them in the visual media that we consume.

      • Yi says:

        Yea definitely, Shance. I’m glad I did this post with you, because to be honest, I never really thought much about nekomimi before other than simply, this is cute and anime!

    • Yi says:

      @fkeroge:

      Thanks for reading, sweetie. ^ ^

  19. wieselhead says:

    Cats are very popular in Japan there you can buy movies of playing kittens :D
    I can’t really say why I like nekomimi or straight positioned ears from other animals like fox or wolf work for me in general. It’s just enchanting to see the cute yet animalistic traits like that, in combination with a winking paw I always get overjoyed even though I’ve already seen a lot of nekomimi characters XD

    Was this shibainuko2.jpg drawn by you or Yi, it’s somehow adorable ^-^.

    • Yi says:

      Yea, cats are super popular indeed. And I can kind of see why. They are just soooo adorable. Anyway, I guess even among kemonomimi, we all have our preferences. I love winking paws too~ Thanks for reading, wieselhead. ^ ^

      That image is not drawn by me or Shance. It’s a picture of Shibainuko, and she is adorable!

  20. Nyx says:

    Nekomimi MOEEE~~~~ is that it?? ^_^

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