Animals and beasts often play important roles in anime series, sometimes on par with the human characters. They can be the best allies or the worst enemies, depending on which side they're on.
Most anime animals are cute and lovable to some degree, but sometimes that's turned on its head with a monstrous character with terrifying features that terrorize the human world.
Sometimes the animal is a companion that can't speak words but loyally stays by their master's side, sometimes the animal is a wild beast that can communicate with humans via speech or thoughts.
Here are our picks for the best animal characters in anime and why each one stands out from other animals and beasts.
14. Mocchi (Monster Rancher)
Mocchi is the cute yet bulky monster companion to Genki and the group in Monster Rancher as they journey on in search of the Phoenix. He was introduced right in the first episode of the series.
But hidden in his seemingly squishy body is an able fighter, who we see defeat many opponents throughout the series. Among his arsenal are his Mocchi Cannon and his strong, hard head used for headbutts.
13. Kirara (Inuyasha)
Kirara is the two-tailed feline yokai companion of Sango and Inuyasha's group. Just like other feline yokai, Kirara appears to be just a normal cat, but she can transform into her much bigger form that gives her pyrokinesis and flight abilities, which are perfect for battle.
Though she's best in her battle-ready form, she's iconic, charming, and cute in her initial form.
12. Akamaru (Naruto)
Akamaru is the ninja dog companion of Kiba in Naruto. He's part of the Inuzuka Clan, whose members all have their own personal ninja dogs. Early in the series, Akamaru was a cute little puppy learning how to fight alongside Kiba.
As they both grow older, Akamaru becomes a huge dog—one so large that Kiba can even ride on its back. They develop more techniques together, thanks to Kiba's determination and training.
11. Kuro-Chan (Cyborg Kuro-Chan)
Kuro is an ordinary house cat who becomes the subject of an experiment, which turns him into a cyborg cat that was supposed to be used to conquer the world.
With his new steel body and unlimited strength, he can shoot machine guns and enter a deadly hyper mode. To hide his steel body, Kuro wears a black-and-white cat costume that's similar to how he used to be.
He saves not only his elderly owners but also the community, though he isn't that fond or enthusiastic about doing so.
10. Veldora (That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime)
We're talking about Veldora's original form, not his human form (which was based on the source material he indulged himself in while inside Rimuru). The Storm Dragon Veldora is a mighty dragon, sealed away by a human in the past, who then met a mere slime that changed his fate.
Being inside Rimuru is a win-win situation for both of them. He's one of the reasons why Rimuru is so strong and able to become a Demon Lord, while also being able to free himself from the seal with the help of the slime's Raphael ability.
9. Charizard (Pokemon)
Back when Pokemon first aired, no one anticipated that Ash's cute and lovable Charmander would evolve into the stubborn Charizard. He grew huge and strong, and Ash always had a hard time telling him what to do once he was out of his Pokeball.
Despite being hardheaded, this fire-type Pokemon is a great companion as he manages to defeat most of their opponents.
8. Chimera Ants (Hunter X Hunter)
The Chimera Ants in the Hunter X Hunter series were born from a single Queen who came from the Dark Continent. She further evolved the race in her nest by eating humans and giving birth to Ants with human-like features and human-like intelligence.
Their evolution went further as Nen was introduced to their race, resulting in monstrous and terrifying magical beasts, like the Royal Guards and the Ant King Meruem.
The Chimera Ants are known to obey hierarchy, so they all view the Queen as their supreme ruler. But upon her death, the other Ants started to wander far from the nest, each wanting to start their own nest and be the Queen themselves.
7. Sea Kings (One Piece)
For this one, we're not talking about the Sea Kings in One Piece that are common to the surface of the seas. Rather, we're talking specifically about the ones who answered Shirahoshi's (Poseidon) cry.
These Sea Kings were huge and known to be part of the ancient weapon that would pull the giant ship, Noah, to the surface.
They can also talk with certain individuals, which we saw when Roger heard them beneath the sea and when Luffy was destroying the ship that was about to fall.
6. Bunny (Blood C)
Real-life bunnies may be cute, but the Bunny Beasts in Blood C are best at being monsters. With their morphing abilities, they can turn their arms and hands into skewers (for a human barbeque) or even bags (in which they place their victims).
Another thing that makes these beasts so formidable, aside from being terrifying, is that they can multiply and regenerate. They can't be stopped unless the original is killed.
5. Cerberus (Cardcaptor Sakura)
Cerberus (or Kerberus) is one of the guardians of the Clow Cards and was ordered to look for the new master of the Cards.
In his true form, he resembles a lion with a breastplate, helmet, and huge wings. But in his false form, he looks like a cute stuffed toy, befitting the nickname "Kero-chan."
As the guardian who resembles the sun, he has control over fire and has jurisdiction over nearly half of the cards that are under his element. He guided Sakura throughout her card collection adventures up until she turned the Clow Cards into her own Sakura Cards.
4. Gamabunta (Naruto)
Gamabunta is a giant toad from Mt. Myoboku and was the first one Naruto summoned during his training with the Summoning Technique. Even Jiraiya hid after he saw that Naruto ended up summoning Gambunta because he knew about this big guy's grumpy attitude.
Though reluctant at first, Gamabunta eventually accepted the fact that Naruto managed to summon him. He was a big help in many moments throughout the series, including his battles with Shukaku and Pain.
Other cool things about Gamabunta are his effectiveness and battle prowess and experience, as seen when he performed a combination technique with Jiraiya: Fire Style, Toad Oil Flame Bullet.
3. Ash's Pikachu (Pokemon)
Almost everyone loves Ash's Pikachu. When the anime series first came out, everyone who watched wanted a personal Pikachu of their own to be their companion.
Pikachu is an electric-type Pokemon with a yellow body, long ears, red circles on his cheeks, and a lightning bolt tail. He's the evolved form of Pichu, and can later evolve into Raichu.
Unlike Ash's other Pokemon, Pikachu is always seen riding his back or walking by his side instead of residing in a Pokeball. He's irresistably cute whenever he chirps his iconic "Pika, Pika!"
2. Atsushi Nakajima/Beast Beneath the Moonlight (Bungo Stray Dogs)
Atsushi Nakajima, though Gifted, is just a normal human... at least, until his Gift fully takes over. "Beast Beneath the Moonlight" is Atsushi's Gift that allows him to turn himself—or just a certain part of his body—into a mythical white tiger.
The full transformation of the Gift resembles a huge white tiger, known to have incredible regenerative ability, raw power, and speed (which Atsushi manages to control later on in the story).
At first, he can't control his ability and goes on chaotic rampages whenever he fully transforms into his White Tiger form. But with the "All Men Are Equal" ability of President Fukuzawa of the Armed Detective Agency, Atsushi manages to control his destructive Gift.
1. Kurama (Naruto)
Kurama is the Nine-Tailed Beast that's sealed inside Naruto. Known in the early parts of the story for his pure hatred, he leaks a tremendous amount of chakra to Naruto.
This allows the boy to become insanely strong with huge chakra reserves, but Kurama's influence of hatred makes Naruto unable to control himself, giving him the dark-red chakra cloak.
Later on, Kurama grows more complex when he's given more character development. We've followed his story (along with Naruto) from being a monster of destruction to an ally of the Shinobi Force, and we even shed tears with his farewell in Boruto: Naruto Next Generations.