Gia's List: The 6 Most Exotic Pets in Anime

by Gia Manry,

Anime is full of all kinds of fantastical creatures, but sometimes the moest interesting pets that appear in shows are the ones that actually exist in real life. So we're setting aside the fantasy pets in favor of the real-life animals that somehow get turned into pets in anime series. The coolest ones are:

6. Momo the Flying Squirrel (Samurai Champloo)
In Samurai Champloo, 15-year-old female lead Fuu has a unique pet: a flying squirrel (not to be confused with a sugar glider!) named Momo. Momo serves as one of her companions as she travels to find a samurai who smells like sunflowers. The name is short for "momonga," which is, of course, the Japanese word for the animal's species, the Japanese dwarf flying squirrel. (Very creative, Fuu.) Momo lives in Fuu's kimono, usually in the cleavage area, and pops out from time to time when it's convenient or when he can help Fuu get out of trouble. Unlike some of the pets you'll see on this list, a real-life Japanese dwarf flying squirrel is very nearly as adorable as its cartoon counterpart, complete with big round eyes. They're not a very common pet, but they're not unheard of, either.

5. Jugem Jugem the Monkey (Gintama)
Jugem Jugem the monkey has a name so long that even if it didn't contain somewhat offensive language (albeit in Japanese), there still might not be enough room to fit it in here. Suffice it to say that it involves a lot of talk about poop-throwing, as well as dogfish and underwear. The character Kyuubei Yagyuu adopted the monkey and trained him. Originally Kyuubei intended for someone else to take the monkey, but the two bonded too much...presumably over the monkey's general fondness for throwing poop at protagonist Gintoki, who wound up giving Jugem Jugem his excessively long name (along with his pals from Yorozuya). That's what Kyuubei gets for letting them pet-sit. Of note: the short form of the monkey's name is a play on a Japanese folk tale, which is appropriate since his owner's name relates to Japanese historical figure Jubei Yagyuu.

4. Pen Pen the Penguin (Neon Genesis Evangelion)
What can you say about Pen Pen? He appears to have originally been an Erect-Crested penguin, but he may not even be eligible for this list because he's been genetically altered and is known to both drink beers and slam doors. He also appears to have retractable claws, which no earthly penguin has, and enjoys human food and liquor, television shows, and newspapers. On the other hand, he is still a penguin, and who among us hasn't fantasized about how cool it would be to own a penguin (especially if you had to read Mr. Popper's Penguins in elementary school)? On the other hand, he seems to be yet another obnoxious roommate for protagonist Shinji, who moves in with Pen Pen and his owner-slash-roomie-slash-drinking buddy Misato in the original Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series.

3. Tama the White Tiger (Hayate the Combat Butler)
Since Hayate, along with Gintama is among the more ridiculous and over-the-top of the shows on this list, it should come as no surprise that the wealthy heiress Nagi Sanzenin would own a ridiculously exotic pet such as a white tiger...even if she considers it to just be a cat. The tiger in question is Tama, who is by most accounts a perfectly normal tiger, minus his finicky eating habits (he digs very expensive beef and tuna). However, a few characters on the show are familiar with the fact that for no particularly obvious reason, Tama is able to speak and understand Japanese (and possibly a few other languages as well). Okay, we know why: it's a very convenient "bit" for the gag-heavy show. But in the series he's otherwise just a normal tiger, so he lands at third-most exotic on this list.

2. Mustafa the Snow Leopard (Hanasakeru Seishonen)
Like Tama, Mustafa is a wild cat species owned by a ridiculously wealthy heiress. Unlike Tama, Mustafa can't speak human or do anything more special than any snow leopard can...but come on, even when you're thinking of big wild cats, your mind probably doesn't immediately land on "snow leopard." Protagonist Kajika Burnsworth spent the early portion of her life living on a Caribbean island with Mustafa, specifically to keep her safe from her father's world of cutthroat business, politics, and goofy marriage games. After Kajika and Mustafa are separated, Kajika recognizes her leopard pal in the eyes of wealthy playboy Eugene Alexandr De Volkan, one of three men vying for her affections. We won't spoil who Kajika picks, but a snow leopard definitely qualifies as an unusual and exotic pet pal.

1. Maya the Iriomote Cat (Azumanga Daioh)
And finally, Maya: the only pet on our list that doesn't seem significantly enhanced and isn't owned by someone excessively wealthy. In the latter half of Azumanga Daioh, our high school heroines go on a class trip to Okinawa. While on the trip, obsessive future crazy cat lady Sakaki meets an Iriomote cat, a member of a rare species of feline that lives only on a particular island of Japan. The species is prized as a possible "missing link" in the cat world because it's a wild predatory cat that's about the size of the common house cat. In Azumanga, this cat follows Sakaki back to her home town and defends her from the particularly evil neighborhood cats that have it out for Sakaki (or at least for her hands), and Sakaki adopts him. Classmate Chiyo-chan assists in the adoption by housing the cat for her, since Sakaki's mother is allergic to cats.

The new poll: Do you prefer your adorable animal mascots to talk or to just make cute noises? It's a simple question, but let's face it: it's been on everyone's mind ever since the originally cute-noise-making Mokona started to speak. Right? Vote here, share your thoughts in the comments, and come back next time for the results!

The previous poll: Last week the list was about cool little old people, and let's face it: Rumiko Takahashi is the queen of cool little old people. Rather than flood the list with her characters we selected one representative (Ranma 1/2's Cologne), but maybe we should have picked InuYasha's Miyoga- he was your favorite by a long shot with about 42% of the vote. Ranma 1/2's pervy martial arts master Happosai took second with 22%, while our pick of Cologne was third with about 15%. Here are the full results:

  1. Miyoga (InuYasha) - 42.48
  2. Happosai (Ranma 1/2) - 22.38
  3. Cologne (Ranma 1/2) - 14.86
  4. Yukari Godai (Maison Ikkoku) - 10.49
  5. Cherry (Urusei Yatsura) - 9.79

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