The List
12 Lovable Anime Monkeys

by Jacob Chapman,

Our regular list-maker extraordinaire, Lynzee Loveridge, is going on hiatus for a couple weeks, so I'll be filling in while she's away. My name's Jacob Chapman, and this week, I've got monkeys on my mind. Why? Because we're knee-deep in the Year of the Monkey, of course! Besides, what's not to love about monkeys? They're a lot like us, except they have soft fur, cute little tails, and no crushing adult responsibilities! (Now apes, that's a different story. I don't trust those apes.) Here are just a few of the cuddliest banana-munchers in the bunch, if you can forgive the slight stretching I had to do for a list of 12 memorable monkeys. Bad puns are always worth the effort!

12-10. Goku, Gohan, and Vegeta (Dragon Ball Z) With their raw strength, prehensile tails, and a bad habit of taking Great Ape form under the full moon, the Saiyan race are definitely a barrel of monkeys, even if they are from outer space. Since their tails both got chopped off at a young age, neither Goku or Gohan can assume Great Ape form and go King Kong on any major metros, and that's probably best for earthlings all around, since even the friendliest Saiyans have trouble controlling their primal forms. Actually, considering what happens to Vegeta the first time he tries to unleash his inner monkey on the planet, Saiyan visitors to Earth should probably just leave those vulnerable tails at home.

9. Mew Pudding (Tokyo Mew Mew) She's an ordinary schoolgirl by day, but when trouble strikes, Bu-Ling Huang transforms into her magical girl alter ego, powered by the DNA of the Golden Lion Tamarin, an adorable species of monkey native to the Amazon rainforest. Even in human form, Mew Pudding can be a real handful, bouncing off the walls with hyperactivity and always in search of sugary confections like the springy dessert she's named after. Exhausting personality aside, Bu-Ling's great to have on your team in a pinch, since she's used to taking care of her five younger siblings all on her own. Her unique mix of childish energy and ingenuity make her a model ambassador for monkeykind.

8. Etemon (Digimon Adventure) Unlike the heroic Mew Pudding, Etemon uses his monkey powers for evil, but at least this Elvis wannabe knows how to have a good time along the way. While he says he wants to destroy the Digidestined and spread the power of his Dark Network everywhere simply because he can, I suspect poor Etemon just wants to be a music superstar in a world where his terrible singing usually leaves digimon and humans alike writhing on the ground. I guess if you can't conquer people's hearts through song, you gotta do it by force! I'd say he just needs an image change, but taking things "more metal" turned out to be the last straw for this monkey's music career.

7. Jugem Jugem (Gintama) JJ's full name is much too long and strangely filthy to write out in full here, which is odd for a monkey of such simple tastes. This little guy lives for nothing more than to fling his own excrement at people who annoy him, especially bad-tempered protagonists like Gintoki. Typical monkey rudeness aside, JJ is very protective and affectionate toward his master, Yagyuu Kyuubei, and once she tames his wild spirit, the two of them are almost inseparable. After all, if you can recite his 83-word name by heart, you've earned the right to such an adorable pet.

6. Mamoru (Kamisama Kiss) Speaking of cute tiny monkeys owned by deceptively powerful anime girls, Mamoru is like if Jugem Jugem came packaged with superpowers. When the heroine Nanami is challenged to hatch a shikigami from an egg as a test of her godhood, she cracks her new spirit-servant open prematurely, releasing a baby monkey with untested protective powers. Along with being painfully adorable, Mamoru's job is to keep Nanami safe when she reaches her mortal limits. He also takes human form sometimes to sass her flaky love interest Tomoe, when scratching and squeaking just can't get his disapproval of the foxy suitor across.

5. Mankey/Primeape (Pokémon) The Pokémon anime taught kids all sorts of valuable life lessons. For example, if a monkey steals your hat, for god's sake, let him keep it. "Primeape Goes Bananas" is a fan-favorite episode of the show for good reason. Not only did this little rascal become a rare addition to Ash's team, but he kept the entire cast on their toes with his unpredictable mood swings, jumping from playful to furious at the drop of, well, a hat. Sure, Ash's team became very monkey-friendly over the years with the addition of Aipom and Infernape, but neither of them snatched his trademark headgear or escaped capture by somehow getting a pokeball to suck up a riceball instead.

4. Ritsu Sohma (Fruits Basket) While most monkeys are known for their boldness and mischief, Ritsu is lucky to get through a trip to the grocery store without melting into a puddle of panic. His shrill outbursts and exhausting apologies stem from an inferiority complex deeper than the Gulf of Mexico, since he's both possessed by the spirit of the Chinese Zodiac monkey and ashamed of feeling useless to his family because of his unexplored gender dysphoria. But underneath all the drama he causes (by trying not to cause drama), Ritsu's just a sensitive soul in need of reassurance from someone who can listen and accept his true self.

3. Chu Chu (Revolutionary Girl Utena) Much like his master Anthy, Chu Chu's charm hovers somewhere between cute and creepy. That's because ever since Anthy buried her own emotions beneath untold centuries of baggage, it's been Chu Chu's job to show everyone how his owner is really feeling. Unfortunately for this mousy monkey, nobody pays attention to him, so it's up to the audience to watch his colorful antics for clues about Anthy's state of mind...or sometimes just for a laugh when he gets blown up like a balloon, harassed by an amorous frog, or swaps bodies with Saionji and moves back to the jungle.

2. Sonic (Blood Blockade Battlefront) No, not the famous blue hedgehog! This is Sonic the Sonic Speed Monkey, a creature from dimensions beyond who befriends our hero Leonardo after being rescued from his unwitting involvement in a grisly demonic plot. Sure, it would have been easier to squash Sonic just in case he was in cahoots with the bad guys, but how can you distrust those goofy round eyes? Ever since then, Sonic has been a faithful member of Libra, doing his own small part to cheer up Leo and protect humanity however he can, right before getting completely smashed on bourbon at the organization's after-parties. Monkeys and liquor don't mix!

1. Tristan Taylor as a robot monkey (Yu-Gi-Oh!) This is a classic case of good news and bad news. The bad news is that the Virtual World arc marked the moment that Yu-Gi-Oh! finally devolved into filler for dozens upon dozens of episodes. The good news is that terminally useless fourth-string character Tristan Taylor spent 14 episodes of it as an adorable robot monkey, which was probably the most entertaining thing that would ever happen to him. As one bad guy after another competed for Tristan's body in a series of card game duels, his soul sat confused and annoyed in a cute little shell with an emoji-blinking screen for a face. At least now he could be ignored by all his friends from the safety and comfort of Serenity's bosom. When Tristan finally did get back into his own mohawked head, I think most people were already missing the monkey version.

The new poll: Who's your favorite anime primate?

The old poll: Which Winter 2016 show were you most satisfied with?
  1. ERASED (32.3%)
  2. Shōwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū (24.2%)
  3. KonoSuba – God’s blessing on this wonderful world!! (21.0%)
  4. Haikyu!! 2nd Season (17.1%)
  5. Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash (16.8%)
  6. Mr. Osomatsu (12.9%)
  7. Durarara!!×2 Ketsu (12.1%)
  8. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (11.4%)
  9. Snow White with the Red Hair (11.3%)
  10. GATE (9.9%)
  11. Assassination Classroom (9.2%)
  12. Please tell me! Galko-chan (6.0%)
  13. Dagashi Kashi (5.8%)
  14. Ajin (5.4%)
  15. Fairy Tail Zero (4.5%)
  16. Heavy Object (4.5%)
  17. Dimension W (4.2%)
  18. Sekkō Boys (4.0%)
  19. Myriad Colors Phantom World (3.5%)
  20. AOKANA: Four Rhythm Across the Blue (2.7%)

Jake is Anime News Network's assistant editor, he's been an anime fan since childhood, and he likes to chat about cartoons, pop culture, and visual novel dev on Twitter..

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