Anime With Chinese Zodiac

January 4, 2019

HAPPY BELATED NEW YEAR 2019! Oh wow. Time really flies when you’re having fun. Another eventful year for me in regards to anime. Some ups and some downs. You know the usual. So what else a better way to start the new year with a new blog about the Chinese zodiac. Speaking of which, it is the year of the pig. Or the year of the boar if that sounds ‘offensive’ to you. This year is the final animal in the zodiac before the next 12 year cycle begins again.

Aren’t we all enchanted with the eastern zodiac? That is, the Chinese zodiac in particular? No? Then it is just me then. Long ago when I was young, I used to be fascinated with the 12 animals that made up the Chinese zodiac. Over the years the fascination slowly started wearing thin and although throughout my anime years, a few Chinese zodiac anime series that I have watched did rekindle some of that nostalgia but it wasn’t enough to make me feel that same mesmerisation when I was a kid. So what a better way than to ‘pay a tribute’ to that nostalgia with a list of them. Listed below are the animes that employs the use of Chinese zodiac in them in no particular order:

Anime: Fruits Basket.
Zodiac relation: The curse of the Souma family has the members turning into a zodiac animal if being hugged by the opposite sex.
Zodiac characters: Yuki (rat), Haru (ox), Kisa (tiger), Momiji (rabbit), Hatori (dragon), Ayame (snake), Rin (horse), Hiro (sheep), Ritsu (monkey), Kureno (rooster), Shigure (dog) and Kagura (boar).
13th zodiac character: Kyo (cat).
Non-zodiac character: Tohru Honda (girl who gets involved and tries to break the family curse) and Akito (Souma family head and ‘god of the zodiac).
Thoughts: First anime I watched using the zodiac theme. Being an amateur in anime during those early years of mine, it still brings some emotional affect if I think a little more about it. Though, can’t remember for the most part of the anime. It was a shame that the horse and rooster character didn’t appear in the anime, confusing the hell out of me then.

Anime: Juuni Taisen.
Zodiac relation: Participants representing a zodiac animal (hence the house/clan they represent) partake in a deadly battle royale tournament in which the last one standing is declared the winner and will be granted any wish he/she desires.
Zodiac characters: Nezumi (rat), Ushii (ox), Tora (tiger), Usagi (rabbit), Tatsumi Aniki (dragon), Tatsumi Otoutou (snake), Uuma (horse), Hitsujii (sheep), Sharyuu (monkey), Niwatori (rooster), Dotsuku (dog), Inounoshishi (boar)
Non-zodiac character: Duodecuple (tournament referee-cum-host).
Thoughts: The most recent entry in the Chinese zodiac them I have watched (hence, the most returned search results on Google). Of course naturally, by far the most interesting use of this zodiac theme. It is probably the only one in the list where the characters die. Blood and deaths make it so interesting. Though, the ‘disappointment’ is how predictable the deaths are if you know your zodiac order. Nevertheless, everybody clap your hands!

Anime: Etotama.
Zodiac relation: In order for the cat to join the official zodiac, she must defeat all the 12 zodiac members, the Eto Shin.
Zodiac characters: Chu (rat), Moo (ox), Shima (tiger), Usa (rabbit), Dora (dragon), Shaa (snake), Uma (horse), Mei (sheep), Kii (monkey), Piyo (chicken), Inu (dog) and Uri (boar).
13th zodiac character: Nya (cat).
Non-zodiac character: Takeru Amato (high school kid who gives off Sol/Lull that serves as the main energy source for Eto Musume that Nya needs since she is not part of Eto Shin).
Thoughts: If you like your zodiac characters in cute, kawaii and moe form, look no further. This is probably the one anime where the greatest rivalry between the cat and the rat is also the greatest friendship because they saved each other’s life and heck, reincarnated! A mouse’s love for a feline is the main cause for the latter to reborn!

Anime: Hyakko.
Zodiac relation: The characters’ names have the kanji writings of the zodiac animals.
Zodiac characters: Nene Andou (rat), Ushio Makunouchi (cow), Torako Kageyama (tiger), Minato Ooba (rabbit), Tatsuki Iizuka (dragon), Ayumi Nonomura (snake), Touma Kazamatsuri (horse), Hitsugi Nikaidou (sheep), Chie Suzugazaki (monkey), Suzume Saotome (rooster), Koma Kobayashi (dog) and Inori Tsubomiya (pig).
13th zodiac character: Taiga Nishizono (tiger, sort of).
Non-zodiac character: Since there are many, I’ll just name the ones with animals in their names, namely Kitsune Kageyama (fox), Shishimaru Sengoku (lion) and Kyouichirou Amagasa (wolf).
Thoughts: This is the most vaguely used zodiac theme of them all and it is easy to see why nobody would think of this series as zodiac related. Unless you know the characters’ name very well, you are going to be confused of which animal they represent since there are lots of other characters too in this high school slapstick comedy.

Anime: Sumomomo Momomo.
Zodiac relation: In the martial arts world where the clans are depicted and represented as zodiac animals, there is a war brewing that could split the feuding clans. In order to bring peace, the children of the most powerful clan on each side will enter an arranged marriage decided by their fathers.
Zodiac characters: Tenka Koganei (tiger), Alice Uzuki (rabbit), Momoko Kuzuryuu (dragon), Iroha Minamoto (snake), Hanzou (snake), Sane Nakajima (horse) and Koushi Inuzuka (dog).
13th zodiac character: Inaho Kameda (turtle, sort of).
Non-zodiac character: Katsuyuki Saigo (school’s delinquent boss).
Thoughts: The only anime where it doesn’t utilize all the animals in the zodiac. Arranged marriages, love triangles and obstacles to love sure keep the flames of love and hate burning strong. Also, most perverted and ecchi zodiac for this theme.

Anime: Digimon Tamers.
Zodiac relation: The Devas are the Ultimate Holy Beasts and are the antagonists of the series.
Zodiac characters: Kumbhiramon (rat), Vajramon (tiger), Mihiramon (tiger), Antylamon (rabbit), Majiramon (dragon), Sandiramon (snake), Indramon (horse), Pajiramon (sheep), Makuramon (monkey), Sinduramon (rooster), Caturamon (dog) and Vikaralamon (boar).
13th zodiac character: Antylamon became Lopmon after turning to the good side.
Non-zodiac characters: Uhm, too many to list so I’ll just generalize them as the main Tamers kids.
Thoughts: I only saw a few initial episodes of this series and even so, had forgotten all of it. Thus I can’t say much when they got into the arc that battled the Devas. And that was in the early half of the series.

Anime: Hunter x Hunter.
Zodiac relation: Known as Zodiacs, they serve as the chairman’s counsellors for the Hunter Association.
Zodiac characters: Kurapika (rat), Mizaistom Nana (ox), Kanzai (tiger), Pyon (rabbit), Botobai Gigante (dragon), Gel (snake), Saccho Kobayakawa (horse), Ginta (sheep), Saiyu (monkey), Cluck (rooster), Cheadle Yorkshire (dog) and Leorio Paradinight (boar).
Former zodiac characters: Pariston Hill (rat) and Ging Freecss (boar).
Thoughts: Didn’t see this anime at all. At least not the main series. Hence have no idea about anything. Sorry if it looks like copy and paste. My only amusement was while researching this and came across Pariston Hill’s parody name. I wonder if Paris Hilton was still famous and relevant back in 2011.

Anime: Juuni Senshi Bakuretsu Eto Rangers.
Zodiac relation: The anthropomorphic Eto Rangers travel the worlds on their flying machine to fight the evil and free their land of their corruption.
Zodiac characters: Bakumaru (rat), Hols (ox), Gao (tiger), Cream (rabbit), Drago (dragon), Nyorori (snake), Pakaracchi (horse), Souffle (sheep), Monk (monkey), Tart (rooster), Pochirou (dog) and Urii (boar).
13th zodiac character: Nyanma (cat) and her fellow coloured cat henchmen who were disqualified from being part of the zodiac and are the series’ main antagonists.
Non-zodiac characters: Princess Aura (Eto Rangers mentor), Kirinda (Pegasus transport) and Jarei God Bagi (ultimate villain of the series).
Thoughts: I totally didn’t see this one at all. Don’t remember even hearing of it. At least Digimon Tamers and Hunter x Hunter I have watched some part of it or its spin-offs. This one not at all. This could be the oldest and the first anime using the zodiac theme as it aired way back in 1996. Wow. So long ago…

Anime: Binbougami Ga.
Zodiac relation: Ichiko Sakura can use her Soumin Shourai to summon the zodiac animals that manifest her good luck.
Thoughts: Okay, so this is a little cheat as this is only a very minor part in the series. The zodiac animals do not play an overall significant role or make many appearances in the overall series and perhaps it is one of those moments where they want to pull your cute heartstrings.

Your Fortune Readings For Today…
Not sure if there are any more anime series out there using the Chinese zodiac animals. Even if there are, they would be obscure or quite negligible in the series’ plot. Though not many, the cat is often used as the animal who seeks to join the official zodiac line-up. After all, it is such a common household animal like the dog and yet it doesn’t get a spot. Even more so, since this is the Chinese zodiac, the beloved panda doesn’t even make the cut. So rare that even the zodiac doesn’t include it? Heck, the dragon is so mythical that it is even in the list. If the yearly eastern zodiac seems too long to wait each time your animal year comes around, there is the western zodiac that is monthly for those who can’t wait. Which gives me the idea of hoping to see an anime which pits the eastern zodiac against the western zodiac in an ultimate 12 versus 12 battle royale! I’m sure if that happens, all the stars would be bloody and death.