February 22 is the “National Cat Day” of Japan. It’s a wordplay on the meow of a cat in Japanese, “Nyan (2) Nyan (2) Nyan (2)”. 2 is “ni” in Japanese. It was established in 1987 by the Cat Day Executive Committee.

Many cat characters appear in anime and games. They could be the pets of the main characters, speak human language while being a cat, or be a human but have cat-like characteristics. But who is the most popular among them?

To answer this question, we at Anime!Anime! conducted an annual readers’ survey asking “Who’s Your Favorite Cat Character?”. We received 213 votes during the voting period from February 4 to February 11.
There were more female voters with a gender ratio of 30% male to 70% female, and the age range was on the younger side with 50% under 20 and 25% in their 20s.

■”Natsume’s Book of Friends” Nyanko-sensei took the top with a huge lead
1st Place
Topping the list was Nyanko-sensei from “Natsume’s Book of Friends” with roughly 18% of the votes, keeping his top position for 4 years in a row.

The cute-looking character is actually one of the most powerful in the series. He received votes like, “Nyanko-sensei is happy with his alcohol and shrimp fry, but becomes an amazing bodyguard when needed,” and “I love how he’s usually a cute cat but is actually the noble and strong Madara! He loves his drinks and snacks and is a bit sloppy, but I love how he can be reliable when needed.”

2nd Place
Coming in 2nd was Hoshizora Rin from “Love Live!” with roughly 6% of the votes, she significantly moved up the ranking from last year.

Hoshizora Rin is a member of the school idol group μ’s. She received votes such as, “How she adds ‘nyan’ to the end of her words, but is actually allergic to cats is so adorable,” and “Because she often dresses up like a cat!”
She’s also popular for her un-cat-like traits such as not being a fan of fish dishes.

3rd Place
Doraemon from “Doraemon” and Matsuno Ichimatsu from “Mr. Osomatsu” tied at 3rd place with roughly 4% of the votes.

Doraemon was chosen for his popularity and received comments like, “There’s probably no one, from babies to the elderly, who has never seen him,” and “Everyone knows his line, ‘I’m not a tanuki! I’m a cat-shaped robot!'”

Many fans pointed out the many cat-related episodes of Matsuno Ichimatsu and sent comments like, “He loves cats so much, he once became a cat himself,” and “I cried from watching the episode with Esper Nyanko.”
By the way, Esper Nyanko ranked in 5th place.

■Here are some comments for other characters!
For Souma Kyou from “Fruits Basket”, “A main character that was cursed by the cat, an animal not in the Chinese zodiac. I love his tsundere and how he works hard for those he loves.”

For Kozume Kenma from “Haikyuu!!”, “Because he has cat eyes, is shy, and he goes to Nekoma High.”

For Puck from “Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World”, “A spirit that looks like a cat, who stays with Emilia. He usually looks cute, so his transformation really surprised me.”

For Kotozume Yukari / Cure Macaron from “Kirakira Pretty Cure a la Mode”, “She’s whimsy like a cat and her transformation gives her cat ears. How she says meows after she gives her own name is cute.”

Both human and cat characters made it on the list for this survey. Some are human with cat-like characteristics and others are cats but understand human language. The results show how diverse the cat characters are.

■Top 20
[Who’s Your Favorite Cat Character? 2021 Edition]
1. Nyanko-sensei “Natsume’s Book of Friends”
2. Hoshizora Rin “Love Live!”
3. Doraemon “Doraemon”
3. Matsuno Ichimatsu “Mr. Osomatsu”
5. Esper Nyanko “Mr. Osomatsu”
6. Happy “Fairy Tail”
6. Hanekawa Tsubasa “Bakemonogatari”
8. Jibanyan “Yo-kai Watch”
8. Meowth “Pokémon”
10. Souma Kyou “Fruits Basket”
10 Sorata “The World’s Greatest First Love”
10. Chomusuke “Konosuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World!”
10. Puck “Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World”
14. Edmond “Rock-a-Doodle”
14. Kozume Kenma “Haikyuu!!”
14. Shampoo “Ranma 1/2”
14. Faris NyanNyan “Steins;Gate”
14. Matamune “Shaman King”
19. Opera “Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun”
19. Grim “Disney: Twisted-Wonderland”
19. Kuro “Servamp”
19. Kotetsu “Jarinko Chie”
19. Jiji “Kiki’s Delivery Service”
19. Tama “Sazae-san”
19. Tamaki Kotatsu “Fire Force”
19. Nansen Ichimonji “Token Ranbu: Online”
19. Neko-sama “Inu to Neko Docchi mo Katteru to Mainichi Tanoshii”
19. Nyanta “Log Horizon”
19. Hummy “Suite PreCure”

(Voting Period: February 4-11, 2021)