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Everybody knows how popular elves, vampires, demons, angels and fairies are in anime, but how about other creatures? With countless beings in mythologies around the world, why limit anime characters to just that? In this list, I want to share with you guys mythical creatures in anime that you might have overlooked.
Due to the large number of creatures, I’ll limit the list to humanoid characters that I think are good to mention and rare in anime. I have picked the best one of each race, with 10 being the least related to the original mythical story and 1 the most related character with its myth origins.
10. Tanuki: Yasaburou Shimogamo from Uchouten Kazoku (The Eccentric Family)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2013 to September 2013
This one is from Japanese mythology. It’s a magical badger or raccoon-looking creature from Japanese folklore. It is known to be a shapeshifter and a prankster. In its original form, it can stand on two feet, has a big belly and a huge… sac. When they shapeshift, they like taking the form of humans and causing annoyance and trouble for others.
From the first episode, we can see that this character is clearly a Tanuki. Our main character can master the art of shapeshifting and he is clearly a sneaky trouble maker that seems to enjoy being in trouble. He is not the only Tanuki of the series, though.
This anime revolves around the life of the Shimogamo Tanuki family. He tries to become the disciple of an old Tengu and slowly unravels the mystery behind why his family is being labeled the “disgrace” of the Tanuki race after his father’s death.
9. Cerberus: Cerberus from Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2014 to December 2014
From Greek mythology. A giant three headed dog that guards the gates of the Underworld. This beast serves Hades and makes sure no living being enters the Underworld and that no soul escapes from it.
Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis is an adventure anime about two bounty hunters who end up in a war between heaven and hell. Among all the characters, in my opinion, Cerberus is the one that stands out the most. She of course serves the side of hell, guarding the place, just as the original mythical creature she is based on. She doesn't look scary at all compared to the original Cerberus on mythology BUT she does have three... heads?
Aside from her human head with dog ears, she wears two other cute… dog puppets in her hands, yes. Live dogs. They serve as messengers and it seems they can detach from her hands when going out in search for information of people or areas. She appears in episode 3 and has some fan service in season 4. I’m sure most of you will enjoy.
8. Alicorn: Helios from Sailor Moon SuperS
- Episodes: 39
- Aired: March 1995 to March 1996
Various mythologies. The word alicorn is actually the proper name of a unicorn’s horn but it is also used to described a winged unicorn or a horned pegasus. It is sometimes referred to as a pegacorn or unipeg, but it is the same creature. They are usually the color white and related to purity or extreme luck since they are harder to find than unicorns. Many times they are related to Gods or royalty.
Helios is introduced as an Alicorn only in the dreams of Chibiusa. He used to live in a place on Earth called Elysion, guarding the Golden Crystal and the dreams of humans. His Alicorn form is actually a curse from the evil Queen Nehellenia; he has a yellow horn and the rest is that of a white pegasus.
In his human form, he still shows the yellow horn, that happens to be the Golden Crystal he is protecting. He helps Sailor Moon and Chibi Moon transform into their Super versions (making them have a white dress and wings) without using a Holy Grail. He ends up becoming Chibiusa’s second and final romantic interest of the series.
7. Mermaid: Princess Shirahoshi from One Piece
- Episodes: 722+
- Aired: October 1999 - Ongoing
Various mythologies. A creature with the upper half of it’s body human and the bottom, that of a fish. They mainly live in the ocean but there are some cases of them living in a lake or river. Contrary to it’s original dark story, a more modern definition of a mermaid is that of a gentle, sweet and innocent woman (but not all of them are female). They lure men that travel at sea with their beauty and voice.
Shirahoshi is the shy mermaid princess in the series One Piece. She is also part giant, at approximately 17m, and so she’s able to hide a regular sized human in the palm of her hand. Regardless of her size, she’s a crybaby and easily frightened; she cries even when she is happy. This character is sweet and innocent, much like the modern idea of a mermaid. She did not lure anyone with her voice but she has captured the hearts of fans with her beauty. There has never been stories about gigantic mermaids nor striped design tails, so this is a fun addition to make her a unique being among all the characters in One Piece. You can see Shirahoshi in episode 531 of One Piece.
6. Kentaurides: Centorea Shianus from Musume no Iru Nichijou [Daily Life With a Monster Girl]
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2015 to September 2015
From Greek mythology. Kentaurides are female Centaurs, a human who from the waist down has the body of a horse. They are also known as Centaurides, but not very famous; the legend tells that they were beautiful women with well kept coats on their horse half. They were often seen combing their bodies and wearing flowers.
Searching for her own Aruji (host family), Centorea stumbles upon Kimihito, and believing in anime cliches, she thinks their encounter is fate. As a self proclaimed Noble Knight, she uses a sword to fight and thanks to her being a Centaur, she has horse-like speed and huge boobs.
Kimihito rides her like a horse due to unforeseen events and for Centaurs this act is considered as sacred as marriage; only her chosen Aruji can ride her. This is not what caused her rough personality to become nicer towards Kimihito; she falls for him because of the heroic act of saving her life (even if the sword was fake). Centorea is not as perverted as the other characters but is overprotective with Kimihito.
5. Lamia: Miia from Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou [Daily Life With a Monster Girl]
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2015 to September 2015
From Greek mythology. Beautiful woman known to be the mistress of Zeus. Cursed by Zeus’s wife for tricking her husband, she is transformed into a monster and forced to consume her children. Feeling bad for her, Zeus restores half of her beautiful woman characteristics but her monster side leads her to devour other people’s children. She was often referred to as a monster that seduced men and not a person, much like Miia in Monster Musume.
Isn't this great? A Lamia as the main character in an Ecchi Harem show. She is obsessed with her darling, Kimihito, which turns out to be a problem since she is extremely jealous. Regardless of her cliche attitude of clingy and cheerful harem girl protagonist, she is still clearly a Lamia. Being a giant snake, she is cold blooded and likes to cuddle up with her darling to feel his heat.
Around her, not only physical heat is felt, but also a strong sexual intent. If you try anything on Miia, you’ll end up in jail, because in this world different interspecies intercourse is not allowed. But why is she so into such a basic guy? Well this different species deal is new to humans and since lamias look like monsters, Miia was detested by other humans but, Kimihito didn’t really cause much fuss over her appearance. This sparked a flame in Miia’s heart and in uh… the tip of her tail?
4. Ba: Howl Jenkins from Howl no Ugoku Shiro [Howl’s Moving Castle]
- Episodes: Movie
- Aired: November 2004
From Egyptian Mythology. In simple words, Ba is a human-headed bird. They’re commonly used in Egyptian hieroglyphics to identify the word “soul” or more like a spiritual manifestation. Said to be people’s personality, soul and being, it was often seen coming back to their “home”, this being the tombs in which their physical bodies lay in eternal slumber. Other definitions of Ba include power, reputation and impressiveness, all of which happen to be the main characteristics of the character I will be talking about.
Howl is not directly linked to the image of soul, but he surely has a home to where he always must return. Howl is a young mischievous wizard that likes to play with the emotions of young appealing women. As a child, he forms a pact with a falling star called Calcifer who has the appearance of a small flame. Flames are sometimes used to describe people’s souls. Howl gives his heart to Calcifer allowing him to live again.
In Egyptian mythology, Ba and Ka join in the afterlife to form one; the letters ‘Ka’ in Japanese can also mean fire. That last one bit is a farfetched idea of mine, but it makes perfect sense because Howl (the Ba) needs Calcifer (the Ka) to live. The final giveaway of Howl being a Ba is that he can transform into a large black bird while still keeping his human face.
3. Chinese Dragon: Haku from Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi [Spirited Away]
- Episodes: Movie
- Aired: July 2001
From Chinese Mythology. Tales of dragons have been told in countless Western legends but Chinese Dragons cannot be mistaken for others. They are aesthetically pleasing beings surrounded by secrets and mystery. Their appearance is that of a four legged serpent, with the face of a tiger mixed in with fish characteristics. Chinese Dragons are known to have the power to transform into humans, birds or other animals. Mostly related to the elements of fire and water, some dragons can control wind to soar the skies. In addition to their relation to good luck and wisdom, they are still considered benevolent creatures.
Haku in his human form still has that mysterious personality that is related to Chinese Dragons. His eyes are a bit more elongated than most characters, hinting that he may be Chinese. He can transform between human and dragon at will. In his dragon form he has antlers, long whiskers that resemble those of catfish, and white shiny scales.
As a dragon, his personality is aloof but slowly opens up to Chihiro. Towards the end, it is revealed that Haku and Chihiro have a special bond formed long before her arrival to the bizarre world.
2. Succubus: Morrigan Aensland from Vampire Hunter [Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge]
- Episodes: 4
- Aired: March 1997 to March 1998
From Medieval European mythology. Succubus-like creatures are scattered throughout different mythologies, all of them having a dark story. The Succubus are referenced in Slavic, Arabian and even Japanese mythologies. Although not all have Demon-like wings, they all have points in common: they are sexually provocative women with stunning beauty who seduce men. Some stories claim that Succubi are smart, tough and posses super-human strength. Although inclined to display a human appearance, many Succubi are shape shifters.
Morrigan is probably the first character that comes to the minds of Otaku and gamers when speaking of Succubi. She is like the image of all Succubi in one character, with captivating beauty despite being over 300 years old, and is even a relative of the original Succubus, Lilith.
In the anime, her appearance is much like in the game, but has a more mature personality. She is dominant, dependent and a skilled fighter who is not afraid to challenge the powerful Demitri. Unlike the Succubi stories, Morrigan does not seduce anyone but does befriend Demitri; she does in fact shape shift at times between human, Demon-winged Succubus and bat.
1. Cyclops: Lord Boros from One Punch Man
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2015 to December 2015
From Greek mythology. Conflict hungry giants with only one eye in the middle of their foreheads. Said to be sons of the Gods of sky and earth, these beings were depicted to have incredible power and always seeking to prove their strength. These colossal mythical creatures were rude and self-centered, demolishing all in their path with no respect for other sources of life nor fear of Gods.
If the definition of Cyclops alone didn’t make you think of Boros, I think you need to rewatch the last two episodes of One Punch Man. Boros doesn’t only have the main give away of a Cyclops (the eye) he was also given many, if not all the main characteristics of one. He basically comes from the skies to Earth (hence the parents of the Cyclops) in search of a worthy opponent, destroying a city and causing chaos along with it. He can see in Saitama’s “aura” he has unlimited power but he still challenges him. An epic battle unleashes the power of a Cyclops and the wrath of a God. Boros is actually the first character not to be killed in one punch.
To date, the last episode of One Punch Man has yet to be released, but according to the manga, Boros and Saitama’s fight is one to go down in anime history as one of the best. Boros can almost instantly regenerate and has insane speed, causing a real struggle for Saitama. He has another eye below his chest. Even though Cyclops never had much speed or other eyes anywhere, it’s a fun addition to the character and it goes well with the robotic looks.
I would have loved to add more characters but I strongly believe these are the best ones in anime. Do you have a mythical creature in anime that I might have overlooked? Or do you have a mythological creature you’d love to see in anime? Let me know in the comments below!