What Makes An Anime Cute?

I was scrolling through my list on MAL and I kept noticing some cute series I haven’t talked about yet. That got me wondering: what makes an anime cute? I believe there are various pieces that contribute to a show’s overall cuteness. Some of them will now be discussed, using cute anime as examples. The first item is heart-warming moments and a positive tone.

A good example of a cute anime that features this element of cuteness is My Love Story. In this show, it’s truly uplifting and gladdening to see the main character, Takeo, being so happily in love despite never thinking much of himself before. There is also the strong bond between Takeo and his best friend, Sunakawa. It’s a very sweet anime. Another example is My Roommate Is A Cat, which focuses on the lives of an anxious writer Subaru and his new cat Haru. Through the series, Haru finds a sense of belonging, and Subaru slowly improves his life. There are positive themes and sweet moments to be found in plenty in this anime.

(Takeo and his girlfriend Rinko)

A cute appearance is also a big part of what makes an anime endearing. The art style should not be too serious or realistic. Girls’ Last Tour is an anime with an incredibly cute art style and design for the two central characters. This anime is interesting because even though it’s a rather dark story, it’s still adorable, with the interactions of the girls. In Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Kana makes audience want to hug and hold and take care of her. There are dozens of other anime with especially cute appearances, including Nichijou, K-On, Is The Order A Rabbit, and Azumanga Daioh.

(Nozomi the demon from A Centaur’s Life)

Related to appearance, a cute anime should have creatures and/or animals that are cute. In Konohana Kitan, the characters are mostly Kitsune, or fox spirits. They look so precious with their furry ears and tails. Centaur no Nayami and Demichan wa Kataritai also have plenty of cute and pretty creatures. Nichijou features Sakamoto the cat, Is The Order a Rabbit has Tippy and Anko the rabbit, and How To Keep a Mummy has several cute creatures, too.

(Chito and Yuuri from Girls’ Last Tour)

Voice acting is also an element in making an anime cute. This is a rather subjective category so I won’t spend much time on it. There should be talented seiyuu voicing the characters, and ideally, some of them will sound especially cute. Here’s a few examples of voice actors that sound cute to me, from a few different anime. There’s Hiromo Konno playing Hakase in Nichijou, Inori Minase playing Chito in Girls’ Last Tour, Yuki Matsuoka as “Osaka” in Azumanga Diaoh, and Rie Takahashi as Takagi in Teasing Master Takagi-san. If you find some of the voices annoying, or there isn’t enough variety in voices, the show isn’t as entertaining. This was the case with New game. Speaking of audio, music and sound effects help make anime cute, too. I think Nichijou and Azumanga Diaoh are the best examples.

(Hakase and Nano from Nichijou)

Romance or semi-romantic themes are not necessary for a cute anime, but they really help in many cases. The romances in cute anime shows fill your heart with warm and fuzzy feelings if they are done right. One of the best examples is Toradora. That is truly a cute romance, as well as being a school drama with comedy. Anime such as My Love Story, Konohana Kitan, Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, and Takagi-san also contain elements of romance. But it’s also possible to have a very cute and calm show without any romance, as we see in another fan classic, K-On.

(Yui from K-On)

While romance is not an essential component in a cute anime, humor is most definitely needed. A show’s funniness adds to the cuteness, as long it’s the right sort of humor. In Kotoura-san, things seem rather cute, but are ruined by perverse, pedophilic jokes. In Survival Game Club, things can also be very cute, but dark humor is used, making it more dark comedy than endearing. A sexual or dark joke here and there is fine, as long as those are not the main types. Nichijou uses absurd, random, and non-sequitur humor. That adds to its cuteness. Lucky star utilizes parody and satire. Other funny and cute shows include Tonari no Seki-kun, Azumanga Daioh, and Takagi-san. A significant part of what makes these shows work is the comedy.

(Azumanga Daioh clip)

Another key factor in a cute anime, and a good anime in general, is the presence of unique elements in setting, plot, or characters. K-on is popular and cute, but in my opinion it’s not as good as it could be. That’s because things are so slow-paced and devoid of all things unusual. In comparison, Nichijou features Nano the android, How To Keep a Mummy is about a mummy-like pet creature, and Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is, obviously, about a dragon girl working as a maid. The show doesn’t need to be as bizarre as Nichijou to be cute, but it also should not be boring. For me, New Game was not really a good anime, but stale and annoying. The subject of unique elements may depend largely on the viewer’s interests and attention span.

(Kobayashi and Tohru from Dragon Maid)

A final facet I wish to bring up is variety and flexibility in/of characters. This may seem like a small thing, or something quite obvious, but it’s still important. It’s alright to have characters that fit into “types,” since pretty much every character ever made can fit into a certain type if you think hard enough. However, the characters should not be too bound to their type. They should have a level of individuality. And if you have characters that are more difficult to put into popular types, so much the better. Lucky Star has the one-of-a-kind otaku girl, Konata. There are half a dozen other examples, but they won’t all fit into one paragraph.

(Konata Izumi from Lucky Star)

As you can see, there are quite a few parts and pieces that make an anime “kawaii.” These aren’t even all the factors that I could think of– just the ones that came readily to mind. I would love to know what my readers think. What makes an anime cute? What are some cute anime series you would recommend? Feel free to leave a comment. Now, I shall leave you with a list of some cute anime series, most of which I mentioned in this post. Thank you so much for reading and please stay safe and well. Sayonara!


Cute Anime Shows

A Centaur’s Life

Azumanga Diaoh

Girl’s Last Tour

How To Keep A Mummy

Interviews with Monster Girls (Demichan wa Kataritai)

Is The Order A Rabbit?

K-on!

Kiniro Mosaic

Konohana Kitan

Lucky Star

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

My Love Story

My Roommate Is A Cat

New Game

Nichijou

Non Non Biyori

Teasing Master Takagi-san

Tonari no Seki-kun


PATREON

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