And kanji with manga
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

kemonomimi 獣耳

In Japanese, kemonomimi 獣耳, meaning "beast ears," refers to animal ears worn as accessory by anime characters, or characters that have animal ears as part of their bodies. It's also spelled kemonomimi ケモノ耳, and can be abbreviated to kemomimi ケモミミ.

Various types of "beast ears," kemonomimi 獣耳.
Anime: Kemono Friends けものフレンズ (Episode 6)

Meaning

The term kemonomimi ケモノ耳 is a noun compound from kemono ケモノ, "beast," "animal," and mimi 耳, "ear." Consequently, it refers to the ears of the characters, as a feature, and not to the characters themselves.

To refer to the character, you'd say something like:
  • kemomimi-musume
    ケモミミ娘
    Animal-ears girl.
  • kemonomimi-musume
    獣耳娘
    (same meaning.)
  • kemomimi-joshi
    ケモミミ女子
    Animal-ears girl.
  • kemonomimi-joshi
    獣耳女子
    (same meaning.)
  • kemomimi-danshi
    ケモミミ男子
    Animal-ears boy.
  • kemonomimi-danshi
    獣耳男子
    (same meaning.)

Types

The term kemonomimi is generic: it applies to any kind sort of animal ears. You can replace kemono by the name of an animal to be more specific.

Cat Ears

The most common type of kemonomimi are "cat ears," nekomimi 猫耳.

Suzukaze Aoba 涼風青葉, cat girl cosplay, example of nekomimi 猫耳.
Character: Suzukaze Aoba 涼風青葉
Anime: New Game!! (Season 2) (Episode 2)
  • nekomimi-musume
    猫耳娘
    Cat-ears girl. Cat girl.
  • nekomimi-danshi
    猫耳男子
    Cat-ears boy. Cat boy.

Since most kemonomimi characters end up being cat girls, the term kemonomimi tends to be avoided with them. That is, if a character has cat ears, they're said to have nekomimi, and if they have animal ears of any other sort, they're said to have kemonomimi.

Dog Ears

Suzukaze Aoba 涼風青葉, dog girl cosplay, example of inumimi 犬耳.
Anime: New Game!! (Season 2) (Episode 2)
  • inumimi
    犬耳
    Dog-ears.
  • inumimi-musume
    犬耳女子
    Dog-ears girl. Dog girl.

Stephanie Dola ステファニー・ドーラ, example of "dog ears," inumimi 犬耳.
Character: Stephanie Dola ステファニー・ドーラ
Anime: No Game No Life, ノーゲーム・ノーライフ (Episode 5)
  • kubiwa
    首輪
    Collar. (literally "neck ring.")
  • riido
    リード
    Leash. (literally "lead.")

Cow Ears

Suzukaze Aoba 涼風青葉, cow girl cosplay, example of ushimimi 牛耳.
Anime: New Game!! (Season 2) (Episode 2)
  • ushimimi
    牛耳
    Cow-ears.
  • ushimimi-musume
    牛耳娘
    Cow-ears girl. Cow girl.

Bunny Ears

The term for "bunny ears" in Japanese would be usagimimi 兎耳, but it's normally abbreviated to usamimi うさみみ.

Nakano Azusa 中野梓, example of bunny ears, usamimi うさみみ.
Character: Nakano Azusa 中野梓
Anime: K-On!, Keion! けいおん! (Episode 9)
  • usamimi
    うさみみ
    Bunny ears.
  • usamimi-musume
    うさみみ娘
    Bunny-ears girl. Bunny girl.
  • usagimimi-musume
    兎耳娘
    (same meaning.)

The classic bunny suit costume cosplay has its own term:

Suzumiya Haruhi 涼宮ハルヒ, Asahina Mikuru 朝比奈みくる, example of "bunny girl" cosplay, banii-gaaru バニーガール.
Left: Suzumiya Haruhi 涼宮ハルヒ
Right: Asahina Mikuru 朝比奈みくる
Anime: Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu 涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱 (Episode 2)

Fox Ears

Urushibara Ruka 漆原るか, crossdressing as a fox girl.
Character: Urushibara Ruka 漆原るか
Anime: Steins;Gate 0 (Special, Stitch)
  • kitsune

    Fox.
  • kitsune-mimi
    狐耳
    Fox ears.

Two Pairs of Ears

Some characters have two pairs of ears, one pair of human, or human-like ears, and one pair of kemomimi, and that kemomimi isn't a headband, but actually part of their bodies.

See yotsumimi 四つ耳, "four ears," for more information.

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