And kanji with manga
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

kemonomimi

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.)
ケモ耳メガネっ娘 眼鏡
Anime: No Game No Life, ノーゲーム・ノーライフ (Episode 5)
  • kemomimi meganekko
    ケモ耳メガネっ娘
    Furry-ears glasses-girl.
  • megane
    眼鏡
    Glasses. (that you wear.)

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.

Note that some animals have features besides the ears, like:

  • shippo
    しっぽ
    Tail.
  • tsuno

    Horns.
  • tsubasa

    Wings.
    • hane

      Insect wings.

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.
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.

Bunny Ears

To say "bunny ears" in Japanese, the term is usagimimi 兎耳, but it's normally abbreviated to usamimi うさみみ.

Shirogane Miyuki 白銀御行, Fujiwara Chika 藤原千花, Shinomiya Kaguya 四宮かぐや, example of "bunny ears," usamimi うさみみ.
Left: Shirogane Miyuki 白銀御行
Middle: Fujiwara Chika 藤原千花
Right: Shinomiya Kaguya 四宮かぐや
Anime: Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai? ~Tensai-Tachi no Ren'ai Zunousen~ かぐや様は告らせたい?~天才たちの恋愛頭脳戦~ (Season 2) (Episode 3)
  • 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)

Bunny Ear Hands

Sometimes a character makes bunny ears with their hands.

Maeda Kanon 前田果音 making bunny ears with her hands, example of usa piisu うさピース, "bunny peace [sign]."
Character: Maeda Kanon 前田果音
Anime: Photokano, フォトカノ (Episode 1)
  • Context: a girl makes bunny ears using peace signs.
  • usa-piisu!
    うさピース!
    Bunny peace!

Dog Ears

The term for "dog ears" in Japanese is inumimi 犬耳.

Suzukaze Aoba 涼風青葉, dog girl cosplay, example of inumimi 犬耳.
Suzukaze Aoba 涼風青葉
Anime: New Game!! (Season 2) (Episode 2)
  • 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.")

Fox Ears

The term for "fox ears" in Japanese is kitsunemimi 狐耳. Such characters tend to be relatively common due to the fox spirits and deities being part of the Japanese culture.

Holo, ホロ, getting head patted.
Character: Holo, ホロ
Anime: Spice and Wolf, Ookami to Koushinryou 狼と香辛料 (Episode 5)
  • Context: a fox girl getting a head pat.
Howan ほわん doing a double "fox sign," kitsune sain キツネサイン.
Character: Howan ほわん
Anime: SHOW BY ROCK!! Mashumairesh!!, ましゅまいれっしゅ!! (Episode 1)
Senko-san 仙狐さん, example of "washing board," sentakuita 洗濯板.
Character: Senko-san 仙狐さん
Anime: Sewayaki Kitsune no Senko-san 世話やきキツネの仙狐さん (Episode 2)
Miketsukami Soushi 御狐神双熾, child fox boy form.
Character: Miketsukami Soushi 御狐神双熾
Anime: Inu x Boku SS, 妖狐×僕SS (OVA, Stitch)
Urushibara Ruka 漆原るか, crossdressing as a fox girl.
Character: Urushibara Ruka 漆原るか
Anime: Steins;Gate 0 (Special, Stitch)

Wolf Ears

The term for "wolf ears" in Japanese is ookamimimi 狼耳.

Shigure シグレ, example of money gesture.
Left: Shigure シグレ
Right: "Village Girl," Mura-musume 村娘
Manga: Kemono Michi けものみち (Episode 8)

Cow Ears

The term for "cow ears" in Japanese is ushimimi 牛耳.

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

Feather Ears

Albeit rare, some bird-like characters have feathery ears. The term for this would be hanemimi 羽耳, "feather ears."

Harpy, ハーピィ, wearing overly long sleeves (moe-sode 萌え袖) that are also detached sleeves, デタッチドスリーブ, with flowers in the background.
Character: Harpy, ハーピィ
Anime: Maoujou de Oyasumi 魔王城でおやすみ (Episode 5)

Pointy Ears

Pointy, human-like ears aren't called kemonomimi, they have their own terms:

Rimuru リムル imagining elves.
Elves: unnamed
Slime: Rimuru リムル
Anime: Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken, 転生したらスライムだった件 (Episode 4)
  • Context: elves.
  • erufu-mimi
    エルフ耳
    Elf ears.
Henry Marker ヘンリー・マーカー example of "demon ears," akuma-mimi 悪魔耳.
Character: Henry Marker ヘンリー・マーカー
Background: Carrera Marker カレラ・マーカー
Anime: Karin かりん (Episode 5)
  • Context: "vampires," kyuuketsuki 吸血鬼.
  • akuma-mimi
    悪魔耳
    Demon 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.

Opera オペラ, example of cat ears, pointed ears.
Character: Opera オペラ
Anime: Mairimashita! Iruma-kun 魔入りました!入間くん (Episode 10)

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