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20+ All Time Favorite Japanese Cartoon Characters

all time favorite cute Japanese cartoon characters

Love cartoons? Here are some all time favorite cute Japanese cartoon characters that you will definitely fall in love with. Watching Japanese cartoons growing up was my absolute favorite thing to do. And I still watch most of these Japanese anime cartoons with my little cousins.

So I’m making a list of some of the all time favorite cute Japanese cartoon characters that most kids have grown up watching. I have also included some links to these cartoon characters merchandise so you can relive your childhood. I’m sure the kid will love these toys as well. 

So go ahead check it out! 

Favorite Japanese Cartoon Characters

Mario

I mean who doesn’t love Mario! Mario is one of the all time favorite cute Japanese cartoon characters pretty much everybody loves! Even if you’re someone who hasn’t played Mario in your childhood, I’m sure you’ve at least heard of this Japanese cartoon character! 

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My childhood has been all about Mario games – the addiction to Mario games was crazy. 

Mario is an Italian plumber who looks like a Mexican because of his huge mouche. The Mario character was created and designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, a Japanese video game designer. 

If you ever go to Tokyo make sure you take the MariCar tour where you can put on Mario character costumes and drive a Street Kart on Tokyo streets!

If you have a Nintendo then you’ll know how popular Mario Nintendo games are. And Mario merchandise is an extremely popular phenomenon. 

From Mario action figures to Mario-themed blankets, you’ll find all sorts of Mario merchandise.

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Afro Ken

The next of all time favorite cute Japanese cartoon characters is Afro Ken. Afro Ken is a cute little dog that has a rainbow colored afro for hair.

Honest, always happy, extremely innocent, Afro Ken doesn’t speak but uses his facial expressions to express his feelings. Like most kids, Afro Ken loves everything fluffy. I love these kawaii Afro Ken stickers. You should definitely check them out if you like kawaii stickers.  

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Totoro

The next one on this list of all time favorite cute Japanese cartoon characters is Totoro. Now, I know this character might be new to some. But Totoro is super super cute and very interesting. Growing up Totoro was pretty much a role model for me. I think Totoro was like a role model for a lot of Japanese kids growing up. 

The first thing you’ll notice about Totoro is the pointy, giant ears. This cute Japanese cartoon character is cute, furry, and silent and features in My Neighbour Totoro which came out in the late ’80s. I still watch this movie with my little cousins! 

Click the link below if you want to check out the Totoro plush toy instead!

Related: Here are some adorable baby anime you can enjoy too!

Kureyon Shin Chan

Shin Chan is an extremely popular fictional character not only in Japan but also all over the world. Kids still love watching Shin Chan. This all time favorite cute Japanese cartoon characters is always getting into trouble and is a very mischievous character.

This comedy of errors that Shin Chan constantly gets himself involved in sends the kids in bouts of laughter! In fact, I know many adults also who enjoy watching Shin Chan anime (including me :p), and also read the manga. If you haven’t watched this anime, check out the link below. 

Related: If you love cats, you’re going definitely enjoy this list of cat anime. Check it out!

Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty is a world-famous phenomenon and originated right here in Japan! Created by a Japanese company called Sanrio in the mid 70’s, the Hello Kitty character was designed by Yuko Shimizu. Also known as Kiti Howaito, this all time favorite cute Japanese cartoon characters is often wrongly thought of as a kitten but the designer of this character “Sanrio” claims otherwise. 

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Hello Kitty is a happy go lucky girl with the kindest heart. Definitely the cutest kawaii Japanese character, there are all kinds of products available based on the Hello Kitty theme. I had a super cute Hello Kitty lunch box growing up!

Actually, I think most little kids have had a Hello Kitty themed water bottle, backpack, or stationery at some point. 

I recently got my little cousin a Hello Kitty School Bag and she takes that with here literally everywhere! Check out the link below for more Hello Kitty themed products!

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Jiji

I’m a cat lover and Jiji is definitely one of my all time favorite cute Japanese cartoon characters. Jiji is a black cat who features in a movie called Majo no takkyûbin or Kiki’s Delivery Service. 

I have a beautiful black kitten myself and I love this movie! This movie came out in the late 80’s and is still fun to watch! It’s a great movie to watch with kids and the family. Check out the cute Jiji plush toy below!

Anpanman

The next of the all time favorite cute Japanese cartoon characters we’re going to be talking about is the Anpanman! If you didn’t grow up in Japan or watching Japanese cartoon, you probably wouldn’t have heard of him. But in Japan, Anapanman is super popular amongst the kids!

Anpanman features in an anime series called Soreike! Anpanman which has more than a thousand episodes! If you haven’t watched this series before, you should definitely have a look. And I’m sure the kids today will also enjoy this show! 

So what exactly is Anpanman? The first thing you’ll notice about Anpanman is that he has a huge head. His head is filled with a Japanese favorite sweet bun called Anpan which is filled with Japanese red bean paste called Anko.

As a kid I absolutely loved Anpan (I’m talking about the sweet bun) and always imagined if eating Anpanman was possible. In retrospect, I think that was kinda sadistic. 

Anyway, you can check out some more cute Anpanman merchandise below! 

Doraemon

If you don’t know Doraemon, are you living under a rock? Doraemon is definitely one of the all time favorite cute Japanese cartoon characters and kids still love this robotic cat today!

Millions of kids all around the world love watching Doraemon anime cartoon and many others love reading the Doraemon manga as well! In fact, in Japan Doraemon manga is a crowd-favorite amongst the kids! 

You’ll also find lots of Doraemon games online and it’s so much fun to play these games that they are legit addictive! For the cutest Doraemon soft toy, check out the link below!

Godzilla

No discussion of Japanese cartoon characters would be complete without mentioning the legendary Godzilla. Debuting in the 1954 film, Godzilla’s colossal presence and distinctive roar have made it a timeless symbol of Japanese pop culture. 

The monster’s ability to evoke both fear and empathy has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide, solidifying its place as an enduring and beloved figure in the world of entertainment.

Amuro Rei (Gundam)

Amuro Ray, a central figure in the Gundam anime franchise, is a character whose journey resonates with audiences. 

First appearing in the original “Mobile Suit Gundam” series in 1979, Amuro’s evolution from an ordinary teenager to a skilled mecha pilot captures the essence of human growth and struggle in times of conflict.

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Amuro Rei

Amuro’s relatability stems from his initial reluctance to become a hero and his subsequent development as he adapts to the demands of war. 

His internal battles mirror the external conflicts of the Gundam universe, making him a multidimensional protagonist.

Through Amuro’s experiences, Gundam explores themes of identity, morality, and the costs of warfare. 

His character embodies the complexities of adolescence and the challenges of finding one’s purpose in a chaotic world.

As Gundam’s enduring symbol, Amuro Ray’s legacy endures not only for his contributions to the franchise’s success but also for his role in showcasing the emotional depth and growth that can emerge even in the midst of mechanized warfare.

Rilakkuma

Rilakkuma, a charming and laid-back bear character, has captured the hearts of people across the globe with its irresistibly cute appearance and relatable demeanor. 

Created by the Japanese company San-X, Rilakkuma made its debut in 2003 and quickly became an all-time favorite among fans of kawaii culture.

The name “Rilakkuma” is a playful combination of the Japanese words “rilakkusu” (meaning “relax”) and “kuma” (meaning “bear”). This name perfectly encapsulates the character’s personality – a creature that finds joy in taking it easy and embracing the simple pleasures of life. 

Rilakkuma is often depicted lounging around in a bear onesie, often seen indulging in snacks, napping, or enjoying a leisurely day.

The character’s relatability stems from its ability to mirror our own desire for moments of tranquility in a fast-paced world. 

Rilakkuma’s popularity has led to a wide range of merchandise, animations, and collaborations, making it a beloved symbol of comfort and cuteness. 

Whether appearing on stationery, accessories, or plush toys, Rilakkuma continues to remind us to slow down, appreciate life’s small joys, and, of course, embrace our inner bear-like desire to relax.

Arale-Chan

Arale Norimaki, the lively android from Akira Toriyama’s manga and anime series “Dr. Slump,” is a character defined by her exuberant personality and remarkable abilities. 

Created in 1980, Arale’s innocent curiosity and superhuman strength lead to comedic adventures in the whimsical Penguin Village.

Despite her artificial origins, Arale’s childlike wonder and genuine interactions with the world around her make her endearing and relatable. Her iconic round glasses and simple outfit contribute to her distinctive appearance.

Arale’s presence brings a touch of the extraordinary to the everyday, as she navigates school, friendships, and bizarre situations.

Her playful antics and uncanny abilities often lead to comedic chaos, showcasing the humorous side of science fiction.

With her infectious energy and ability to find joy in the simplest things, Arale Norimaki has cemented her place as a beloved figure in Japanese cartoon history, embodying the spirit of unbridled imagination and the power of friendship.

Miffy

Miffy, also known as “Nijntje” in Dutch, is a beloved children’s book character created by Dutch artist Dick Bruna. 

First introduced in 1955, Miffy’s simple yet endearing design has made her a cherished figure in the world of children’s literature and animation.

Miffy is a small white rabbit with a distinctive minimalistic appearance – characterized by simple lines and a lack of facial features, except for her round eyes.

This design choice allows young readers and viewers to project their emotions onto Miffy, making her a relatable and versatile character.

The stories featuring Miffy often revolve around her everyday adventures, exploring themes of friendship, curiosity, and the wonders of the world around her. 

With her iconic appearance and gentle narratives, Miffy has transcended generations and cultures, captivating children and adults alike.

The universal appeal of Miffy lies in her ability to evoke a sense of nostalgia and innocence while remaining relevant to contemporary audiences. 

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The character’s books, animations, and merchandise continue to bring joy and comfort to children and their families, making Miffy an enduring symbol of childhood wonder and imagination.

Son Goku

Son Goku, the iconic protagonist of Akira Toriyama’s “Dragon Ball” series, has left an indelible mark on Japanese cartoon culture and beyond. 

Debuting in 1984, Goku’s journey from a humble boy with a monkey’s tail to an immensely powerful Saiyan warrior has captivated generations.

Goku’s insatiable thirst for challenge, unwavering determination, and boundless optimism make him a relatable and aspirational figure. 

His signature orange gi, spiky hair, and ever-present grin have become synonymous with his spirit of adventure.

The “Dragon Ball” franchise’s success is deeply intertwined with Goku’s evolution as he faces formidable foes, forms unbreakable bonds, and discovers his own potential. His iconic transformations, like Super Saiyan, have become cultural touchstones.

Goku’s legacy extends beyond media to inspire dedication and perseverance in real life. His embodiment of the hero’s journey and the pursuit of self-improvement make him an enduring symbol of personal growth and the limitless possibilities that lie within us all.

Pikachu

Pikachu, the adorable electric-type Pokémon, is an undisputed icon in the world of Japanese cartoon characters. 

Created by Ken Sugimori and part of the wildly popular Pokémon franchise, Pikachu burst onto the scene in 1996 and has since become a symbol recognized by people of all ages around the world.

With its lightning bolt-shaped tail, rosy cheeks, and endearing demeanor, Pikachu’s design strikes a perfect balance between cute and powerful. 

Its electrifying abilities, showcased in battles within the Pokémon universe, are matched by its unwavering loyalty and strong bond with its trainer, Ash Ketchum, in the animated series.

Pikachu’s popularity skyrocketed thanks to the Pokémon video games, animated TV shows, movies, and an extensive range of merchandise. Its distinct “Pika pika!” cry and the signature move “Thunderbolt” are etched into the memories of countless fans.

Beyond its entertainment value, Pikachu represents the spirit of friendship, teamwork, and perseverance – qualities that resonate with fans worldwide. 

Its charismatic presence has even extended into real-world events, such as the annual “Pikachu Outbreak” festival in Yokohama, where thousands of costumed Pikachus parade through the city streets.

In the realm of Japanese cartoon characters, Pikachu’s electrifying charm continues to captivate generations, reminding us of the power of imagination and the enduring appeal of adorable and relatable companions.

Domo-kun

Domo-kun, with its distinctive rectangular body, wide grin, and enigmatic personality, has carved a unique place for itself in the realm of Japanese cartoon characters. 

Created by NHK, Japan’s public broadcasting network, Domo-kun made its debut in 1998 and quickly gained a cult following.

Originally introduced as the station’s mascot in a series of stop-motion interstitials, Domo-kun’s charm lies in its unconventional appearance and unpredictable behavior. 

Its wordless yet expressive nature makes it an endearing figure that transcends language barriers.

Domo-kun’s origins are rooted in a fusion of traditional and modern elements, reflecting the diverse influences of Japanese culture. 

The character’s design draws inspiration from the Japanese concept of “doumo” (meaning “thank you”), while its playful antics and misadventures resonate with contemporary audiences.

The character’s popularity led to an array of merchandise, animations, and even a web series. Domo-kun’s quirkiness and authenticity have sparked a global fascination, and it has become a symbol of the unexpected and delightful in Japanese pop culture.

Nekobasu

Nekobasu, the Catbus, is a captivating creation from Studio Ghibli’s “My Neighbor Totoro.” This whimsical creature, resembling a mix of cat and bus, transports characters through enchanting landscapes. 

With its charming design and role in fostering wonder, Nekobasu embodies Studio Ghibli’s ability to infuse magic into the ordinary.

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