This shouldn’t be a controversial statement, but it needs to be said. Catgirls and other kemonomimi animal-eared characters should have their animal ears and only their animal ears. Putting people ears on them gives them a total of four ears and that’s abominable. We like kemonomimis because they’re cute. They mix the fuzzy and adorable aspects of our favorite animals with anime characters in an appealing and adorable way, but the realization that your favorite catgirl is actually a grotesque, four-eared monster breaks that suspension of disbelief and shatters the cute fantasy you previously indulged.

Most of the time, this is a non-issue. Kemonomimis are normally drawn in such a way that hair obscures where their people ears would be. We then enjoy a quantum superposition of two states: people ears may or may not exist under that hair. And so, if perhaps you have a fetish for four-eared abominations, then Schrödinger’s catgirl can be assumed to suit your tastes, or otherwise assumed to have the correct number of ears.

But there are times when, for better or for worse, we collapse the wave function and establish whether the character has only animal ears, or does in fact have two sets. Sometimes, as in A Centaur’s Life, this is a statement about how people with animal ears manage things like wearing spectacles.

A Centaurs Life Spectacles

That’s an oil painting of an anime catgirl baby.

Other times, as in The Rising of the Shield Hero, it is a brave statement about the proper, scientifically determined nature of demi-human anatomy.

Shield Hero Raphtalias Ears

If she had another pair of ears, what could she even do?

In video games, Final Fantasy 14 has the Miqo’te race of cat-people and in the course of character creation you can clearly see the lack of vestigial face-mounted ears.

On the other side, one of my favorite visual novels, VA-11 HALL-A features a transhuman group called “Cat Boomers” created by way of cyberpunk human augmentation. They explain that the cat bits on the Boomers are extraneous mutations, lumps of skin and muscle that can’t actually hear as their human ears can. I accept this explanation. Because it’s gross.

VA 11 Hall A Stella

And yet, despite the mountain of scholarship supporting two-eared kemonomimis as the correct incarnation of demi-humanity, four-eared atrocities keep appearing in my animes and mangas. I have this delightful underwear fetish art book by Kantoku, full of gorgeous illustrations. But right here on page eight is Kantoku clearly wanting to draw cats more than underwear, since there are six of the little fellas on the page, and dead center is a catgirl with her hair styled in such a way as to specifically and directly attack me with her ludicrous ears.

Afterschool Of The 5th Year By Kantoku 0006

Even my favorite virtual YouTuber, Hinata Nekomiya, made an incorrect decision in the number of ears she would have. It’s hard to look past it when I’m enjoying her videos.

Now, this isn’t to say an ordinary, two-eared person can’t put on a cat ear headband. Kemonomimi cosplay is good and should be encouraged. But when you’re creating a demi-human character that’s supposed to have fully functional cat ears that are as much for hearing as they are for fetishizing, you owe it to the audience to not mar that creation with boring old people ears.

Or at least leave us in the quantum superposition of Schrödinger’s catgirl.

Aousagi Nekomimi Illustration

Illustration by Aousagi.

About the author

Bloodnose

Anime and manga media man. Creator of anime review videos and manga translations. Say hello on Twitter or Discord.