18 Popular Japanese Cartoon Characters - YouGoJapan (2023)

If you like cartoons and anime, you'll love scrolling through our list of 18popular japanese cartoonCharacters.

Many of these cartoon characters also have merchandise for sale!

18 Popular Japanese Cartoon Characters - YouGoJapan (1)

Be it Pikachu, Hello Kitty or Mario, there are many different characters to discover and some are more famous than others.

Without further ado, let's explore the most popular Japanese cartoon characters of all time.


1 – Mario

We had to start with Mario - who doesn't love this iconic Japanese character?

Even those who have never played the game will recognize this world-famous cartoon character. Good thing it's still going strong!

18 Popular Japanese Cartoon Characters - YouGoJapan (2)

Although Mario is actually an Italian plumber, he looks a little Mexican with his mustache.

However, it was created by Shigeru Miyamoto, a game designer from Japan.

Whenever you visit Japan and go to Tokyo, you should definitely try the MariCar tour - on this tour you dress up as a Mario character and drive your kart through the streets of Tokyo!

Anyone who had onenintendoYou've probably already played this iconic game.

Its products are also very popular. You can find blankets, action figures and all kinds in Japan and all over the world.

2 – Ken afro

After Mario, Afro Ken is the second most popular cartoon character.

18 Popular Japanese Cartoon Characters - YouGoJapan (3)

This cute dog comes with a rainbow afro.

He is always happy, honest and innocent.

Although this character does not speak, he is very communicative with his facial expressions. Plus, he loves it when he gets fluffy!

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3-Totoro See More

Another favorite is Totoro.

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This cute cartoon character is interesting and cute.

This Japanese cartoon character is furry, cute and quiet.

It was released in the 1980s and merchandise is still available.

4-Kureyon Shin Chan

This is a popular Japanese cartoon character in Japan and around the world.

Still popular, Shin Shan is known to be a mischievous character who always gets into trouble.

It's a hilarious anime that's fun for kids and adults alike.

5 - hello kitty

This world-famous cartoon character has been around for over 50 years and is still popular today.

18 Popular Japanese Cartoon Characters - YouGoJapan (5)

It was designed by Yuko Shimizu for the Sanrio company in the 1970s. Hello Kitty is also known as Kiti Howaito.

The character is a carefree and kind-hearted girl who is undoubtedly the cutest kawaii character. You will find products available worldwide.

6 – Jiji

If you like Hello Kitty, chances are you'll also like the next cat, Jiji, a black car character who appears in the movie Kiki's Delivery Service.

This movie was released in the late 80's and it's still a lot of fun. You can also get some sweet products.

7 – Anpanman

Unlike most others on this list, Anpanman is pretty unknown outside of Japan.

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However, within the country he is a very popular cartoon character among children.

Anpanman is based on the cute Anpan. Anpan is a bun filled with anko, a Japanese red bean paste.

Anpanman's head is full of these buns!

He participated in a series called¡ Sorike!. This anime has more than a thousand episodes.

There are also many Anpanman products.

8 – Doräon

Doraemon is very popular among children when it comes to Japanese cartoon characters.

Millions love to watchthe animeor read the manga.

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There are even games with Doraemon online, as well as many plush products.

9 – Astrojunge

Astro Boy is also known as Atom in Japanese.

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It was designed by Osamu Tezuka and first introduced in 1951 in the Captain Atom manga.

The character has also appeared in anime and feature films, as well asLive action TV showse videogames.

10 – Pikachu

Pikachu is perhaps the most well-known cartoon character in the Pokémon franchise.

It was designed by Ken Sugimori and Atsuko Nishida.

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The popular cartoon character first appeared in the Pokémon video games.burp pokemonjVerdeem 1996.

These were released asburp pokemonjazul1998 from Japan.

The character is a mouse-like character with a yellow appearance and electrical abilities.

It is a huge part of the Pokemon franchise and the best known and best known Pokemon species.

In short, this cartoon character is considered an icon of Japanese pop culture.

11 – Sazae-san

This character is a 24-year-old from Fukuoka.

She marries Masuo, another manga and anime character. In the manga, she is 27 years old.

The manga series was written and illustrated by Machiko Hasegawa and first appeared in 1946.

The themes dealt with contemporary situations and everyday life in Tokyo. The series ended in 1974 when its creator retired.

There was an anime television adaptation that first aired in 1969.

This series is the longest running animated television series according to Guinness World Records.

This character has been adapted for songs, plays and even a radio show.

12 – Maruko Sakura – Chibi Maruko-chan

This Japanese cartoon character is an elementary school student who lives with her parents, older sister and grandparents.

The character gets into all kinds of trouble, but usually finds a way out with a little ingenuity and the help of his grandfather.

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The series was illustrated and written by Momoko Sakura.

The first story was published in 1986Amor, ein Shojo-Manga-Magazin.

It was also adapted into an anime series that originally aired on Fuji Television in the early 1990s.

13 – Son Goku

Son Goku is the main character of a manga series calledDragon sphere.

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This one was created by Akira Toriyama and was based on a main character from the 16th century.AND20th century classic Chinese novel calledJourney to the West.

He was also influenced by Hong Kong martial arts films such as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.

The character first appeared in the magazine in late 1984.Weekly Shonen Jump.

as a character- Goku is an eccentric boy with a monkey's tail. He has superhuman strength and practices martial arts.

14 – Lupine III

Lupine the Third is a manga series written and illustrated by Monkey Punch.

The character is based on the series of novels by Maurice Leblanc and is the grandson of Arsène Lupin himself.

The character Lupine III first appeared in 1967manga weekly action.

He went on to build a franchise that spanned manymango, two pilots, six anime series, and a TV spinoff.

There were also video games, musicals and music CDs.

15 – Arale Chan

dr Slump Arale-chan is an anime adaptation of Dr. Slump manga that ran for five years in the 1980s.

Arale is the main protagonist and an android created by Senbei Norimaki.

As a character, she is energetic and innocent and has superhuman strength, but lacks common sense.

Arale wears glasses and can remove his head.

16 – Rilakkuma

As for popular Japanese cartoon characters, Rilakkuma is relatively new.

This fictional character came to life in 2003 after being created by Aki Kondo for the San-X company.

After the character was released, many products were produced.

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Rilakkuma appears in comics, picture books, and even a stop-motion animated series calledRilakkuma e Kaoru.

17 – Amuro Rei (Gundam)

This fictional character was first introduced in the 1979 anime.Lasts Mobile Gundam.

A mechanic by profession, the character becomes a pilot of the RX-78-2 Gundam to protect himself from Zeon forces.

The character's father is Tem Ray, the leader of the Earth Federation's Project V.

He is 15 years old and lives in a space colony that has yet to be touched by the ongoing war.

18 – Nekobasu

Nekobasu, also known as Catbus, is a character from theMy Neighbor TotoroFilm.

The figure is a cat with twelve legs and a hollow body. It works like a bus and has leather seats.

The character became so popular that a spin-off movie was made and toys made.

This character is believed to be based on the ancient urban legend of Bakeneko, which tells of cats growing so old that they learn to shapeshift.

final thoughts

So there you have it, eighteen of the most popular Japanese cartoon characters.

It's safe to say that Japan's reputation for cartoon characters is worth exploring, and any unknowns are worth checking out.

While many of these characters became popular around the world, some remained in Japan.

Now that you know them, why not try to find them atmanga and animeYou might find a new character to fall in love with!

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