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A symptom of a Super-Deformed Art Shift, where occasionally a character will sprout Unusual Ears or other animal features (paws, tails, etc.) during certain moments to accentuate certain aspects of their personality. What ears symbolize what varies from culture to culture, but generally they break down into three groups:

  • Cats: Genkiness, excitability, occasionally irritation. Usually accompanied by a Cat Smile.
  • Dogs: Hyperness, clumsiness, affection. Generally done to a character who is loving, but not all there in the head.
  • Foxes: Mischief, wisdom, slyness. May be either friendly or malevolent.

Other variants usually depend on the character and whatever is associated with them. If the character can actually transform into said animal it can sometimes be a clue of their true nature, though usually this is played for comedy and not meant to be taken seriously.

See also Catgirl, Unusual Ears and Little Bit Beastly.


Anime and Manga

  • Mimi and Kuro have been known to sprout bunny and cat ears, respectively, in Kodomo no Jikan. With Kuro, it can be hard to tell if it's a case of Sprouting Ears or not, since she does occasionally wear a cat ear accessory.
  • Ikuto in Shugo Chara when he chara changes.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Megumi's Noblewoman's Laugh is occasionally accompanied by growing fox ears. Her nickname on the show itself is "Kitsune-onna" (literally "Fox Woman") or "Vixen" in the English version.
  • The cursed characters in Fruits Basket sometimes take on characteristics of their animal selves in comedic situations:
    • Kisa, the tiger-girl from, pops out her ears and tail at one point, when she perked up at hearing Tohru (her surrogate mother) come home.
    • Kyo the cat will sometimes visibly bristle ears and tail up when angered, or flatten his ears when embarrassed.
  • From Kagetsu Tohya, Len -- the Really Seven Hundred Years Old Elegant Gothic Lolita semi-Horny Devil -- is half cat, and thus would occasionally add Catgirl to the list when surprised enough to pop out her fuzzy ears.
  • Hayama in Kodomo no Omocha occasionally sprouts leopard ears and tail when acting especially cool.
    • And once, after Sana outright asks him to kiss her, he sprouts mouse ears, a mouse nose, and whiskers. Sana remarks in amazement that she didn't know "you could do mouse, too! I thought you only did leopard."
  • Tamaki (who's basically a Genki Girl in a bishonen's body) does this with puppy ears once in a while in Ouran High School Host Club.
  • In the Yami no Matsuei anime series, Tsuzuki gets dog ears and a tail a few times when acting especially keetish. This has apparently lead some fans to think he can actually turn into a dog if they don't get the visual metaphor.
  • Ichigo literally has her kitty features (ears and occasionally a tail) pop up when she gets excited or nervous in Tokyo Mew Mew. Later on, it accelerates to actually becoming an adorable kitten. Unlike others, this is actually canon, and a plot point, and also leads to a lot of awkward scenes of her having to stick her head in bushes or suddenly having to find a quick way to hide them.
  • Yuzuriha in X 1999 (especially when trying to cheer Kamui up) has pointy dog ears because her spirit animal is a dog.
    • And in one of CLAMP's earlier works, Magic Knight Rayearth, Hikaru would sometimes get cat ears.
    • You know what, CLAMP in general. Suki has the main character sprout dog ears and tail almost every chapter.
  • Shuuichi from Gravitation occasionally sprouts them, and at one point turns totally into a cat for comedic effect.
  • Yuriko Oozura from Mao-chan. In the manga, she also has a Sprouting Tail.
  • Ai Yori Aoshi: Aoi sprouts nekomimi (and a tail) when she's rolling around in Kaoru's bed.
  • Hidamari Sketch: As a one-time thing, Sae sprouts cat ears and tail purely out of surprise/confusion when Yuno's dad angrily points at her and shouts "It's YOU!" as she walks in. (He mistook her as Yuno's boyfriend based on a stray hair he found in Yuno's room.)
  • Lately in the Mahou Sensei Negima manga, a number of the students use magic to sprout animal ears and/or tails in order to not be recognized on wanted posters. The sad thing is that it works.
    • Sort of inverted with Kotaro. He really has dog ears which he is somehow able to hide in his hair.
  • Hayate of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha had tanuki ears (and sometimes tail) pop up every so often during the StrikerS manga when she's feeling mischievous.
  • All the Hounds in Petit-Hound have this, and no, it's not for comedic purpose.
  • Liza Wildman of Princess Resurrection, is half werewolf. Besides her transforming forearms, her only wolf-like feature are her wolf ears that only pop up when she is embarrassed/annoyed, or listening intently.
  • Ikeda Kana from Saki sprouts two cat ears whenever she has intimate interaction with Mihoko, complete with purring.
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler, when burgers are mentioned around Machina, he sprouts what are likely dog ears and tail.
    • When his master praises him or he's contemplating something trickstery, he gains fox/tanuki ears and a tail. And his alternate form is that of a giant snake.
    • Hayate was trying to conceal an involuntary change in his appearance, and told Izumi that he had nothing to hide. (Probably) fox ears popped up and she began trying to pull away the cloak he was wearing.
  • Nana has Nana K sprouting dog ears with some regularity. It's part of the origin behind her nickname Hachi.
  • This occurs to a large amount of various characters in Gakuen Alice. It's more prevalent in the manga than in the anime.
  • Katekyo Hitman Reborn: Whenever Gokudera's really happy (usually because of praise from Tsuna) he grows doggy ears and a tail.
  • In Hunter X Hunter Killua does this at least twice in the anime.
  • Hiroki Komachi from Chu Bra grows cat ears and tail whenever he's nervous, which is the result from being surrounded by girls who deal with underwear on daily basis.
  • Tsubasa Hanekawa of Bakemonogatari develops feline characteristics after being possessed by a 'meddlesome cat' who would take control after an accumulation of severe stress.
  • Maron/Jeanne does this several times in the Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne manga. Usually when thinking of Kaitou Sinbad.
  • Tsumiki in Acchi Kocchi.

Video Games

Web Comics

  • Morgan McKnight, from Aoi House, tends to grow cat ears, as befitting her Genki Girl personality.