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It’s Lunar New Year! Three Zodiac-Themed Anime to Watch

It’s Lunar New Year! Three Zodiac-Themed Anime to Watch

Gong Xi Fa Cai, everybody! The Lunar New Year is upon us. The rest of 2017 will be under the domain of the Rooster. And the Chinese tradition carries far more symbolism than that quick affair with the disco ball in Times Square a month ago. Most fascinating, certainly, are the symbols relating to the movement of the heavens. The arrangement of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac–from the Rat to the Pig, and back–which roughly corresponds to planet Jupiter’s orbit.

We’re all well aware that each creature on the dial carries a world of meaning, too. All the rivalries and alliances that arose during a godly race, explaining some of the enduring affinities and aversions within the Zodiac. People born in the Year of the Rooster, for example, should get along great with anybody born in the years of the Dragon, Snake, and Ox–but keep them away from Rabbits.

It goes without saying that a lot of inspiration can be drawn from such astrology. And naturally, anime has taken some interesting angles on this Zodiac, and others. Since the celebration this month has gotten us recalling the story of the Jade Emperor’s animal friends, we thought it’d be an auspicious occasion to point out some anime riffing on it, and similar pantheons. Enjoy our recs, please.

Fruits Basket

A crossover hit since the 90s, this breezy comedy sees young Tohru Honda run away from home after more than a few painful shake-ups with her family. After living in a tent in the woods for a while, she wanders into another–most unusual–family’s circle. Turns out, one of her classmates is cursed with possession by a creature in the Chinese Zodiac; and that girl’s kinsmen are likewise possessed by the rest of the animals on the dial. In a flourish that befits the often legalistic rules concerning spirits in Taosim, these people’s bestial sides are revealed under a variety of very specific (and often embarrassing) conditions. And you better believe that there’s a lot of transforming going on during all the shenanigans that unfold in Tohru’s new living arrangement.

Starry Sky

This show may concern the Western Zodiac (the one with Aries, Capricorn, Taurus, et al), but its premise is similar to Fruits Basket in that it follows a young woman who unwittingly wanders into the company of avatars. In this case, it’s Tsukiko Yahisa who’s the first girl to enroll at the all-boys Seigetsu Academy. At first, she requires the protection of a couple childhood friends to keep her unruly classmates at bay. It isn’t long before she starts making friends, learning how these fellas have all the personality quirks of their star-signs.

Saint Seiya


One of the most iconic shonen sagas ever weaves its cosmology from the Western Zodiac, as well. However, this adventure connects even more directly to the Greco-Roman mythos the constellations are themed after. Another orphan, Seiya, joins the ranks of the goddess Athena’s 88 warriors after he procures Pegagus’ Bronze Cloth from a Greek isle. From there, he awakens the inner power of his Force-like “Cosmos” and resumes a search for his disappeared sister. That quest leads him to the Galaxian Wars, a fight tourney that pits Seiya against other superhuman warriors drawing energy from the constellations. If you’ve seen any fight shonen series that’s followed this, it’ll be easy to imagine how Seiya keeps leveling up as he faces bigger and bigger bad guys.

Any other Zodiac-themed anime worth seeking out? Share your recs in the talkback!

Image Credits: Studio Deen, Toei Animation

Featured Image Credit: Studio Deen

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