How Anime Describes Dragons 2024

In Chinese culture, the dragon and tiger symbolize balance and have a Yin-Yang dynamic. Characters in anime frequently use this motif to show opposing powers and skills.

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2024 is the Year of the Dragon. A-1 Pictures, the Mitaka Ghibli Museum, Shonen Jump, and other anime studios, artists, and periodicals are among those commemorating various works of art. For instance, the well-known One Piece author Eiichiro Oda has published two or three works. They, of course, are symbolic of much more than just the beginning of a new year. It represents abundance, knowledge, and much more. These animals’ intriguing appearance in stories stems from their mythical nature and the power associated with them. In light of this, they have made multiple appearances in manga and anime in various forms.


There are additional kinds of dragons, but these are some of the zodiac’s representatives. Some are modeled after the Azure Dragon of the East, while others have a tiger versus dragon theme or have a Western appearance. Even in anime

Because the Chinese believed that dinosaur bones belonged to legendary creatures rather than prehistoric ones, dinosaurs are counted as dragons. To fully appreciate the various dragon patterns and motifs that can be found in anime, it is helpful for viewers to be aware of their origins.

In anime, Eastern and Western dragons are opposed.

Since they are the fifth animal in the Chinese zodiac, dragons are significant. Depending on the person's birth year, this system assigns them to one of 12 animals and the traits that go along with it; the cycle repeats itself after each of the 12 animals has had a year. The fifth sign in the zodiac is the Dragon. They are described as gregarious, astute, arrogant, and driven. Couples generally try to conceive around the Year of the Dragon since many people born in this year are projected to rise to positions of leadership.

Chinese mythology is the source of the most prevalent dragon depictions in anime and Japanese culture at large. In this culture, they are referred to as Long (simplified Chinese: 鎙; traditional Chinese: 鎍; pinyin: lóng). Although they resemble a variety of creatures, they stand out in particular due to their serpentine bodies, lion-like manes, and antlers in place of horns. A lot of them have two lengthy whiskers on either side of their faces. They have talons like eagles and scales like carp, too, but then, one might argue that’s what they generally have from any civilization. Time has erased the memory of the Yinglong, a winged dragon that once existed.

From the Dragon Ball series, one of the most well-known instances of Chinese dragons is available. The Eternal Dragon, Shenron (often translated as Shen Long), appears from the Earth’s Dragon Balls to grant a wish to the summoner.

With its long body that might not fit in a certain shot, whiskers, antlers, and mane, it’s the perfect embodiment of a Chinese dragon. Being a divine golden dragon with wings, Super Shenron, its Super Dragon Ball equivalent, is notable for being identical to either the Huanglong or the Yinglong. The wish-granting powers of these dragons may represent the good fortune and wealth associated with their mythological counterparts.

Most anime will choose a dragon design with Eastern characteristics if they are offered the dealer’s choice. For instance, Dragon Shiryu—also known as Dragon Long in some regions—wears the Dragon Cloth in Saint Seiya, a pair of magical armor inspired by the Draco constellation. These stars align to form a long, curved line with a triangular head at the end. The constellation’s shape may be described as serpentine, but Saint Seiya added Chinese Dragon characteristics, such as horns and whiskers, to give it a more detailed appearance. To be fair, Eastern Dragons are responsible for this Cloth’s eventual acquisition of wings.

Of course, anime also features a good number of Western dragons. They frequently show up in anime that is set outside of Southeast Asia. The fantasy realms of contemporary Isekai and reverse Isekai anime have seen an invasion of these dragons; vintage fantasy animation also features a significant number of Western dragons.

There are also more realistic series that take their cues from myths, cultures, and anything else the creator can think of. These might include classic Eastern and Western dragons, but they will also likely feature less well-known and more esoteric representations of dragons. These shows include most monster-collecting anime (Pokemon, Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh, etc.) and Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. Depending on the type of tale being delivered and its trajectory.

The Chinese Zodiac’s dragons

With 11 other characters representing the other animals, many anime characters represent the dragon zodiac as a whole. That being said, a character does not automatically take on the characteristics of the zodiac just because they are a representation. For instance, Nagayuki Tsumita is present in Juuni Taisen. He admits that he has no desires and is cynical and amoral. He is not at all like the elegance, goodness, and ambition that are usually connected to his zodiac. Their representatives might not need their animals if the show takes place in a world where characters can acquire supernatural abilities.

The dragon’s supernatural power to fly without wings may be connected to Tsumita’s capacity to resist gravity. The undetermined Nen Ability of Botobai Gigante from Hunter x Hunter might go either way; it could be connected to his animal, like in the cases of fellow Zodiacs Gel and Saiyu, or it could be unconnected at all, as in the case of Mizaistom. In these aspects, the zodiac relationship with dragons is frequently more of a classification than a reflection of the character.

Certain anime tend to experiment with the zodiac representation of dragons by pairing them with strange characters. For instance, Hatori Sohma, the dragon representative of Fruits Basket, changes into a defenseless seahorse. The reason for this is that the Japanese term for seahorse is tatsu-no-otoshigo (竜の落し子), which roughly translates to “dragon’s bastard child.” This may sound like a play on sea dragons. This illustration of dragons isn’t always connected to the zodiac. Other anime like Pokemon, Digimon, One Piece, Naruto, and In the Heart of Kunoichi Tsubaki also make use of similar wordplay.

In addition to these shows, a few other anime also reference the dragon zodiac sign and Chinese zodiac iconography. Among them are Mr. Fullswing, Etotama, Eto Rangers, and Vampire Knight. The zodiac symbolism differs in intensity amongst series. For instance, Flame of Recca only employs the Zodiac as a design motif for a few ring girls during a tournament arc. One of the main character’s skills in Good Luck Girl is to summon cute versions of the zodiac animals; however, as they are frequently summoned concurrently, they don’t stand out. Because it has to share the spotlight with eleven other co-stars, the dragon finds it challenging to stand out in this fashion.

The Azure Dragon of the East is Seiryuu.

Seiryu has multiple aliases. It is also referred to as Quinglong (Chinese: 青龍 Qīnglóng) and the Azure Dragon (Ble-green or green in other interpretations). The Azure Dragon is a common combination with three or four other creatures that stand in for the various regions of China; it is the East’s protector. The Black Turtle of the North (Genbu), the Vermillion Bird of the South (Suzaku), the White Tiger of the West (Byakko), and, occasionally, the Yellow Dragon of the Center (Huanglong) are among the other creatures.

It was only natural for this Chinese cultural mainstay to find its way into Japanese culture. Kyoto is said to be watched over by the Azure Dragon to the east, although the city is home to temples honoring each of the four guardian animals.

The Four Guardian Students serve as the guardians of Kyoto Abekamo Academy, and this is best illustrated in a scene from Kill la Kill. Seiryuu Saburo was one of their members, yet they didn’t get to do anything. Kyoto and the Azure Dragon have another relationship, as seen in Digimon Adventure 02 Episode 37, “Kyoto Dragon.” In this episode, Azulongmon—the Digital World’s Quinglong—helps the DigiDestined by delivering some crucial lore and repairing the damaged Destiny Stones, among other things.

One of One Piece’s main enemies, Kaido of the Beasts, is a well-known illustration of the Azure Dragon. The reason this Emperor of the Sea can change into this monster is that he consumed the fabled Zoan Fish-Fish Fruit, Model: Azure Dragon.

This is a double reference since it alludes to another tale in which a carp can transform into a dragon by leaping over the Longmen, also known as the Dragon Gate, located at the peak of a waterfall. Despite being a skilled Fruit user, Monkey D Luffy—the main character of One Piece—beat Kaido. According to some fans, the reason the King of Beasts was unable to unleash his Devil was that he was unable to internalize the kind and protective spirit of the Azure Dragon; instead, he used it for violence.

Others speculated that since dragons and tigers are frequent rivals, Kaido’s disobedient kid Yamato would be the eater of a Byakko Devil Fruit; nevertheless, it was later discovered he could transform into the utterly unrelated Okuchi no Makami. If the Awakened form of this Devil Fruit power is ever made public, it will be either by Kaido, who has the potential to come back to life and disprove the fan theory, or by Momonosuke Kozuki, who possesses a pink clone of the Azure Dragon Fruit. Fans claim that the remaining Four Emperors stand in for the other three beasts.

Through Thundrus, Pokemon has also tackled the myth of the Azure Dragon. When Bolt Strike Pokemon is in its Incarnate form, it seems like a Raijin at first, but it can transform into its draconic Therian form with the help of the Reveal Glass. As the only Force of Nature with the same hue as its mythological equivalent, this Pokemon gains extra points. Pokemon also tackled the Longmen myth with Gyarados and Magikarp, two blue characters who aren’t always connected to Seiryu.

Seiryu, the second most fearsome of the Four Saint Beasts, belonged to Yu Yu Hakusho. The only other Saint Beast in the group who resembles his animal is Byakko; otherwise, he’s more demonic than draconic.

The Azure Dragon is one of four or five animals that appear in other anime. Accel World, Bakuten Shoot Beyblade, Fairy Tail: 100 Years Quest, Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense, Fushigi Yuugi, Helck, Tenga Toppa Gurren Lagann, and many more are among them.

In anime, Dragons versus Tigers

How Anime Describes Dragons

The concept of dragons and tigers at odds with one another is another holdover from Chinese culture. In a Yin-Yang dynamic, they are equals who counterbalance one another. Of course, some anime will transform the Dragon and Tiger into Byakko and Seiryuu. While they get strength from strategy and intelligence, the tiger represents strength via sheer physical might and aggression; both techniques are equally powerful, while they have a softer touch. In battle or sports anime, this is sometimes portrayed as one character using simple yet effective techniques against another who uses more complicated skills that require training to perfect. This occurs frequently in anime, but the series frequently features the dragon vs tiger theme.

The motif of dragons vs tigers is mostly left intact. These animals will be visible in the backdrop during a scene in which two persons who represent the ideals of each animal argue. Any genre, whether the emphasis is on action, sports, comedy, or romance, may include these kinds of moments. Naruto, My Bride is a Mermaid, Soul Eater, Blue Exorcist, and other television shows evoke similar feelings.

Certain anime plays with the expectations of the audience by utilizing the well-known dragon-tiger dynamic cliches. A hamster named Ayumu was pitted against a dragon named Nagi by Hayate the Combat Butler. The tiger (Toranosuke Miyamura) and dragon (Ryu Yamada) in the anime Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches are best friends rather than fierce adversaries. By creating siblings for its tiger (Kotarou) and dragon (Ryuuichi), Gakuen Babysitters goes one step further.

Although Toradora’s tiger (Taiga) appears sweet and its dragon (Ryuji) furious, both of their characteristics are nonetheless consistent with what one would anticipate from a dynamic. The two animals are combined into the Tiger Dragon by a Monster card in Yu-Gi-Oh, although it’s a Ritual Summon rather than a Fusion.


The dragon is a representation of strength, prosperity, and wisdom in Chinese culture, and it appears in anime in a variety of ways.
The most prevalent type of dragons in anime are eastern dragons, which are based on Chinese mythology and are frequently distinguished by their serpentine bodies and other distinctive characteristics.

Source: CBR

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