Animal Yokochō (アニマル横町 Animaru Yokochō?, trans. Animal Alley) is a Japanese manga and anime series aimed at children about a little girl who has a doorway to another world in her room, from which three bizarre and frequently-annoying stuffed animal-like creatures emerge to make her life "interesting". The manga was created by Ryō Maekawa and is serialized in Ribon Magazine, Ribon Original and Ribon Bikkuri. This manga's characters originally appeared in Ribon Original as quiz column's characters. The manga won the award for children's manga at the 51st Shogakukan Manga Awards. In 2008, Cartoon Network Philippines made an English version of the anime called "Ani-Yoko: My Next Door Neighbor"
- Ami Matsuzaki (松崎 亜美 Matsuzaki Ami?)
- Voiced by: Erika (Japanese) (English voice unknown)
- Ami Matsuzaki (松崎 亜美), the protagonist of the anime, is a preschool student who is quite mature for her age and has just moved into a new home and neighborhood with her family. She is intelligent and imaginative, but grounded and a bit easily flustered. The revelation that a gate to Ani-Yoko is in her room, and the increasingly bizarre actions of her three visitors, frequently drive her to the brink of total distraction, yet she seems to have gotten used to their presence, with Ami sharing some of her regular life with them. Her date of birth is 15th December and her zodiac sign is Sagittarius. She is 5 years old. Her blood type is B.
- Voiced by: Rumi Shishido (Japanese) Voiced by: Andrea Kwan (English)
- Iyo (イヨ) is one of the three creatures from AniYoko, known as "the Happy AniYoko Trio", who frequently visit Ami through the door in her floor. She looks like a stuffed rabbit, and can use a sort of energy discharged through the space between her ears for all kinds of effects. She can also store objects and liquids in her ears, to be dispensed as needed. Although she always tries to act cheerful and cute, she is frequently selfish and vain. She also has the habit of dying when abused or neglected, only to return to life when a suitable apology is made. She somewhat resembles a Snowshoe Rabbit. Her date of birth is the 4th of January and her zodiac sign is Capricorn. She is 3 years old. But in the episode, "Ku-Chan's First Appearance", she pretended to be 16 years old. Her blood type is A
- Voiced by: Naomi Nagasawa (Japanese) Voiced by: David Lee Mckinney (English)
- Kenta (ケンタ) has the appearance of a stuffed bear. He is brusque, frequently rude, and sometimes picks up odd obsessions. He has a love-hate dynamic with Iyo, with whom he is always arguing or fighting but he still appears to be close to her. His attempts to assert his species identity frequently end in disaster. He is always seen wearing a red muffler, and it is usually a sign that something is very wrong if he is without it. He also often gives the punchline in jokes where all three of the trio are involved. Kenta has a grandmother who's ironically a human and is the one who gave him his scarf. He has a major crush on Ami's friend, Ku-Chan. His date of birth is the 6th of May and his zodiac sign is Taurus. He is 3 years old. His blood type is B
- Voiced by: Yūko Satō (Japanese) Voiced by: Sarah Hauser (English)
- Issa (イッサ) is a creature that looks like a stuffed panda. He refers to himself as "the empathic one" of the trio, puts the most effort into trying to be nice to Ami, and makes many unsuccessful efforts to make peace between Iyo and Kenta. His date of birth is the 23rd of November and his zodiac sign is Sagittarius. He is 3 years old. His blood type is AB
- Voiced by: Kenyu Horiuchi (Japanese)
- Yamanami-san (ヤマナミさん) is a horse-like creature, apparently the leader of AniYoko. He frequently appears to make a small contribution to the scene or some demand on the cast, and then departs. Issa has said that all the creatures of AniYoko must obey "Commander Yamanami" or face an unspecified but terrible punishment. Yamanami also operates a "black-market mail-order" service, which occasionally delivers goods to Ami's room. It is implied that there are numerous Yamanamis, occupying different roles in AniYoko society. His birthday and zodiac sign are unknown. He is 17 years old
- Ami's parents
- Ami's parents [Ami's mother's name is Ayako Matsuzaki (松崎あやこ)] are occasionally heard but never seen throughout the anime. There is no indication that they are aware of the existence of AniYoko or any of the strange events surrounding Ami's life, although they do sometimes notice the effects when something Ami or the three creatures do affects their real-world activities.
- Voiced by: Kaori Fukuhara (Japanese) Voiced by: Candice Moore (English)
- Kumiko Takeda (竹田 久美子), also known as Ku-chan, is Ami's close friend. She is rather timid and frail girl and is one of the few people who can see the AniYoko Trio and others as they really are (although she annoyingly looks for Kenta's batteries in belief that he's a toy), and shares in some of the adventures that Ami has. She seems to be very open to what happens. Her date of birth is the 21st of May. Kenta appears to have a crush on her, much to Iyo's annoyance. Ku-chan suffers from a paralyzing fear of horses due to an unfortunate incident in a stable (in anime, a horse bite her head when she was a baby), so any interaction she has with Yananami-san is extremely traumatic. Her date of birth is the 21st of May and her zodiac sign is Gemini. She is 5 years old. Her blood type is A.
- Catherine Maekawa
- Catherine Maekawa (カトリーヌ前川) is Ami's favorite manga artist. It is revealed in the anime that she is currently engaged in a manga series about sumo wrestling. Iyo has been to her house, after stowing away in a fan letter written by Ami, but she did not appear to notice.
- Mr. Nonko-Chan (Mr. のんこちゃん). Voiced by: Kaori Fukuhara.
- Mr. Nonko-Chan is Iyo's pet turtle that lives in her ear. It was revealed in the first-half of the last episode that he lives in a fully furnished room inside Iyo's ear.
- Match & Pitch (まっち&ピッチ). Voiced by: Nanae Kato and Voiced by: Naoko Suzuki.
- Match (まっち) is one of the recurring characters who appears sporadically. Match is originally a girl (which was confirmed with the dress she is wearing at the first ending theme of the anime), but in the Cartoon Network English Dubbing, Match is addressed as a "he" throughout the entire series. She and Kenta go way back in the past as training partners in a Martial Arts Dojo and addresses him as "Anikki" (Big Bro or Bro in Japanese). According to Yamanami-san, Match is also a Jack-of-all-Trades in the Professional world and considers her as the greatest bane of the Yamanami Industries. It was never mentioned or confirmed what kind of animal Match is (in one episode in the anime, Kenta does not know himself), but she is rumored to be a Tarsier. Her date of birth is 4th of April and her zodiac sign is Aries. She is 28 years old. Her blood type is A.
- Pitch (ピッチ) is a Yellow Canary who accompanies Match to everywhere she goes. Pitch also serves as Match's assistant at work and does domestic duties for her. Pitch is 14 years old. Pitch's blood type is AOB.
- Shima Shimako (しま シマ子). Voiced by: Urara Takano (Japanese), Voiced by: Andrea Kwan (English)
- Shima Shimako like Yamanami-san is also a horse-like (only Zebra-looking) creature who walks upright on two legs. She is Aniyoko's showbiz idol (Model, Actress, Singer/Dancer) and is admired by every girl in Aniyoko. Being Aniyoko's biggest celebrity, she has a bratty celebrity-attitude. Yamanami-san is very much obsessed with her and will do anything (to the point of closing out his business) just to get a date with her. She'll try to fix bad fashions that she see's people make.
- Yayoi-Kun (弥生-クン)
- Yayoi-Kun is a Koala who, in the manga, wandered out of Aniyoko and managed to be unseen by humans for two years. He's very silent. He has an alien-like creature that lives in his nose. His name is a secret, so no one knows his name.
- Matsumoto-Chin (マツモトさん)
- Matsumoto-Chin is a giraffe who's head is always hidden in a cloud with a bright light. There's not much known about Matsumoto-Chin, but Matsumoto-Chin is possibly a female, because their name ends with "Chin", which is a playful variant of "Chan", which is used for girls in Japan.
- Kotaro Matsuzaki (松崎 光太郎), Takeru. Voiced by: Fuyuka Ooura.
- Sayuki (サユキ), Magurono (まぐろの抱き枕), Shachihoko (しゃちほこ). Voiced by: Wataru Hatano.
- Ako Aomori (青森 あこ), Botetechuto (ポテテチュート). Voiced by: Shizuka Ito (Japanese), Voiced by: Sarah Hauser (English)
The gate to AniYoko
It is explained in the anime that AniYoko itself is an alternative world inhabited by stuffed-animal-like creatures. The only method of travel between AniYoko and the human world is through a door mounted in the floor of Ami's bedroom. The Trio has given many conflicting and spurious explanations for how the door got there, but the real answer may never be revealed to Ami nor the viewer. Still, nothing overly sinister appears to be involved - As Kenta said in the second story, "That's the setting for the story, so don't worry about it", breaking the fourth wall, something that happens often in the show.
The door is two-way. It is most often used by the Trio to enter our world and interact with Ami, who they seem to find strangely fascinating. Ami could go through the door herself and enter AniYoko but, due to the insistent Trio and their strange often frightening stories, has yet to do so in the anime and AniYoko itself has never actually appeared, with only a dark space being shown whenever Ami looks inside. Scenes of AniYoko do appear in the Trio's recollections and stories, but these often are immediately shown to be false, and no objective AniYoko scenes have ever been shown. On one episode, it has shown Iyo's bedroom.
The presence of the door and the Trio seems to have had some effect on Ami's room itself. Ami and the Trio frequently find that they can go to many other places, such as a jungle, a forest, a baseball stadium (complete with crowd) and an RPG-style dungeon, without actually leaving the room.
Themes and elements
Much of the comedy in Animal Yokocho involved the Trio using and sometimes misinterpreting elements of popular Japanese culture, such as television quiz shows. There are also numerous jokes about Japanese cuisine, including the preparation of dishes such as cake and Hot Pot (Oden).
Although there are many elements of juvenile fantasy in the series, it seems that the action is actually occurring and not taking place in Ami's imagination.
Some Western viewers have made comparisons between the Trio's behaviors, abilities and personalities with those of the Warners, the protagonists of the American animation anthology Animaniacs. Iyo has many personality traits in common with Dot Warner, and the Trio frequently behave like squabbling siblings.
Despite looking like stuffed animals, the Trio and the other inhabitants of AniYoko appear to be living beings, and there are references to suggest that they can die, including the running gag of Iyo's frequent deaths and revivals and an episode built around the apparent murder of Yamanami-san. The "spirit rabbit" that appears when Iyo dies and returns to her body when she revives is reminiscent of the portrayal of the spirits of the dead in Shinto Mythology.
There is no connection between this series and the Animal Crossing series of video games, although the title "Animal Crossing" was mistakenly used for this series in early English-language reports.
- Opening themes
- Tondemo Nothing ~Doki☆Doki Animal Yokocho (飛んでもNothing 〜どき☆どき アニマル横町のうたの巻〜?) ~ by Ami with Iyo, Kenta, Issa
- Love Chu You!! (ラブ chu ユー!!?) by Ribbon Girl
- Ending themes
- A new friend - The door has opened - 11 October 2005
- Let's bake a cake - Let's do our homework - 18 October 2005
- Puzzled punch - Dark pan - 25 October 2005
- Catalog shopping - Catching a cold - 1 November 2005
- Secret diet - Fan letter - 8 November 2005
- Fortunetelling Paradise - The BIG Fight 15 November 2005
- The story of Kenta's scarf - Iyo Affair - 22 November 2005
- Art of punchlines- AniYoko Shiritori - 29 November 2005
- Playing Cards - Autumn's Terror - 6 December 2005
- Exchange of Diaries - Murder of Yamanami-san - 13 December 2005
- It's my Birthday - Snowball Fight - 20 December 2005
- Christmas -Curing Insomnia - 27 December 2005
- Spring Cleaning - Hotspring - 3 January 2006
- Everyone's Superb - Watching the House - 10 January 2006
- Ku-chan's First Appearance - Truth of Kenta - 17 January 2006
- Preventing Cavities - I have many Interests - 24 January 2006
- Yamanami Battle 2 - Speech Meet - 30 January 2006
- The day before the field trip - Ami's First Love?! - 7 February 2006
- Valentine - Big Discovery - 14 February 2006
- Rival? - Adults? - 21 February 2006
- Video War - Issa's Special Abilities - 28 February 2006
- Rabbit and Tortoise - Investigation Team - 7 March 2006
- Mini Mini Big Adventure - AniYoko Newspaper - 28 March 2006
- TV Tokyo Animal Yokocho Homepage (Japanese)
- Animax's official Animal Yokochō website (Japanese)
- SBS Animal Yokocho Homepage (in Korean)
- Dongwoo Animation Co., Ltd. Homepage (in korean)
- Animal Yokochō Doki☆Doki Kyūshutsu Daisakusen! no Maki (Game Boy Advance, Konami, 2005)
- Animal Yokochō Doki☆Doki Shinkyū Shiken! no Maki (Game Boy Advance, Konami, 2006)
- Animal Yokocho Character Homepage
- s-manga.net Animal Yokocho Homepage
- Animal Yokocho Product Homepage
- Shueisha Animal Yokocho Homepageko:두근두근 비밀친구