Movies and TV shows take inspiration from the realm of mythology to create their fantastic creatures, such as unicorns and werewolves in the Harry potter franchise. However, there is also a lot of real-world inspiration, with ferocious animals such as sharks and snakes providing interesting character designs for various films.
Drawing inspiration from the animal kingdom can be difficult for children’s films, however, as the designs should be appealing and not too scary for young audiences. Making bodies rounder and eyes bigger are some of the proven ways to make creepy creatures cuter, and giving them endearing personalities and stories helps audiences connect with them.
ten King Shark – Shark
DC Comics’ King Shark is terrifying in most media, like his hammerhead shape in the comics and the tall, buff version in Flash TV show. Corn The suicide squad reimagines the character as a lovable guy who happens to tear people apart and sometimes tries to eat his friends. The character’s rounded body, described as a “daddy-bod” by director James Gunn, makes him much nicer than his other portrayals.
King Shark is called Nanaue in the film and in addition to its redesigned design, The suicide squad gives him a sad story to make the audience more root for him. His interactions with other characters are also cute, like playing with a group of killer squids that are trapped in a large aquarium.
9 Calcifer – Fire Demon
Calcifer was a shooting star who was caught by Howl and is an extremely powerful creature, although he was unable to move from the fireplace without Howl’s help. As a fire demon, Calcifer can speak and is not entirely trustworthy, protecting the other demons by not denouncing them to Howl.
In the Howl’s Moving Castle book, Calcifer is described as scarier than it looks in the movie, with a thin blue face and orange eyes. Fire demons are also associated with fearsome creatures such as devils and the Japanese folklore of Akuma, an entity that brings bad luck to those who see it. However, Calcifer’s film design is round and cute to help audiences root for him.
8 Luca – Sea monster
Sea monsters are usually associated with images of krakens, dragons, and giant whales. However, the main character of the 2021 film Luca is an adorable kid who wants to leave the ocean and go on an adventure with his human and sea monster friends.
Luca’s passions and imagination immediately attach audiences to him, and his ambitions to learn as much as he can make him a character that audiences can relate to. True to the nature of the sea monster, however, the townspeople fear Luca and Alberto when they return to their true monster forms. The two friends defend themselves against the violence of the townspeople is one of the best scenes of Luca.
7 Toothless – Dragon
A great viking movie, How to train your dragon follows young boy Hiccup as he accidentally injures and befriends a dangerous dragon he names Toothless. Toothless can be scary with his firepower and ability to camouflage himself against the night sky, but around Hiccup he acts like a staunch friend, following him, rolling around in the grass and creating works of art in the earth with a branch.
Toothless is very dog-like, especially the way it jumps and sticks its tongue out. Getting otherwise scary creatures to act like dogs and cats is an easy way for filmmakers to make them cuter or easier to understand. For another example, Maximus of Tangled is a horse that acts a bit like a dog to make it funnier, sniffing the ground and growling at Flynn Rider.
6 Kyubey – Manipulating Alien
Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a black magical girl anime that follows five magical girls who make deals with Kyubey, a cute mascot who is hiding a terrible secret. Kyubey is part of an alien race powerful enough to remake the entire world, but hides his true nature to make him more approachable and friendly with humans whom he turns into magical girls.
Aliens in cartoons can be terrifying, like shapeshifting parasites that can crush human heads in the blink of an eye, but Kyubey hides his intentions behind a cat face. Many magical girl anime use cute animals as the main character’s companions, like the cat Luna de Sailor moon, and Madoka Magica uses the audience’s assumptions about Kyubey’s cuteness to intelligently subvert their expectations.
5 Alligator Loki – Alligator
In the Loki TV series (2021), the evil god Loki meets different versions of himself, including Kid Loki and President Loki, and must go on a time travel adventure to set the timeline alongside the Time Variance Authority. Another variation of Loki is Alligator Loki, a cute character who communicates through body language and bites anyone who insults him.
Alligator Loki is given personality and intelligence beyond his creepy appearance, and a fun story – eat the neighbor’s cat – helps to endear him to the public. His story and his interactions with the actors make him a character rather than just a fun gag.
4 Master Viper – Serpent
Master Viper Kung Fu Panda franchise is a kung fu master and a student at Master Shifu’s Jade Palace. Despite his wavy appearance, Viper is a kind character who repeatedly helps Po the panda during the movies, teaches him things, and checks to see if he’s okay when he’s feeling down.
The Viper character design has big eyes and wears two cute lotus flower clips on his head, all to make his design less spooky and more appealing to a younger audience. The film’s Furious Five kung fu masters also feature the character Tigress, who is certainly based on a fierce creature, but her character design is more stoic and battle-oriented than cute and cuddly.
3 Megamind’s Minion – Piranha
The “fantasy fish” Minion is Megamind’s sidekick, helping the titular villain take control of Metro City and battle his overpowered enemies. Minion is an alien, but his design is based on a piranha, and his robotic body is reminiscent of a large gorilla, covered in purple hairs.
Minion is extremely caring and speaks in a high pitched voice, which makes her a fun character close to her heart. He supports Megamind as much as he can, but Minion has feelings and lashes out when Megamind refuses to listen to him. Making the alien fish an emotional character capable of humor makes the ferocious animal much more likable.
2 Kumoko – Spider
One of the funniest isekai anime, So I’m a spider, so what? follows Kumoko, a Japanese student who has reincarnated in a fantasy world as a spider living in a dungeon. Kumoko brings tons of humor to the anime, singing and fighting his way through the dungeons and trying to survive.
Kumoko has two distinct designs throughout the majority of the show, the main one being a cute spider with big eyes and a cheerful anime face that brilliantly moves audiences and makes her a lot less scary. The second is her true form, a spooky spider with eight eyes, but this form is still capable of comedy, which makes her less terrifying.
1 Mogwai – Devil
Gizmo from Gremlins is a sweet and lovable character, belonging to a species called Mogwai, who has three distinct rules: never put them near the sun, never let it get wet, and never feed it after midnight. Feeding after midnight turns the Mogwai into Gremlins, mischievous and violent creatures that wreak havoc.
The word Mogwai comes from the Chinese word for “devil” or “evil spirit,” and the creatures themselves may be based on a demon from Chinese mythology that spawns during the rains. Gizmo’s big eyes and ears make him cute, much like house elf Dobby from the Harry potter franchise, but his fellow Mogwais transform into horrific Gremlins when fed after midnight.
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