Kigurumi may not be an absolute staple of anime. But they are typically common enough that you can see them occasionally on special episodes and certain quirky characters. And at certain occasions, a kigurumi even becomes the center focus on an entire series.
But among all the kigurumi that we have seen so far, there are general types that pop up more often and more naturally than others. These are usually categorized by animal type, even though it is never usually only restricted to animal types. Also, the motifs of these kigurumi types can become uncannily consistent as well, though of course, this still depends on the character wearing it.
So if it's not an exclusive, franchise-specific kigurumi, you are more or less very likely to see these type of kigurumi when watching anime episode specials:
Honorable Mentions: Dog and Sheep Kigurumi
Ah yes, the meek(?) and venerable kigurumi that has also been at one point, a staple at our store. Sheep kigurumi is kind of a mixed bag, as it doesn't really come up that often, but somehow surprisingly appears enough times that we had to include it in this list. The situations where they are worn are also kind of random, and does not include any dedicated episodes where it became temporary focus of a scene or conversation.
The bigger mystery though, lies with dog kigurumi. You'd think that something as simple and as common as a dog kigurumi would pop up more often in anime as any other regular anime-themed kigurumi. But... somehow it didn't. It is probable that we have missed a goldmine of dog kigurumi references out there. However, compared to others in this list, its appearance has been significantly lower. So, for the time being, it remains in the honorable list for this particular topic.
Now on to the actual list!
5. Penguin Kigurumi
Just one step behind of the supposedly more staple chicken kigurumi, the penguin kigurumi seems to have quite a lot of appearances in anime. Perhaps, like the chicken kigurumi, this is all thanks to the animal's build profile that can be anthropomorphized quite easily. In other terms, penguins have a similar two-arm two-limb format as regular humans do. As a bonus, you even get a special hard cap for the hood! In the form of the penguin's beak, of course.
That being said, there is one thing that really bugs me with most penguin kigurumi seen in anime. They are almost always designed with a blue motif. If you do a quick Google search on "penguin kigurumi", you would immediately see that, the actual ones are almost always black! Like, more than 95% of the time, barring a few penguin kigurumi that have character-specific designs. There are a few video game culture theories that come to mind that may explain why this is case. But for now, without any prior investigation, this trend in anime-based penguin kigurumi will remain a mystery.
By the way, how would you really classify a penguin habitat-wise? It pretty much lives on land (shores), but often does activities underwater, and is still technically a bird. Ah well, off to the Sea Kigurumi list you go then.
4. Chicken Kigurumi
Next, standing at a stable point on this list is one kigurumi type that somehow became the subject of multiple series over a very short span of time. Chicken kigurumi can have many subdivisions based on what physical features you are trying to emphasize. In fact, not all chicken kigurumi strictly requires having that signature red comb. But it helps solidify the impression, even if over-emphasizing would usually result in a more specific "gender" classification.
Aside from combs and wattles, the biggest point of unique focus with an avian-inspired kigurumi would always be the wings. This is what mainly separates chicken kigurumi from other land-based kigurumi, essentially also classifying it as a "flying" kigurumi (like the owl and budgie kigurumi). In anime, though, the wholeness of the wing design is even far less consistent, at times even degrading to just having no wing design at all.
And finally, yes, I have very much used the word "chicken" specifically as a blanket term to include both rooster and hen designs. I mean, it's the natural term to use... right?
3. Rabbit Kigurumi
Insert rabbit multiplication joke here. But seriously, there must be an anime-specific cultural reason for rabbit kigurumi to be so prevalent in anime as it is, at least when compared to something that should be more popular, like dogs. Well for one thing, rabbits are typically the subject of many Akiba-type manga/anime/game designs, including some that are a bit more... "outlandish" than others. Rabbits can be a frequent design inspiration for pretty much any clothing or article, including of course, various kigurumi.
Many people often expect the regular all-white design for rabbit kigurumi, and well, that's a fair conclusion. However, even among white rabbit kigurumi designs, there are still many more different variations, which can even include character-specific or franchise-specific (insert copyrighted rabbit character here) motifs. Then there are also the non-white designs, which can occasionally feature hares instead of rabbits.
The limitation never ends in natural colors of course, as even more generic designs can offer color schemes that you definitely won't see in a wild rabbit. At least, for the ones that we currently know biologically.
2. Bear Kigurumi
Now here's something that is actually a bit unexpected. You mean to tell me that the more universal dog kigurumi only ended up as an honorable mention, just so that bear kigurumi can launch itself all the way to second place? The results only show one undeniable result: that by far, bear kigurumi outpaces everything else that is on this list so far.
To be fair, the official classification of a bear kigurumi can be all over the place, due to how the world "kigurumi" itself is handled in context. However, despite taking all those alternative designs out, despite only including the technical design of the kigurumi that we all know and are familiar with... it still mows down the rest of the kigurumi types below it! In fact, there is even an entire anime series that is dedicated solely to a bear kigurumi.
Oh but, much like how we can add the technically-different hares to our rabbit kigurumi list, we can also add other bears such as polar bears to its long list of anime appearances and instances. So I guess that's also one reason why it's so prevalent.
Unfortunately, as much as bear kigurumi can be popular, it will never hold a candle to the number one entry, which is...
1. Cat Kigurumi
Cats are pretty much the rulers of the internet, and hold the keys to all manners of cutesy memes available to us humble human servants around the world. Thus, it is a matter of fact that cat kigurumi are also the most universally accepted kigurumi. More than dogs, more than rabbits, and even more than those lovable, adorable, and deadly bears.
The biggest irony here is that, cat and dog kigurumi typically have the same types of variations in design depending on the species that are represented by the kigurumi. And yet, one only barely comes as an honorable mention, and the other straight up just dominates the entire list. Basic color motifs and combinations are also very welcome in cat kigurumi, from natural tones, to the unrealistic, wacky and crazy patterns that can only be seen in character-specific designs.
It is also quite notable to point out that black and white cat kigurumi are more or less balanced throughout the series that they appear in, often coming out as one set together. If not, well... some combination of the two colors is usually the next most logical expectation.
In the end, though, do we really need a deep explanation to the popularity of cat kigurumi? Cat's n' kigurumi are just as natural of a combination as lady luck is to the whims of the universe.
And yes, before you even try to ask, even luck-themed cat kigurumi do exist.