Taking realistic, semi-realistic, toony and Japanese animation style differences into consideration, below we’ve provided a list of 20 mustelids in animation we feel in our opinion deserve recognition for looking like (or close to) the species they were meant to represent. Although we don’t need these characters to be perfect paragons of goodness, many of them were also given less typecast roles. Lastly, while some character species may not be confirmed, most within this list can still easily be identified by their distinctive features and country of production.
Due to limiting our list to 20, it is subject to change as more well depicted characters are discovered. The order in which these characters appear do not reflect our rating.
(1) Okojo-san (オコジョさん)
Written in an absurd and humorous tone, the series features a male stoat with a leaf on his head, which serves as a visual aid in showing senses and emotion. The once wild Okojo-san escapes from a pet store and is found unconscious by college student Haruka Tsuchiya, who brings him home to the apartment complex where he lives. From there on he has to learn to adapt to the human world, facing eccentric neighbours, their pets and household items on a daily basis.
Proud and confident, Okojo-san sees himself as a tough guy and everyone or everything he meets as a challenge to be won, and rather than being portrayed as a little furred human, he displays typical behaviour of weasels on occasion, like caching large piles of food. A male ferret named Tatchin and a few other stoats show up to play alongside the main character, making this one of the few works of media where mustelids are truly allowed to shine in the limelight.
Although primarily in his white winter coat throughout the series, Okojo-san does have a summer and mid-phase coat. The word “okojo” means stoat in Japanese, and seeing a white one is regarded as a sign of luck. This may explain why so many stoats in Japanese media are primarily drawn in their winter coats.
(2) Rommel (ロンメル)
Rommel is a powerful, deep-voiced, male stoat strategist who leads the 7th Panzer Division. A tactical and forward planning leader, he is highly respected in the series. What is most interesting about his personality, is despite being a serious high ranking official, he is extremely permissive about being petted or held while in public view. His name is likely in reference to the German general and military theorist Erwin Rommel (pun “Ermine” Rommel), who also commanded a 7th Panzer Division.
His semi-anthropomorphic anatomy is spot-on, and is one of the best representations of a stoat in modern animation. He appears to always be in his ermine coat, and the creators didn’t neglect to include the iconic black-tipped tail of his species. His full character sheet.
(3) Pantalaimon (European pine marten form)
This British fantasy TV series is based on the book series of the same title by Philip Pullman. Pantalaimon is a dæmon, and is the companion of the heroine Lyra Belacqua in the series. He changes into many forms, and one of them is a European pine marten.
The European pine marten form of Pantalaimon is given amazing detailed features for CGI. The creators even managed to capture the proper locomotion of the species; which is an impressive achievement. It’s rare to find martens of any species in animation, games or literature; which is strange given how well-known they are compared to other mustelids.
(4) Measley (left) and Weasel (right)
These two (larger than average) least weasels are mates and are quite the rambunctious sort. Nevertheless, most animals within White Deer Park are fond of them. They show concern for other animals in the area and offer to help when they can. Weasel’s mate Measley first appears in season 2, while their offspring Fido and Cleo appear in season 3. Admittedly, Weasel’s voice can be a bit obnoxious. Her voice actor for the Dutch version sounds much more natural.
This series had a habit of constantly changing its style and writing quality; contributing to Weasel and Measley’s anatomy not being consistent. By season 3, in some scenes, Measley was even given rodent buck teeth… Nevertheless, they were weasel-like enough in the first two seasons to make this list.
(5) Hervé Le Furet (left) and François (right)
There are plenty of commercial shorts staring these two on YouTube (all in French of course). Rarely will we see animation of mustelids as pleasant as this on the big screen, but in the meantime, we can at least enjoy watching ferrets attempt to find us reliable suppliers for all our insurance, mortgage, bank and energy needs.
Lulu is Princess Hildegard’s pet. Unfortunately, for such a good design, she hardly appears in the series at all; being completely overshadowed by other characters to the point where she becomes a background actor.
We believe she is a farm-bred American mink, because they are the only of the two species called “mink” that come in a variety of colours apart from the standard brown. What also gives it off are certain anatomical characteristics, such as the rounded head, wide muzzle, large nose and small ears.
(7) Iwashidani (イワシダニ)
It’s not often we see a species of weasel in animation that isn’t a “generic weasel” or stoat. Iwashidani is a male Japanese weasel, and is Hakumei’s senior colleague. A reasonable amount of effort was put into his species anatomy and fur markings. Generally, if an artist makes the effort to draw a weasel with five toes instead of the typical four seen on canids and felids, it’s safe to assume they know their mustelids.
(8) Uso-kun (うそくん)
Uso-kun is a sentient stuffed otter and the alter-ego of the inventor and scientist Kenjirou Isshiki. Kenjirou switched bodies with the otter as the result of an experiment. One source says his species is a sea otter, but he shares no features of one. Though no confirmation was given, he’s probably meant to be based off an Asian small-clawed otter.
(9) Name Unknown
He appears in episode 11 teaming up with Mr. Smirre Fox, who tries to catch the geese. Not much “character” or personality to speak of given the limited screen time and role, but a representation nonetheless. While the species isn’t clear, it bears resemblance to the sable, American marten and Japanese marten in both anatomy and colouration.
This is a simple and family-friendly Dutch Christmas movie that follows a trio of animals headed by Fretje the ferret, on their quest to deliver their gift wishlist to Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) for Saint Nicholas Day. The trio face challenges from other animals and the city around them on their way to the steam ship where Sinterklaas resides. Despite Fretje briefly deviating from the mission once they reach the ship, the trio manage to find Sinterklaas, and bring their own titular Dierensinterklaas to all of their friends.
This movie is difficult to view outside of Europe due to heavy copyright restrictions. DVDs exist, and are locked to region 2. There are digital copy sources where the film may be watched anywhere in the European Union, as long as the purchase is made from the Netherlands.
The fluid animation, design and flexibility of this character is a great example of an animated ferret in a more toony style.