The 12 Animal Zodiacs

Due to the airing of season 2 of the anime, Fruits Basket, I thought it might be time to look into the 12 zodiac animals that play quite a big role in the anime. Starting this post I quickly realised I knew nothing other than I was born in the year of the Rooster. I was not clear on the 12 animals used in the Chinese zodiac, nor did I know what these meant.


The twelve zodiac animals in order:

  1. Rat
  2. Ox
  3. Tiger
  4. Rabbit
  5. Dragon
  6. Snake
  7. Horse
  8. Sheep / Goat / Ram
  9. Monkey
  10. Rooster / Chicken
  11. Dog
  12. Pig / Boar

The animals above represent the 12-year Chinese zodiac with each year alternating and representing a certain animal forming a 12-year circulation and rotation.

The story behind the animal zodiacs and their order:

Cat_Fruits_Basket_12_animal_zodiac_allanimemagAs mentioned in the anime Fruits Basket, the most popular theory is the story of the animals participating in a great race set by the Jade Emperor. The stories of the great race vary in details regarding the race itself, some include the need to cross a river and some do not. However, every story ends with the same order of animals.

Some of the stories mention the cat and how the rat had betrayed it in one form or another. Other stories exclude the mention of a cat altogether. Either way, the stories all agree that the rat had used its intellect to get ahead and win the great race.

I found a video with one version of the Great Zodiac Race:

On Travel China Guide there is a great write up on a few of the stories relating to the Chinese zodiac.

A quick breakdown of the zodiacs

Below is a summary of the “personality traits” of people for each animal in the Chinese zodiac. I have also included the years that they represent.



鼠 (shǔ)

Rats are said to be positive and likeable people who get along with most. They tend to be adaptive with flexible minds. Their mindset allows them to be quite versatile and observant. While outgoing and sociable, rats tend to rely too much on their instinct and they often ignore advice from others. Those born in the year of the Rat can be overcautious and somewhat shortsighted.

Years of the Rat include: 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020, 2032



牛 (niú)

Those born in the year of the Ox are stubborn and steadfast. They take quite some time to think things through fully. Once they have made up their mind, very little will get them to change it. Their methodical and conscientious nature allows them to be viewed as honest, reliable and fair. They help to instil some confidence in others. While they may not say much, they will form many opinions on things. Ox also has a strong sense of self-belief.

Years of the Ox include: 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021, 2033


Tiger_Fruits_Basket_12_animal_zodiac_allanimemag虎 (hǔ)

Tigers are usually kind and benevolent, however, they can also be frank and cruel. They have forceful natures and confidence in themselves, sometimes too much con. Tigers tend to enjoy showing off their achievements and accomplishments. People born in the year of the Tiger are ambitious, optimistic and resolute.

Years of the Tiger include: 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022, 2034



兔 (tù)

Rabbits tend to have soft and tender personalities. They are also modest and polite. Rabbits leave good impressions on people and are not irritated easily. With their polite and cautious ways, they often work well in a team, contributing a lot thanks to being patient and responsible. While conservative and hesitant they are not pushovers. However, when faced with hardships they tend to find ways to escape reality. That being said, they do grow bored of day to day life and seek excitement or change occasionally.

Years of the Rabit include: 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023, 2035



龙 (lóng)

Dragons are lively and upright people who easily tell right from wrong. They are not afraid of difficulties but due to being impatient and easily frustrated by setbacks, Dragons are likely to give things up half-way. Dragons tend to be intelligent beings, somewhat excitable and ambitious with a strong drive pushing them. They tend to succeed when in leadership roles. A dragon cannot stand being used by others.

Years of the Dragon include: 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024, 2036



蛇 (shé)

Graceful, calm and composed are three words that can describe people born in the year of the Snake. They are silent, have self-awareness and are prudent. They can be persistent at times and inconsistent at others. They are not easily approachable and seem somewhat mysterious. Snakes have a vain, jealous and possessive side to them and will not easily reveal their true selves to others. They do also have a surprisingly romantic side to them.

Years of the Snake include: 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025, 2037



马 (mǎ)

Horses are full of energy and quick to make decisions and act upon them. They do not give up easily when faced with difficulties and are passionate about the things they choose to do. They place importance on friendship and make friends easily. However, due to their frank nature, they sometimes reveal secrets. Overall they are warm-hearted, easy-going and upright individuals who due to their impulsive decisions and actions find it difficult to own up to their mistakes.

Years of the Horse include: 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026, 2038

Sheep / Goat / Ram


羊 (yang)

Belonging to the year of the Goat means that they have high-tolerance and motivation. Their resilient and stable nature allows them to consider all aspects before making an informed and reasonable decision. Their need to consider all aspects before making a decision can leave them timid and indecisive. Over analysing also leads to a pessimistic outlook quite often. They can weather hardships well and put others needs before their own. Goats are often generous with their own time and money. They like to keep their homes neat and tidy.

Years of the Goat include: 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027, 2039



猴 (hóu)

Monkeys are intelligent, inquisitive, mischievous and cunning which tends to land themselves or others in trouble. Monkeys are fast learners with lively, quick-witted, versatile and flexible personalities and minds. They require lots of stimulation. After dedicating themselves to a task they can quickly grow bored once they have explored what they wanted to know. They will then look for the next fun and entertaining thing to do. Monkeys dislike restraint and too much confinement in their lives.

Years of the Monkey include: 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028, 2040

Rooster / Chicken


鸡 (jī)

Roosters are logical and good with managing teams thanks to their straight forward and decisive actions and decisions. They will not give up just because something is difficult and will stand up for themselves if someone is standing in their way. Roosters tend to be independent, warm-hearted and loyal. They have a high level of self-respect with a quick mindset. They are serious when it comes to their work and capable. However, they tend to sabotage themselves when they give into their selfishness, narrow-mindedness and impatience.

Years of the Rooster include: 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029, 2041



狗 (gǒu)

Those born in the year of the dog are highly loyal and dedicated people. Dogs can have trouble communicating their thoughts and feelings to those around them. They are dependant on their friends and family for support and encouragement while relying on their intuition and sense of justice to make a decision and take action. People born in the year of the dog tend to be sensitive and emotional.

Years of the Dog include: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030, 2041

Pig / Boar


猪 (zhū)

Realistic and sure to take action once they have a plan (sometimes without one as well) pigs work step by step to realise their goals. They work through their difficulties in the same way. Boars tend to be energetic and enthusiastic with an honest and frank personality. They do not turn away those asking for help. People born in the year of the pig are often easily fooled as they do not suspect trickery. When they are playing around they often take things too far.

Years of the Pig include: 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031, 2042

Other anime that use Chinese zodiac animals as part of their narrative:

  • Juni Taisen: Zodiac War
  • Etotama

What is your zodiac animal?

Mine is the Rooster

For more information on the Chinese zodiacs click here. I referenced most of my information from here while comparing it to other resources. All images used in this post are cropped screenshots from the end credits of Fruits Basket season 2.


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