In Japan, shop entrances often have statues of a cat with one paw raised. This is a type of good luck charm called maneki neko, meaning something like "beckoning cat" or "welcoming cat"; in English it's often called "lucky cat". The raised paw represents a gesture meaning "over here" (specifically, the gesture involves holding a hand up, then bending the wrist and/or knuckles forward and back). It may be either the right or left paw that is raised; it's sometimes said that one paw attracts customers and the other attracts money. Often these statues also depict the cat wearing a collar with a bell and holding a golden coin with its other paw. There are several different origin stories for the maneki neko. One of them involves a nobleman traveling past a rundown temple when he takes shelter from a sudden storm under a nearby tree. The temple's cat beckons him over and he is so fascinated by the gesture that he braves the rain to see the cat up close. Just after the nobleman has left the shelter of the tree it is struck by lightning, and he is so grateful to the cat for saving his life that he makes a huge donation to the temple which becomes well known and prosperous.
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Anime and Manga
- The eponymous heroine of Madlax has one of these in her hideout.
- An evil version curses a restaurant in Ojamajo Doremi.
- A monster has been trapped inside one so long in Natsume's Book of Friends that it's become his default form.
- Pins depicting the Maneki Neko are used for an extortion racket in Gokusen.
- A maneki neko is seen among the many bizarre objects in Paprika's recurring parade.
- In one episode of Kekkaishi, a maneki neko can be seen among the objects tossed out a window at Kokuboro when Sen is yelling at Yoshimori.
- The Get Backers were once ordered by one of their clients to retrieve one. Subverted in that the Manekineko itself wasn't what the client really wanted, but what was hidden inside it : a disk containing compromising data of human organ traffic. Since she hid this from the Get Backers, this explained why they were puzzled by the fact she was happy to get the Manekineko back, even after it being horribly broken by them during the retrieval.
- R.O.D the TV had one of these featured prominently in Toto Books.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! has a monster that goes by Neko Mane King, an Ancient Egyptian maneki neko statue that ends your opponent's turn if they destroy it.
- In Girl Got Game, one of the side stories involved the Lovable Sex Maniac's girlfriend bringing two of these back from Germany and giving him one, to symbolize their togetherness even though they were apart (it was a long distance relationship).
- In Rinne chapter 60, one is among the items that fall when the posessed teddy bear begins to fly.
- In one Fairy Tail omake, Happy impersonated a Maneki Neko statue for a restaurant.
- The bridge of the Soyokaze has one in Irresponsible Captain Tylor. Azalyn once uses it hide the fact she's not in her bed. How she managed to lug that thing around the ship with no one noticing is another question though.
- One is present in a FUNimation vanity plate that they begin using in 2011.
- In one episode of You're Under Arrest!, there was a burglar who disguised himself as the old woman whose home he was stealing from. One of her friends visits to return a borrowed piece of furniture, and asks where the cat is. The burglar answers that it's outdoors at the moment, and in doing so accidentally reveals himself as an impostor, because the "cat" is actually a maneki neko statue. (This episode changed almost all of the details from the manga version of this storyline, which didn't feature a maneki neko.)
- In a different episode, Natsumi and Miyuki searched for Maho's lost cat, while Tokuno investigated a theft. Strike Man also heard about the missing cat, so he brought many stray cats and cat-shaped inanimate objects to the police station, and thereby inadvertently recovered the stolen item from the theft case, a maneki neko statue where the "coin" was made of solid gold.
- One of the many Japanese good-luck tokens used against Mara in Ah! My Goddess.
- The initial stance of the dreaded Cat Fist technique in Ranma ˝, wherein the user's mind becomes that of a cat, evokes the maneki neko, Faux Paw and all.
- Referenced in Fruits Basket: Ayame keeps calling Kyo (the Cat) "Lucky Kyo", much to Kyo's chagrin.
- The Ramen Girl - While in the Ramen shop, Abby envisions the lucky cat they have coming to life and beckoning her. She takes this as a sign this is the right place for her to work.
- Big Hero 6: The name of Aunt Cass's business is the Lucky Cat Cafe, complete with a maneki-neko statue on the awning above the door.
- The title of a short story by Bruce Sterling.
- In Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small, the Yamani have lucky cat statues with one paw raised. The legend was that their Emperor bent down to look at a waving cat just as an assassin's arrow passed overhead - thus the waving cat became a symbol of luck. Kel has a ton of them in her room and gives one as a present to Neal.
- A waving maneki neko belonging to The Devil is a central plot point in The Weirdness. Since it never stops waving, it's actually a source of infinite energy and actually threatens to destroy the universe. The cover art of the book features a rather stylish evil maneki neko, though in the book proper it's quite mundane looking.
Live Action TV
- Referenced in episode 2 of Sherlock, where they find a vital clue in a curio shop selling Manaki Neko in Chinatown. The tacky, golden, battery-operated version depicted there is frequently seen in Chinese cheap stores throughout Europe.
- At the beginning of the Doctor Who Easter special, Planet of the Dead, Lady Christina de Souza replaces the Chalice of Æthelstan with a Maneki Neko in order to not set off the alarm.
- In an episode of Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, Takeru's soul gets transferred into one of these, resulting in his physical body imitating the statue. When Chiaki draws whiskers on him for good measure, he is not amused (not that he can really voice his complaints, anyway). (In Power Rangers Samurai's adaptation of the episode, this was replaced with a garden gnome - but funnily enough, one with the same raised-arm pose.)
- Given as a gift in an episode of Flash Foward.
- A knockoff version appears in CSI: NY as a vehicle to smuggle cocaine.
- The teams had to sell a whole shipload of these in one of the episodes of The Apprentice, and it ended up turning hilarious when the women's team tried to sell them in London's Chinatown (to the point the cat ended up being a meme). And for the rest of the series, cue the Call Back gag where every time the teams left the house, you saw the one last Lucky Cat waving them bye.
- One of the "fortress bosses" in Nezumi Man is a giant maneki neko.
- Meowth, from Pokémon is based off this, and plays with the association with financial good luck. It has a gold charm on its forehead, has been known to hold up its left paw in the traditional pose (at least in the original Red and Blue games), and is the only Pokémon who can learn Pay Day naturally - a move which gives a small amount of money (in addition to any money gained from winning) to both combatants after the fight.
- This continues into the spinoff Pokémon Conquest. If a Warrior with a Meowth for a partner mines for gold, the Meowth will find more gold coins and give a boost to the payoff you get.
- This was one of the thousands of objects the player could roll up in Katamari Damacy. Due to the game's unique sense of humor, these statues could be found in a variety of locations doing a variety of things, such as playing pachinko.
- In the Persona series, these increase your luck.
- In Tales of Vesperia, Rita's Gold Cat spell drops a giant one on the target. The number of hits it deals increases with the amount of money you have, up to a million gald at most.
- The plot of the third Super Famicom Ranma ˝ fighting game involves all the characters tracking down the ingredients to create the legendary maneki neko of the Musk Dynasty, who are known in Japanese as the Jyakou Maneki. Therefore, they're hunting down the Jyakou Maneki Neko. This artifact is said to grant the user one wish, of any kind — and with so many characters suffering gender-bending curses, animal-transformation curses, unrequited love, etc. etc. etc., they're all determined to have the maneki neko grant their wishes.
- In Skies of Arcadia Legends, Bonus Boss Daikokuya is a bored millionaire turned Air Pirate who rides around in a Maneki Neko Humongous Mecha.
- Super Mario 3D World has a rare variation of the Cat Suit power-up called the Lucky Cat Suit that allows the user to turn into a golden maneki-neko figurine, similarly to the Tanooki Suit's statues. This video goes into detail about the significance of each of them (ranging from the colors of their cat suits) and even about which paw is raised and their symbolism.
- The Gold Stage of Gun Nac has a giant version of this for its Mini-Boss.
- An altered version of this appears in the first person adventure game Jazzpunk in the form of a squid.
- Trio the Punch has a Boss Battle with a giant maneki neko.
- The Ganbare Goemon games include silver and golden versions of these as powerups.
- Kirby Super Star features one called the Lucky Cat as a treasure Kirby can collect in The Great Cave Offensive.
- In Keith Courage In Alpha Zones, maneki neko are common enemies in the overworld that divebomb you. Like other enemies, they sometimes (yes, only sometimes), drop one or more gold coins when defeated, though the rare golden variant will drop a red coin worth as much as four gold coins.
- In Virtual Boy Wario Land, a maneki neko figurine is the first treasure that Wario can recover.
- Neko Atsume features one as a rare cat. Her name is Miss Fortune.
- You can acquire several different kinds of these as decorative items in Animal Crossing. They come in different colors, and there's also a left-handed variation.
- In Go Vacation, the special "Figurines" furniture set includes a Lucky Cat item you can place in your Villa, among other animal-shaped decorations.
- Lucky Slimes in Slime Rancher are white reskins of Tabby Slimes with coins on their foreheads. Feeding them will give you learn amounts of newbucks to spend, but you can't capture them, they disappear shortly after being approached, and they are fairly rare.
- Julie Kane's avatar in Motorcity looks like one of these, with the cat ears and the appropriate eyes.
- Neko from Kobushi is a megalomaniacal Maneki Neko that believes he is the god of the restaurant and is determined to eat the anthropomorphic sushi that live there.
- After one of Ben's fights destroy Pakmar's pet store in the "Of Predators and Prey: Part 1" episode of Ben 10: Omniverse, he scrambles to save his last intact possession, a one-eyed maneki neko. It then gets smashed when Ben uses Armodrillo to dig a hole in Pakmar's China store in the "Ben Again" episode.
- This is encountered in many ethnically Chinese or Hong Kong restaurants and takeaways in Britain and America. Perhaps this is also a Chinese meme adopted from the Japanese long before WW2; older Hong Kong people who remember the occupation of 1941-45 (and often their children) are not temperamentally given to be sympathetic to Japanese culture.