Yokai is a term constantly used in anime and manga series. This term can be confusing for non-Japanese viewers as it does not translate into any language but instead denotes a class of supernatural creatures and spirits in Japanese folklore.
In this article, we will be taking a look at the meaning of Yokai in anime and manga series, as well as the roles that these creatures play in popular Japanese media.
What is a Yokai in anime?
The term “yokai” is a Japanese word that translates to “strange apparition.” These are supernatural creatures that are pretty popular in the storylines of many anime and manga series.
However, the Yokai are not specific to anime or manga. They are concepts that have been around for centuries, with stories and depictions of them appearing in folk tales, artwork, and even Shinto rituals.
It is should be noted that the term “Yokai” is not just limited to ghosts.
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Types of Yokai
- Oni: Demonic beings from hell with horns that torture the souls in hell. This yokai is popular in anime and manga.
- Tengu: Magical creatures with long noses that distract people from enlightenment.
- Kappa: These are monsters that dwell in the water that look like a human and a tortoise combined.
- Zashiki-warashi: These are friendly spirits of children. They are considered good fortune.
- Umi-bozu: These are fearsome sea monsters whose name translates to “sea monk”.
- Nekomata: These are cat spirits that can transform into humans to trick and eat them. They have 2 tails.
- Nurarihyon: These yokai look like an old human with an elongated head. They simply appear at people’s homes, act like they own the place, and then disappear.
- Nue: These yokai are similar to chimeras. They have a body made up of parts from a monkey, tiger, dog, and snake.
- Nurikabe: This Yokai has the appearance of a plastered wall. It stops people from reaching their destination.
- Gashadokuro: These are scary man eating skeletons that are 15 times the height of a normal human.
- Kasa-obake: These yokai look like umberellas and jump around on their one leg.
- Kitsune: These are wise fox spirit creatures that help good people and trick bad people. This is another yokai is popular in anime and manga.
- Tanuki: These are Raccoon spirits that are said to bring luck to people. They are also known for tricking people and turning into women.
There are several other similar monsters found in the Japanese mythology, but these are the most popular ones.
What animes have yokai in them?
Most supernatural anime series have Yokai in them. While some anime and manga may be calling them by different names, many still feature the classic Yokai creatures, such as fox spirits, cat demons, and shape-shifting oni.
The “fox spirit” concept, in particular, can be found in a variety of anime and manga, including InuYasha, Fruits Basket, and Natsume’s Book of Friends.
In this section, we will be taking a look at some of the most popular anime series and movies with Yokai characters.
- Spirited Away
- Helpful Fox Senko san
- Kamisama Kiss
- Beyond The Boundary
- Natsume’s Book Of Friends
- Yu Yu Hakusho
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What is the most famous yokai in Anime?
The most popular yokai in anime is the Fox Spirit (Kitsune). There are numerous anime series, such as XxxHolic and Inu X Boku SS, that feature these kitsune spirits.
The Fox Spirits in these shows are often smart, wise, and mischievous, and they often have magical powers and otherworldly abilities.
This type of yokai has a subtype called “nine-tailed kitsune,” which is mentioned in most popular anime like Naruto and Kakuriyo.
Another famous type of Yokai is the Oni. These are demonic creatures from hell that have insane brute strength.
Is a Yokai a god?
Yokai can be a god. We have seen several anime, like Helpful Fox Senko-san, where the Kitsune is actually a god. And even in real life, there are several shrines for them.
However, the term “yokai” also includes ghosts, spirits, demons, and other evil beings. So in general, any supernatural being can be classified as a Yokai.