At AICN there’s a discussion of yokai manga, which I found interesting:
From the preface of Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt’s Yokai Attack, “written with the Japanese characters for ‘other-worldly’ and ‘weird,’ the word ‘yokai’ has typically been translated in a great many ways, from ‘demon’ to ‘ghost’ to ‘goblin’ to ‘specter’ – all of which are about as imprecise an un-evocative as translating ‘samurai’ as ‘Japanese warrior,” or ‘sushi’ as ‘raw fish on rice.’ Yokai are yokai.” It’s a class of supernatural creatures that encompasses shape changing foxes, tsukumonogami – artifacts that come to life after existing 100 years, kappa – bowl headed, turtle-men water imps, urban legends like the kuchisake anna – “slit mouthed woman,” and many more subjects of folktales and nightmares.
A good yokai story breathes life into a murky corner of perception. It takes the fright of a dark corner, the wonder of a natural phenomenon, some metaphor or word play that sticks in the mind and gives it semi-human form. It might take some ferreting out, but one of the fascinating attributes of yokai is that they generally trace back to some mental hang-up like an unexplainable sound one hears wondering the woods or a coincidence in words and names.
This is prelude to a review of a manga title, Yokai Doctor, which they found wanting in some respects, but as a genre I am curious to see if there’s a footprint in anime too. Off the top of my head, I think Spirited Away and Mushi-shi might loosely qualify. I can’t think of other examples but I am sure there are more. Anyone have any ideas?