What are examples of Yokai anime?

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?

12 thoughts on “What are examples of Yokai anime?”

  1. Some possibilities may include Natsume Yuujinchou and its sequel, Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou. Amatsuki might delve a little into this too, though it’s mainly a fantasy series. Neither of these are licensed, as far as I know.

    Another possiblity that may include yokai among in addition to western concepts of hauntings might be Ghost Hunt. This one is licensed. the main reason I started to watch it was that the original novel that this was adapted from (actually the manga the anime was based on) was written by Fuyumi Ono, the author of The Twelve Kingdom novels. In fact, TK was actually a fantasy novel series that was born from a one-shot horror novel.

    Hope this helps.

  2. Off the top of my head: Mokke, which is a sort of young person’s Mushishi; Hakaba Kitaro, which concerns a yokai boy born in a cemetery; and, Mononoke, which deals with one particular genus of yokai. The last is a continuation of the final “bakeneko” arc of Ayakashi. None of these have yet been licensed.

  3. Correction: Ayakashi has been licensed. The others still haven’t, though, which in the case of Mononoke is a scandal.

  4. Nick, all roads lead to the 12 Kingdoms, it seems 🙂

    These suggestions are fascinating, I’d never heard of any of these. This seems to be a sleeper genre. Don, when you mentioned Mononoke I thought you meant Princess Mononoke until I clicked the link. That too seems to fit the genre, no?

  5. I was going to say Requiem from the Darkness, but in considering the given definition of “yokai”, I’m not sure if it qualifies. It’s more of a series of stories about how the dark fantasy of yokai is just a mask for the banality of human evil – every monstrosity in that show is eventually unmasked & shown to be at its root a person gone rotten. It’s anti-romantic.

    Mononoke is another example, but it hasn’t been licensed yet, and it’s a lot more receptive to the romanticism of the yokai story.

    Inuyasha is, of course, a very mainstream, very literal-mined, and somewhat rote shounen-style “yokai” series.

    Oh, btw, be careful with Requiem from the Darkness around kids. It’s always gory, sometimes nasty, and can be gut-wrenchingly disgusting, especially the episode about the ukiyo-e of death’s decay.

  6. Currently watching Bakemonogatari, which seems to qualify and is stunningly well-written and -animated.

  7. Just stumbled across this when looking for other yokai-central animes. Grandchild of Nurarihyon, which is about a guy who is part-yokai and the Third Heir to the Night Parade of 100 Demons. It’s pretty good. Definitely qualifies =)

  8. I’m just gonna leave a list of anime titles that I’ve watched that center around Yokai.

    Nurarihyon no Mago
    Ayakashi – Samurai Horror Tales
    Natsume Yujin cho series 1 and 2
    Otome Youkai Zakuro

    Thats all I can remember. Lol. Hope it helps.

  9. Mononoke and Princess Mononoke aren’t the same cause mononokes are to some extent demonic ayakashis which take possession of humans.
    Ayakashis are spirits associated with alive beings or dead people, objects, superstitions… they have in most cases monstrous appearance (yokai means monster in jp).
    In the Japanese folklore, they are often equalizing the row of divinities with furnace bridges reserved to them.

    Others animes about yokais : Kurozuka, Kikoushi Enma, Ayakashi ayashi, Coo, Pompoko.

  10. Don’t forget the most important Yokai anime/ manga in Japanese History:

    GeGeGe no Kitaro :).

    further are Nurarihyon no Mago, Inuyasha, Ao no Exorcist, Otogi Matsuri, Yokai ningen Bem (there is also a live action), Natsume Yuujinchou


    D.Gray-man, Kuroshitsuji

    manga: Otogi Matsuri, Kamisama Hajimemashita,

  11. The animes I have watched aimed at yokai are
    Kuroshitsuji, kamisama hajimemashite, youkoxboku SS, ao no exorcist, D gray man, Hakkenden,
    Nurarihyon no magic, kyoukai no kanata, natsume yuujinchou.

    Well half of them are already mentioned and I know many but they are not aimed at yokai
    So hope these could help

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