Why I Love A Good Yokai Anime

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Having watched anime for a lot of years now its become fairly clear I love yokai in anime. Whenever a new story begins and I find out its featuring yokai of more or less any sort I eagerly jump right in. While at times this leaves me feeling a little frustrated or disappointed when an anime fails to pan out (Elegant Yokai Apartment Life) for the most part I end up finding another cast of characters to love and adore and to fill my desktop background with for a time. So what is it that appeals to me about yokai anime?

And no, it isn’t just the very attractive looking fox boys oozing sex appeal that these sorts of stories pull out again and again. Whether it is Kamisama Kiss, Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi, Inu x Boku or any of the other pointy eared males who’ve made me screen cap like crazy, they aren’t the entire appeal of these shows. After all, Natsume Yuujinchou remains my favourite yokai themed anime and there isn’t a single hot fox boy to drool over in sight. Though, there is the single cutest little fox character but that’s a whole different appeal.

The Little Fox from Natsume Yuujinchou
Little Fox

After thinking about this for awhile I’ve come to the conclusion that yokai stories remind me very much of my childhood and fairy tales. Where sometimes characters travel to other worlds where fantastic things happen (such as the Underworld in the Morose Mononokean) or strange things are occur in the mundane world but only some people can see them (Natsume Yuujinchou). These stories can be sweet or a little bit scary but ultimately they bring about a sense of childlike wonder and recapturing that feeling is amazing. It is no surprise that so many of these anime leave me with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Fuzzy - The Morose Mononkean Season 2
Okay, I didn’t just make that joke.

It also helps that each one of these stories takes their own approach to exploring yokai characters and worlds. Where some are more human and concerned with more ordinary matters such as attending school (Inu X Boku) others, despite being set in the human world are more action focused and have fantastical powers and battles (Nurarihyon). Some are coming of age stories about finding yourself (Natsume Yuujinchou) or are just about the daily lives of supernatural creatures trying to amuse themselves (The Eccentric Family). They all have their own feel and tone which means despite saying I like yokai anime, each one is very distinct.

The Eccentric Family Season 2

However, one commonality that I’ve noticed from time to time (and it isn’t across all yokai stories) is that the yokai are typically depicted as more beautiful or colourful and striking than humans in the stories they are a part of. There features are regularly striking and a little bit disconcerting. At a glance you can tell that the character is something different or other.

While some stories delve into the darker side of yokai and the character designs reflect that, even then the characters are quite clearly distinguished from the human characters through the use of colour and movement.

Natsume Yuujinchou - Hinoe
Guess which one the yokai is?

It is that aspect of The Morose Mononkean that I have come to really love. While the human world is fairly ordinary outside of the occasional yokai Hanae and Abeno encounter, the Underworld is a rich and vibrant setting teeming with life and colour. While many of the yokai they encounter are not human-like in appearance, each one manages to be expressive. Given one of my favourite parts of the anime is the appearance of Fuzzy, a character who does not speak at all, they have managed to convey so much of what Fuzzy is feeling or thinking through his appearance and actions and honestly I just love him.

However, the contrast is clear when looking at scenes in the human world compared to the Underworld in The Morose Mononkean. In the human world the colours, outside of the yokai and the two main characters, are all fairly muted. The sky is blue and the grass is green, but they are pastel and pale versions of the colours. Seeing the characters under the sky in the Underworld and looking at the buildings, the colour palette is far bolder and more striking creating a rich contrast between our reality and the world the yokai inhabit.

Natsume Yuujinchou takes a similar approach in that Natsume’s mundane human life and friends are fairly colourless. The school uniform is perhaps one of the least striking anime uniforms ever and the buildings are all very simple and for the most part unadorned. It is only really when Natsume is out in nature or with the yokai that scenes spring into a far wider array of colours, sounds and movement.

From a darker perspective, Nurarihyon did a similar thing with Rikuo’s character design. In his human form he was quite ordinary and dull in his design but as a yokai he was a fairly impressive sight to behold. Even Rikuo’s school with his human friends was very grey in tone whereas his house, full of yokai, always seemed to have a sense of energy and was surrounded by colourful characters and the garden.

Again, guess which one the yokai form is?

While I don’t really know why yokai in so many stories are depicted in this brighter and larger than life style, but I imagine it is similar to why fairies in western stories are usually in some kind bright and sparkling colour flittering about scattering glitter and the likes. If you are going to imagine a world beyond what we can see, surely you’d want it to all feel more alive. Or maybe I’m still just that little kid playing in the garden and checking under the leaves for fairy houses.

Kamisama Kiss
You have to admit though, hot fox boys are kind of hot.

Watching yokai anime awakens that child in me and opens my imagination up. For a short while the practical realist in me gets laid aside and I get swept up in stories about ‘what if’. While a story doesn’t necessarily need a supernatural creature in it to have that affect, there’s definitely something nostalgic and wonderful about returning to these kinds of stories. Hopefully there will continue to be more of these to enjoy, hopefully they will each bring their own flavour to the table, and hopefully they will continue to rekindle the child in me.

Do you like yokai anime? Which ones have you seen and enjoyed?

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Ending Themes in 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

Continuing on with our Top 5 lists for the year that is 2018, this week I am turning my attention to the ending themes. Now, this list was a little harder to make because there are plenty of ED’s I don’t listen to after the first episode, which is why in previous years I haven’t even tried to do this list. Then again, if the ED is interesting it will make me hang around and so I’m going to roll out my list.

(If you missed the previous list you can check out my top 5 favourite openings here.)

Now what makes a good ending? I have no idea. I like endings that are fun to listen to or capture a theme in the story, but I also like character focused ED’s or ones that just play with their cast and characters. Really it could be one of a dozen things that grabs my interest, though I can guarantee still images and panning aren’t high on my list of priorities to watch each week.

Please feel free to share your favourites in the comments below.

Please Note – There probably won’t be any spoilers in this list.

Honourable mentions this week go to: How To Keep a Mummy and Darling in the Franxx.

Number 5: Steins;Gate 0 – The Last Game by Zwei



There’s something incredibly plaintive about this ending, which is probably what it was going for and even as it becomes more energised later in the song that underlying sorrow never really fades. As much as I wasn’t the biggest fan of Steins;Gate 0, didn’t dislike it but just couldn’t help but compare it to the original, I really did love this song each week and I will admit I didn’t skip listening even once. Great song, solid visuals, and a really good effort at capturing the core emotion of the story.

Steins8d

Number 4: Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi Episode 3 – Negai Hana by Katsuyuki Konishi

This is an odd one because it isn’t the ending the whole way through. Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi had some great music and I liked that at intervals various characters would get an ending focused on them, and in this case the Ogre Master’s voice actor performed the song, and in the process very nearly knocked Daisuke Ono off from being my favourite voice actor. The visuals aren’t much with this one, but I really loved this song.

Kakuriyo7d

Number 3: Dakaichi – Chuntaka! by Junta Azumaya (Yuuki Ono), Takato Saijou (Hiroki Takahashi)

There’s genuinely no excuse. The song is generic as, the slow pan over the characters and the heavy use of the stereo is pretty lazy. The dance sequence is simple and incredibly twee. And yet, I genuinely love this ending. It make me smile and I genuinely feel like getting up and dancing with the characters by the end of it. So while I will accept this song is very much not a sensible choice, and if I were to rewrite this list in six months it probably wouldn’t be here, right now this song is so getting this spot.

DAKAICHI Episode 1 - Junta and Takato

Number 2: March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 – I am Standing by Ruann

You want an ending that captures a character journey over an entire series, sounds great, and is visually interesting, than March Comes in Like a Lion delivers. I love the song and the mood it sets. I love how it shows Rei over his life and the heavy link to the water and colour symbolism used throughout the whole series. Favourite moment though is when he runs toward the colours and the sisters appear, Hina the last of them at the very centre, Rei’s sun. Truly beautiful and perfect for the anime.

March37e

Number 1: Banana Fish – Prayer X by King Gnu

Visually, this is perhaps the least impressive ED on the list, but the music is so incredibly distinctive and haunting and so perfectly suited to the character (as are the visuals) that I can’t help but get totally drawn into this. Just hearing the first few notes of the ED can suck me right in at this point and after listening to it the song will be stuck in my head for hours. I really love it and I feel it is the perfect song for the show so here it is at number 1.

Banana13b

Alright, over to you. What would you pick for your favourite anime endings in 2018?

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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