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Yokai, also known as the spirits or monsters of Japanese folklore, often make an appearance in anime. These supernatural creatures aren’t always the malevolent kind—they can still be helpful in their own mischievous ways.
Ready to explore the diverse world of yokai? Start by watching the following yokai-influenced anime.
In Mushi-Shi, yokai take the form of Mushi. These supernatural beings often go undetected by humans, as they’re often found impersonating natural elements. A Mushi’s form can range from a bacteria, plant, and animal, to a natural event like a rainbow.
Despite this, some humans, called Mushi-Shi, are still able to perceive them. The Mushi-Shi, Ginko, works to research Mushi and their relationship with humans.
Rikou Nura may have yokai blood in him, but he wants no connection to them. He retains his human form in the morning, and transforms into a yokai at night.
Although Rikou attempts to distance himself from his yokai bloodline by doing good deeds, his yokai grandfather still wants Rikou to replace him as the leader of the Nura Clan.
Did you ever long for a spinoff series centered around the bathhouse in Spirited Away? Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits is the second-best thing. This anime follows Aoi Tsubaki, a college student who gained her grandfather’s ability to see ayakashi, another type of yokai.
When Aoi stops to feed a hungry ayakashi at a shrine, the creature tells Aoi that her deceased grandfather never paid off his debt. As payment, Aoi now must work at a yokai-filled bed and breakfast.
Takashi Natsume is an orphan who inherited the ability to see yokai. He’s constantly getting chased by vicious yokai, which causes him to live a lonely life without the support of family or friends.
Natsume soon discovers why he’s been getting chased—his grandma left him something called the Book of Friends. The book contains the names of various yokai, each of which has been bound to servitude by his grandma. Instead of treating the yokai like servants, Natsume tries to free each yokai on the list.
Yokai can be a huge burden, especially for Hanae Ashiya. During his first week of high school, he spends the entire time in the hospital for a mysterious illness. Hanae soon realizes the cause of this strange sickness—an ever-growing furry yokai has been attached to him since school started.
In an attempt to get rid of this yokai, he calls an exorcist and meets him at a tea room. Hanae can’t afford the exorcist’s fee, forcing Hanae to work for the exorcist. Now, he must help the Mononokean lead stray yokai back to the Underworld.
Nanami Momozono is now homeless thanks to her deadbeat dad. After helping a man getting chased by a dog, he gives her a place to stay. However, his house isn’t a normal home—it’s actually a shrine.
Nanami tries to leave, only to get stopped by a fox familiar and a couple of shrine spirits. She learns that the man she saved was the deity who lived at the shrine, and she was sent there to serve as his replacement.
The Eccentric Family takes place in present-day Kyoto, where tanuki and tengu live alongside clueless humans. The tanuki Shimogamo family has the power to shapeshift into any object or creature, and the third son, Yasaburo, takes advantage of that to observe humans.
The death of Yasaburo’s father still haunts the Shimogamo family. After he was eaten by a human group known as the Friday Fellows, Yasaburo and the rest of his family must try to avoid the same fate.
Running hell isn’t easy, but the stoic demon Hozuki does the job quite well. He works as the assistant to Lord Enma, the king of Hell himself.
Hozuki must tackle all of the issues that occur in hell, take charge of demons, manage employees, as well as greet the representatives of other hells. That said, Hozuki ensures hell runs as efficiently as possible.
Which Yokai Anime Will You Binge-Watch First?
Yokai are such interesting creatures, which makes it hard to stop watching anime involving them. These supernatural anime are a great introduction to the ways of the yokai.
While yokai sometimes take on the roles of villains, they don’t always stack up to the villains in these mind-bending cerebral anime series.