Yokai, also known as the spirits or monsters of Japanese folklore and mythology, often make appearances in anime. These supernatural creatures aren't always of the malevolent kind—they can be helpful or mischievous or sometimes even apathetic.
Ready to explore the diverse world of yokai in anime? Here are our picks for the best animes with yokai, that are full of these supernatural beings who play an important role in their respective series.
12. Hozuki's Coolheadedness (2014–2018)
Running hell isn't easy, but the stoic demon Hozuki does the job quite well in Hozuki's Coolheadedness. He works, after all, 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, and greet the representatives of other hells to ensure that his hell runs as efficiently as possible!
11. The Eccentric Family (2013)
The Eccentric Family takes place in present-day Kyoto, where yokai creatures like tanuki and tengu live alongside clueless humans.
The tanuki Shimogamo family has the power to shapeshift into any object or creature, and their third son Yasaburo takes advantage of that to observe humans.
But 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.
10. Kamisama Kiss (2012–2015)
Nanami Momozono is homeless thanks to her deadbeat dad. Thankfully, after she helps a man who was getting chased by a dog, that man ends up giving her a place to stay—but his house isn't a normal one.
In fact, 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.
9. The Morose Mononokean (2016–2019)
Yokai can be a huge burden to humans, 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 ever since school started.
In an attempt to get rid of this yokai, he calls an exorcist and meets him at a tea room. But Hanae can't afford the exorcist's fee, which forces Hanae to work for the exorcist—and now he must help the Mononokean lead stray yokai back to the Underworld.
8. Natsume's Book of Friends (2008–2017)
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 eventually discovers why he's been getting chased: his grandmother left him something called the Book of Friends. This book contains the names of various yokai, each of which has been bound to servitude by his grandmother.
Now, instead of treating the yokai like servants, Natsume tries to free each yokai on the list.
7. Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits (2018)
Do you love the renowned anime movie Spirited Away? And if so, do you long for a kind of spin-off anime series centered around the bathhouse in Spirited Away? If you answered yes both times, then Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits is basically that in a nutshell.
This anime series follows Aoi Tsubaki, a college student who gained her grandfather's ability to see ayakashi (a certain 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.
6. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan (2010–2011)
Rikuo Nura may have yokai blood in him, but he wants no connection to them or anything relating to them. He retains his human form in the morning, then transforms into a yokai at night.
Although Rikuo attempts to distance himself from his yokai bloodline by doing good deeds, his yokai grandfather still wants Rikuo to replace him as the leader of the Nura Clan.
This, of course, puts Rikuo in a bind because all he really wants to do is live a normal life as a human high schooler.
5. Mushi-Shi (2005–2006)
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 bacteria to plant to animal—or even a natural event like a rainbow.
Despite this, some humans called Mushi-Shi are still able to perceive them. One Mushi-Shi named Ginko works to research Mushi and their fascinating relationships with humans.
4. Kemono Jihen (2021)
In Kemono Jihen, kemono are non-human creatures that exist within human society, living low-key lives to keep their identities hidden and their existence a secret.
The roster of characters include famous yokai from Japanese folklore: bakedanuki, kitsune, yuki-onna, nekomata, and many more.
In this series, Kohachi Inugami is a tanuki-type kemono who runs a detective agency that takes on supernatural cases. As the story goes on, you'll see many interesting characters—like the half-ghoul Kabane.
3. Yo-Kai Watch (2014–2018)
Yo-Kai Watch follows the story of Keita Amano (called Nate Adams in the English version) and his life after encountering the butler yokai named Whisper and the Yo-kai Watch.
Although it incorporates a supernatural theme, Yo-Kai Watch is quite child-friendly in its depictions of yokai and how they affect the everyday lives of the people they possess. It's all done in a comedic way.
But while Yo-Kai Watch is light and fun, the sequel series Yo-Kai Watch Shadowside has a somewhat darker premise featuring themes of revenge and not-so-bloody fight scenes.
That series centers on a new set of main characters who are all part of a Yokai Detective Agency, solving cases of supernatural origins with the help of their yokai friends.
2. GeGeGe No Kitaro (2018–2020)
GeGeGe No Kitaro is an old-school anime that first aired way back in 1968, with several remakes since then. The latest one—the 2018 anime series—features a more modern setting for modern viewers.
While not all of the anime adaptations were faithful to the GeGeGe No Kitaro source material, they still follow the central premise about a young yokai boy named Kitaro and his adventures with other yokai beings.
You'll find all kinds of yokai characters making an appearance in the series, with the most popular ones being Neko Musume, Nezumi Otoko, and his father who takes the form of an eyeball.
1. Inuyasha (2000–2004)
The classic anime series Inuyasha centers on the titular character Inuyasha, a half-human half-dog demon. At the start, he's in search of the Shikon Jewel so he can use it to turn himself into a full demon.
In his attempt to steal the jewel, he ends up being sealed by a priestess named Kikyo, and then he's later released after Kagome breaks the spell. Together with Kagome, they seek out the scattered jewel shards before other demons can get their hands on them for sinister uses.
Apart from Inuyasha, the Inuyasha anime series features several other demon-type characters who play prominent roles. Given how well-known and well-regarded the series is, it's an easy pick to top our list of all-time best anime series about yokai.