It’s October, the month of all things supernatural and scary. Creatures are all around in anime, so let’s have a top 10 of the supernatural ones!
10. Yuki Onna
She’s not Snow White with the seven dwarfs. She’s not exactly the White Lady either. Rather, Yuki-Onna, or a “Snow Woman,” is a Youkai often said to be the Japanese counterpart of the succubus. There are several stories surrounding this hauntingly beautiful woman clad in white, but a particularly well-known tale talks of how she saps life out of people lost in the vast fields of snow.
Perhaps a well-known example of a Yuki-Onna in anime and manga is Tsurara Oikawa from Nurarihyon no Mago. Tsurara is a much friendlier character than the one from the story earlier. However, she can be quite menacing in the battlefield, especially when her master Rikuo Nura is put to threat.
A more recent Yuki-Onna character in anime would be Yuki Kusakabe from Demi-chan wa Kataritai.
Fairies are more Western than Japanese, but that doesn’t stop Japan from putting them into anime. But since they are from the West, they are sometimes depicted as the usual mini mahou shoujos, like Vanilla from Yume-Iro Patissiere, or are made in any form with different characteristics and powers. Not all fairies are magical-looking, though. Some are badass, like Sakuya from Sword Art Online, some aren’t even human, like Mipple and Mepple from Pretty Cure. And of course, there are male fairies, like King from The Seven Deadly Sins and Orion from Amnesia. And, yes, Clefairy is part of this. It is because of these differences that make fairies pretty hard to spot in anime (save for if they have they typical fairy wings and elf ears), because you can’t really be sure a character is one unless someone explicitly says so.
Dragons. Is there anything more to say? These majestic creatures hold a very special place in anime ever since the beginning. From old classics like Shenron (Shen Long) from Dragon Ball to the modern staples like Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon, there is always room for dragons, but what is the role of these epic monsters in the story of anime, considering it’s a genre of the absurd? Well in Japanese mythology dragons were seen as water deities and often mingled with the gods. In most stories they were evil, terrifying and chaotic, they would destroy the land and then be slain by Susanoo or the other gods. Considering this, why is it in some of the famous animes, such as Spirited Away, they are depicted as beautiful and amazing? Once again, consider that anime is the genre of the absurd. They turn the most random of ideas into an incredible story and that’s the role dragon’s play. If they seemed like evil chaotic monsters why not make them parental figures like in Fairy Tail? If they seemed so unapproachable why not make them cute like Tohru? Dragons will always play the role of a power in the stories, but this “powerful figure” won’t always be so evil and prideful, they are turned into complex and rich characters. And that’s why anime dragons are awesome.
7. Spirit Beasts/Guardians and Familiars
From humanoids like Inuyasha and Zenki, to pet-like mascots like Keroberos from Cardcaptor Sakura, and Mokona from Clamp, these guardians are (usually) summoned or awoken from a deep slumber in order to fight, protect or just act cute, dammit! The cute pet variation of these creatures can usually be seen hanging out with magical girls like in Sailor Moon and Pretty Cure. Aside from their cuteness, they can sometimes also be used as magical tools when they transform. Some can even transform into a cooler “evolved” version of themselves so they can fight on their own, or give their partners a ride. On the other hand, the humanoids are the ones that are usually summoned from a different dimension or age like in Zero no Tsukaima, or even the servants from the Fate series. They work in tandem with their summoners, usually compensating for or complementing their master’s abilities. No matter their shape, stature or form, these companions are more than just tools to their partners, they’re friends and sometimes even family. The tropes they offer foster values like cooperation and trust which is why they’ve been a staple in anime and manga for a long time.
One of the staples of any supernatural or Halloween discussion, ghosts are portrayed in a wide range of ways in anime and manga. From the heart attack-inducing ghosts of horror and thriller animes such as Corpse Party and Another, to the feels and angst filled ghosts from Ginban Kaleidescope and AnoHana (WE LOVE YOU, MENMA), anime presents viewers with much variety when it comes to spiritual beings. Ghosts, or spirits of the dead, are often perceived as vengeful spirits who haunt the Earth, unable to pass on. While anime does tackle this side of ghosts and the dead, it can also show ghosts and death in a different light. Ghosts can also be spirits of loved ones who linger to keep an eye on those they left behind. A great example of both these traits would be Kousei’s mother in Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. She appears to haunt him, causing him to be unable to play the piano. We learn in the end, though, that his mother was not a bitter and restless spirit, but a loving tiger mom who wanted to make sure her son would survive on his own. Ghosts are one of our top 10 Supernatural Creatures because they are classic but deep.
What are gods like in the human realm? Do they have their powers with them? Will humans recognize them as gods?
Anime can answer all these queries. Gods and goddesses can be summoned, they may live with us everyday, and they may be hiding in mortal bodies.
In the case of gods and goddesses who carry their original bodies, most of them are not recognized by mortals because: they may look different from their heavenly images created by the mortals (Konosuba), that their bodies changed when they got into the human realm (Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok), or simply because they cannot show their powers for a lot of reasons (Konosuba, Kamisama Kazoku).
For The World God Only Knows because the goddesses occupy a human body, they cannot show their full power, and they are not noticeable.
In other anime series that have supernatural beings such as gods and goddesses, they are not exactly in the human realm. Sometimes, they are able to transfer between realms. An example is High School DxD, which does not necessarily focus on gods for god died in the war, but the supernatural beings such as a maou and angels are able to transfer from their own worlds to the mortal world.
In anime, you can find at least three reasons to watch anything with a vampire theme: (1) they show fanservice, sexy creatures, (2) the action, and (3) the story. Vampires in anime may be divided or a mix of both horror and sexy creatures.
For vampires such as the ones seen in Shiki, they carry a deep plot that gives the viewer a suspenseful feeling of how vampires in a certain are started and how they got eliminated by the humans.
These creatures are discreetly depicted like succubus and incubus, primarily because vampires look like humans too, and they are able to attract their prey for they will not age.
In anime, shinigami are usually depicted as immortal creatures that govern over the souls of the dead -reaping souls and sending them to their designated afterlife, either to maintain natural order or prolong their existence. Shinigami either resemble human-like features like Death the Kid (Soul Eater) or Rukia (Bleach) or dark bizarre figures just like Ryuk and Rem (Death Note) or Naruto’s version of the Reaper. Black and white seems to be the signature color scheme for shinigami, depicting duality between life and death. They are also usually given enigmatic, eccentric qualities that somewhat increase the shroud of fear or mystery that initially surrounds them.
The most intriguing part about shinigami are the different takes of various anime on how they reap or escort souls -the most common being the use of the the good old scythe like the Grim Reaper of Soul Eater and other weapons such as guns (Soul Eater), swords (Bleach), chainsaws (Black Butler), and many others. There is also the intriguing method of writing down names in a notebook, just like what happened in Death Note or of mere touch extracting one’s soul (Yu Yu Hakusho).
From the likes of Inuyasha (Inuyasha), to Rias Gremory (High School DxD), to Sadao Maou (Hataraku Maou-sama!) up to Satania (Gabriel DropOut), demons have been a staple to many fantasy storylines in anime. Whether it be action, romance, fanservice, slice-of-life, or comedy, the concept of demons have always been malleable enough to fit almost any role. An interesting trend to look out for in any anime with a demon in it is the subversion of the common consensus that demons are inherently evil. Anime usually portray them by giving them more relatable humanity (usually through the stripping of their powers) than their foils that are holy beings (usually portrayed as restrictingly righteous). Whether it’s in comedy or in more serious stories, demons in anime almost always tread into the idea that every perspective is gray, that the perpetual clash of good and evil has always been a subjective social construct.
– Soot sprites (the tiny soot creatures from Spirited Away)
– everyone in Natsume Yuujinchou
– Uh. . . *ahem*. . . Chimeras
And for number 1. . .
There are different kinds of kitsune, and the youko, or demon fox, is just one of them. Youko is made up of two kanji characters: 妖狐. The first character means attractive, and the second character means fox. So literally, the characters mean “attractive fox”. These creatures often have strong powers or energy. The nine-tailed fox is the usual representation for the youko. So yes, Naruto’s nine-tailed fox is a youko, though it is more known as the Kyuubi.
Youko are almost always depicted as looking physically human, except for having the fox ears and tail. And it is when they are in this form that the literal meaning of the kanji characters are seen. They are very mischievous and cunning creatures, making them good tricksters. Youko Kurama from Yu Yu Hakusho is called the “King of Thieves” for being able to get past even the best of traps. He also uses these traits in battle, making him a formidable opponent. These creatures value their freedom a lot and tend to have a lot of pride, but once they are befriended, they are fiercely loyal, such as with Kamisama Hajimemashita’s Tomoe.