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Spooky October Specials: 12 Popular Yōkai & Spirits in Anime

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One of my favorite things to read in Japanese literature is ghost stories, especially ones about yōkai. The Japanese term, yōkai, refers to mysterious apparitions and ghostly figures. Yōkai are said to appear as humans or inanimate objects, and have spiritual powers. They can even bring good fortune or misfortune to others.

Here’s a list of some of the most popular and interesting yōkai and spirits in anime.

Yukine (Noragami)

© Bones

Yukine is Yato’s shinki, which takes the shape of a katana. In Season 1, Yukine acted out and disrespected Yato. As a result, I disliked him as a character even though at his age, he should be immature. He finally redeemed himself in my eyes, when he repented for all his sins.

Ririchiyo Shirakiin (Inu x Boku SS)

Ririchiyo Shirakiin (Inu x Boku SS)
© David Production

I had a tough time picking between Ririchiyo Shirakiin and Sōshi Miketsukami. I ended up picking Ririchiyo because her yōkai form is pretty awesome, a half-human and half-oni. 

Ryuk (Death Note)

© Madhouse

Ryuk is a shinigami, a god of death. One could argue that he should be ranked as a god instead of a lowly spirit. However, I added Ryuk because this list focuses on Japanese folklore, which includes all kinds of yōkai and supernatural beings.

Haruka (Tactics)

Haruka (Tactics)
© Studio Deen

Does anybody remember this anime? If not, I feel so old. Haruka is a gorgeous tengu. He came before Shinjūrō Kurama from Kamisama Hajimemashita.

Uka-no-Mitama-no-Kami (Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha)

Uka-no-Mitama-no-Kami (Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha)
© Production IMS

If Uka-no-Mitama-no-Kami could grant you any wish, what would you wish for?

Tomoe (Kamisama Hajimemashita)

Tomoe (Kamisama Hajimemashita)
© TMS Entertainment

Tomoe is my favorite fox yōkai. He is cynical and charming. 😉

Kuugen Tenko (Wagaya no Oinari-sama)

Kuugen Tenko (Wagaya no Oinarisama)
© Zexcs

Kuugen Tenko is another fox deity that has strong powers.

Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro)

© Studio Ghibli

If I have to think of some popular character mascots, Totoro would be one of them.

Haku (Spirited Away)

© Studio Ghibli
© Studio Ghibli

Haku in his human form, and in his dragon form as the spirit of the Kohaku River.

Holo (Spice and Wolf)

Holo (Spice and Wolf)
© Imagin

A 600 year-old wolf deity would make a great traveling companion.

The Men of Hiiro no Kakera

Hiiro no Kakera - 11 - Large 10
© Studio Deen

Being surrounded by yōkai guardians is a dream come true for a girl. I think Hiiro no Kakera is one of the better anime series based on a visual novel. It has a story line (that follows through to the end), and good character development.

Zakuro (Otome Yōkai Zakuro)

Zakuro (Otome Youkai Zakuro)
© J.C.Staff

Zakuro and her friends, Susukihotaru, Bonbori and Hozuki, are half-spirit girls. They are so adorable. Now let’s sing “Benibana no Otome Uta!”

That’s it for this list of amazing anime yōkai and spirits. Do you have a favorite yōkai or spiritual being? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Holo of course goes without saying in these lists, she’s a marvellosu creation and by far one of my favourite characters. I’m also really glad to see Kuugen Tenko make it in! Wagaya No Oinari-Sama is one of those series that I really don’t think gets enough credit. It’s a bit of a genre-bender at times, an all the better for it in my opinion.

    1. Thanks for the read. 😀 Yes, Holo is indeed an awesome character as well as the others on this list.

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