Since it is now officially October, it’s time to start breaking out the spooktacular stories! I have long proclaimed by love of Yokai, so I couldn’t pass up this story about a poll asking Japanese women to vote for their favorite anime and manga yokai. There are a lot of familiar names on the list. All but one title were manga before becoming anime. What’s really cool about the list, is that of those manga titles, we have access to all but three!
Jigoku Sensei Nube, which placed 4th in the poll, is a Shonen Jump title from the 1990s, the same era as Yu Yu Hakusho, Slam Dunk, and Ruroni Kenshin. Jigoku Sensi Nube follows elementary school teacher Meisuke Nueno, aka Nube, who not only teaches his students, he also is a skilled exorcist. He protects the town of Domori from supernatural threats with the help of a powerful demon sealed in his left hand, a technique he calls the Demon’s Hand. This horror comedy ran for 31 volumes and had an anime made of it. It’s returned to the limelight recently with a live action drama set to debut this month. I would live to read this title, but it has a lot of strikes against it. It’s pre-2000s and is over 10 volumes long. It does have one very big plus going for it. It was drawn by Takeshi Obata. His name could balance out against one of the strikes, and maybe going digital could balance the other? With Obata being Viz’s guest at NYCC this year, wouldn’t it be awesome if they announced this title too?
Yokai Watch, which placed 6th in the poll, is a title that been getting a lot of buzz in the anime community lately. Starting out as a video game, it has been heralded as the next Pokemon. It follows Keita Amano, a boy who discovers a capsule machine in the forest next to a sacred tree. When he opens on of the capsules, a yokai pops out. The yokai, Whisper, gives Keita a special watch that lets him see other yokai that are haunting people. He and his friendly yokai fight off the ill-intentioned yokai.There are currently two manga running for it, a shonen that runs in CoroCoro Comic and a shojo in Ciao, both from Shogakukan. The shojo follows the female protagonist from the game. The shonen series was nominated and won the 38th Kodansha Manga Award in the Best Children’s Category. It might seem strange that a children’s manga placed in a poll for Japanese women, but with lots of cute yokai, including a two-tailed cat yokai, how could it not be loved. What is also strange, is that this series hasn’t been brought over; not the manga, anime or video game. Well, maybe the manga, since it’s just started and won’t have a lot of volumes for a while since both magazines it runs in are monthly.
Hozuki no Reitetsu, which placed 10th, is a Kodansha title and runs in Weekly Morning. It is a supernatural slice of life comedy about a demon ogre, Hozuki, who works with King Yama and other demons in the afterlife. He tries to manage and troubleshoot problems there with calm demeanor and super-sarcastic tongue while his free time is spent fawning over cute animals and raising “goldfish flowers.” The series is currently 15 volumes long and was nominated for the Manga Taisho in 2012 as well as the 38th Kodansha Manga Award in the Best General Manga category. It just received an anime adaptation in January which was streamed by Crunchyroll, and is still available to watch. This is a title I would love to see picked up anyone that can license from Kodansha. The series is too long for Vertical which is a shame, since it seems quirky enough to fit into their eclectic catalog, so maybe Kodansha Comics or Yen Press would be interested.
The rest of the list, available in English, broke down as follows:
1. GeGeGe no Kitaro
2. Yu Yu Hakusho
5. Natsume’s Book of Friends
9. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan
One thing I noticed about this list, is that. other than GeGeGe no Kitaro, all of the male protagonists are drawn for the female gaze. They are very appealing to women, some even crossing into bishonen territory. Yusuke, Inuyasha, Natsume, Watanuki, and Rikuo are all drawn to appeal to a female audience, and by the looks of this poll, succeeded. There might even be some nostalgia at work, with the top four titles being at least 20 years old or more.
I would add Majin Tantei Neuro, or Neuro: Supernatural Detective. We’ve only gotten the anime in English so far. It passes the post-2000 test, but went 23 volumes. I was so hoping when Viz announced the anime for their VizAnime.com site, they would accompany it with the manga. It was not to be, so I can again only hope for a digital release from Viz. Being a Weekly Shonen Jump title, no one else will get the chance.