Deborah Shamoon


I consider the Japanese anime and manga narratives Gegege no Kitarō by Mizuki Shigeru and Inuyasha by Takahashi Rumiko, which draw on Japanese folklore, and discuss how they reinterpret supernatural creatures, or yōkai, for a modern audience. Since the Edo period (1603–1867), yōkai have been presented in encyclopedic format. Mizuki, through manga, has continued and enhanced that approach to yōkai discourse. The encyclopedic format has made the yōkai easily assimilable not only into modern culture alongside more recently invented cartoon characters, but also into manga and anime, such as Inuyasha. This speaks to the power and creative possibility of the yōkai database. There is a striking similarity between the database of yōkai and the database approach to narrative that Azuma Hiroki describes as an identifying trait of otaku consumption of manga and anime. I argue that database creation and consumption is not a recent development, nor is it unique to otaku. The database is one way to talk about both anime and yōkai more productively and to expand the ways we talk about how texts are produced and consumed.