Horror, Ghost Stories, and Mischievous Spirits – Tales of The Strange and Anomalous in Anime


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This post was partly influenced by comments I have seen on forums, and twitter in the past criticising horror anime for its inability to scare the viewers, alongside problems with writing and characters. Horror in Japanese culture can be both terrifying, but also seem somewhat benign – it deals with a variety of different themes, but the most important, and arguably the most used is that of spirits and the effect they have on the human world. Having said that, I also believe that the term ‘horror’ when it comes to describing Japanese ghost stories is somewhat misleading, and feeds a series of assumptions about the stories content and whether or not it might be scary. Read more of this post

The Werewolf in Anime – Dangerous, Yet Beautiful


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Werewolves will be familiar to anyone who has ever watched any western horror, or horror themed films (twilight counts in this respect), they are often beasts of immense strength, but also primeval and dangerous. In western traditions, the werewolf is often a symbol of becoming a pariah, for losing or failing to find an acceptable role in the social order. This theme can be linked with notions of puberty, sexuality, along with race, class, and gender roles, with werewolves displaying elements of hyper masculinity, along with an inability to truly fit into human society and becoming a dangerous force that must be crushed. Similar ideas run through anime and manga, with many wolf roles portrayed in a highly sexualised manner, or incapable of fitting in with their current society, which ultimately leads them to rejecting it entirely. Werewolves are however oddly absent in a lot of anime, at least in the ways that you might see them in western stories. Instead werewolves, or more accurately wolves and wolf gods in anime tap into a vat repertoire of Shinto and Animism beliefs within Japanese culture and society. Rather than werewolves, we more often see wolves who change shape, gods who manifest themselves in the form of a wolf, or perhaps a Kitsune, although in this case the mythology and beliefs associated with it are quite different. Read more of this post

Strong Female Characters in Anime – Fights, Role Models and Homicidal Maniacs


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Very often in anime we focus on the cute girls, the younger sisters, and the love interests – these characters can be fascinating, but often those female characters that are very strong (in a multitude of ways) are left out. There are significant number of female characters are very powerful or strong, be it physically, psychologically or sexually. They can fall into the classic character traits of the Tsundere or Yandere, however their appeal and importance within anime goes further than simple characterisations. While shows with all female casts, such as Koihime Musuo, Sengoku Otome and Queen’s Blade have a significant number of female fighters; I will not explore them in this post. Strong female characters offer more interesting insights into ideas surrounding women in Japan when they appear in shows that are in part realistic. Although, horror anime, or anime with a strong element of horror produce some of the most interesting and enlightening female characters. We should also examine how these characters fit into the discourses surrounding women’s place in Japanese society. Read more of this post

Horror in Anime – Fairytales, Urban Myths and Strong Women


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With the recent airing of the horror anime Another I started thinking about the role of horror in anime, and more specifically the lack of it. Within the last decade I can possibly a very small number of series that have strong horror themes. And, while we have had recent series such as Shiki, Blood-C and in some ways Mirai Nikki, most people, when asked about a horror anime often suggest Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, a show that has had 2 full length series (two seasons each), not to mention 9 OVA episodes and no less than 25 specials accompanying various DVD and other box sets. While there are a small number of proper horror anime, there are also a significant number that use elements of the horror genre in their story telling, often taking the more psychological aspects of horror. Mirai Nikki is a good example of this, with supernatural parts, but also important aspects of the horror genre in Japan, namely a strong, but also dangerous female lead. It is also important to note that horror is not always scary, many horror stories originate from older folk tales and myths, and while they may involve spirits, were not necessarily meant to be entirely scary. Read more of this post