mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Youkai. Not the Saiyuuki youkai, but the trad bogles with the horns and the bulging brows and the six feet long necks. I can't see the fascination at all. There's... no there there. The one characteristic they possess is gluttony. They want to eat humans. Or each other. Or anything. But whatever it is, they want to eat. I mean, what can you do with people like that? It's irritating enough when manga characters are gluttonous as their main characteristic- that annoying squirt in Kou Josei, or Luffy or Gokuu or you name it. They at least occasionally have some other character facet. But youkai have none. Makes one think that Gramps must have been mad. Why would anyone devote their lives to anything as one-dimensional as that?

I might have thought this distinguishing feature of Japanese youkai comes from the marginal existence of most people through Japanese history (see The Ballad of Narayama for a notion of how marginal Japan could get- and that was set in Meiji.) But China has had famines since time immemorial and they don't do the grotesque glutton thing. I conclude, disapprovingly, that people who only want to EEEEEEAATTTTT!!! is just something that tickles the Japanese fancy, like bathroom humour.

The only intriguing youkai I know of is somewhere in Yumemakura, a toss-away story of Hiromasa's about how someone saw a horse-headed youkai, tall as a house, walking down a street in the moonlight reciting a Buddhist mantra. Hiromasa was quite admiring of the youkai's devotion, as he should have been. If there were more youkai like that around I might be able to write 100 Demons fanfic. As it is, it's like writing about orcs or kobolds: no story there at all unless it's about How Wonderful Us Defeats Disgusting Them. And whenever a Them crops up in a story alarm bells sound. Who are They *really* meant to be, hm? If you can't take the pov of all your characters, at least theoretically, there's something wrong with your story, say I. And I can't take a youkai's pov at all.
Tags: 100demons, ima_ichiko, writing

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