Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Japan: Even Our Undead are Cute

I have almost finished reading the Twilight series. Perhaps now I can return to my regularly scheduled programming, i.e. life in general.

As with most topics these days, I wonder if and how Eastern thinking differs from the west concerning mythical creatures like vampires. I figured that if Big Foot doesn't exist in these parts, then vampires probably don't hold too much sway, either. (See my earlier blog entry, Big Foot in Japan?:

Some interesting "facts" foraged from the internet:

  • Vampirism didn't exist in Japanese folklore prior to 1930ish when Bram Stoker's Dracula was translated into Japanese...

  • ...except for some weird ancient river creature that would slip out of the water and steal farmers' horses and cows and suck their blood through their (egads!) anuses. Disturbed, I promptly quit reading about that myth.

  • Oh yeah, there is also an old story about a vampiric cat that is bent on revenge against some samurai who raped and killed a woman.

So, as you can see, a rich folklore concerning vampires does not reside in the Land of the Rising Sun. Recently, however, the vampire theme has infiltrated Japan by means of their anime (animated movies) and manga (comic books), both enormously popular with young people. Many of the tried and true western vampire themes have been incorporated into these media.

However, whereas American/European bloodsuckers are inhumanly sexy, the anime Japanese vampires are...really cute. Sure, they will drink your blood in a split second, but they will do so with huge, puppy dog eyes and light purple hair. That's just how the undead roll here.

I suppose that appropriate terror is evoked through the anime/manga writing because, afterall, the Japanese are creative and compelling story tellers. But jeez, if something with girly cow eyes and pastel hair comes near me with little bitty sharp teeth and a school girl skirt, I'm not going to flee in terror. I'm probably more likely to pat it on the head and give it a cookie.

This, of course, might be my ultimate undoing AND the most effective mode of world domination...

The Cute Shall Inherit the Earth.


Anonymous said...

Do you have some sort of Goth Girl Horror/Manga thing going just under the surface that I need to kow about?
Just in case you wanted to know. The cover you posted is from a REALLY popular manga known in the English version as "Vampire Knight". That happens to be volume #1 that you posted. Vampires at thier Bishonen finest.
Honestly I don't know how a book like Twilight could hold a candle to the Manga versions of Vampires. The artwork alone is way cooler...


Lauren said...

OMG! I LOVE Vampire Knight! I recognized the picture right away--totally recommend it!

Ahem, now let me tune into my serene side and say: your depiction of the cherry blossoms was so vivid, I can smell them. A good visualization for meditation...


Wow...vampirism didn't hit Japan till the 30s!?!? Seriously?

Thanks for teaching me something new today. :) I never would have thought Japan was a latecomer to the idea of vampires!

Nancy B said...

Hi BOB--yes, this is my conclusion after a meticulous 10 minute study of the internet's vast resources on Vampires and Japan. Shocking, non?

Thanks for stopping by!