All Books Attack! Ninja, Yokai and Yurei on the Loose in American Bookstores
Win Free Copies of Yokai Attack!, Yurei Attack! and Ninja Attack! from Tuttle Publishing
Author: Dan Ross
Source: Tuttle Publishing
The past few years have seen a series of field guides from the Japanese cultural brain trust of Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt appear in the English speaking world. First we were safeguarded from various forms of Yokai in Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide. Following up two years later was Ninja Attack! True Tales of Assassins, Samurai, and Outlaws. And just this summer we learned about another singular aspect of Japanese supernatural lore, the curious world of Yurei, with the premiere of Yurei Attack! The Japanese Ghost Survival Guide.
Though coming from folklore, myths and urban legends, the Yokai and Yurei guides were not works of fiction, reflections on anime or other media entertainments, but the results of surveys and research into local and national historic archives and popular apocryphal information. What are the differences between Yokai and Yurei you may wonder? Since Yokai are seemingly a very singular Japanese idea of the supernatural, it can be hard to explain. They are for the most part non-human goblins and even objects, like rocks, a bolt of cloth or tennis shoes which have a life of their own. Yurei are ghosts in the most Western sense. They are phantoms of people who have died. To simplify, as Matt Alt describes it “Yokai are things and Yurei are people”. These differences were enough to need two separate books to approach these two subjects.
Yokai Attack! is truly a field guide, with each Yokai broken down and indexed by types with each entry displaying pronunciation, gender, size, locomotion, how (and if) they attack. Along with the guide information there is trivia, sidebar articles and other tidbits of interest to the Yokai and history fan.
Yurei Attack! is similar in laying out field guide type information but adds a more story driven element, with each ghostly entry including a full origin tale. There are many famous and historic Yurei to be found here such as Lady Rokujo from the 1001 AD epic The Tale of Genji (Shikibu Murasaki) and Oiwa from the more modern Yotsuya Kaidan. An added bonus is a section on games, parlor tricks and methods of contacting the Japanese dead.
One of these, Hyaku Monogatari (Night of 100 stories – or candles) is one that I and my friends have done in the past! One hundred candles are lit and in turn, each participant tells a ghost story. After a story is told a candle is snuffed out. When the last story is done and the last candle is out, in the darkness a ghost is supposed to appear. When we did it, we did not have all the “rules” which I now see in Yurei Attack! and so we did not get a ghostly result. But now, thanks to the book we are armed with all the details and maybe next time we’ll see our ghost!
Along with clarifying the mystifying worlds of Japanese supernatural creatures, Alt and Yoda tackled another subject which the Western world may think they know a lot about. But as I would also soon discover, probably not nearly as much as we Westerners (and probably even many Easterners) think… when reading about the final subject in the series: Ninjas.
In Ninja Attack! True Tales of Assassins, Samurai, and Outlaws we again are not dealing with fictional characters such as Sampei Shirato’s Kamui or Jiro Osaragi’s Kuruma Tengu, but as the title suggests actual historical figures. And there are many of them, enough for a guidebook such as Ninja Attack!.
The guide is broken into “Ninja Ancestors” where historic figures laid the groundwork for what is considered today as Ninja. “The Golden Years” where famous Ninja are explored such as Hattori Hanzo and employers such as Tokugawa Ieyasu, the shogun whose legendary use of the Ninja got him to the top of Japan and cemented the legacy of the shadow warriors. The final sections being “Transformations” were we see Ninja changing with the turbulent times of 1600s Japan, including an entry on Miyamoto Musashi who may not have been a Ninja but certainly a major figure on the scene. And finally two chapters on Ninja in pop culture. Along with the 34 historical characters listed you will find sections on Ninja clothing, tips and tricks and the classic weapons and tools.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, two of the books have previously been released. But the properties have since migrated from Kodansha over to Tuttle Publishing. With the switch in publisher the new editions bring full color throughout the books and 16 new pages of material in each. The color printing for all three is spectacular; picking up the subtle nuances needed for the elegant, classic woodblock print reproductions and supports the bold graphical and modern illustrations seen in all three.
With 39 ghoulish ghosties listed, indie mangaka Shinkichi brings an elegant neo-manga oriented style to Alt and Yoda’s latest effort Yurei Attack!. Legendary yokai mangaka Shigeru Mizuki’s understudy Tatsuya Morino brings a familiar, Mizukiesque yet new feel to the illustrations of the 45 listed Yokai in Yokai Attack!. And visual advisor on NINJA SCROLL: THE SERIES, Yutaka Kondo brings a modern, graphical edge to Ninja Attack!.
All three books are absolutely stuffed with entertaining, well-researched and erudite information along with beautiful modern and classical art. With clear contents and meticulous indexing this trio will keep even the most earnest reader busy for ages and serve as great encyclopedic guides to their subjects. Highly recommended!
All Books ATTACK! Contest
Celebrate the Halloween season and beyond in Japanese style by entering the All Books ATTACK! contest for a chance to win all three Attack! books courtesy of Tuttle Publishing.
Tell us who or what your favorite Japanese Yokai, Yurei or Ninja is and why.
OFFICIAL CONTEST RULES and INFORMATION
A. There is one (1) prize, consisting of three (3) books; Yokai Attack!, Yurei Attack! and Ninja Attack! courtesy of Tuttle Publishing.
B. Prize will be mailed to the contest winners so entrants must include a valid mailing address.
C. This contest is open to participants worldwide.
D. In the event that a winner chooses not to accept the prize, he or she forfeits all claim to that prize.
E. One entry per person. Prize is non-transferable. No substitution of prizes allowed.
Duration of contests:
A. The “All Books ATTACK!” contest runs from October 23rd until 11:59pm (PST) on October 31st, 2012.
How to enter:
A. Submit your answer (Who or what is your favorite Yokai, Yurei or Ninja is and why), your name, email address, and your mailing address.
Determination of winners:
A. Only contestants who have submitted the requested information will be entered in the final drawing. The first randomly drawn eligible entry will be judged the winner for this contest.
B. SciFi Japan is not responsible for typographical, electronic or other errors in Internet operation affecting the offering, outcome, administration of the contest or the announcement of prizes. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
C. The decision of SciFi Japan is final. Entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and by the decisions of the SciFi Japan judges, which are final and binding in all respects.
How to Enter
Just email the following info with the subject “All Books ATTACK!” to email@example.com.
Your answer to the question:
If you would like to further explore the intricacies of Yokai, SciFi Japan has previously talked to Alt and Yoda about them. Please check out these articles from our archives:
- Yokai University, an Interview with Matt Alt
- New Book Yokai Attack!: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide
- Yokai Attack! An interview with Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt