Otome Youkai Zakuro: “Youkai” vs. “Youjin”

Beware those persimmon trees.

Alright, after that wholly illustrious previous post, I thought I’d take a stab at something a bit more on the respectable side.

I’ve been following Otome Youkai Zakuro on a weekly basis, and one of the things I enjoy about it is what I’ve enjoyed about most previous folklore-tinged anime, from Tactics to Mouryou no Hako to Kurozuka: the elements of folklore present. I’ve always liked legends and myths and the like, so it only follows that anime which utilize such elements would be of interest to me. While Otome Youkai Zakuro has so far gone quite a bit lighter on the folklore than something like Tactics, its had enough to pique my curiosity.

One of the things, which made an appearance in the first episode but hasn’t since, is the debate of the usage of ‘youkai’ versus ‘youjin’. While neither translate exactly well into English, whereas the former translates loosely as ‘demon’, the latter is closer to ‘spirit’, with the final kanji written as 人, ‘jin’, which means person (日本人nihonjin = Japanese person, アメリカ人amerikajin = American/American person, etc.). Essentially,’youjin’ implies a sense of consciousness beyond what ‘youkai’ does, and so is more acceptable to Zakuro et al. Not that that stops the title from containing ‘youkai’ instead, but, well, go figure.

Youjin is this term which Natsume Yuujin-chou is punning on, by the way.

In addition to looking into that, I also have been trying to determine if there is any folkloric basis for Zakuro’s mother’s warning that persimmon trees are entry-points to the underworld. Thus far, I haven’t been able to find anything to substantiate this, although I’ll admit that this could be a more obscure bit of folklore. I’ll keep digging; the idea of telling kids to not climb persimmon trees since they could fall out and into the underworld is an interesting one, so I’d like to learn more if it does come from old beliefs. Too bad I don’t have Akihiko Chuzenji around to answer my questions.

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3 Responses to Otome Youkai Zakuro: “Youkai” vs. “Youjin”

  1. Aorii says:

    Hmmm that would explain things, I remember that ‘youkai’ were typically claimed as ‘evil’ in nature but not so much for other spiritual beings’ depiction. And lol looks like I’m not the only one stomped by this persimmon tree deal xD

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Yeah, I can’t find anything about the persimmon trees anywhere. I even tried searching it in the library and came up empty handed. It’d be really cool if it were drawn from legend, but I just haven’t found even the tiniest thing to substantiate it.

  2. 2DT says:

    Tomorrow’s a holiday, but I’ll ask a teacher for you on Thursday.

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