Hello all and welcome back to Hotsui Matsuri day 6! Can you believe we only have one more day to go? Hope you were around the other day to talk about shrine gods! Today, we’re going to have a blog filled with something else that we all love — foxy lads and foxy ladies. And while yes, they mostly are attractive, I’m talking about actual fox spirits–aka Kitsune.
So Kitsune are extremely popular in anime. Or at least that’s what I can see. Moreso than any other folklore creature, the kitsune reigns supreme for being included in plenty anime across different genres. So what exactly is a kitsune? Well, “kitsune” quite literally mean fox. But many legends tell of kitsune as being clever little creatures that can shape-shift into humans. In some stories foxes are known to be cunning and mischievous, others tell of foxes falling in love with humans. All stories of kitsune are intriguing, and it is perhaps why even in anime they are widely known. Plus, let’s be real. We all know at least one kitsune reference in anime.
Ninetales. While not a shape-shifter you cannot tell me that ninetales from Pokemon was not inspired by the legend of a Kitsune. After all, there is a legend that as kitsune grow older and more powerful they gain more tails–and the most powerful often have nine of them. So Ninetales–a gorgeous fox-like Pokemon which is the final evolve form of Vulpix which is the fox Pokemon…hm yeah definitely Kitsune inspired.
Speaking of nine tails, there is actually an even more popular anime featuring a nine tailed fox. You’ve probably already guessed it but just to say it out loud–Naruto. We all know our homeboy is a host for the nine tailed fox spirit Kurama. While this nine-tailed fox is definitely inspired by kitsune legends, it’s definitely a bit of a twist. After all, it’s not so much that Kurama shape shifts like in legends, he’s more of an entity of his own that was sealed inside Naruto. I mean, you know I don’t need to tell you all this. I’m pretty sure we’ve all watched Naruto. Anyway, he’s a great example though of kitsune being in all genres of anime. And like most kitsune, Kurama can be both malicious and playful–often being super snarky (honestly a king of snark) and incredibly powerful.
Hm. Speaking of Kurama…there’s actually another kitsune character named Kurama and he is a great example of shape shifter. This Kurama comes from my beloved anime–Yu Yu Hakusho. Kurama is a kitsune who takes human form most of the time, due to having been weakened in his life as a thief. He placed himself into the body of a baby and was born into the human world. Despite this, he contains demon power, and later on in the story he gets his full powers back so that he can fully shapeshift into his previous form (watch out white haired demon boy fans). Yoko Kurama is everything that kitsune legends speak of–a trickster, cunning, a little brutal at times, highly intelligent. And to be honest? Human Kurama kind of shares these traits too which is a nice touch. It really is like a fox spirit inhabiting a human’s body and the connection is super clear.
But you know…even Kurama is missing one aspect of a “traditional” kitsune per legend. Normally, kitsune legends tell of these spirits shape shifting into beautiful women, and while Kurama is a very pretty boy, he ain’t a woman. There’s a lot of anime that have really cute kitsune girls in them. But the one I think of (perhaps only because it was one of my recent favorite anime) is Yako from Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun. Yako is the number 2 school mystery who originally looks like a beautiful woman wearing a beautiful colored kimono. Yako’s story is one that I feel represents both kinds of kitsune legends. At first she seems cruel and mischevious–even malevolent at first to our characters. However, by learning her backstory, we learn of a much younger kitsune who seemed to have fallen in love with a teacher who used to go out of his way to teach the young kitsune how to read and write–giving her the experience of being ‘human’ despite being an apparition that no one could see, but one day he stopped visiting her, and she learned that he’d died. As time went on, she was morphed–changed by her rumor (per the anime logic) and she became the cruel, cunning, and mischievous kitsune that we get to know. Of course once her rumor changes, she becomes softer again, though she still very much retains the common traits of kitsune–only this time she is softer towards humans again. Unlike Yoko Kurama, Yako’s true form has no humanoid features and is an actual (and adorable) fox.
…805. That is how many words I have spent talking about Kitsune and yet I feel like I’ve covered like .02% of all kitsune characters. Because there really are a TON of kitsune in anime–all ages, forms, and genres. I feel like mostly kitsune tend to have similar traits to those told in actual legends, and many of them, though perhaps seemingly bad at first, tend to eventually have soft spots for humans. Maybe this is why they are so popular in anime–perhaps it’s because they’re cute–interesting–or perhaps it just reflects that legends of Kitsune will always be astounding to us, and therefore, always persevere.
What are some of your favorite kitsune characters in anime? I obviously missed the vast majority of them, but I really want to get like a list of all kitsune characters going so I can count up just how many there are. So help a girl out and drop you favorite kitsune character in the comments! Thanks again for joining me for day 6 of Hotsui Matsuri! Hope you’re looking forward to tomorrow’s blog post, the seventh and final Hotsui Matsuri blog for this year! Til next time~
2 thoughts on “Nihongo Legends: Foxy Lads & Ladies – Kitsune in Anime”
My personal favourite kitsune is probably Tenko Kuugen from ‘Our Home’s Fox Deity’ aka Wagaya no Oinari-Sama. They’re mischievous but powerful, and their gender shifts back and forth. It’s a fun series. It tries to mix a bunch of different genres and does so pretty well.