Top 5 Anime based on Japanese mythologies

Top 5 anime based on Japanese mythologies

Anime often draws inspiration from Japanese mythologies, which are a rich source of material for creators. These mythologies are full of supernatural beings, spirits, and tales that can be used to create exciting and imaginative stories. They are also deeply rooted in Japanese history and beliefs, making them relevant to Japanese audiences. In this article, we present to you the top 5 anime based on Japanese mythologies, bringing these ancient tales to life in modern storytelling.

Top 5 anime based on Japanese mythologies

5. Spirited Away

No face from Spirited Away anime (Image via Studio Ghibli)

Spirited Away is deeply rooted in Japanese mythology and folklore. The film’s setting, the spirit world, is based on the Japanese concept of the spirit realm, which is a parallel world that exists alongside the human world. The spirits that Chihiro encounters in the spirit world are based on a variety of Japanese myths and legends, such as the No-Face, a faceless spirit that absorbs the faces of others, and the soot spirits, small, black creatures that are said to be the souls of people who have died.

The film also draws on Japanese Shinto beliefs about cleanliness and purification. A bathhouse is a place where spirits can come to cleanse themselves of impurities, and Chihiro’s job as a worker in the bathhouse is to help the spirits do this. 

4. Noragami

A still from Norigami anime
A still from Norigami anime (Image via Studio Bones)

Noragami is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Adachitoka. The series follows the adventures of Yato, a minor god who is looking to gain more worshipers. Yato teams up with Hiyori Iki, a high school girl who has become a half-spirit, and Yukine, a spirit who has been bound to Yato. Noragami draws heavily on Japanese mythology and folklore.

  • The gods in Noragami are based on real-world Shinto deities, such as Bishamonten, Ebisu, and Yato.
  • The anime also features several Shinto concepts, such as shrines, purification rituals, and the underworld.
  • The spirits in Noragami are based on the yokai, a class of supernatural creatures in Japanese folklore.

Noragami is an anime series that combines elements of Shinto mythology with modern-day Japan. Noragami has been praised for its accurate portrayal of Shinto mythology and its use of Japanese folklore. 

3. Mononoke

Medicine seller from Mononoke anime
Medicine seller from Mononoke anime (Image via Toei Animation)

“Mononoke” exposes us to the world of the Medicine Seller, a wandering exorcist who battles malevolent spirits and demons. Set in feudal Japan, the anime artfully combines elements of Japanese folklore, showcasing various Yokai and their eerie stories. The Medicine Seller’s quest to uncover the Form, Truth, and Reason behind these supernatural occurrences is a visually striking and intellectually engaging journey that unravels the mysteries of the spirit world.

Some Japanese mythological characters that appear in Mononoke

  • The kodama: These are tree spirits that are said to inhabit forests. They are often depicted as small, humanoid creatures with large, round eyes.
  • The tengu: These are bird-like creatures that are often depicted as having long noses. They are associated with the mountains and are said to be guardians of the forest.
  • The bakeneko: These are cats that have transformed into demons. They are said to be able to shapeshift and to have supernatural powers.

2. Inuyasha

A still from Inuyasha anime
A still from Inuyasha anime (Image via Sunrise Studio)

“Inuyasha” whisks us away to the Sengoku period, where a time-traveling schoolgirl, Kagome, encounters the half-demon Inuyasha. Together, they embark on a quest to recover the shards of the Shikon Jewel, battling Yokai and other mythical creatures along the way. 

  • Many of the yokai that appear in Inuyasha are based on real-world yokai, such as the kappa, the tengu, and the kitsune. 
  • The Shikon Jewel is a powerful mythological artifact that is said to grant any wish to its possessor. The Shikon Jewel is a key plot device in Inuyasha and is sought after by many different characters.

The anime skillfully merges Japanese folklore with a captivating adventure, offering a tale of love, bravery, and the clash between the human and supernatural realms.

1. The Tale of The Princess Kaguya

A still from The Tale of The Princess Kaguya
A still from The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (Image via Studio Ghibli)

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is a Japanese monogatari (fictional prose narrative) containing elements of Japanese folklore. It is considered the oldest surviving work in the Monogatari form. The story details the life of Kaguya-hime, a princess from the Moon who is discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a glowing bamboo plant. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya draws heavily on Japanese mythology and folklore.

The tale of the bamboo cutter is a Japanese folk tale, he is a human who discovers Kaguya-Hime. He takes her home and raises her as his own daughter. The bamboo cutter is a symbol of the human world, and his relationship with Kaguya-hime represents the conflict between the human and the divine.

The anime’s ethereal animation style transports viewers to a realm of delicate beauty and emotional resonance, making it a poignant ode to Japanese mythologies.

Conclusion

Anime has a remarkable ability to breathe new life into ancient mythologies, allowing audiences to immerse themselves in fantastical worlds inspired by Japan’s rich cultural heritage. Through these top 5 anime based on Japanese Mythology, we’ve journeyed alongside gods, spirits, and legendary creatures, gaining a deeper appreciation for the enduring influence of Japanese mythologies on modern storytelling.

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