Do they know it's Halloween in Japan? You're god damn right they do. Though it doesn't seem as out of control as things tend to be in the States, there are displays of conventional Halloween goods in most every housewares store, and even better, bookstores are featuring the work of Japan's spookiest manga-ka, Shigeru Mizuki. Mizuki might be the most famous manga artist to remain largely unknown in the states - his Gegege no Kitaro has been made into anime every year since it appeared in 1959, and I there's a new live-action film coming out soon (if you've ever complained about constant remakes in the U.S., be thankful you're not Japanese).
Gegege is the story of a ghost-boy who works to defend humans from yokai, traditional Japanese ghosts, goblins, and demons. I've never actually read Gegege, but I found something even better.
The publisher's blurb describes it as a book of "Monster Autopsies," which is exactly what it sounds like - diagrams of internal organs and natural weapons of yokai, along with descriptions of their abilities.
There's no way I was passing this up - there's nothing I love more than a fantasy bestiary. I haven't played Dungeons and Dragons since I was 13, but I could still sit for hours reading through the Monster Manual. And Barlowe's Guide to Extra-Terrestrials was a completely mind-altering experience for me as a kid. There's just something about getting technical with fantastic creatures, providing plausible explanations for their freakiness, that really does it for me. And the yokai Mizuki chronicles are genuinely freaky.
This guy disguises himself as a peach to wait for unsuspecting victims. That's just mean.
It's going to take me a bit more work to understand the details, but I'm motivated. I'll be posting a few translations - it'll be good practice, and hopefully will prepare me to defend myself from yokai molestation. And I do mean molestation: