Nintendo has made their stance on Yo-kai very clear. “Yo-kai: they are not ghosts, monsters, or creatures. Yo-kai are, quite simply, Yo-kai.”
The description may fit what will become of Level-5’s franchise when it comes to the west in 2016; however, Yo-kai are inseparable from Japanese culture and several of the monsters in the game. That includes the monsters on the cover of Yo-kai Watch Busters.
Gracing the cover of Yo-kai Watch Busters’ White Dog Unit is the shy and all but outspoken Komasan. Komasan gets his name from the stone lion statues that guard the inner shrines of a Shinto temple called Komainu. The leaf he wars is a nod toward a popular Japanese myth that Tanuki often wear such a decoration on their heads.
Meanwhile, Jibanyan from Yo-Kai Watch: Busters’ Red Cat Troupe is based on another mythical being entirely: the Nekomata. Simply put, the Nekomata is a two-tailed cat with a mythology made famous by the famed Japanese poet and author Fujiawara no Teika. They were said to be beasts that dwelled in the mountains, eating passersby and often assuming human form to avoid detection.
A few of the new Yo-kai advertised in Yo-Kai Watch Busters draw from Japanese source material as well. One of the new bosses draws distinct inspiration from Japanese Kabuki Theater actors—specifically Ichikawa Danjuro (right), who is often depicted in wood block prints.
He also provided the inspiration for Okamiden’s Sen and Ryo boss fight.
Yo-kai Watch Busters is available in Japan today.