Ten year old Nate is off bug-hunting with his best friends when he discovers a mysterious vending machine in the woods. Ok... so instead of a lamp post, they have a vending machine. Curious, Nate sticks in a coin and opens the pod that comes out. Inside the pod is a ghost-like spirit who introduces himself as a yo-kai, a creature of Japanese mythology, and gives his name: Whisper. Whisper is so grateful to be free he volunteers to be Nate’s butler and gives him the magical Yo-Kai Watch, a tool that allows him to see Yo-Kai.
Now, Yo-Kai are mischievous spirits, all the time causing trouble for humans and influencing their actions. None of them are really dangerous, and can be reasoned with. Unlike the other Japanese import Pokemon, the idea is to befriend the Yo-Kai, rather than fight them or make them fight. As Whisper and Nate go around befriending Yo-Kai and freeing people from their influence they find themselves in sticky situations and adventures beyond what Nate ever dreamed. Can he make all the Yo-Kai his friends?
Nate is an ordinary kid, whose biggest ambition in life was to find a cool bug to impress his crush Katie... given most girls’ aversion to bugs, maybe not the best idea. When he meets Whisper, he has a whole world thrust onto his shoulders. But Nate’s a good kid and takes it in stride. Whisper is incredibly loyal and a good friend to Nate, which helps other Yo-Kai see that Nate is trustworthy. The magical creatures also come to love Nate and defend him from all threats and help him if he needs it.
The Yo-Kai, in traditional mythology, are similar to fairies. They can be ghosts (Yo-Kai Hungramps, Jibanyan, and Manjimutt are examples of Yo-Kai who were once flesh and blood) but not all of them are. Some of them are even objects that gained sentience, due to a belief in Japan that objects over a certain age gain a spirit. That could get awkward. Can you imagine? “Honey, we can’t use the dining room set anymore. It’s sentient.”
Because of these factors, some of them have very sad backstories. For example, Jibanyan is the ghost of a cat who died saving his young mistress from an oncoming truck, and was rewarded for his devotion by being given magical power. (Some reward!)
Manjimutt opens up a whole new can of worms, in a different area than the spiritual aspects mentioned above. Manjimutt is… rather obsessed with women. Manjimutt was born when a low-level businessman was killed in a drunken accident at the same time as a dog, creating the “man faced dog” a boogeyman of Japanese folklore and one of the only Yo-Kai who can be seen without aid of the Yo-Kai Watch. Because of the state that Manjimutt finds himself in, (being killed when he was) he struggles to reinvent himself in different ways; afterlife crises, if you will. Many or most of his daydreams involve women and girls fawning over him in some way. He never succeeds and this only results in him getting thrown in jail. His antics are uncomfortable to watch and would be very hard to explain to kids in the Yo-Kai Watch target age group. When his segments are replaced by the adventures of the sweet and guileless Komasan, it’s a great relief.
Other issues involve Jibanyan’s obsession with the girl singing group Next Harmeowny, but this is likely leftover from his time with his mistress. Another incident involves Nate and his two best buddies trying to stay up and watch a naughty movie (and are interrupted by a Yo-Kai). More issues arise from the multiple episodes built around potty humor gags and potty humor themed Yo-Kai. Even Spongebob would blush at the shear volume of potty humor related gags in these episodes!
When all’s said, be very choosy about the Yo-Kai you befriend if you watch this show. Some of them are good friends, some of them just stink. While I do consider it a viable alternative to Pokemon, caution must be used when watching this show. This is definitely one that grown-ups will want to preview before letting kids see. Recommended, but with some cautions.
I'm T.K. Wilson, Read my blog for great information and stories about dolls, toy restoration, Christian Fantasy and so much more! Blog updates Fridays.