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on August 24, 2012
When's the last time you asked yourself, "Gee, how do I keep my home safe from the Bathtub Licker?" Not recently, you say? And yet to a Japanese child, the mention of the name "Akaname" evokes the image of a large, red demonlike creature with a long tongue and glaring eyes, that hides in the bathroom at night. Aren't you glad you were warned? Then thank your lucky stars you're buying Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide.

Each of the more than 50 detailed descriptions provide everything you'll need when faced with one of these legendary Japanese monsters. The first page of each entry is the "Stats Sheet" page, containing vital information such as monster height, weight, mode of locomotion, and any special abilities, as well as a full page color image (by talented illustrator Tatsuya Morino) of the yokai in question. The pages following contain information on the type of threat each yokai represents (whether it be just a scare, or a definitely-to-be-avoided disembowelment), as well as any defensive measures that can be taken, origin stories, typical location where found, regional variants of the monster, in addition to stories, facts, and legends surrounding that creature and its habits. Truly, the amount of information contained for each yokai is substantial, and will undoubtedly prove crucial to the would-be yokai hunter (or as often as not, the "yokai hunted").

The authors have made on-the-go referencing easier as well (very important when you're not sure if you're facing a Kuchisaki Onna or a Futakuchi Onna!) by separating yokai into groupings by type, from the ferocious to the feeble. What's more, each grouping has its own tab for flip-through ease, very convenient when you're running away from a creature at close to a full-out sprint!

In my own time in Japan, I myself came across a number of the creatures described in this book, and can attest to the efficacy of at least a few of the defense techniques described therein. I can only say I wish I had had this handbook with me at the time, and that I will certainly be bringing it with me on any future excursions.
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Japan is a monster country. While other countries may have their vampires and wolfmen, their unseelie courts and ogres and giants, Japan is home to a traditional eight million different varieties of spooks and lurkers in the dark. Japanese children obsess on them and memorize them the way American children do dinosaurs, and you would be hard-pressed to find a child without at least one of the ubiquitous tomes detailing their haunting places and special attributes.

"Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide" (subtitled "A Survival Guide for Foreigners," although this is only written in Japanese), is one of the few English-language books available on this traditional aspect of Japanese culture. Emulating such books as The Zombie Survival Guide, it takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to Japan's bizarre menagerie. The book acts like a video game guide, giving statistics such as height, weight, favorite food, method of attack, surviving an encounter, etc ... A total of forty-nine yokai get the treatment, from the famous beasties like the kappa and tengu, to the lesser-knowns like the dorotabo and the hashi hime.

This is a re-issue of "Yokai Attack!" from a new publisher. There are a few new monsters added, and the book is finally in full-color. The previous edition from Kodansha USA switched to black-and-white illustrations for the final third of the book, almost as if they had run out of money for color printing (which they very may well have, considering Kodansha USA's final fate). Tuttle publishing corrects that, and it looks great. The authors have continued the series with Ninja Attack! and Yurei Attack! in a similar style.

"Yokai Attack!" is very much a "flipping book." You can read it cover-to-cover, but it's more fun going through and checking out whatever yokai that catches your eye. Every entry is accompanied by an illustration by Morino Tatsuya. Morino was an assistant to the yokai-master Mizuki Shigeru, and while his ability is not at Mizuki's level he does a good job with the style. The illustrations are often accompanied by older artwork such as ukiyo-e prints and toys featuring the various yokai, or photos of famous places.

Even thought I am not a huge fan of the "survival guide" style, I give full props to Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt for writing "Yokai Attack!" Until recently, English-language books about yokai have been few and far between, and limited to academic books like Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yokai. There wasn't anything available for casual fans who wanted to learn a bit more about the various beasties that pop up so often in Japanese video games, comics, and animation. This book is fun and easy-to-read.

Since it was originally published, a few more English-language yokai books have popped up, like The Great Yokai Encyclopaedia and The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons: a Field Guide to Japanese Yokai. Those books are less tongue-in-check, and edge slightly more towards the academic than the playful. They are good continuations for those who want to dive a little deeper into yoikai. In a perfect world, all of Mizuki Shigeru's beautiful and authentic yokai encyclopedias would be available in English translations. But they aren't. So until thin, "Yokai Attack!" is a great introduction for casual readers who want a window into Japan's monster culture.
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on September 24, 2012
I got my hands on the first edition of Yokai Attack as fast as I could when it came out.

Then when the second edition hit my local bookshop I popped it open saw that it had even more yokai and far more color illustrations than the first edition and bought it on the spot.

If you are interested in Japanese folklore or spooky things in general this is a candidate for your shelves.
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on June 2, 2016
I really like it! Best looking Yokai guide I have seen! Good production value. I missed it was the revised edition with extras so that was an added bonus.

Side note:
I am not sure why, but I expected this book to be a little larger. Its about the size of a manga. Good to travel with but I like guides to be larger because most of the time I am reading at home.
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on September 26, 2012
My favorite thing about Yokai Attack! is that it's a book on a topic I would never research myself. Even though I know there are yokai all over Japan, it's just not a topic that calls to me enough to warrant my own deep study, so it's extremely convenient that Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt have done hella work for me (and you!) Face it, if you don't know what a Kappa or Kitsune is, you are just plain under-informed when it comes to Japan (yes, as a country :P) And this book goes way beyond the Tanuki (Super Mario 3 anybody?) to things you almost wish you hadn't heard of, like the Ashiarai Yashiki--I have my own feet to wash, and am not interested in obliging a huge, demanding, disembodied one that suddenly appears out of nowhere...ew. The revised edition is in full color so there is no reason to sit around reading Amazon reviews; you need this for your reference if you are into Japanese culture--that includes anime and anything else!
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on September 26, 2012
I grew up in Japan and this book brings back memories of summer nights and ghost stories. Not only are the Yokai explained in great detail, but the added historical information is brilliant. I love the illustrations and the sense of humor put into this book. Highly recommended!
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on December 6, 2014
Japanese monsters are curious things. They can be frightening but cute. Ancient but marketable. Why do so many fear them? Why are they so popular in video games? What's their history? How do everyday objects become Yokai? All of this and more can be answered throughout this book. I purchased it to help me through the various Yokai seen throughout the video game Yokai Watch ( think Pokemon-esqe ). It's a compact book that I see myself getting a lot of use out of.
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on June 11, 2014
At first I was afraid that this book would be too cartoony but in fact was anything but! I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about the yokai in a fun, playful yet informative way.
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on October 24, 2012
The real star of this book is the research. Matt Alt and Hiroku Yoda have compiled a very thorough and detailed history of various Yokai and categorized them in a very thoughtful way. Yokai Attack! is a book that's very easy to pick up, but it's more difficult to put down than one would expect. One has a tendency to want to keep going and learn about other Yokai. This phenomenon is truly amplified with children, even young ones who will go crazy wanting to memorize all of these creatures. The illustrations are very fun, but also show a great effort to accurately depict these creatures as they've appeared in prior historical images. This version includes more Yokai than the 2008 edition and contains many, many more color images. A great gift for either adults or children, or ideally, both!
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on September 10, 2012
I had heard of the older print of this book and had trouble finding it. This is the most recent printing of this book and is a pleasure to read. The stories of the strange and weird folk tales of Japan are a blast to read, some I had known of and others I did not. Each of the Yokai are researched in great depth and have a story where thay come from, I would recommend this book.
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