Yo-kai (Japanese: 妖怪 Yōkai) are supernatural beings that appear throughout the Yo-kai Watch series. They're almost usually responsible for the natural occurrences that happen in everyday life, appearing as invisible to humans, but with a Yo-kai Watch searchlight, they can be found.
They come in many different forms, with most of them being based on Japanese folklore or mythology that have several design liberties applied to them usually based on wordplay. Yo-kai also come in different types, such as Classic Yo-kai that are entirely designed off original Japanese youkai or 'Merican Yo-kai, which have American-inspired designs.
Just like humans, Yo-kai are known to have lives of their own. They're usually created from the death of a living being or the loss of an object, and gets their own Yo-kai Medal or Ark when they become one. Certain Yo-kai usually lasts for centuries such as Komasan, and little is known how a Yo-kai dies of old age. They also have Spirits that are left behind if they abruptly die, but can come back to life once it is returned.
Very little is known when Yo-kai first came into existence, but several of them have been around for centuries, dating back to the Sengoku period and Edo period. One example is Whispocrates, that was a Yo-kai which served as a partner towards Shogun Waitington during that time.
A group of older Yo-kai, known as the Classic Yo-kai, existed at least 60 years prior the start of the series, along with other types which can also be found in the present, with others being encountered only in certain time periods. Likewise, 'Merican Yo-kai can be found in St. Peanutsburg, BBQ, implying that other areas of the world have their own individual Yo-kai, in akin to western mythologies.
Yo-kai are spiritual beings whose influences are responsible for almost every one of the strange and paranormal events in the human world. Most of these influences range from sudden changes in the behavior of people or abnormal weather in otherwise normal days, as well as unexpected landscape changes or control over a different force of nature. Yo-kai tend not to change their behavior whatsoever and stick to their own different personalities.
Yo-kai are in no way related to ghosts (which is more strongly stated in the manga adaptation), a person or animal can die and be reborn as a Yo-kai too. However, this can only happen if they had a strong reason to become one such as Jibanyan who wanted to defeat trucks to prove himself worthy to see Amy again. It was once stated by Whisper that it is very rare for a human to become a Yo-kai in M01. The only Yo-kai known to be a ghost is Shogunyan, though only in the manga.
All Yo-kai are able to eat, sleep and exist in the physical realm just like humans, and almost all of them are capable of talking with the exception of Harry Barry (In Yo-kai Watch 2. He gained a voice in Yo-kai Watch Blasters) and Sighborg Y. Some of them speak in an almost-undecipherable language, like Koalanyan and Nuppefuhofu They live in a realm called the Yo-kai World, which is a surreal counterpart of the real world that can only be accessed by special means.
Each Yo-kai has their own Yo-kai Medal and/or Ark (As of Yo-kai Watch 4), which is instantly given to them after they first become a Yo-kai. They are given multiple copies of almost all of each type, though the exact reason for it is unknown. For medals this would be to signify a type of Yo-kai (Classic or 'Merican) and when the Yo-kai was introduced (Gray medals for Yo-kai from the first game and green medals for Yo-kai introduced in Yo-kai Watch 2 and 3). They are usually given to human Yo-kai Watch wielders as a sign of friendship or fulfilling their needs, that allows them to summon the Yo-kai at their own will with it.
Though some Yo-kai cannot die in the strictest sense of the word, they can have their Soul Gems forcefully removed, leaving an empty shell behind. The "death" can be reversed by returning their souls, however. Those who can or are able to die simply have a supernaturally long life span. It was also revealed that some Yo-kai can in fact be exorcised and sent to the other side. Some Yo-kai do have the ability to die but it depends on who and the circumstances.
Yo-kai are known to come in many different shapes and sizes. A lot of them are based on actual yōkai, and other mythological entities from traditional folklore, while some are based from Japanese wordplay, puns or other inspirations usually related to an inspiritment.
They usually have unusual body compositions, such as having a single or multiple amount of eyes, or having many different limbs. Others may be based on inanimate objects, which are known under a sub-category of Yo-kai known as Tsukumogami (Japanese: 付喪神) or even food, also ranging from being based on animals like mammals, birds, fish or insects and even more traditional demons or mythical creatures.
As stated by Jibanyan in Yo-kai Watch 2, Yo-kai wear accessories to keep themselves fashionable which appear as soon as the Yo-kai is created in most cases. It's further explored in the Hapyon Detective Agency segments in the Yo-kai Watch anime series that involve important accessories that go missing from a Yo-kai such as Mirapo's mirror or Blazion's mane.
They can change appearance in the future and past (though only specific Yo-kai from the past), form-wise at any time as stated by Micchy in SS025, as he wanted to bear a humanoid hero-like look because he thought his original form looked too villainous, making his former friend Mitsumata Mizuchi disagree with the idea. Though, the exact process for changing the form of a Yo-kai is currently unknown. In the anime it seems to be nonrestrictive but in the games a meter needs to be charged up and in their Shadowside form they can use their Soultimate move.
Communication with Humans
Most Yo-kai are invisible to most humans without the usage of a Yo-kai Watch. They are found using the searchlight, either appearing next to the human or object being inspirited or around certain items. After the Yo-kai is found, their appearance is revealed to the human eye, but it's not known if it disappears after being found with the searchlight.
They're usually shown causing mischief in some cases, not realizing what they're doing to humans around them. Worst case scenario, they may even kill humans.
Very few people have been given the ability to see Yo-kai, which is usually passed down from their relatives. Though the ability tends to fade away when the human ages (in the case of Jane in Yo-kai Watch 3 and Nate in Yo-kai Watch Shadowside), older characters like Fiona and Diana Gately still have the abilities.
In some cases, Yo-kai can join human societies by putting a magical leaf on their heads, such as some of them putting a leaf on their head, appearing as a human to other humans, shape-shifting, inspiriting others or even choosing to manifest themselves at will in a certain way. In the anime, some Yo-kai are made permanently visible due to the circumstances of their death or the origins of their Yo-kai conversion.
Many Yo-kai used to be humans, such as Frostina/Blizzaria, Hungramps, Spoilerina and Venoct; animals, such as Cricky, Usapyon, Tomnyan and Jibanyan; or even inanimate objects, such as Wazzat, Dummkap and Brokenbrella. Though the process for becoming a Yo-kai is largely unknown, most Yo-kai develop an attachment to an important place or part of their previous lives, with some having unsettled business to fulfil; however, doing so does not make them pass to the other side.
Humans communicating with Yo-kai is known to be rare in both the human and Yo-kai World. Very few humans have been given the ability to see it, or to an extent, visit the Yo-kai World. While they're accidental in most cases, other characters like Nate usually help out Yo-kai that are troubled.
While other Yo-kai don't mind humans interacting with them, certain Yo-kai disagree with it. McKraken sees humans as "pets" to them, and threatens to unleash a war on the human world during the events of the Yo-kai Watch video game. However, Zazel looks at it in a way that they're seen as "corrupting" to the Yo-kai World, as revealed during a conversation from the late Ancient Enma in M02.
- Main article: Yo-kai Tribes
Each Yo-kai are assigned a specific Tribe after they become one, which is judged on their personality and abilities. The Tribe cannot be changed, unless their evolution has a different Tribe or can be changed freely with Originyan in the Build-a-Nyan application.
They are divided into eight different tribes, such as Brave, Mysterious, Tough, Charming, Heartful, Shady, Eerie and Slippery. Over time, additional tribes have appeared through other uses such as Wicked, which is created from the forces of the Wicked Executives, Enma which applies exclusively to Yo-kai that hails from those affiliated with Lord Enma and Wandroid, that only appears on Sighborg Yo-kai.
A secondary Tribe that applies to Yo-kai in possession of Arks is also known to exist. Unlike the original Tribes, they are mostly based on the Yo-kai's mythological background. Six different ones that apply to regular Yo-kai are Onnen, Goriki, Omamori, Mononoke, Tsukumono and Uwanosora. An additional six Tribes exist for a select amount, depending on what they are, which are Mikado, Izana, Oni, Kaima, Shinma and Mikakunin.
In the video games, each of the tribes has their own strengths and rarities, and if two or more Yo-kai of the same tribe are adjacent to each other, they will receive a Tribe Unity bonus.
Yo-kai are divided into different types that are applied to their appearance and personality. Depending on the type, the design of their Yo-kai Medal can vary.
- Boss Yo-kai (Japanese: ボス妖怪 Bosu Yōkai): Yo-kai are powerful enemy Yo-kai which the player cannot befriend or recruit, and are typically stronger than most Yo-kai the player has met up to that point.
- Legendary Yo-kai (Japanese: レジェンド妖怪 Rejendo Yōkai, Legend Yo-kai): A group of powerful Yo-kai that can only be befriended after filling out the Legend Pages in the Yo-kai Medallium, which is done by collecting certain sets of Yo-kai Medals to break the seal surrounding a specific Legendary Yo-kai, with each seal requiring a different set of Yo-kai. Like every Yo-kai, a Legendary Yo-kai falls under one of the tribes. Unlike every other kind of Yo-kai that from their respective tribes, Legendary Yo-kai's summoning chant are very unique, bombastic and grandiose.
'Merican Legendary Yo-kai
- 'Merican Legendary Yo-kai (Japanese: メリケンレジェンド妖怪 Meriken Rejendo Yōkai, Merican Legend Yo-kai): A group of Legendary Yo-kai from BBQ, like 'Merican Yo-kai, introduced in Yo-kai Watch 3.
Legendary VIP Yo-kai
- Legendary VIP Yo-kai (Japanese: 偉人レジェンド妖怪 Ijin Rejendo Yōkai, Great Legend Yo-kai): A special group of Legendary Yo-kai in Yo-kai Watch 3, who were originally famous people before their death. Notably, all of them sport a five-pointed sheriff-like star with the kana イ, meaning "I", which stands for "Ijin" (偉人, kanji for "Great Man").
Commander Legendary Yo-kai
- Commander Legendary Yo-kai (Japanese: 武将レジェンド妖怪 Bushō Rejendo Yōkai):
Mystery Legendary Yo-kai
- Mystery Legendary Yo-kai (Japanese: ミステリーレジェンド妖怪 Misuterī Rejendo Yōkai, Mystery Legend Yo-kai) are a special class of Legendary Yo-kai debuting in Yo-kai Watch 3. Many of the Yo-kai in this group are based on ancient civilizations, with a large number of Mystery Legendary Yo-kai having Egyptian themes.
Crystal Legendary Yo-kai
- Crystal Legendary Yo-kai (Japanese: Cレジェンド妖怪 Kurisutaru Rejendo Yōkai) are Legendary Yo-kai introduced in both Yo-kai Watch Busters 2 and Yo-kai Watch: Wibble Wobble. These Legendaries are basically the Gemnyan equivalent of the first 8 Legendary Yo-kai.
- Yo-Criminals (Japanese: 指名手配妖怪 Shimeitehai Yōkai): also known as Wanted Yo-kai, are a group of Yo-kai which cannot be befriended, and instead must be fought and captured for a crime they committed, which mostly all revolve around vandalism and disrupting the peace. They are notable for all being color variations of normal Yo-kai.
- Present Yo-kai (Japanese: イマドキ妖怪 Imadoki Yōkai): is an un-official name giving to Yo-kai who hail from the present day of Japan in time within the Yo-kai Watch series, given this name retroactively following the release of Yo-kai Watch 2 and the Classic Yo-kai.
- Rare Yo-kai (Japanese: レア妖怪 Rea Yōkai): are a select group of Yo-kai that are typically difficult to encounter and befriend, and some can (additionally or exclusively) be freed from the Crank-a-kai, while others need an item pulled from the Crank-a-kai to make them appear in the overworld. A good number of Rare Yo-kai, especially those of which that originated in Yo-kai Watch, are color-swapped versions of other, more commonly found Yo-kai.
- White Yo-kai: are a type of Yo-kai found in Yo-kai Watch. They are regular or hard-to-find Yo-kai under the influence of McKraken. They appear in both the Yo-kai World and Springdale but cannot be befriended due to being controlled by McKraken's anti-human propaganda.
- Classic Yo-kai (Japanese: 古典妖怪 Koten Yōkai): Yo-kai introduced in Yo-kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls which are wholly based on the youkai of classic Japanese folklore. They can only be found in the past.
- Local Yo-kai (Japanese: ご当地妖怪 Gotochi Yōkai): are a group of Rare Yo-kai which debuted in Yo-kai Watch 2.
- Gotochinyan (Japanese: ご当地ニャン Gotōji nyan): are a group of Local Yo-kai exclusive in Yo-kai Watch World.
- Commander Yo-kai (Japanese: 武将妖怪 Bushō Yōkai): are Yo-kai themed after the major players of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms epic. They appear in Yo-kai Sangokushi.
- 'Merican Yo-kai (Japanese: メリケン妖怪 Meriken Yōkai): Yo-kai introduced in Yo-kai Watch 3: Sushi and Tempura. As the name implies, they are from America. They are considered a subgroup of Present-Day Yo-kai.
- Deva Yo-kai (Japanese: 神妖怪 Kami Yōkai): are a select group of powerful Yo-kai that are introduced in Yo-kai Watch 3, following the 2.0 Update and the release of Sukiyaki.
- Kuroi Yo-kai (Japanese: 黒い妖怪 Kuroi Yōkai):
- Goku Yo-kai (Japanese: 極妖怪 Goku Yōkai): are a set of 5 Yo-kai introduced in Yo-kai Watch: Wibble Wobble. They are SSS Rank Yo-kai of various tribes under the control of Rinne.
- Treasure Yo-kai (Japanese: 秘宝妖怪 Hihō Yōkai): are a select group of powerful Yo-kai that are introduced in Yo-kai Watch 3, following the 4.0 Update. Much like the Mystery Legendary Yo-kai, the Treasure Yo-kai are powerful Yo-kai that are based on civilizations in antiquity.
- Kenbumajin (Japanese: 剣武魔神 Kenbumajin) Yo-kai: are Yo-kai introduced in Yo-kai Watch Shadowside. They're of the same status as the Genjuu.
- Genjuu (Japanese: 幻獣 Genjuu) Yo-kai: are Yo-kai introduced in Yo-kai Watch Shadowside. They're of the same status as the Kenbumajin.
Onryo (Japanese: 怨霊 Onryou) are a type of Yo-kai introduced in the Yo-kai Watch Jam series, notably the 6th movie and the TV series. They will likely make an in-game debut in Yo-kai Academy Y.
- Most promotional outlets usually type out the English spelling as "Yo-Kai", it is the incorrect way to spell out the word. In fact the way they spell in in the English release as "Yo-kai" is also wrong and the proper way is Yōkai.