Youkai Watch Frenzy

I recently went to go see “Interstellar” (which was amazing) at the movie theater with of the teachers I work with, but you’ll probably all go see it anyway, so no need to talk about that, right?

Jibanyan popcorn bucket.


We had to go early in the morning, because there were only three showings to choose from, the theater’s 30 minutes away, the movie’s long, and I had a holiday party to go to in the evening. This narrowed our choice down to 9:05 am, only. I think I set a personal record–I don’t think I’ve ever woken up that early just to go see a movie (haha).

We got there only a little bit before the movie started, and we were a bit shocked to discover this huge line at a theater where there’s usually only like 10 people at the most waiting:

Luckily, there was a single, much shorter line off to the right side for people going to see something other than Youkai Watch. You can’t even really see that line in the picture, though.

Everyone was bringing their kids to see the new Youkai Watch movie. (Except I just looked it up, and the movie comes out on the 20th, so…were they all just there to buy pre-sale tickets?)

Because of this, there were promotions all over the place, with lots of Jibanyan (the red cat).

Jiba-popcorn? We’ve got that.



More Jibanyan on the Coca-Cola…thing.


You probably haven’t heard of it unless you live in Japan, but Youkai Watch is like the new Pokemon here. It’s a kids’ television program (based on a video game, apparently) about a boy who can see youkai if he puts on a special watch, and the stories that unfold because of that. It’s especially popular with kindergarten-2nd grade kids (4-8 years old), but I think almost all my students from kindergarten to middle school know at least Jibanyan, the red cat character, and the Youkai Taisou (“Youkai Exercise”).

“Youkai” is one of those Japanese monster words that you enter into the dictionary and get a list of definitions like “ghost; apparition; phantom; spectre; specter; demon; monster; goblin.” Uh…so take your pick. The way the trailer puts it is that when inexplicable things happen in the world, they’re caused by youkai (it shows a boy suddenly having to use the restroom, a girl feeling depressed, a guy yawning, with youkai hovering around them unseen). It’s an idea that shows up in many other anime as well.

It might sound a little creepy to put it that way, but in practice, I think this show is pretty much like Pokemon. It also has an adorable Youkai Taiso/Exercise song. I can sing most of it, and even do some of the dance. The lyrics and hand motions are funny, too–like, “Why did I get dumped, even though I’m so good-looking? It must be the youkai’s fault!” and “Ima nan-ji? ICHI DAI-JI!!” (What time is it? It’s serious problem time!!…sort of)

Youkai Taisou/Exercise:

There are so many little kids who are into this show right now, and every time it comes on they start dancing and singing to it, so I feel like it’s a great way to get kids to exercise. The Youkai Taisou is probably one of the biggest reasons for its popularity, along with the variety of characters. Some of the classes at my school performed the Youkai Taisou and the other song, Gera-gera-po, for the school sports festival in September, too. It’s that popular.

It’s one of those things like Frozen that looks like it’s just going to be here for a while.

4 thoughts on “Youkai Watch Frenzy

  1. Kinda reminds me of Bollywood stuff (which to be honest I know almost nothing about), and makes me wonder if it’s a useful way to save face (“It wasn’t me! It was the yukai!”). Also, now I want to learn the dance. Even though I have no coordination and no memory when it comes to dance moves.


    1. I don’t think anyone would use youkai as an excuse for something they did, but my students joke around about it all the time. I was visiting an elementary 3rd grade class today, and the teacher couldn’t find something and a student was like, “The youkai did it!” And–there’s no shame in practicing it alone in your house. I did it (haha).

  2. I don’t work with children as often, especially not younger children, so I was somewhat oblivious for while. Once I noticed the songs and the characters they exploded everywhere. A group of middle schoolers gave me a presentation last week. When they finished too early, they filled the rest of the time by teaching me this dance–their college student advisor was surprisingly good at it. Or maybe unsurprisingly?

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