Yes, I already did a Yo-Kai Watch article last year, and it already featured 31 favorites from both the first and second game, but that was before I actually got to play any of the game series. There's also been two movies, far more anime episodes and an entire third game in the last twelve months, so my Yo-kai Watch knowledge is overall an entire year wiser.
So, we're starting over fresh, doing 31 Yo-kai per game, for a total of 93 favorites before we're all done!
You probably don't think the hyper-exposed kitty cat mascot of the franchise would be one of my personal favorites, but as far as marketably adorable animals go, Jibanyan is pretty wonderful. For one thing, his design is actually cute, and his personality is more accurate to a cat than most other animated felines. All he really wants to do is eat, sleep, ogle his favorite pop stars and roll around on the floor. He's basically Japan's Garfield.
Also, he's dead because he was hit by a car, and he spends his afterlife haunting an intersection where he trains to "defeat" cars in battle. The drivers never notice what feels like only the faintest bump before they send an invisible cat spirit soaring into the sky.
That's so hilariously, pathetically dark, even by the fairly dark standards of other Japanese children's comedies, I don't know how you can't fall in love with it.
Whisper is our favorite of the main characters and was clearly intended to be the series mascot when it began, but kids love Jibanyan so much more that it's become a running gag in the anime itself.
Whisper considers himself an expert guide to the world of Yo-kai, but as another running gag, he gets all his information off an ipad.
In the anime, this actually turns out to be more than just a joke - pretending to know things you don't actually know at all is Whisper's actual "power," but when it got his former master killed, he vowed to supress it.
When excited enough, Whisper can grow a hilariously disturbing humanoid body.
This was actually one of the first Yo-kai designs ever revealed in the buildup to the game's release, and everyone had a laugh at what appeared to be "girl Muk." To be fair, she is almost the same shape of purple and the same consistency as the poison sludge pokemon, but I think her modest differences make her a more fun design.
Dismarelda is also the first Yo-kai you ever find "possessing" or "inspiriting" anyone, namely your own parents. Her power amplifies negativity, and she can cause fighting to break out between friends and family. It doesn't make her "bad," per se; seeking out humans and haunting or cursing them is just what Yo-kai do. We've seen in the show that it's both a "job" they're "required" to do by higher supernatural authorities and a natural drive they simply can't resist.
I mentioned in my original article that this was my go-to favorite, and it still is. I love sea-urchin-like monsters, I love one-eyed monsters and I love monsters with eyes inside their mouths. What's more, Coughkoff is associated with sore throats and the common cold, so of course it would be my Yo-kai.
Unfortunately, Coughkoff is also one of the weaker creatures in the game and has no "evolved" form, only a slightly stronger color-swap who drops the entire sickness association. Boo!
Of almost every Yo-kai in the first game, Chatalie feels the most like a modern-day monster conceived with the same motifs as classical youkai, and yes, I'm going to call the traditional myths "youkai" and the monsters in this series "yo-kai" because that's basically what they're doing themselves.
Chatalie's inky black skin, huge mouth and lack of any other facial features is VERY youkai-like without being any specific, actual youkai, and her powers turn humans into big braggarts who make too many promises they can't keep. Also, she never gets off her dang phone!
Hidabat is adorable for lots of reason. It's a little, round bat who embodies introversion, preferring to spend its time alone, indoors and on the internet, even taking up residence in the main character's closet. We find out later that Hidabat pours so much focus into its internet life that it's actually fabulously wealthy and the CEO of a megaconglomerate it started up as a "hobby," though it mostly uses its money to pay for wi-fi and purchase more closets.
Hidabat's wings are also interestingly "fake." When they're open, you can see the tiny arms and hands simply holding them by tiny handles.
By fusing with the "comfortable closet" item, Hidabat can evolve into Abodabat, which permanently wears a little house around its body.
I actually kind of like Rattele's "unevolved" form, Dazzabel, a little better, maybe because Dazzabel's empty sockets just look cooler. She's still an adorable little skeleton woman with a strong fashion sense, however, which is basically her whole power. Both skeletons possess humans with an urge to dress outrageously, especially if those humans are middle aged or older, to the embarrassment of any kids they might happen to have.
The unevolved form of this one, Hungramps, is relatively cute and innocent looking, just a sweet yam-shaped old man who loves to eat as much as I do.
But then you get Hungorge, a beady-eyed troll-man whose mouth is just one round, gaping nightmare hole with a slobbering purple tongue.
Tattlecast begins as the adorable Tattletell, a smartly dressed old lady about three inches tall. When Tattletell grabs onto someone, she forces them to blurt out just about anything they were supposed to or wanted to keep secret.
As the more sinister looking Tattlecast, she now simply carries a set of giant speakers around and blares your "most scandalous secrets" herself.
Insomni has proven to be one of the series most popular monsters in every sense you might imagine, and even the anime seems to regard her as one of the most "seductive," if her sleazy saxophone soundtrack is any indication. You never can go wrong with a cyclops, and she's a ghost with cool looking hair-horns to boot.
Insomni is supposedly the reason you might stay up all night playing video games, binge-watching your favorite series or just about anything else no matter how alarmingly aware you may be that you absolutely need to try and get enough sleep.
With frog-like eyes on the sides of her head, black teeth in her oversized mouth and a weird, knobby little "second forehead," Lafalotta is another of those designs with that freaky, classic youkai feel. Apparently she has the ability to "steal" laughter for herself, sucking the sense of humor out of humans and making even the best jokes fall flat.
It's not her fault if the joke actually was terrible, though.
Roughraff is a fan favorite, and a squat lizardman with a humongous pompadour has every right to be. He has the power to turn anybody into a rowdy, punkass delinquint, complete with pointy sunglasses and a leather jacket, which is adorable. True to the archetype, his bad boy act hides a sensitive side, and in the anime, he repeatedly befriends every monster he's sent out to battle.
We also discover that he can retreat into his Pompadour when he goes to sleep, like a turtle shell.
Manjimutt is based on the "human faced dog," a popular Tokyo ghost story probably inspired by the then-popular 70's remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which featured pretty much what we're seeing here when one of the titular alien pods makes a minor boo-boo.
In Yo-kai Watch, Manjimutt is the ghost of a recently fired salaryman who, in a drunken stupor, got himself crushed to death alongside a poodle. Now, he tries desperately to be popular and often pulls a "cute puppy, please pet me" sort of routine around young human women. This is highly unfortunate, because to mortal eyes he still appears human most of the time...albeit a very hairy, very smell human who drools and pisses everywhere.
In game, Manjimutt can evolve into Multimutt, but we've yet to learn much more about this two-headed version.
A shadowy ninja who also resembles a scroll, Blandon kind of evokes the classic yokai ittan-momen, though there are a few other Yo-kai that reference it more directly.
Blandon's special power is that he can "blend in" just about anywhere and go unnoticed, with humans he possesses just utterly failing to stand out or be noticed.
The dub of both the game and anime also give him exactly the same voice as Droopy the dog.
Fidgephant? That's what they went with? Huh. I guess there aren't many appropriate options for an elephant who represents a torturous need to piss.
Snee is the alternate, "scary" evolution of the samurai yokai, Chansin, when fused with the cursed blade item, and probably one of the most traditionally "cool" designs in the game. Definitely one of the least absurd I like enough to feature here, and now you know not all of them are fat, bug-eyed cartoon animals. If you're more into stuff like Snee than butt goblins and weird ducks, there you go.
Dandoodle is another human-faced dog, but his "problem" is that he's too beautiful, too lovable, too popular. He can't go anywhere without getting mobbed, and he can even possess humans to "suffer" the same terrible curse, which is only another reason people won't leave him alone.
Naturally, the one person he can count on to detest him is Manjimutt.
Surprisingly, this wonderful squat shark-man doesn't get a whole lot of love. I haven't seen him in the anime, on any merchandise or in a lot of fan art, but who doesn't love sharks? Especially weirdo shark people? His Japanese name, Michikusame, is a pun on the words for loitering, roadside grass and shark. His power is to make kids fool around when they're supposed to be somewhere else, and according to his dub bio, he might subsequently eat them.
In-game, however, Chummer rejects meat and can only be fed vegetables.
I had to include this guy at the VERY LEAST for his English name. This stiched-together warlord is actually obtained by fusing Armsman with Helmsman. I love how armsman is clearly searching for his head, and Helmsman looks distraught and lonely. Reuknight may not be as cool as either a bodiless head or a headless body, but what he represents is a lot of fun.
Skreek is a more powerful recoloring of Buhu, a bird who agitates depression and self-loathing in humans. Skreek, meanwhile, is said to plunge people "into the deepest pits of despair," and her Japanese name is even Shinigamidori, basically "death spirit bird."
It sure is hard to translate "shinigami," isn't it? The Western equivalent to what it really means is basically "grim reaper," but that invokes a very specific image. We just don't have any more generic word for a supernatural embodiment of death.
Anyway, these gloomy birds are among my favorite designs in the series. I love those miserable, ghostly faces in their body plumage, though it's a shame they don't speak or emote from there.
"Infour" is by far the cleverest name anyone could have come up with for a four-eyed monster that enjoys fortune telling, or in other words, tells you what you're in for. Oh my god. It's so perfect it almost makes me angry somehow.
INFOUR (oh, my god, seriously, INFOUR) can't truly predict your complete future or specific events, but each eye can correctly identify your name, age, gender, and "fated partner," or at least, that's what she says.
This Yo-kai causes soggy, misty, rainy days, making it one of my best friends. It also has a lovably drippy design with dreary, yellow eyes and big, boneless limbs.
Another one I at least had to include just for the name, but it's also pretty funny that a pegasus, in Yo-kai watch, is a rotten little bastard with a big head who makes people do terrible things in general.
This is a miserable-looking fish that "holds grudges for no reason." It's also a miserable-looking fish wielding a steak knife. Its official bio just advises you to "run."
We've seen many variations on the Baku from many different monster franchises, but as much as I love the creepiness of Hypno, Yo-kai Watch's baku wins out with her maniacal yellow eyes and nightmarish mouthful of needly teeth. I didn't know a diet of dreams necessitated serrated fangs, but I guess we wouldn't know, would we?
I mentioned how much I liked Gush before because it seems more than anything to be a dribble of blood, and it's even shown with a "nosebleed" on its own Yo-kai medallion, though Gush's actual power is to make anything drip. Faucets, candles, snot, whatever you really don't want to be dripping at the time, Gush is there.
I do wish, however, that Gush evolved into a nice red version of Drizzle, since Gush is already a recoloring of Drizzle's unevolved form, Droplette.
We've seen a lot more of this literal-clamshell-purse in the anime since I last reviewed it. Namely, we've learned that it has a bizarre, almost parasitic relationship with Hungramps.
Hungramps loves to eat Spenp, steaming them up just like clams, but his digestive process only ends up creating hundreds and hundreds more of them. Adorable!
As many Yo-kai as we have now, Wazzat actually continues to be my favorite concept and design in the series. I'm not sure if this is a point against the show's designers or just emphasizes how special Wazzat is, though I do wish more Yo-kai had a similar feel to them. Wazzat's swirly eyes and freaky mouth are just too cool, especially for a sentient hat that eats up human memories!
The tsuchinoko is one of those few "authentic" Japanese legends portrayed with no new twist or embellishment in Yo-Kai watch, unless you count the fact that there's a four leaf clover on its head, a reference to the fact that Tsuchinoko are most famous for their "rarity." It's an unbelievably adorable design for one of the fat snakes, too, I daresay even cute than the impossibly cute Dunsparce, though I guess it might be more like 50/50. It's hard to make a snake anything other than cute, really, let alone a stubby snake.
Whereas it took Pokemon twenty years to bring us a mosquito (one of the Ultra beasts,) Yo-kai watch had three flavors from the start, beginning with the adorable Negatibuzz, who makes humans hopelessly pessimistic.
Negatibuzz can evolve into Moskevil, who's able to cause even greater anxiety, but as a male mosquito, neither of them should technically bite or suck blood.
Thankfully, Level 5 was aware enough of that to also create Scritchy, a Yo-kai who is always female, more powerful than Moskevil, and just plain sucks people's blood. She even has the power to command regular mosquitoes, and giving humans bug bites is her "job" as a Yo-kai.
An episode of the anime parodies the movie Terminator with a Scritchy named Sarah, who is nearly assassinated by an android before she can give birth to her future son John. John, we are told, will one day lead all mosquitoes to a colony on mars after a peace treaty with humankind.
I love Yo-kai Watch.
So, that's it for Yo-Kai Watch I, though some of my very favorites - like Slimamander here - aren't catchable, or in this series befriendable, until the second game, so we're going to hold off on them til then! We retreaded a lot of territory here from my first article, but picking out 31 favorites from Yo-Kai Watch II will mean a lot of fresh faces, and the third game is so new, I still won't know everything about its monsters by the time we go over it!
Yo-Kai watch is, as we speak, still giving Pokemon a run for its money over in Japan...but next month, a new Pokemon generation will be arriving for the first time since Yo-Kai watch landed. The decisive battle is upon us.