The Great Yokai War
is a fantasy-horror film directed by Takashi Miike
which tells the tale of a young boy caught in a war between traditional Japanese folklore creatures known as Youkai
. Young Tadashi Ino is declared the "Kirin Rider" at a local festival, not knowing that the title will soon become literal. He becomes a reluctant hero
in a war between the traditional Youkai, and a new, mechanical version created by the evil Yasunori Kato
to destroy humanity. The film is an homage to the Yokai Monsters
series of films created in the 1960s by Daiei
Noted for its similarities to The Neverending Story
This movie contains examples of:
- All Part of the Show: The yokai congregate at Tokyo and fight the tsukumogami to more than a standstill, but don't seem to realize or care that there's a genuine danger.
- Always Chaotic Evil: All Tsukumogami seem to share a similar personality: KILL. Even Sunekosuri is not immune.
- Big Damn Heroes: When practically every yokai in Japan shows up for the "festival".
- Bittersweet Ending: The day is saved, and Kato is stopped. But then Tadashi grows up, and can no longer see the yokai, including his old friend, Sunekosuri. Also, Kato is Not Quite Dead...and tracked Tadashi down.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: The Tsukumogami.
- Chekhov's Gun: The beans and rice that Tadashi got from becoming the Kirin Rider protect his family from the Tsukumogami.
- The Chosen One: The Kirin Rider.
- Dark Action Girl: Agi.
- Distant Finale: In the epilogue, we see Tadashi all grown up and heading off to work.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Kawahimenote .
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Agi specifically points out that the end of her and Kato's project is for them to be reforged into one being. And then he kills her just to break her heart as the final step.
- Evil Makes You Ugly: All of the Tsukumogami are twisted assemblies of wreckage and sharp pieces. Even Sunekosuri.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The title.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: At least for Japanese folklore.
- A God Am I: Kato's purpose for creating the Tsukumogami is to destroy humanity and make himself the god of a new world.
- Growing Up Sucks: Because comes with losing the ability to see the yokai unless you drink lots of alcohol.
- Kid Hero: Tadashi.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Maybe Agi would still have been able to break the sword without Tadashi throwing it away. But it sure didn't help.
- Not So Different: Kawahime and Kato point this out to each other in rapid succession.
- The Power of Hate: The Yomotsumono, the hatred felt by all things used and discarded.
- Reforged into a Minion: The Tsukumogami are made by smelting together a yokai and some human refuse, e.g. parts of a sign, or a motorcycle.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Sunekosuri, who resembles a guinea pig wearing a shirt.
- Spanner in the Works: Kato's goal is undone by a single azuki bean falling in with him. Since azuki beans are full of positive energy, it negates the Yomotsumono, leaving Kato with nothing.
- Swiss Army Tears: Tadashi's tears restore Sunekosuri after the latter has been defeated.
- The Tokyo Fireball: Downplayed. After the battle is won, Kato's factory goes up in a giant explosion that blows away all the yokai in what looks like a World-Wrecking Wave - but nobody gets hurt, the yokai think getting blown away is fun, and no further damage happens to Tokyo.
- Tragic Monster: Tsukumogami!Sunekosuri.
- Transplanted Character Movie: Kato is the only character from the Teito Monogatari series (though he still acts the same). The movie avoids being an In Name Only installation, however, as it's not billed as being part of Teito Monogatari.
- Title Drop: During the final battle.
- Unwilling Roboticisation: The yokai that are turned into tsukumogami. Including Sunekosuri.
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: While not Sugar Bowl levels of sweet, the movie is largely a lighthearted fantasy romp with youkai. However, it quickly becomes very dark whenever Kato and his minions show up. Justified, as Kato is a very vile villain even in his own series.
- You Don't Look Like You: Kato received a major makeover, removing his Commissar Cap and replacing his dark green military uniform with a black suit and a Badass Longcoat. His pentagrams were removed from his hands and placed on his coat collar.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: A major theme of the movie, as things that humans throw away because they find them useless created the Yomotsumono.
- Youkai: As the title suggests, most of the cast is yokai.