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"...by the Edo period the baku has become a full-fledged devourer of nightmares, a guardian creature charged with protecting the vulnerable sleeper as he or she ventured into the other world of dreams. For this purpose, an image of a baku might be placed near the pillow at night. There were even pillows made in the shape of baku."
The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore
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The baku has the body of a bear, the head of an elephant, the ears and eyes of a rhinoceros, the tail of an ox, and the legs of a tiger, having believed to have been made from the leftover body parts after the gods finished creating all of the other animals. Since its name refers both to the dream-eating creature and the Real Life Malayan tapir, modern iterations of the baku often give it a tapir-like appearance. This is because when the first Malayan tapirs were brought over to Japan, people believed them to be live baku due to the uncanny resemblance between the animal and the mythical creature.

Despite their grotesque appearance, the Baku is seen as a welcomed, benevolent youkai because they devour malevolent spirits and Peeve Goblins that are believed to be the cause of nightmares, similar to dream-catchers and gargoyles in other cultures. Children would sing "Baku-san, come eat my dream" three times to ask the baku to cure them of their nightmares, but if they did so frivolously, it would go on to eat their hopes and good dreams as well.

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See also Dream Stealer. Sub-Trope to Youkai. No relation to the capital of Azerbaijan or the alien race from Star Trek: Insurrection.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bakumon from Digimon (who goes by the name Tapirmon in the dub) is an Animal Digimon with the appearance of a small tusked-warthog-esque creature with a cloud instead of backlegs. Lore states that it was generated from a medical computer for detecting brain waves, and it seems that it uses the data from humans in REM sleep as nourishment, later going on to feed on bad dreams and malignant viruses.
  • Hell Teacher Nube: The baku, instead of being a benign creature that eats nightmares, eats good dreams and leaves its victims in a state of utter, suicide-inducing despair. It's actually composed of hundreds of tortured souls who moan and writhe in the vague shape of a tapir.
  • The adorable Mukumuku from How to Keep a Mummy. He helps out Daichi, who has been having nightmares every night.
  • A baku appeared in Inuyasha, one of the few non-malicious youkai, though still considered troublesome, as it was in danger of overeating on dreams and taking the good ones as well as the bad. It's also significant for being the only youkai to appear in the present day instead of the distant past.
  • In Naruto a baku appears as Danzou's summoning and looks like a huge, tuskless fierce elephant, able to suck anything in his trunk.
  • Nightmare Inspector has a baku for a main character, who helps rid people of their nightmares in return for being allowed to eat said nightmares.
  • Onegai My Melody: Baku is a tapir who has been known to eat black notes, which are basically manifested nightmares.
  • 3×3 Eyes: The Fire General of the Five Generals of Gui Yan vaguely resembles a Baku, being an elephant-like gargoyle monster. Like the other generals, he presumably has psychic powers which allows him to give nightmares to people.
  • Urusei Yatsura: The second movie and the chapter/episode it was loosely adapted from features a baku.
  • ×××HOLiC: The Dream Collector is a being that lives in another dimension and takes for form of a baku wearing an outfit that resembles the ones worn by Victorian chimney sweeps. He collects both dreams and nightmares, keeping them in balloons that he nurtures so that he can sell them for a high price.
  • Yumekui Merry: Merry Nightmare has powers revolving around dreams and nightmares, and she has a strong baku motif.

    Comic Books 
  • The Sandman: Baku make an appearance in The Dream Hunters, grazing on bad dreams as background fauna.

    Literature 
  • Ology Series: Monsterology includes the baku in the chapter dedicated to terrestrial beasts. It's depicted as tapir-like creature with short elephant tusks, a black coat with large yellow dots, and the paws of a tiger, and is native to Japan and coastal China. While it does not eat nightmares, it's noted to have a profoundly soothing effect on people, similar to that experienced when petting a cat.
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    Live-Action TV 

    Music 
  • A baku is the title character of the Vocaloid song "Dream-Eating Monochrome Baku" and its sequel, "Sleeping Beauty", although the "baku" in this case is depicted as a dashing young man (played by Kagamine Len) who has the powers of a baku. The baku tricks a young girl into allowing him to consume her bad dreams, which eventually grows into consuming all of her dreams until he consumes her soul entirely, leaving her an Empty Shell. Although the sequel reveals that he has a good reason for doing so.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Baku appear in the 1st Edition Monster Manual 2 and Planescape, depicted as elephant-headed creatures with the the front parts of a rhino and the hindquarters of a dragon. Rather than having any association with dreams however, they are instead powerful beings with Psychic Powers that come from the Upper Planes and visit the Material Plane to combat evil.
    • Oriental Adventures has a creature that much more closely matches the characteristics of the mythological baku, such as having the same composition of animal parts and the ability to consume bad dreams. Its name however is the shirokinukatsukami.
  • Legend of the Five Rings features malevolent bakus. They still eat bad dreams, but they eat their victim's memories as well.
  • Pathfinder: Baku resemble floating, shaggy and tusked tapirs, and can when feeding choose to eat all of a person's dreams — causing them to wake up later exhausted and unrefreshed — or only their nightmares — which grants immunity to nightmare-inducing magic or dream haunting by malicious beings. They are mortal enemies of the dream-haunting night hags, and go to great lengths to hunt them down, fight them and prevent them from preying on sleeping minds.

    Video Games 
  • Animal Crossing: Luna from Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a baku, and fittingly runs the Dream Suite.
  • Yomi, a side character from Ayakashi: Romance Reborn. The game has a variation on the baku's mythology, where if Yomi loses control over his emotions, all the nightmares pour out of him and enter the minds of anyone in the vicinity.
  • Tapir, the wizard from Cocoron, eventually turns out to be a baku who you have to fight in the game's final battle.
  • Dark Cloud: Dark Cloud 2 / Dark Chronicle features a mini-boss in Starlight Canyon called the Memo-Eater, an obese monster with a tapir's nose that possesses a girl and eats her memories.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, when a character wakes up from Sleep status on his or her own, a small baku comes by to "eat" their dreams away.
  • Dual Hearts: Tumble is a baku and one of the two main characters. He and Rumble enter dreams to help the dreamers by fixing their nightmares, while also collecting dream energy and searching for the keys needed to traverse the local temple and acquire the Dream Stone.
  • Flight Rising Two kinds of baku can be encountered in Bamboo Falls: the standard Lightning Baku and the Arcane Dream Eater.
  • Get Amped: There's an accessory called "Baku Pillow/Tapir Pillow". It's a cursed pillow that allows the user to summon the Baku to attack their enemies. It can be used to force enemies to sleep and get nightmares so the Baku can devour their nightmares, or you can also sleep with it to get the same result. Its strongest attack is to summon the Baku to breath out all the "nightmares" it has devoured towards the target, causing them to be assaulted in their minds and taking big damage.
  • Parodius: The Final Boss is a baku named Bug (a Punny Name that works better in Japanese).
  • Pokémon:
    • Drowzee (and by extension its evolution, Hypno), a bipedal tapir-like Pokemon best known for eating dreams.
    • Munna, and Musharna are likewise tapir-based 'mons, and are themed quite heavily around dreams and sleep. They also take cues from cartoon "dream clouds".
  • Doremy Sweet from Touhou Kanjuden ~ Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom is a baku, though like most Touhou characters she appears mostly human. However, being the ruler of the Dream World, she's strongly associated with dreams and sleep, and her overall design was inspired by the Malayan tapir, the animal the baku is based on.
  • Yo-Kai Watch: Baku is one of the few yo-kai who didn't get a Dub Name Change. He is a purple baku who is said to put people to sleep before eating their dreams. In Yo-kai Watch 2 he is a story character. He even gains an evolution called Bakulia.

    Webcomics 

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