Friday, February 05, 2010

Vamp or Not? Takeshita Demons

Takeshita Demons is a 2010 children’s book by Cristy Burne that focuses on Miku Takeshita, a young girl whose family have moved to England from Japan. Before she died, her grandmother taught Miku much about Japanese folklore and the girl is fully aware of the Yokai – the monsters and demons the crowd Japanese mythology.

Miku puts a cedar leaf over the door to their home as an apotropaic, but her mother cleans it up and this gives various Yokai opportunity to enter their lives. Now the reason I have looked at this is because the main demon in the book is a nukekubi and Miku (whose voice the book is written in) describes it thusly, “By day they seemed like ordinary people, except for the red symbols around their neck. Those symbols were like the teeth of a zipper: they marked the place where the nukekubi’s head would come flying off. As soon as it was dark, when the body was safely hidden away the nukekubi would go hunting.” We further hear that it could attack all sorts of ages and species but human children where its favourite and that it attacked by biting the neck.

This was interesting as it brought to mind the penanggalan and, indeed, the nukekubi Wikipedia page references Asian vampire types such as the penanggalan and krasue in the 'see also' section. The fact that it went for the neck was similar to the western (whole bodied) vampire, plus it hunted at night but if you hid or destroyed the body so the head could not return by dawn you would destroy the demon – bringing in a night and day cycle.

This nukekubi specifically wants to drink Miku’s blood as the Takeshita women have powers and, by drinking the blood, it wants to steal them – giving a specific blood drinking reference but, to be fair, generally the creature is a flesh eater.

However, it is very close to other Asian vampire variants and thus, to me, falls under the vampire umberella.

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