~written by Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt
~illustrated by Shinkichi
Yurei Attack!: The Japanese Ghost Survival Guide is the third installment in wife and husband team Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt's Attack! series. I read and loved the first two books in the series, Yokai Attack! and Ninja Attack!; there was absolutely no question that I would be picking up Yurei Attack!, too. Joining them this time as the illustrator for the book is Shinkichi, an artist and designer from Tokyo. Yurei Attack! is her international debut as an illustrator. Yurei Attack! was released by Tuttle in 2012. The publisher also rescued Yokai Attack! and Ninja Attack! after the demise of Kodansha International. Tuttle's new editions of the Attack! books have additional content and have been released in full-color. Even though I already own the original Kodansha versions, after seeing how great Tuttle's Yurei Attack! looks, I do plan on picking up the new editions, too. I have been impressed by the Attack! series--they are both informative and fun--and so I was very excited for the release of Yurei Attack!.
The first three chapters of Yurei Attack! are about specific ghosts and their stories. "Sexy and Scary" focuses on the most well-known yurei in Japan, most of which are females, while "Furious Phantoms" explores yurei filled with anger and rage and "Sad Spectres" looks at yurei which exist because of intense despair. The fourth and longest chapter, "Haunted Places," examines real life locations throughout Japan which are associated with yurei and other strange phenomenon. "Dangerous Games" explains some of the ways people attempt to interact with and contact the spiritual world. The last two chapters in Yurei Attack! are the shortest. "Close Encounters" relates the stories of three men famous for their dealings with yurei while "The Afterlife" gives a glimpse of hell and Lord Enma. In addition to the main text, Yurei Attack! also includes a glossary, bibliography, recommended reading (and watching), an index, and plenty of illustrations and photographs to accompany the exploration of Japan's ghost culture and related topics of interest.
Although yurei are closely related and often associated with yokai, another group of supernatural creatures, they are distinct phenomena. Yoda and Alt do an excellent job in Yurei Attack! of explaining the difference between the two. The short version: yokai are a something while yurei are a someone. When a particular yurei or haunt has some sort of connection to yokai, the authors make a point to mention it. They also make a point to take note of historical connections. One of the things that make yurei stories so fascinating and goosebump-inducing is that they are often based on real life events and people. The cross-referencing in Yurei Attack! is handled particularly well. References to Yokai Attack! and Ninja Attack! are also made when appropriate. It's not necessary to have read the previous Attack! books, but they do build on one another and make reading Yurei Attack! feel even more comprehensive. The three books tie in very nicely with one another.
The basic format of Yurei Attack! follows closely that of the other Attack! books. Each entry begins with a quick fact sheet before exploring the subject in more detail and is accompanied by a full page illustration. The specifics covered for each yurei, haunted place, game, or person include its claim to fame, its story, its attack, how to survive an encounter with it, and additional trivia. The tone of Yurei Attack! is very casual, making it entertaining reading in addition to being packed full of useful and fascinating information. My only real complaint about Yurei Attack! is that the Japanese terms aren't always defined very well. There is a glossary, but it doesn't include every term used. (It's also placed in an awkward location.) Generally, the terms are explained within the main text, but the reader may encounter them several times before they are actually defined. But even considering this, Yurei Attack! is an excellent volume. I enjoyed it immensely and my love for the series as a whole remains strong and continues to grow.