It’s Setsubun — But These Anime Demons Can Stay
by Kara Dennison
February 3, 2024
In Japan, today marks Setsubun: the day before Risshun, or the beginning of spring. Even if you don’t know much about Japanese holidays, you probably know a bit about this one thanks to anime. To clear out winter’s misfortune and make way for an auspicious spring, families take part in a tradition known as mamemaki: throwing roasted soybeans to chase away demons. (Or, rather, someone in a demon mask.)
It’s a cool tradition: you either get to dress up as a demon or throw beans at someone. But that said, we got to thinking about demons in anime… and there are a few we wouldn’t have the heart to chase out.
Ram and Rem
Re:ZERO fans know that these adorable twin maids are actually modeled on the red and blue oni of Japanese legend. But Setsubun traditions notwithstanding, we couldn’t bring ourselves to chase away these demons. If anything, their presence strikes us as especially lucky, given the strength and support they provide throughout the series.
Besides, it’s their birthday! Or, well, it was yesterday. In what’s probably another little nod to their demonic nature, Rem and Ram’s shared birthday is on February 2. While Setsubun is traditionally observed on the 3rd these days, the observance can take place anywhere between February 2-4.
Inuyasha (and the family)
Whether they’re half-demon, quarter-demon, or full-blooded, we love the whole demonic family of Inuyasha and Yashahime. The Rumiko Takahashi classic and its modern sequel show that, at least in feudal fairy tales, demons can be great to have around. Whether it’s the fun-loving Moroha, the heroic Setsuna and Towa, or even everyone’s favorite dog-boy himself, we wouldn’t have it in us to drive ’em out.
From a purely historical standpoint, it’s quite possible that people of Inuyasha’s time might not have been celebrating Setsubun as it’s known today. The tradition of mamemaki, while practiced in upper-class homes and among samurai during the Muromachi period, may not have made it to shrines and common households until at least the 1600s.
There are a lot of devilish characters from Chainsaw Man we could have picked. Pochita, for instance. Makima, if social media is to be believed. But no, we’re going with Power. And yes, we’re aware that this is a dangerous choice. She identifies as a problem, and we know it. She’s childish, she’ll happily eat humans, and she doesn’t flush. But if we’re volunteering to keep misfortune in on Setsubun, we might as well fully commit, right?
That said, there’s more to Power than that. She matches Denji’s energy, she loves her cat, and she has a vulnerable side to her. (Of course, so would we if we went to Hell and back.) So you know what? Sure. She gets a spot in our house for a lucky and fortune-filled spring.
She’s not a demon, but here’s how Yumiella Dolkness won us over.