Oni, ubiquitous supernatural figures in Japanese literature,
lore, art, and religion, usually appear as demons or ogres.
Characteristically threatening, monstrous creatures with ugly
features and fearful habits, including cannibalism, they also can
be harbingers of prosperity, beautiful and sexual, and especially
in modern contexts, even cute and lovable. There has been much
ambiguity in their character and identity over their long history.
Usually male, their female manifestations convey distinctivly
gendered social and cultural meanings.
Oni appear frequently in various arts and media, from Noh
theater and picture scrolls to modern fiction and political
propaganda, They remain common figures in popular Japanese anime,
manga, and film and are becoming embedded in American and
international popular culture through such media. Noriko Reiderýs
book is the first in English devoted to oni. Reider fully examines
their cultural history, multifaceted roles, and complex
significance as "others" to the Japanese.
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