FEATURE: Monster Mondays - The Kappa

Check out our very first MONSTER MONDAY to learn about the elusive, scaly KAPPA!

Welcome to Monster Mondays, a new bi-weekly column about youkai (Japanese folk creatures), ghosts and other things that go bump in the night, as well as common stories from Japanese mythology. And of course, we’ll showcase plenty of anime and manga the monster or myth appears in.


Let’s begin this inaugural edition with everybody’s favorite aquatic misfit: the Kappa!


kappa1.png


No no… not THAT Kappa - this beaked, shelled, lovable guy:


kappa2.jpg


If you’ve been watching anime for more than five minutes, you’ve surely seen this fellow around, whether it’s from the above, Kappa-themed Kappa no Kaitata, or as a one-off monster in a series about Japanese folklore. The Kappa is the one of the most famous youkai in Japan, and certainly one of the more recognizable ones in the West.


Bowls of water. Beaks. Battlestar Galactica.


Kappa most closely resemble an oh-so-cute or oh-so-scary turtle man. They’re generally the size of a child, with a turtle shell and beak, webbed hands and feet and a human-like face.


One of their more notable features is a flat, hairless section on the top of their head that must always be wet when they’re away from water. It’s the source of their power, and also their weakness - if you encounter one of these beasts, bow deeply and hope that it reciprocates the gesture, thus spilling their bowl of water onto the ground.


You may have also seen what appears to be a hairy Kappa - these are called Hyousube.


coo2.jpg-original

Coo from Summer Days with Coo


Nom noms and sushi rolls


Kappa love cucumbers. Whenever you see these youkai in anime, there’s likely to be a cucumber nearby.


For example, in episode 23 of Urusei Yatsura, the Kappa in an underwater kingdom serve Ataru a feast of cucumber-themed dishes.


cucumber.jpg


Or on the darker side, in Karas, two reporters try to lure out a legendary Kappa in a Shinjuku train station bathroom with some cucumbers, leading to deadly consequences.


karas1.jpg


As a fun piece of trivia, how many of you have ordered a kappa maki (cucumber roll) at your favorite sushi restaurant? While you might have assumed that “kappa” means “cucumber”, the roll is actually named after the Kappa and its love for the vegetable.


kappamaki.jpg


Sounds cute and endearing so far, amirite? But there’s one more culinary entree that we need to discuss - something the Kappa enjoy devouring almost as much as the cucumber. It’s called the shirikodama, a small ball that Japanese folklore states contains the human soul. The Kappa love to consume this tiny treat, there’s just one problem…


It’s all about the anus… and other fun facts


You see, the shirikodama resides in the anus, up in the intestines. Kappa are known for some pretty gruesome eating habits, specifically tearing out the anus or intestines from unfortunate people with their bare hands. Makes you think twice about this cuddly, lovable guy, right? XD


kaita.jpg

Kattan, lover of cucumbers and devourer of bowels?!


Luckily, in Kappa no Kaikata, they feed the youkai tiny shirikodama candies. So cute!

Shirikodama
 

If you’d like to see an in-person version of a Kappa eating a shirikodama, check out Tsujikawayama Park (辻川山公園) in the town of Fukusaki, where a large, red, nightmare-fuel mechanical Kappa rises out of the water to terrify onlookers.


kappas.JPG

HUG ME <3

 


But wait, there’s more! In addition to being intestinal gourmands, Kappa are fabled to be very stinky creatures that possess not one, not two, but THREE anuses.


Finishing off this trail of terror is the fact that Kappa are said to be notorious creepos who hide in toilets and rape women. Plus the fact that they drag their victims to a watery grave in lakes, rivers and other bodies of water where they reside - of course, mining for shirikodama at the same time.


It’s these facts that illustrate the stark difference between the old legends and how Kappa are portrayed in modern anime and manga, as today’s cute, cuddly creatures are of no comparison to the terrifying monsters of the ancient myths. But a similar comparison can be seen with Western fairy tales, such as The Little Mermaid, whose source material was considerably more dark and disturbing than the Disney adaptation.


But lest we end the column on a negative note, the Kappa does have some positive qualities - for example, they’re known to be polite and honorable, and can be incredibly loyal given the right circumstances.


Kappa in anime and manga


Now that we’ve gone over all things Kappa, let’s take a look at Kappa characters in anime and manga. And if you can think of others that were missed, reply with info in the comments!


Kappa no Kaikata


Kappa no Kaikata


Kappa no Kaikata is an adorable anime about a man who decides to raise a Kappa. There’s plenty of pint-sized youkai in the series; here’s a few notable characters:


kaita.jpg


Kattan is the main character of the series


kakkan.jpg


Then there’s Kakkan, another neighborhood Kappa (who seems to always wear adorable clothing!)


chii2.jpg

 

And Chii/Hercules, a hilariously manly Kappa who rescues children and even battles sharks. 


Hell Teacher Nube

 

Hell Teacher Nube


Hell Teacher Nube is an episodic, horror/comedy series about a teacher with a demon hand who keeps his students safe from youkai, monsters and other baddies. Episode 4 includes a pesky Kappa.
 
Hell Teacher Nube

 
The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya

Haruhi-chan
 
In an episode, this unfortunate Mummified Kappa, made up of 30% chicken bones, 40% monkey bones and 30% turtle bones, is the prize for winning a bet between the Computer Club and the SOS Club.
 
Mummified Kappa
  
Kappa no Coo to Natsuyasumi

Kappa to Coo
 
Kappa no Coo to Natsuyasumi, also known as Summer Days with Coo, is a fantasy movie about a boy who accidentally discovers a Hyousube (a hairy Kappa).
 
Coo
 
Coo is the protagonist
 
Coo's Father 
 
His father also appears in the anime.
 
Hana Kappa

Hana Kappa

Hana Kappa is an adorable children's series about many Kappa and a host of other creatures and spirits. 
 
Hana Kappa
 
Hana Kappa is the title character, as well as the protagonist of the series. He's joined by fellow Kappa (family and friends):
 
Hasujirou
 
 
Himagorou
 
 
Kasumi-obaachan
 
 
Popporiinu
 
 
Inuyasha

Inuyasha

Episode 129 of Inuyasha has Sha Gojyo, a Kappa based on the popular character from Journey to the West
 
Sha Gojyo
 
Nagasarete Airantou  
 
Nagasarete Airantou 
The harem comedy Nagasarete Airantou has an adorable female Kappa, Tohno, that became Mei Mei's companion.
 
Tohno
 
Muromi-san
 
Muromi-san
 
Muromi-san has a very memorable, studly Kappa named Kawabata!
 
Kawabata
 
Hetalia: Axis Powers
 
Hetalia: Axis Powers
 
There's a lone Kappa in episode 30 of Hetalia: Axis Powers:
 
Hetalia Kappa 
 
School Rumble

School Rumble

While he's not an actual Kappa, Karasuma does briefly appear as one in an often-cosplayed scene from School Rumble.
 
School Rumble
 
Kappa Godaime

Kappa Godaime
 
The obscure Kappa Godaime flash anime has a Kappa protagonist.
 
Natsume's Book of Friends

Natsume's Book of Friends
 
 
Kappa
 
Furukappa
 
Furukappa
 
 
Furakappa is another family friendly Kappa series with a number of youkai characters. Here's a few:
 
 
Takeda
 
 
Kaka
 
 
Mere
 
and Mere
 
Dororon Enma-kun
 
Dororon
 
Kappaeru is a Kappa and Enma's best friend in the horror comedy franchise Dororon Enma-kun.
 
Kappaeru
 
Digimon Savers

Digimon Savers

The Digimon franchise (in this case, Digimon Savers) has two Kappa-like characters, Gawappamon, and its evolution, Shawujinmon
 
Gawappamon
 
Shawujinmon

Inukami

Inukami
 
Inukami is an ecchi series full of youkai, including this huggable Kappa.
 
Kappa
 
Arakawa Under the Bridge

Arakawa Under the Bridge
 
While he's clearly not a Kappa, the Village Chief from Arakawa Under the Bridge does proclaim himself to be a Kappa and wears a mask and costume that (mostly) fits the bill.  
 
Village Chief

Karas

Karas

Karas is an action-heavy, sci fi anime that's an equal combination of Batman, youkai and strange machine hybrid monsters, one of which is a Kappa named Suiko that masquerades as a wrestler (though in reality it's a cyborg robot Kappa).
 
Suiko
 
Yaiba
 
Shounen/action Yaiba has a few Kappa in it.
 
Kerokichi
 
 
Kerosuke
 
 
One Piece Movie 6: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island
 
One Piece Movie 6
 
The 6th One Piece movie has a character named DJ Gappa who's clearly modeled after a Kappa, though isn't stated to be a youkai.
 
DJ Gappa
 
Urusei Yatsura 

Urusei Yatsura

As mentioned above, in episode 23 of Urusei Yatsura, the Kappa in an underwater kingdom serve Ataru a feast of cucumber-themed dishes after he's taken there against his will. 
 
Kappa Leader
 
 
Female Kappa

 
Kappa Butler
 
 
Gintama

Gintama

A Kappa Amanto creature called Ebina has a 2-episode arc in Gintama.
 
Ebina


Pani Poni Dash

Paniponi Dash

A Kappa makes a brief cameo in episodes 5 and 9 of Paniponi Dash.
 
PPD

Papuwa

Papuwa

Papuwa is one of the more bizarre and random comedies that I've seen, but I love it all the same. There's a scene where everything gets turned into a zombie, including this poor Kappa Zombie that rises from the earth:
 
Kappa Zombie

Inazuma Eleven

Inazuma Eleven
 
In episode 100 of Inazuma Eleven, Yuuya and Hiroto are lost, and a mysterious person named Kappa Kamezaki brings them to a soccer field, where they have a 2 on 2 match. Afterwards, they're told to 'follow the trail of cucumbers' to find their way out of the forest.
 
Kappa Kamezaki
 
 
Kappa's Friend
 
 
While the two aren't explicitly called out as being Kappa, it's a pretty obvious reference. Not only do they have shells and beaks, but they have cucumbers for eyebrows (what is this I don't even), and the two Kappa mysteriously vanish, showing bubbles below the surface of a nearby pond. 
 
Nurarihyon no Mago

Nurarihyon no Mago

Nurarihyon no Mago, also known as Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, is another anime completely full of youkai. It too has a Kappa character.
 
Kappa
 
Folktales from Japan
 
Folktales from Japan
 
Folktales from Japan has several episodes with Kappa characters, plus plenty of other tidbits of Japanese mythology that we'll cover in future articles.
 
Kappa
 
Youkai Watch

Youkai Watch

Youkai Watch is sort of like the youkai version of Pokemon. In episode 33, Keita is given an assignment to learn about the Kappa, so he goes to ask Nogappa about himself. However, they then encounter a real Kappa, who challenges Nogappa to a contest to prove that he's a real Kappa. 
 
Nogappa
 
 
Kappa
 
 
Touhou franchise
 
Touhou
 
The above image is from the very high quality doujin Touhou Gensou Mangekyou: The Memories of Phantasm. Nitori Kawashiro is a Kappa who appears not only in this anime, but also in various manga and other media (such as Touhou Ibarakasen: Wild and Horned Hermit). She doesn't appear to be a Kappa in a traditional sense, but is one.
 
Nitori
 
 
Youkai Shoujo - Monsuga (manga)
 
Monsuga
 
There's a ton of youkai in the very ecchi and hilarious Youkai Shoujo manga. One of which is Kappa the Ripper:
 
Kappa the Ripper
 
He's a demonic doll that loves slicing the clothes off of any unsuspecting woman around him.
 
Kappa Love Story (manga)

Kappa Love Story is a short one shot about a Kappa that's in love with a woman peeking from behind a fence; a romance comedy with a fun twist. 
 
Kappa
 
And if you really need a Kappa fix and have managed to watch all of the above, there’s always the live-action, terribad-looking Death Kappa. This image says it all. 

deathkappa.jpg


If any of you have managed to see this already, do share your opinion below.


And that's a wrap! Hopefully you've learned something about the Kappa this week, and if we've missed any appearances that you can think of, let us know in the comments.
 
Check out future editions of Monster Mondays for info about other youkai, monsters and myths that appear in anime and manga. And if you have a favorite youkai or topic you'd like to see covered, just say the word! 
 
Kawabata
 

-------

Kim Cameron is the CEO and founder of Anime-Planet, Crunchyroll's partner and the world’s first anime and manga recommendation database site, and author of the "Anime-Planet Recommends..." and "Monster Mondays" columns on Crunchyroll. Follow her on Twitter at @AnimePlanet or on Facebook.

Other Top News

38 Comments
Sort by: