The 5th and Final article in our 5-Part Halloween-themed October series! Last week we took measure of the fan favorite creature of the night, Vampires, and now, we’ll be looking at the dearly departed that just won't… depart. Lost souls, vengeful spirits, or helpful phantoms, these characters possess varied viscosity and ability to be seen but are always important to the story.
Loved them or hate them, you might just see them off if you can discover the mystery of their death. Our friends over at Anime-Planet spend day and night cataloguing unique features and leaving it to the fans to vote on the best and worst. A note before we begin, these are the result of popular votes that I can and will disagree with. Only your democratic will can determine who makes it on this list. With that out of the way, below are the 5 most loved and most hated ghosts in anime!
5. Yuuko Kanoe - Dusk Maiden of Amnesia
Starting off nice and tragic here with the amnesiac ghost trying to get her memories back and, in doing so, maybe discover what’s keeping her in this world. Always thought the idea of a boy meeting a girl’s ghost and the two solving the mystery of her death was a unique story until I realized it was an entire subgenre of anime. A perfectly likeable phantom. While she’s the cause of many of her school’s ghost stories, it’s more an accident than any ill-intent. Yuuko does have sort of a scary face though. Spooky until you get to know her.
4. Kazuma - Noragami
It’s one thing to be the last survivor of your clan, it’s another to be the last survivor of your clan of ghosts. Can’t even take solace in the fact that you still have a life to live. Kazuma’s got it rough, is what I’m trying to say. Always thought this guy looked like Yukio Okumura and, thanks to this article, just discovered they actually have the same voice actor, which is a roundabout way of saying absolutely not spooky at all.
3. Yami Yugi - Yu-Gi-Oh!
Hell yeah. I mean, you know certain characters are ghosts, but you just don’t expect them to show up in the list. Yami Yugi is living the dream of all pharaohs by surviving death, though I’m not sure many would be satisfied with getting locked in a necklace so they could play card games for the rest of eternity. If you do what you love, you never work a day of your death. Great ghost, although only spooky if you just challenged a spiky-haired kid to a duel and he pulls out the millenium puzzle.
2. Meiko Honma - Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
This was inevitable. Menma was a shoe-in for the most loved ghosts. It’s not just any phantom that haunts you to help you get over their death, rebuild your relationships with your old friends, and overcome your mental blocks that prevent you from expressing your emotions. The driving force in one of the most evocative anime of all time and maybe one of the most easily recognizable characters in the medium. Menma is good. Not at all spooky.
1. Yukine - Noragami
A very tragic boy. Although he doesn’t remember much, he had a hard life that was cut short, leaving him with an afterlife of yearning to experience a normal childhood. He’s usually the kind of brat I’d find annoying but Noragami found a nice balance and gradual improvement as he finds a place for himself in… whatever you’d call his existence? On the plus side, he can turn into katana(s). Not spooky unless you have a severe phobia of sharp things.
5. Aerith Gainsborough - Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
What the hell. How could you do this to me? Here I am, writing a listicle for your entertainment and you’ve gotta hit me with the most traumatic moment of my childhood? I’m completely blindsided by this. I can’t handle it. The worst part is, I can’t even say this isn’t an anime. Wait, she’s HATED? This is some vote brigading nonsense from Tifa fans, 100%. We’re moving on. I’m so angry. NOT spooky. Very sad.
4. Fuyumi Yanagi - Blood Lad
Blood Lad never fails to show up with the horror rep, although I’m surprised to see Fuyumi on the hated side here. She’s just a normal girl that basically ends up in the wrong neighborhood and gets killed by a horrible plant monster then spends the rest of the series trying to not only cope with the fact that she’s a ghost, but that all sorts of nasty horror movie creatures exist, and her potential savior is kind of a creep. Must be some sparse competition in this hated section. Not spooky.
3. Daemon Spade - Reborn!
Not many major villains have the advantage of already being dead. While that makes Daemon tough to deal with, I’m not sure if I could really say much about him besides that. Always struck me as your typical revenge-obsessed nihilistic villain.. until his move with Mukuro, that is. Probably a lot of Mukuro fans present for this hate vote and I respect that. First hate vote I’m on board with of the hated to have any real scariness to them. Possession isn’t cool.
2. Kugaha - Noragami
Any enemy of Bishamonten is an enemy of mine, so drop this dude anywhere you like on the hated list. He’s basically the “I know what’s better for you more than you do” kind of boyfriend and I think that’s pretty much canonically his villainous motivation in the series. So yeah, basically he sucks. Only spooky if you’re in a relationship with him.
1. Nora - Noragami
Dang usually the most hated is pretty cut and dry but Nora’s kind of complex situation. On the face of things she definitely deserves the hate. Trying to kill anyone who your crush spends more than 2 seconds with is a bad look. In retrospect, it’s hard to know how much of that was dear ol’ dad. Looks like a kid, but she’s definitely got her creepy moments and is scary in the way just about any homicidal stalker is, so there’s that at least.
I’m just gonna say this. If you have a ghost list that includes Yami Yugi but not Fujiwara no Sai from Hikaru no Go, it’s pretty much a failure. Also, the absence of Dimple from every list involving dead, deathless, or psychic characters is becoming an unfortunate pattern. I’ve got no problem with Noragami taking this list over, but please include some of the greats.
I can’t believe you hit me with Aerith…
Have a favorite phantom that didn’t make the list? Want to know where your favorite appears in the list of most popular poltergeists? Head over to Anime-Planet’s list of ghosts to see where they rank, or comment below with your favorite! Tune in next week, for the 5 most loved and hated pipes!
Peter Fobian is an Associate Features Editor for Crunchyroll, author of Monthly Mangaka Spotlight, writer for Anime Academy, and contributor at Anime Feminist. You can follow him on Twitter @PeterFobian.