The Great Yokai War: Guardians (2021)

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Daiei/Kadokawa yokai films
The Great Yokai War
The Great Yokai War: Guardians
Daimajin media
Daimajin Kanon
The Great Yokai War: Guardians
The Great Yokai War: Guardians
Japanese poster for The Great Yokai War: Guardians
Directed by Takashi Miike
Producer Tsuguhiko Kadokawa,
Hiroshi Aramata, et al.
Written by Yusuke Watanabe
Music by Koji Endo
effects by
Kaori Otagaki
Funded by The Great Yokai War: Guardians Production Committee
Production company OLM
Distributor Toho/KadokawaJP
Rating GJP
Box office ¥329,729,900[1]
Running time 117 minutes
(1 hour, 57 minutes)
Rate this film!
(4 votes)

Do you have true courage...? ( (まこと)の勇気はあるか――)

— Tagline

The Great Yokai War: Guardians (妖怪大戦争 ガーディアンズ,   Yōkai Daisensō: Gādianzu) is a 2021 tokusatsu fantasy film directed by Takashi Miike and written by Yusuke Watanabe, with visual effects supervised by Kaori Otagaki. Funded by the The Great Yokai War: Guardians Production Committee (consisting of Kadokawa, Toho, TV Tokyo, OLM, Hikari TV, Fujishoji, CyberAgent and Movie Walker) and produced by OLM, it is a loose sequel to Kadokawa Pictures' 2005 film The Great Yokai War, which was itself inspired by the 1968 Daiei film Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare. The film stars Kokoro Terada, Hana Sugisaki, Rei Inomata, Kazuki Kitamura, Nanako Matsushima, Takashi Okamura, Nao Omori, and Takao Osawa. Toho and Kadokawa jointly released it to Japanese theaters on August 13, 2021.


In the year 20xx, cities located along the Fossa Magna, a fault runs from north to south across the Japan island, are destroyed by what it appears to be a storm or an earthquake. The route of the destruction points towards Tokyo.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, Yokai from around the world come together for an international conference known at the "Yummit". They discover that Yokai monsters formed from ancient underwater fossils have combined into one giant Yokai and are moving toward the Pacific Ocean... an act that could lead to mass destruction. Human beings cannot see them and are therefore unaware of the threat, but the underworld, which cohabits with the human world, is also in danger of being destroyed. The Japanese Yokai are asked to handle the situation and two leaders of that group, Nurarihyon and Inugami Gyobui, step up to take matters into their own hands.

The Yokai decide to revive the legendary God of War Bushin to confront the Yokai monsters. However, to bring Bushin back, they will need help from a descendent of the ancient Yokai hunter, Tsuna Watanabe. They find a schoolboy named Kei and his younger brother Dai. The two youngsters have often played at tests of courage, but now destiny has chosen them for a great adventure...[2]


The fossils of ancient sea life, their ghosts begging to return to the ocean, begin to rise out of the ground in Japan. The yokai Inugami Gyobu watches in delight as they merge into a massive Yokaiju, who begins rolling across the countryside. Unable to be perceived by humans, it nonetheless flattens a town.

After the death of their father in a plane crash, brothers Kei and Dai Watanabe are raised by their busy single mother, a nurse. Kei struggles to stay awake in class as his teacher discusses Fossa Magna, a fissure dating back to the formation of Japan. When it formed, he notes, countless marine animals would have been trapped in the lava or soil. That night, Kei leaves Dai behind to explore an abandoned shrine with his classmates. He finds a collection of scrolls, and they each take one; most promise good or bad luck, but his is completely red. Kei drops the scroll while walking home and Dai pockets it.

Later, a yokai startles Kei awake and places a leaf over his right eye, allowing him to see the creatures. Terrified, he tries to run out of his room, only to find himself in another realm. Yokai of all shapes and sizes scare him silly until Tengu knocks him unconscious with a swing of his fan. After the assembled yokai revive him, Nurarihyon explains that he is a descendant of the legendary samurai Watanabe no Tsuna, who battled evil yokai, particularly the oni clan. Nurarihyon allows him to view the events of the Yokai Yammit, a summit of mythological creatures from across the globe that was held 12 hours ago in Beijing. Tengu gives a speech explaining that the yokai have gained such a foothold in Japanese popular culture that the current generation again believes in them and will bring back the old ways, and other countries will follow suit, but Nurarihyon interrupts him upon hearing the news of the Yokaiju's rampage. He explains that such a creature is formed from a collection of grudges, in this case the desire of the Fossa Magna fossils to return to the ocean. The monster is on a collision course for Tokyo, where it could potentially break up the entire Japanese archipelago. As the Japanese yokai are largely weaponless, Nurarihyon calls upon the international community for aid, but none consider it their problem. As a last resort, he proposes appealing to Lord Bujin to stop the Yokaiju, which can only be done with the help of one of Watanabe's descendants. The red scroll has marked Kei as the one to save the country.

In the present, Kei is overwhelmed by the task. To make matters worse, Inugami Gyobu arrives on a flaming motorcycle, followed by a horde of Tanuki. Burning with a hatred of humanity, he asks the others to let the Yokaiju rampage unimpeded, and warns Kei that embarking on this quest will cost him his life. The yokai question if the petrified Kei can really be descended from Tsuna, then turn to see Dai holding the red paper. They embrace him as their new champion, and he gladly accepts.

Kei wakes up in his bed as a yokai carries Dai out of sight. He rushes to get his mom, only to remember she's working the late shift. He gives chase on his bike, finding himself back at the old shrine, and tries to explain the misunderstanding. Kitsunemen no Onna materializes before him and asks if he's ready to sacrifice himself in his brother's place to awaken Bujin. A vision of his father convinces him to say yes. She challenges him to prove his courage, first by ripping out much of the floor in the shrine, leaving him only a few small chips with which to cross as a blue vortex swirls beneath them. He fails, plummeting into a cavern and losing the leaf. Nonetheless, he is able to see the phone-obsessed yokai Amanojaku, having entered their world willingly this time. Watching them, Kitsunemen no Onna thinks back to when Watanabe no Tsuna spared her life a thousand years ago.

The Yokaiju rolls towards a more populated area as Dai's yokai entourage debate whether he really needs to die. Kei and the Amanojaku come upon a skeletal water dragon Suiryu who begins whipping the latter with its whiskers after Kei wakes it up. He comes to the yokai's rescue with an umbrella, and Kitsunemen no Onna rescues him in turn, revealing Suiryu to be another test. She transforms the umbrella into a sword called Onikirimaru, which she describes as an early New Year's gift that will awaken his potential. Suiryu ferries the trio towards Bujin. Meanwhile, Gyobu warns Nurarihyon once more to let the Yokaiju ravage Japan in peace, considering it payback for the way humanity has ravaged the environment. Nurarihyon argues that the monster's rampage will affect the yokai too, but he is unmoved. Gyobu convinces a smitten Yukionna to show him Kei receiving the sword, and his oni warriors offer to kill the boy before he can reach Bujin.

Kei's group reach an apparent dead end. Kitsunemen no Onna finds that her powers have weakened, which the Amanojaku suggests is the result of her accepting Kei's nickname of "Ms. Fox" when he accepted the sword from her. The oni reach them, holding off Suiryu with a Tsuchigumo. Kei draws his sword, which generates armor for him. Surging with energy, it allows him to hold off the entire group. During a lull in the fighting, the Amanojaku apologetically admits to revealing their location to the oni. Kei is unfazed, however, saying he's glad he has friends besides his phone. The Yokaiju passes overhead, causing debris to fall from the ceiling and giving Kei and Kitsunemen no Onna cover to escape. Suiryu, having slain the Tsuchigumo, shields them from more debris, but seemingly at the cost of its life. In Tokyo, Tengu and his elites try to stop the Yokaiju themselves, as Bujin is impossible to control, but the fissure they try to close opens up just wide enough to let them fall in, then seals itself to crush them. Kei and Kitsunemen no Onna return to the dead end to find the Amanojaku pinned under a stone. Kei frees him and consoles him over his phone, which was broken during the fighting. The boy insists on helping the prone oni leader as well.

Bujin's statue emerges partially to the surface, and Nurarihyon encourages Dai to stab it with a sword to awaken him. Just before he does so, however, he explains that Kei was the one who drew the red paper. Ignoring Yukionna and Gyobu's warnings, he stabs it anyway, realizing his brother's intent to take his place. Blood flows from the statue and it absorbs the sword before Lord Bujin emerges in the flesh. Kitsunemen no Onna removes her mask to reveal her true nine-tailed form, allowing her to see a vision of Watanabe no Tsuna. Promising to repay him, she supercharges Kei's sword, then sacrifices herself to clear a path to the surface of Tokyo for them. The Yokaiju has left the city in ruins, and Kei, the Amanojaku, and the oni leader soon find themselves face-to-face with it. Kei prepares to fight it, even though the odds are hopeless, but it knocks all three of them down with its ghostly tongue.

Just then, Dai arrives on Bujin's shoulder, the great warrior having recognized his courage. The army of yokai surrounding them charges forward, though they immediately flee when the Yokaiju acknowledges them. Bujin picks up Kei and places him on his other shoulder before drawing his sword and igniting it. Dwarfed by the Yokaiju, he nonetheless slices it in half with a single lengthy swing, aided by the reappearance of Suiryu. The yokai celebrate... until the Yokaiju suddenly reforms and unfurls into a dragon. After it intimidates Bujin, the yokai retreat once more as Gyobu watches triumphantly. Tearfully, the Yokaiju restates its desire to return to the ocean, and Kei realizes that trying to kill it is not the answer. Inspired, Gyobu sprouts a drum from his chest and, with the aid of his Tanuki, begins a song which Kei, Dai, and eventually the rest of the yokai pick up. Appeased, the Yokaiju transforms into a gargantuan tree before dissolving entirely. Bujin, however, goes on the warpath, thrashing every yokai in the vicinity. The yokai argue about what to do—including Tengu, his arm in a sling—until Dai kneels before Bujin and asks him to stay his anger. Bujin prepares to crush him underfoot, but Kei holds him back with superhuman strength, promising to sacrifice his life for his younger brother. Bujin hesitates, and the Amanojaku pleas for forgiveness as well. Appeased, Bujin reverts to his statue form and dissolves into dust. Kei congratulates his brother on saving the country. Returning to their realm, the yokai question whether people like the two brothers can avert the next disaster that humanity faces.

In the ruins of his classroom, Kei's teacher draws a strange symbol on the chalkboard.


Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.

  • Directed by   Takashi Miike
  • Written by   Yusuke Watanabe
  • Chief executive producers   Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, Hiroshi Aramata
  • Executive producers   Daiji Horiuchi, Hiroyasu Matsuoka, Yukio Kawasaki, Toshiaki Okuno, Katsumi Nagata, Tomohito Matsushita, Susumu Fujita, Junji Igarashi
  • Produced by   Korikazu Tsubaki, Misako Saka
  • Co-producer   Shigeji Maeda
  • Line producers   Tomoyuki Imai, Tomonori Aoki
  • Associate producers   Shigeo Minakami, Reiko Imayasu
  • Assistant producer   Hana Tsuchikawa
  • Music by   Koji Endo
  • Theme song "Yes, Isn't It?"
    • Performed by   Ikimonogakari
    • Written and composed by   Yoshiki Mizuno
    • Arranged by   Takashi Kondo, Yusuke Tatsuzaki, Yusuke Tanaka
  • Cinematography by   Hideo Yamamoto
  • Edited by   Naoichiro Sagara
  • Production design by   Yuji Hayashida
  • First assistant director   Raku Nagao
  • Visual effects supervisor   Kaori Otagaki


Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.

  • Kokoro Terada   as   Kei Watanabe
  • Hana Sugisaki   as   Kitsunemen no Onna
  • Rei Inomata   as   Dai Watanabe
  • Nanako Matsushima   as   Reika Watanabe
  • Kazuki Kitamura   as   Watanabe no Tsuna
  • Sakura Ando   as   Ubume
  • Koji Okura   as   Shojo
  • Takahiro Miura   as   Tengu
  • Taro Nakatani, Koki Takeda, Momiki Yoshito, Kazuya Murakami, Kazuki Miki   as   Tengu elites
  • Yuko Oshima   as   Yukionna
  • Eiji Akaso   as   Amanojaku
  • SUMIRE   as   Ibaraki Doji
  • Noritaka Hamao   as   Shuten Doji
  • Hiroki Suetsugu   as   Matsukioni
  • Koji Kurosawa   as   Kuromitsuki
  • Ryuji Kasahara   as   Kasajaki
  • So Kaku   as   Kakuoni
  • Justice Iwakura   as   Kaikinki
  • Amon Mochizuki   as   Amonki
  • Catcher Nakazawa   as   Onisawamaru
  • Hayato Takenaka   as   Junakki
  • Takashi Kitadai   as   Hokuoki
  • Takuma Sugawara   as   demon servant of Shuten Doji
  • Kenshiro Kato   as   Ryo
  • Mitieri Rokoua Tsuruta   as   Denny
  • Tsuguru Tamura   as   Toshi
  • Takashi Okamura   as   Azukiarai
  • Kenichi Endo   as   Yadokai
  • Renji Ishibashi   as   Okubi
  • HIKAKIN   as   Hikakin
  • Akira Emoto   as   Old man
  • Nao Omori   as   Nurarihyon
  • Takao Osawa   as   Inugami Gyobu
  • Hiroshi Aramata   as   Amefurikozo
  • Futa Kimura   as   Kappa
  • Etsuko Kozakura   as   Sunekosuri
  • Tame Yamada   as   Makuragaeshi
  • Hihio Iwanaga   as   Tenome
  • Yoshi Kuroiwa   as   Togakushi no Kijo
  • Taro Suwa   as   Sunakakebaba
  • Myra Meadows   as   Rokurokubi
  • Kosuke Nakado   as   Nuppeppo
  • Takashi Ota   as   Kijimuna
  • Asuka Hamaru   as   Futakuchionna
  • Sakichi Sato   as   Tofukozo
  • Riria Yamada   as   Zashikiwarashi
  • Aya Kitai   as   Kawauso
  • Kazunori Hashimoto   as   Shibaten
  • Yuzuna Satomi   as   Aburasumashi
  • Shinya Nakano   as   Hyosube
  • Bob Suzuki   as   Wanyudo
  • Kae Onuki   as   Ubagabi
  • Mayu Hanayoshi   as   Hitotsumekozo
  • Yuji Takanashi   as   Kamikiri
  • Ryusei Kitagawa   as   Seto Taisho
  • Shinsuke Abe   as   Gadogawa
  • Kota   as   Dark Cat
  • Hyuganatsu   as   Nakatomi no Kaze Yokai
  • Tiernan   as   Count Dracula
  • Amon Ishida   as   Mummy
  • Makoto Nagatomo   as   Merman
  • Angelia D.   as   Mermaid
  • Taichi Shimizu   as   Cyclops
  • Irina Legostaeva   as   Medusa
  • Chris D.   as   Frankenstein
  • Takayuki Nishimura   as   Yeti
  • Julian Jolivet   as   Satyr
  • Marina Z.H.   as   Witch
  • Daniel M.   as   Clown
  • Takumi Kato   as   Zombie
  • Ayaka N.   as   Mae Nak
  • Ryosuke Yusa   as   Xingtian
  • Hideki Togi   as   himself
  • Ryunosuke Kamiki   as   Yasunori Kato




Main article: The Great Yokai War: Guardians/Gallery.

Theatrical releases

  • Japan - August 13, 2021
  • Canada - August 25, 2021 [Fantasia Film Fest]
  • United States - August 28, 2021 [Japan Cuts][3]
  • Spain - October 16, 2021 [Sitges Film Festival]
  • South Korea - July 10, 2022 [Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival]
  • Netherlands - September 22, 2022 [Camera Japan Festival]

Video releases

TOHO Visual Entertainment Blu-ray (2021)[4]

  • Region: Unknown (A guaranteed)
  • Discs: 2
  • Audio: Japanese (DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, 5.1, 7.1), Japanese audio description
  • Subtitles: Japanese
  • Special features: Yokai Big Sugoroku board game, Yokai Pictoral Book listing the yokai who appear in the film, The Great Yokai War: Guardians trailers, two behind-the-scenes featurettes, event footage, premiere footage, image gallery focusing on the Yokai Yammit

TOHO Visual Entertainment DVD (2021)[5]

  • Region: Unknown (2 guaranteed)
  • Discs: 2
  • Audio: Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0), Japanese audio description
  • Subtitles: Japanese
  • Special features: The Great Yokai War: Guardians trailers

SRS Cinema Blu-ray/DVD (2024)[6][2]

  • Region: A (Blu-ray); to be announced (DVD, 1 guaranteed)
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Special features: Behind-the-scenes featurette, The Great Yokai War: Guardians trailer, other trailers, other special features to be determined
  • Notes: Sold with an optional limited-edition slipcover.

SRS Cinema VHS (2024)[7]

  • Tapes: 1
  • Audio: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English

U.S. release

The American premiere of The Great Yokai War: Guardians took place on August 28, 2021 as part of the Japan Cuts film festival held by the Japan Society in New York City.[8] SRS Cinema will release it on Blu-ray, DVD, and VHS in 2024, with the Blu-ray and VHS editions expected in late January.[2][6][7]

Manga adaptation

Main article: The Great Yokai War: Guardians (manga).

A manga adaptation of The Great Yokai War: Guardians illustrated by Sanami Suzuki began being serialized in Monthly Shonen Ace in December of 2020.


A spin-off novelization, The Great Yokai War: Guardians Gaiden - 100 Heian Demon Stories (妖怪大戦争ガーディアンズ外伝 平安百鬼譚,   Yōkai Daisensō Gādianzu Gaiden: Heian Hyakkitan), was published in June 2021.[9] Its depiction of the Black Tortoise (玄武,   Genbu), summoned against foes in Kyoto while Bujin defended Tokyo, is strongly influenced by Gamera, with the creature mimicking his fireballs and spinning flight.[10] Yokai in Kyoto also praise him by singing a modified version of the "Gamera March".[11][12] Gamera was previously mentioned by name in the 2005 film The Great Yokai War.



Japanese trailer
Japanese special announcement trailer #1
Japanese special announcement trailer #2


Behind the scenes clips
VFX reel
The Great Yokai War:
press conference


External links


This is a list of references for The Great Yokai War: Guardians. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: [1]

  1. "映画『妖怪大戦争 ガーディアンズ』の上映はいつまで?興行収入とDVDレンタル開始日の最新情報も!". Enta Movie. 30 October 2021. Archived from the original on 22 May 2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "SRS Cinema Licenses Takashi Miike's THE GREAT YOKAI WAR: GUARDIANS!". SciFi Japan. 2 June 2023.
  3. "JAPAN CUTS 2021: Festival of New Japanese Film Lineup Announced for 15th Edition". SciFi Japan. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  4. "妖怪大戦争 ガーディアンズ Blu-ray 豪華版". Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  5. "妖怪大戦争 ガーディアンズ DVD通常版". Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Great Yokai War: Guardians, The, Blu-ray". SRS Cinema. Retrieved 22 October 2023.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Great Yokai War: Guardians, The, VHS". SRS Cinema. Retrieved 22 October 2023.
  8. "The Great Yokai War: Guardians". Japan Society. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  9. 妖怪大戦争ガーディアンズ外伝 平安百鬼譚
  10. 妖怪大戦争ガーディアンズ外伝 平安百鬼譚 – 齢70歳の安倍晴明が登場! ラスボスとのバトルには玄武(亀)が火炎を吐き、回転しながら空を舞う…って!ガメラ登場か。
  11. p.183
  12. toko_juya
  13. 三池崇史監督新作『大魔神』の現状。


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