Have you noticed the similarities that exist between the pokémon Drowzee, Munna and Musharna? For Brazilians this may not be obvious, but there is a reason that these three pokémon are similar to the tapir (an animal related to the tapir and that lives in Asia) and have psychic powers related to sleep and dreams!
where did the inspiration to create these three pokémon? From a youkai named “Baku” (獏), a monster with the body of a tapir capable of devouring people's dreams! But how did the tapir gain this fantastic power? The tapir lives in Southeast Asia (in countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and others). The Japanese only learned about the tapir in 834. Information came through a poetic anthology by Bai Juyi (772-846), a poet of the Chinese Tang dynasty (618-907).
How did Youkai Baku come about?
In the old days, in times without the internet, photographs and plane travel, knowledge about animals and distant places took time to reach other countries and, when this happened, it was normal for this knowledge to be shrouded in legends and mysteries. Europeans for a long time believed in the unicorn and were amazed when they saw the elephant or the rhino. for example, animals very different from those they knew.
This also happened in Japan. Geographically isolated in the Japanese archipelago, the inhabitants of the country received stories of animals and plants from distant places, but as “whoever tells a tale increases a point”, the Japanese ended up with fantastic legends from countries across the sea. The “Kirin” (a Japanese monster that is between the giraffe and the unicorn) and Baku are examples of this process.
From a simple tapir, the Baku became a fantastic animal that would devour dreams. Today the Japanese word “Baku” refers to both the animal of legend and the real animal. But what makes the Baku of legend?
According to Lafcadio Hearn, an English-language writer who lived in Japan during the Meiji period, Baku can be called by anyone who wakes up in the middle of the night because of a nightmare, as it devours the bad dream. However, summoning Baku must be done with great caution because the animal is hungry and can devour the dreams and hopes of the one who called it. For their power to devour nightmares, talismans and objects, such as pillows, with Baku figures were common.
Knowing all this, it's easier to see that the appearance and powers of Drowzee, Munna and Musharna, all pokémon that look like the tapir and have sleep powers, are inspired by Youkai Baku!
References in Japanese works
In addition to the pokemon Drowzee, Munna and Musharna, Baku ends up making other appearances:
- The Hypno Pokemon;
- The Digimon Tapirmon, from Digimon Frontier;
- In Naruto Shippuuden the character Danzou Summons one;
- In Kamen Rider Black the Gorgom use a monster;
- Touhou's Doremy Sweet is Baku who can eat and create dreams;
For more Youkai-based pokemon we recommend our friend's video below: