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What, specifically, are the Chimimo?

Wikipedia says that Chimimoryou are "monsters of the mountains and monsters of the rivers" which is a category that would contain more than one type of spirit or youkai, it is an unrefined term. For example, the same term appears in Berserk as well as Shaman King.

I thought the Chimimo anime was better than its reception, a funny combination of Minami Ke and Keroro Gunsou, but I am still left with the question of what specifically are the Chimimo?

I think it's also unclear whether Jigoku San is a product of eastern or western "hell" but I think he is most similarly modeled after a Namahage where as the Chimimo don't seem to have so clear of a model.

If you have a link or something concrete please educate me! thanks.

For reference here is the cast: enter image description here

And here is jigoku san, which is a nickname they give him because he is from hell. His actual name is Jabberwock the 8th - I was unclear about whether he is eastern or western because the jabberwocky is a creature from a famous poem by English author Lewis Carroll who wrote Alice in Wonderland. The picture here is before and after they cleaned him up, he may be based on an oni but the namahage (which is probably a kind of oni) is what he looks most like to me. In retrospect, oni are usually seen wearing tiger stripe and even though the clothes he wears originally belonged to one of the sisters, I doubt it's a coincidence his pants are tiger striped.

enter image description here

It has also now occurred to me that perhaps they are just mochi, with a horn and a face. I know that anime/manga often likes to shorten words to make titles more condensed - perhaps there is a pun in calling them "chimimo" which is not shortening chimimoryo exclusively, but abbreviating chimi - mochi. Mei even calls one of the chimimo by the nickname "mochi", it just didn't occur to me that they would be based on a rice dango. I wish I had author input to back this up, given the info which was brought to light about chimimoryo being used to describe a faceless mob.

mochi?

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Disclaimer: I don't know the anime. This is based on literal meaning of those Japanese words.

Jigoku-san should be based on a typical image of Oni, with horns and often curly hair. As for Namahage, it is rather an instance of Oni. To my knowledge, Oni is often translated as goblin. In my understanding of goblin (from Final Fantasy) and devil, Oni actually may be more a Japanese counterpart of the latter. Basically, Japanese/Eastern Jigoku is inhabited by many Oni's torturing sinned humans.

Chimimoryo(魑魅魍魎) is a collective term referring to the 'inhabitants' of the underground world. In this sense, it includes Oni and to some extent synonymous to yokai. Yokai tends to mean non-human beings 'living' among us. Chimimoryo just refers to 'them' as a whole, Oni, ghosts and the rest. Using analogy with biology, Chimimoryo can be considered as a highest taxonomic rank covering them (Yokai kingdom?). But obviously usage is not that systematic.

In terms of the connotation of Chimimoryo, it sounds like a mass of nameless entities. So, chimimo are not particularly anything. I mean, they look like just a ball with horn; they should be designed as just one of the ghosts without much character.


The following is a bit roundabout, but hopefully gives some idea.

Chimimoryo often figuratively refers to a mass of fishy/dubious people. For example, there are investigations going on around bribery in Tokyo Olympics. At the moment, the center of the scandal is Haruyuki Takahashi, ex-Dentsu guy. There are lots of corruptions in Japan, just like everywhere else in the world. This kind situation surrounding Olympics is described as 'Chimimoryo are marching', meaning 'lots of fishy people swarming around to grab money'. 'Chimimoryo' here refers to the bunch of nameless, trivial people mobbing around the money. In a sense, 'big' guys like Takahashi is one of them, but Chimimoryo more refers to 'the rest of them'. In this sense, the absence of specifics should be part of chimimo's.

FYI: Dentsu is the largest advertising agency that is involved most animes (I believe).

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  • the idea of a mob of little people flocking around might be closer to the truth here, please check my post, I updated with some images. They reminded me a little of the soot sprites from totoro because there are a lot of them and they are kind of squishy but these are made to be much cuter and not so sooty as susuwatari, more like little blobs but mostly all the same as each other with only a few individual distinguishing features. it might be a joke about "mob character" type monsters though, like a visual pun
    – shigginpit
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 11:33
  • I'll plus one this because I think it's close to the truth, I'm hoping there might be a more definitive comparison with a specific variety of spirit/youkai. Like if it was a kappa, you'd know it was a kappa, so unless their entire character is created to perpetrate the pun of being mob youkai, I think maybe something similar exists in the "genus" chimimoryo.
    – shigginpit
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 11:42
  • @shigginpit I guess the main factor is the round shape being just cute - chiikawa seems to be a big hit this year. In terms of traditional stereotypes, one thing would be hito-dama (literally human spirit). The traditional shape of hito-dama is a fire ball or its upside-down version (=a ball with a tail), but without horn. An anime-like example is this, for example.
    – sundowner
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 14:03
  • I agree, there's a lot of of blob like web series characters the last few seasons. I'm familiar with hito-dama but I think that's supposed to be an apparition, the death triangle thing is probably because they used to be human, now they can't move on. I see the design similarity in that they're both a bit squishy & round but on the show, the chimimo are definitely physical beings. They also have a power that when they dance around in a circle they can open a portal to hell. They play the role of "jigoku-san's" subordinates, although they never really act in that capacity, mostly as Mei's pets.
    – shigginpit
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 19:30

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