I just got my copy of Yokai Attack: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide (Kodansha International), and it is essential reading for anyone who would prefer not be eaten alive by a giant, wrathful squid. Author Matt Alt, a bilingual, culturally fluent fellow who grew up in DC, also works as a translator, explains,
It's what we believe is the world's first English-language guidebook to surviving potential encounters with monsters of Japanese myth and legend. For generations they were believed to have stalked Japan's mountains, forests, fields, coastlines, and towns. And who's to say they still aren't around? Written and created by Hiroko and I, illustrated by the talented manga-ka Tatsuya Morino, it's the last guide to Japan you'll ever need.
The book is organized by yokai, letting you take in important characteristics like pronunciation, size, locomotion, prevalence, danger level, and habitat at a glance. But don't let the "datafile" format fool you: this sucker is dense. Every entry also contains abundant info about each creature's historical/cultural background and modus operandi — handy for surviving potential close encounters. It isn't "fiction," isn't anime or manga — it's a collection of anecdotes and conventional wisdom about the creatures, giving you a leg up on the many references to yokai that appear in Japanese literature, film, anime, slang, and even cuisine (another serving of Kappa Maki, my friends?)