You know what they say, one man’s nightmare is another man’s sexual fantasy.

Wait, is that how the saying goes?

The baku is a very well known and popular supernatural creature in Japan and has been for hundreds of years. A tapir-like chimera that is usually depicted with the trunk of an elephant, the paws of a tiger, and the tail of an ox that eats dreams and nightmares may seem a little frightening at first, second, or even third glance, but since the idea was brought to Japan from China in the 14th Century, these little guys have been looked to for assistance in the dream world. Their purpose is actually considered quite beneficial to humans. Consuming bad dreams and nightmares helps sleepers start their day in a more peaceful fashion. Waking up from a nightmare can be quite disturbing, but the Baku is always willing to lend a helping hand. In this sense, the baku acts similarly to Objibwa dreamcatchers, though unlike an inanimate dreamcatcher, the baku is thought to possess free will. Many people waking from nightmares or having trouble sleeping have called out for help from this strange spirit creature but stories tell us that bakus also roam through the dream world, consuming nightmares before they reach humans and destroying the demons and monsters that make them as well. Some tales even say that bakus help to fight off sickness and plagues which are sometimes thought to come from the realm of dreams.

I guess the problem starts to come in when trying to define what a nightmare is. Something that seems horrifying to me might be a very erotic moment for someone else. Let’s just say I don’t envy the baku’s job at all, these poor things have been probably seen some shit. I’d be surprised if they didn’t all suffer some kind of post traumatic stress disorder from their experiences. I imagine a bunch of old bakus gathering in a small room for group therapy, sharing their experiences, trying to find some kind of sanity.

Humans are pretty scary creatures. The things our brains come up with can be absolutely astounding. I’m pretty sure I’d be traumatized after about two minutes spent in someone else’s dreams.

On a somewhat unrelated note, it’s sad that I don’t get the chance to do more comics about Asian and African divinities and creatures. A lot of people ask me to get to this story or that monster but it’s hard when you write the way I do. I try not to force people to read the blog for some context on what’s in the strip, instead treating them as separate entities that go hand in hand. Usually, the only option for topics that I consider less well-known is to give you some context in the first panel, but that can be a little clumsy. One of my goals this year is to work on that problem and to come up with better ways to tackle topics that may be unfamiliar to western readers in the comic.

That’s my dream anyway.

Hopefully a passing baku doesn’t decide to eat it! O ho ho!