Kitsune is the Japanese word for fox. Foxes are a common subject in Japanese folklore in English kitsune refers them in this context. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing magical abilites that increase with their age and wisdom, every 100 years they get a tail, becoming more powerful, and when they reach nine tails (Kyuubi no Kitsune), they become demi-gods, reaching the omniscience, and almost the omnipotency. Foremost among these is the ability to assume a human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others as foxes in folklore often do other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers and wives.The folklore says they are afraid of dogs, running away every time they see it.
Kitsune are believed to possess superior intelligence, long life, and magical powers. They are a type of yōkai or spiritual entity, the word kitsune is often translated as fox spirit. However, this does not mean that kitsune are ghosts nor that they are fundamentally different from regular foxes. Because the word spirit is used to reflect a state of knowledge or enlightenment, all long-lived foxes gain supernatural abilities.
There are two common classifications of kitsune. The zenko are benevolent, celestial foxes associated with Inari, they are sometimes simply called Inari foxes. On the other hand, the yako tend to be mischievous or even malicious. Local traditions add further types. For example, a ninko is an invisible fox spirit that human beings can only perceive when it possess them. Another tradition classifies kitsune into one of thirteen types defined by which supernatural abilities the kitsune possesses.
Physically, kitsune are noted for having as many as nine tails. Generally, a greater number of tails indicates an older and more powerful fox; in fact, some folktales say that a fox will only grow additional tails after it has lived a century. One, five, seven and nine tails are the most common numbers in folk stories. When a kitsune gains its ninth tail, its fur becomes white, silver or gold. These kyūbi no kitsune gain the abilities to see and hear anything happening anywhere in the world. Other tales attribute them infinite wisdom.
Powers and abilities
- Shapeshifting - Abilitiy to turn into anything found in nature.
- Kitsunetsuki - Possession.
- Hoshi no tama - The kitsunes star ball.
- Fox-fire (kitsune-bi) - Kitsune can produce fire and lightning by rubbing their tales. Kitsune can also create small balls of fire and even breathe fire.
- Dream Manipulation - Willful manifestation in the dreams of others
- Creation of illusions - To a Kitsune and for others, their illusions are reality.
- Magic - Kitsune can study any normal field of magic.
- Mind Control - A Kitsune can cause someone to see anything the Kitsune wishes, or overlook anything the Kitsune wants them to, similar to compulsion.
- Others - Greater powers include bending time and space, drive people mad, or take fantastic shapes such as a tree of incredible height or a second moon in the sky.
- If a kitsune's ball of memories is emptied then that kitsune will die.
- Kitsunes are also a victim of their own feelings. A kitsune's emotions can cause them harm or distract them. The Sin of Regret can even kill a kitsune outright.
- Freedom is very important to the kitsune. They do not accept being forced into something they do not wish and do not like being bound or trapped. Doing so weakens the kitsune and is frowned upon by other kitsune.
- Kitsune must keep their promises or suffer a deterioration in their rank and power.
- Kitsunes are known to have a great fear and hatred of dogs and wolves. Some become so rattled by the presence of that they will revert to the shape of a fox and flee.
- Inari is the first and most powerful fox of all.
- Kitsune tend not use their real names when among mortals as it can be used to bind, banish or work spirit magic on the kitsune. For the most part, the kitsune will take a name appropiate to the task at hand or as a joke.
- Shinichi and Misao will not appear in the fourth season.