Kitsune are a supernatural species within the Teen Wolf Universe. They are described as "tricksters" with no care for the concept of right or wrong.
Real World Myth
- EDITORS NOTE: What follows here is the barest overview of Japanese fox folklore.
- It is not, nor is it meant to be, a full account of the Kitsune Myth.
- The different Japanese folklore stories about foxes are as widespread and varied as rocks in a riverbed. There is no one thing to which you can point and say “there, that is the Kitsune Myth.”
- Confusing the issue even more is the fact that each different Asian culture has its own unique fox-based myths - each with different names and attributes.
- What follows deals exclusively with the bare basics of the ancient Japanese folklore on the subject and does not take into account anything published after the 17th century.
Kitsune (キツネ) is the Japanese word for Fox.
Early portrayals of kitsune cast them as heralds of Inari Ōkami, the god of rice, but in some areas of the country the worship of the foxes became more important than the god they served.
There is no single, universal concept of kitsune just as there is no single, universal concept of “ghost” or “demon”.
In Japanese folklore, all foxes exhibit some level of magical ability including shapeshifting into people, other creatures, and inanimate objects. These powers increase with age and wisdom.
In ancient stories, some foxes use their magic for good while others are malevolent. They are often portrayed as tricksters. Some of the stories are comical while others are deeply emotional love stories featuring human/fox pairings.
There are thirteen types of Kitsune in Japanese mythology.
- Tengoku (Heaven, Celestial, Light, Prime)
- Kukan (Void or Dark)
- Kaze (Wind)
- Seishin (Spirit)
- Kasai (Fire)
- Chikyu (Earth)
- Kawa (River)
- Umi (Ocean, Sea)
- Yama (Mountain)
- Mori (Forest, Woods)
- Sanda (Thunder)
- Jikan (Time)
- Ongaku (Music, Sound)
Teen Wolf Myth
According to Peter Hale, a kitsune is simply a fox spirit that can choose to take human form which supposedly that’s something they can do only after about a hundred years.
There are 13 types of Kitsune within the Teen Wolf Universe but only five have been named within the context of the show; Celestial, Wild, Ocean, Thunder and Void.
Like most supernatural creatures, Kitsunes demonstrate enhanced strength, speed and accelerated healing.
When a Kitsune is using its abilities, there is an orange glow that appears in its eyes. This is the only indication of the Kitsune shape-shifting abilities. (Smoke & Mirrors, The Fox and the Wolf, Amplification)
According to Derek Hale, Kitsunes have auras that they learn to conceal as they grow. It is shaped like a fox with large pointed ears and muzzle.
In Season 5, the aura is revealed to be a manifestation of the fox spirit within their human body that can take control at will if it becomes stronger than the human in mentality and power.
It can be seen with digital photographs and by those with enhanced vision like a Werewolf.
Traditionally, tails are symbols of how powerful kitsunes are. They appear to only have nine tails.
Tails are achieved when a kitsune becomes more powerful. For example, Kira got her first tail from a piece of obsidian in Mexico that she used to unlock her healing ability.
The age of the "tail" also denotes its power level such as. The older it is, the more potent in power it is.
Somehow, kitsunes can be represented in physical items like Noshiko's knives or Kira's hira-shuriken. This transformation of "tails" into the physical knives went unexplained during Season 3.
Destroying a tail weakens a kitsune's powers regardless of the intent. It appears to allow certain magic to be performed such as Noshiko summoning Oni or when Void Stiles used one to take control of the demons. Her tails were broken from most recent to the oldest due to the older tails being stronger (Letharia Vulpina, Insatiable)
She explains that, according to myth, when a Kitsune rubs its tails together it can create fire or lightning called "foxfire."
The foxfire appears to be more than just electrical. There is apparently a magical component as well as Kira was able to use lightning to repair a broken Katana.
We only have information about the two Kitsune currently on the show - other types may have other abilities. For instance, Thunder Kitsunes are able to absorb a large amount of electricity into her body which increases their power.
These creatures also appear to have an incredibly slow aging process. Noshiko appeared as a teenager in 1943 and a woman of 35 currently though she claims to be 900 years old. It is unclear if it is a natural phenomenon or an illusion that she is able to project.
Teen Wolf Creator Jeff Davis says he studied Japanese kitsune myths while coming up with the stories for Season 3(b).