The Supernatural: Ghosts in Asian Dramas
Updated: Aug 18, 2022
An avenger, a killer bride, and a teen psychic—these are some of the interesting characters in our recommended Asian (non-Korean) supernatural TV shows on “Ghost Day,” the 15th day of the “Ghost Month.”
In Chinese culture, during the seventh month in the lunar calendar, ghosts and spirits come out of the spirit realm to visit the living. Rooted in Taoist and Buddhist tradition, it is a time for the remaining relatives to help relieve the suffering of their departed ancestors. See how these protagonists across various cultures navigate the nexus between the ephemeral and the ethereal.
Jigoku Shoujo / Hell Girl (2006)
"Oh pitiful shadow lost in the darkness, Demeaning and bringing harm to others, A damned soul wallowing in sin—care to give dying a try?"
Anime fans all over will never forget this iconic monologue from the cult classic anime and jdorama, Jigoku Shoujo. This iconic monologue uttered by "hell girl" Enma Ai (Iwata Sayuri, Scanner) is only for the ears of the souls who are unfortunate enough to be ferried to the afterlife. Considered an urban legend, people flock to a website called Hell's Correspondence to ask Enma Ai to exact revenge on their behalf. But only the truly desperate and hopeless can enter Hell's Correspondence, and once they do, they too must pay the price of revenge: For when one soul is cursed, two graves are dug.
*Note: Consider watching the multi-arc anime AND the movie released last 2019. You won't regret it.
Available on other sites
The Killer Bride (2019)
Wearing a bloody wedding dress, Camila dela Torre (Maja Salvador) has been accused of killing the Las Espadas mayor before her wedding. As a result, she is abandoned by her fiancé, is sentenced to life imprisonment, and gives birth while in prison. As if her suffering were not enough, she loses her daughter in the prison facility fire. Camila is also reported to have died, vowing to get back on those who have caused her pain. Soon, townspeople believe her ghost possesses a human for her revenge every blood moon eclipse. However, 18 years later, a newcomer to the town becomes possessed and announces that she is Camila, the “killer bride.”
Available on YouTube
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Ghost (2021)
Jesseca Liu plays the impeccably dressed ghost Xiao Fang who is stuck in the apartment where she died under dubious circumstances. Unable to solve the mystery of her own death, she enlists (or forces) the help of three people to get to the bottom of things. The 20-episode drama from Singapore is an easy watch for those who like some comedy mixed with their thrills.
Available on meWatch
The Teenage Psychic Season 1 (2017) and Season 2 (2019)
Adapted from the 2013 short film The Busy Young Psychic, The Teenage Psychic is a beautiful and heartwarming show about life, death, and the pains of puberty.
Xie Ya Zhen (Kuo Shu-yao) is our teenage psychic who tries to live a normal life during the day and works at their family temple at night. She tries her best to accommodate the demands of her ghastly visitors while navigating high school life. More than just a comedy about Xie Ya Zhen and her abilities, The Teenage Psychic is also a sweet (and smart!) teenage romance with a dash of family drama. Prepare to laugh, cry, and be fascinated, as this show also provides a fascinating look at Taiwanese superstition, beliefs, and rituals surrounding the afterlife.
Available on HBO
Kao Waan Hai Noo Pen Sai Lub / My Secret Bride / They Asked Her To Be A Spy (2019)
Suam (Kao Thanachart) has had a rough life. Her mother runs a gambling den and her father is a drunk and a lecher. And if that isn’t enough, she also sees ghosts. Danurut (Great Panhakarn) is a good cop who is just trying to do his job as best as he can. Fate throws the two of them together as Suam’s special talent of seeing ghosts actually comes in handy for solving crimes. Convoluted circumstances in true lakhorn (Thai drama) fashion force the two of them to live as a married couple. Comedy, mystery, action, and of course, romance ensue.
Trigger warning: Some mention of rape and abuse
Available on other sites
The Ferryman · Legends of Nanyang (2021)
Xia Dong Qing (Lawrence Wong, Story of Yanxi Palace) is a convenience store part-timer who can see supernatural beings. His “Yin Yang eyes” turn out to be a “gift” from the grim reaper Zhao Li (Qi Yuwu). As his workplace happens to be a portal that connects the mortal and spiritual realms, he and Li assist lost souls with unfinished business in the world of the living. Olivia (Kate Kinney) later joins the pair after Dong Qing helps her.
The 36-episode series is a remake of The Ferryman, a 2014 drama set in China. This time, The Ferryman · Legends of Nanyang, iQIYI’s first Southeast Asian original series, was shot in Malaysia and Singapore.
Available on iQIYI