Elf🧝‍, dwarf, troll, dragon🐉... When talking about all these fantasy stories, there are so many supernatural beings that can be counted. Within all these, goblin and ogre are 2 essential races in all fantasy-related subjects familiar to us.

Of course you can find goblin👺 and ogre👹 in emojis! But here is the question❓: Why the goblin and ogre emojis are not like the traditional look in fantasy stories?


You may not use 👺👹 often, but you definitely see these 2 emojis in some special topics during the Halloween season or #costume/cosplay on social media.

Just gets straight to the point, the origin of emoji 👺 and 👹 is actually not from western fantasy tales. Instead, they are all from Japanese folklore🇯🇵 which are called tengu'天狗てんぐ' and oni'鬼おに'.

🔺Goblin and ogre designs from the game Dungeons & Dragons 🆚 tengu and oni in Japanese ancient paintings.

Since the first emoji set is released by the Japanese, it is reasonable that the goblin and ogre emojis are designed based on Japanese classic legendary creatures of tengu and oni, and then was added directly into the global Unicode version and Emoji version.

The first emoji images of 👺 and 👹 are designed by KDDI in 2003 and look like this👇.

🖼️ The original design of tengu (goblin) and oni (ogre)

Generally, you can consider 👺 and 👹 as the Japanese version of goblin and ogre, but there are still some cultural differences between them.


So here, please allow me to make some introductions about these 2 strange emojis🙋‍.

Emoji 👺Goblin and 👹Ogre are all belong to sub-category 'face-costume'. They were released as unicode in version 6.0 in 2010 and be added to Emoji version 5.0 in 2015. Both 👺 and 👹 are part of Japanese folklore and are known by almost all the Japanese since they were very young🗾.

1. Tengu

Tengu is a type of legendary creature found in Japanese folk religion. They are traditionally depicted with human, monkey, and avian characteristics, so this explains why this emoji has red face (stands for monkey) and long nose (stands for beak).

There are many kinds of tengu, and the emoji 👺 is designed based on the most famous and powerful one called '大天狗daitengu'.

🔺 👺 from different vendors

Since ancient times, tengu have often appeared in Japanese folklore. In Japanese culture, tengu have proud nature and penchant for chaos and savagery, they are more like minor gods that are both good and wicked😈.

Tengu are normally live in a specific arrange of deep mountain forests. They usually use a magical feather fan as a weapon, which can control wind and flight. Tengu often abduct humans, especially children under 7. So there is a saying that if a child disappears mysteriously(神隠し), usually is stolen by tengu😱.

If you are a fan of Japanese anime and comics, then you must be no stranger to tengu, after all, it is continue to be popular among animation, comics, and video games. Lots of characters have the hidden identity of a tengu, or wear a tengu mask🎭 to indicate they are mysterious and powerful.

🔺 Some popular characters based on tengu👺

2. Oni

Oni👹 is a fierce and evil yōkai in Japanese folklore, usually portrayed as hulking figures with one or more horns growing out of their heads. Their typical skin color is red, and maybe blue, black, yellow, or white-colored too. They are mostly wearing loincloths of tiger pelt🐅 and carrying an iron club called kanabō.

🔺 👹 from different vendors

Though tengu has nothing related to the goblin, there are some similarities between an ogre and an oni.

Due to oni's scary looks and evil nature such as murder and cannibalism, they usually appear as popular villains in Japanese art and literature, this is somehow as same as ogres🤔.

However, though they were pure evil (like demons👿) in the past, they have become more friendly in modern culture as people tell less frightening fairytales about them like 'Red Oni, Blue Oni'.

🔺Scary to cute😊

In Japan, a celebration called Setsubun'節分' takes place on February 3rd every year, and people will chase away onis by scattering soybeans. This also can shows the significance of 👹 in Japanese traditional culture.

Some interesting analyzes

After the introduction above, here we also performed some analysis on 👺 and 👹.

First, judging from the 'Popularity rating over time' graph of these 2 emojis, they show very similar popularity changes. 👺 and 👹 are not so be known before 2020, however, their popularity both suddenly rose to a peak in March 2020.

🔺The popularity rating over time graph between 👺 and 👹

About this, based on Google Trends related topics data, the most possible reason is laid on the heat of the animation--Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. At that time, the global boom of this animation made netizens show a fond of use 👹 to indicate the villain oni, and 👺 to indicate the hero or hero's teacher character.

What's more, as you can see, on the English detail pages of these two emojis, they are each other's most related emojis. And when you explore these 2 emojis in different language pages🔍, you will find that this is the situation not only for English pages, but shows in most other pages as well.

🔺The comparison of 'The Relationship Chart' between 👺 and 👹

In my personal opinion, except for the popularity of demon slayer🗡, maybe it is also because they are next to each other on emoji keyboards⌨ and have the similar color of red🕵️‍, which leads to a strong relationship between 👺 and 👹.

Sure if you have any other opinions or ideas about these 2 emojis, please don't hesitate to share with us in the comment below. Or if you want to get more knowledge about a specific emoji, just let me know😉!~

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