GeGeGe no Kitarō

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GeGeGe no Kitarō
Gegege.jpg
Kitarō and his yōkai friends.
ゲゲゲの鬼太郎
Genre Supernatural, Horror, Black comedy
Manga
Written by Shigeru Mizuki
Published by Kodansha
Demographic Shōnen
Magazine Weekly Shōnen Magazine
Original run 19601969
Volumes 9
Anime television series
Directed by Isao Takahata[1]
Written by Masaki Tsuji
Music by Taku Izumi
Studio Toei Dōga
Network Fuji Television (JOCX-TV (Tokyo Tower Channel 8))
Original run January 3, 1968March 30, 1969
Episodes 65 (List of episodes)
Anime television series
Directed by Isao Takahata[2]
Written by Masaki Tsuji
Music by Taku Izumi
Studio Toei Dōga
Network Fuji Television (JOCX-TV (Tokyo Tower Channel 8))
Original run October 7, 1971September 28, 1972
Episodes 45 (List of episodes)
Anime television series
Directed by Osamu Kasai (1-108)[3]
Hiroki Shibata (109-115)[4]
Written by Junki Takegami
Music by Masahiro Kawasaki
Studio Toei Animation
Network Fuji Television (JOCX-TV (Tokyo Tower Channel 8))
Original run October 12, 1985March 21, 1988
Episodes 115 (List of episodes)
Anime television series
Directed by Daisuke Nishio[5]
Written by Shun'ichi Yukimuro
Music by Kaoru Wada
Studio Toei Animation
Network Fuji Television (JOCX-TV (Tokyo Tower Channel 8))
Original run January 7, 1996March 29, 1998
Episodes 114 (List of episodes)
Anime television series
Directed by Yukio Kawazu[6]
Written by Keiichi Hasegawa
Music by Katsumi Horii
Studio Toei Animation
Network Fuji Television (JOCX-TV (Tokyo Tower Channel 8) and JOCX-DTV (Tokyo Tower Channel 21))
English network
Original run April 1, 2007March 29, 2009
Episodes 100 (List of episodes)
Anime television series
Kitarō of the Graveyard
Directed by Kimitoshi Chioki[7]
Written by Yoshimi Narita
Music by Kaoru Wada
Studio Toei Animation
Network Fuji Television (JOCX-TV (Tokyo Tower Channel 8) and JOCX-DTV (Tokyo Tower Channel 21))
Original run January 10, 2008March 20, 2008
Episodes 11
Live-action film
Directed by Katsuhide Motoki
Produced by Chihiro Kameyama
Written by Katsuhide Motoki
Daisuke Habara
Music by Yūta Nakano
Studio Shochiku
Released April 28, 2007 (2007-04-28)
Runtime 105 minutes
Live-action film
Kitaro and the Millennium Curse
Directed by Katsuhide Motoki
Written by Mitsuhiko Sawamura
Studio Shochiku
Released July 12, 2008 (2008-07-12)
Runtime 115 minutes
Anime film
GeGeGe no Kitarō: Explosive Japan!!
Directed by Gō Koga[8]
Written by Riku Sanjo
Music by Seiji Yokoyama
Studio Toei Animation
Released December 13, 2008
Runtime 85 minutes

GeGeGe no Kitarō (ゲゲゲの鬼太郎?), originally known as Kitarō of the Graveyard (墓場の鬼太郎 Hakaba no Kitarō?), is a manga series created in 1960 by Shigeru Mizuki. It is best known for its popularization of the folklore creatures known as yōkai, a class of spirit-monster to which all of the main characters belong. It has been adapted for the screen several times, as anime, live action and video games. A new anime series has been made every decade since 1968.

This story was an early 20th-century Japanese folk tale performed on kamishibai. The name "Ge Ge Ge..." was applied to Mizuki's particular telling of the Kitarō story when a Toei Animation series based on the characters of his comic was created. In January, 2008, the original comic was finally adapted into an animated series, running in Fuji TV's Noitamina slot.

Plot[edit]

GeGeGe no Kitarō focuses on the young Kitarō - the last survivor of the Ghost Tribe - and his adventures with other ghouls and strange creatures of Japanese mythology. Along with: the remains of his father, Medama-Oyaji (a mummified Ghost tribesman reincarnated to inhabit his old eyeball); Nezumi-Otoko (the rat-man); Neko-Musume (the cat-girl); and a host of other folkloric creatures, Kitarō strives to unite the worlds of humans and Yōkai.

Many storylines involve Kitarō facing off with myriad monsters from other countries, such as the Chinese vampire Yasha, the Transylvanian Dracula IV, and other such non-Japanese creations. In addition to this, Kitarō also locks heads with various malevolent Yōkai who threaten the balance between the Japanese creatures and humans.[9]

Some storylines make overt reference to traditional Japanese tales, most notably the folk tale of Momotarō, in which the young hero defends a Japanese territory from demons with the help of the native animals. The Kitarō series The Great Yōkai War (Japanese: 妖怪大戦争, hepburn Yōkai Daisensō) draws a great deal of influence from this story, with Kitarō and his Yōkai friends driving a group of Western ghouls away from an island. [10][11]

While the character of Kitarō in GeGeGe no Kitarō is a friendly boy who genuinely wants the best outcome for humans and Yōkai alike, his earlier incarnation in Hakaba Kitarō portrays him as a much more darkly mischievous character. His apparent lack of empathy for humans combines with his general greed and desire for material wealth drives him to act in an unbecoming manner towards the human characters - often deceptively leading them into nightmarish situations or even to hell itself. [12]

Characters[edit]

Kitarō (鬼太郎 Kitarō?)
Kitarō is a yōkai boy born in a cemetery and, aside from his mostly decayed father, the last living member of the Ghost Tribe (幽霊族 yūrei zoku?). His name, rendered with the character Oni (Japanese: 鬼, literally "Demon") can be translate as "Demon Boy" - a name which reference both his human and Yōkai heritage.[13] He is missing his left eye, but his hair usually covers the empty socket. He fights for peace between humans and yōkai, which generally involves protecting the former from the wiles of the latter. When questioned in the 2007 movie, Kitarō responds that he is three hundred and fifty years old. As a member of the Ghost Tribe, Kitarō has an assortment of powers and weapons.
While his powers are featured prominently in the GeGeGe no Kitarō series, Hakaba Kitarō plays down Kitarō's supernatural abilities. Beyond having the power to travel through hell unharmed with the help of his Chanchanko, as well as the ability to regenerate from almost any injury (as evidenced when his body is recoverable after being dissolved by Johnny in the Fog[14]), his powers are more of deception than of fighting prowess: something much more in line with traditional Yōkai characters.
Medama-oyaji (目玉のおやじ, or 目玉親父?, literally "Eyeball Father")
Medama-oyaji is Kitarō's father. Once a fully formed adult ghost, he perished of a disease, only to be reborn out of his decayed body as an anthropomorphic version of his own eyeball. He looks small and fragile, but has a strong spirit and a great love for his son. He is also extremely knowledgeable about ghosts and monsters. He enjoys staying clean, and is often seen bathing in a small bowl. He has a great love for sake.
In the 2002 Kodansha International Bilingual Comics edition, he is referred to as Daddy Eyeball.
Nezumi Otoko (ねずみ男?, "Rat Man")
Nezumi Otoko is a rodent-like yōkai-human halfbreed. He has been alive for three hundred and sixty years, and in that time has almost never taken a bath, rendering him filthy, foul-smelling, and covered in welts and sores. While he is usually Kitarō's friend, Nezumi Otoko will waste no time cooking up vile schemes or betraying his companions if he thinks there's money to be had or a powerful enemy to side with. He claims to be a college graduate of the University of the Bizarre (怪奇大学 Kaiki Daigaku?). He can immobilize even the strongest yokai that accost him with a pungent flatulence attack. And akin to cats and mice, he and Nekomusume cannot stand being around each other.
Nezumi-Otoko first appears in the story The Lodging House (Rental manga version) as Dracula IV's minion.
In the 2002 Kodansha International Bilingual Comics edition, he is referred to as Ratman.
Neko Musume (猫娘 or ねこ娘?, "Cat Girl")
A normally quiet yōkai girl, who transforms into a frightening cat monster with fangs and feline eyes when she is angry or hungry for fish. Predictably, she does not get along well with Nezumi Otoko. She seems to harbor a slight crush on Kitarō, who sees her only as a friend. In recent iterations (possibly due to the recent anime phenomenon of fanservice), she is very fond of human fashion and is seen in different outfits and uniforms. She bears some resemblance to the bakeneko of Japanese folklore.
Neko-Musume first appears in the story Neko-Musume and Nezumi-Otoko (Weekly Shōnen Magazine version), however another cat-girl named Neko (?) appears in the earlier stories The Vampire Tree and the Neko-Musume and A Walk to Hell (Rental version).
In the 2002 Kodansha International Bilingual Comics edition, she is referred to as Catchick.
Sunakake Babaa (砂かけ婆?, "Sand-throwing hag")
Sunakake Babaa is an old yōkai woman who carries sand which she throws into the eyes of enemies to blind them. She serves as an advisor to Kitarō and his companions, and manages a yōkai apartment building. The original sunakake-baba is an invisible sand-throwing spirit from the folklore of Nara Prefecture.
Sunakake-babaa first appears in a cameo as one of many yōkai attending a sukiyaki party in the story A Walk to Hell (Rental version) before making a more prominent appearance in The Great Yōkai War (Shōnen Magazine version).
In the 2002 Kodansha International Bilingual Comics edition, she is referred to as The Sand Witch.
Konaki Jijii (子泣き爺?, "Child-crying Old Man")
Konaki Jijii is a comic, absent-minded old yōkai man who attacks enemies by clinging to them and turning himself to stone, increasing his weight and mass immensely and pinning them down. He and Sunakake Babaa often work as a team. The original konaki jijii is a ghost which is said to appear in the woods of Tokushima Prefecture in the form of a crying infant. When it is picked up by some hapless traveller, it increases its weight until it crushes him.
Konaki-jijii first appears in a cameo as one of many yōkai attending a sukiyaki party in the story A Walk to Hell (Rental version) before making a more prominent appearance in The Great Yōkai War (Shōnen Magazine version).
In the 2002 Kodansha International Bilingual Comics edition, he is referred to as Old Man Crybaby.
Ittan Momen (一反木綿?, "Roll of Cotton")
Ittan Momen is a flying yōkai resembling a strip of white cloth. Kitarō and friends often ride on him when traveling. The original ittan-momen is a spirit from Kagoshima Prefecture myth which wraps itself around the faces of humans in an attempt to smother them.
Ittan Momen first appears in the story The Great Yōkai War (Shōnen Magazine version).
In the 2002 Kodansha International Bilingual Comics edition, he is referred to as Rollo Cloth.
Nurikabe (ぬりかべ?, "Plastered Wall")
Nurikabe is a large, sleepy-eyed wall-shaped yōkai, who uses his massive size to protect Kitarō and his friends. The original Nurikabe is a spirit which blocks the passage of people walking at night.
Nurikabe first appears in a cameo as one of many yōkai attending a sukiyaki party in the story A Walk to Hell (Rental version) before making a more prominent appearance in The Great Yōkai War (Shōnen Magazine version).
In the 2002 Kodansha International Bilingual Comics edition, he is referred to as Wally Wall.
Nurarihyon (ぬらりひょん?)
Kitaro's old rival,he is depicted as an old man who comes at other people's houses and drink their tea. He is also a member of the Gazu Hyaki Yako, Nurarihyon has a member he always uses named Shu no Bon.
Back Beard (バックベアード?)
Back Beard is the boss of the Western Yokai and Kitarō's second greatest foe after Nurarihyon. He is loosely based on the bugbear. He is a giant, round shadow with a single large eye in the center and several tentacles extending from his body. He appeared most prominently in the story The Great Yokai War, where he rallied all the Western Yokai into a war against the Japanese Yokai. He used his hypnotic powers to make Nezumi-Otoko betray Kitarō and later hypnotized Kitarō himself. He has since appeared semi-regularly throughout the franchise.

Media[edit]

An illustration from the original Hakaba no Kitarō kamishibai, printed in Koji Kada's 紙芝居昭和史 (Kamishibai Showa History).[15] This picture depicts the Kitarō character as significantly more frightening and threatening than Mizuki's version of the character.

Kamishibai[edit]

The 2013 translated compilation by Drawn and Quarterly

The Kitarō story began life as a kamishibai in 1933, written by Masami Itou (伊藤正美). Itou's version was called Kitarō of the Graveyard (Japanese: ハカバノキタロウ, hepburn: Hakaba no Kitarō), and is generally written in katakana to distinguish it from Mizuki's version of the tale. It is said to be a loose reinterpretation of the similar Japanese folktale called the Ame-Kai Yurei ("The Candy-Buying Ghost.") In 1954, Mizuki was asked to continue the series by his publisher.[16]

Manga[edit]

The work Hakaba Kitarō was published as a rental manga in 1960, but it was considered too scary for children. In 1965, renamed to Hakaba no Kitarō, it appeared in Shōnen Magazine and ran through 1970. The series was renamed GeGeGe-no-Kitarō in 1967 and continued on Shōnen Sunday, Shōnen Action, Shukan Jitsuwa and many other magazines. In 2002 GeGeGe-no-Kitarō was translated by Ralph F. McCarthy and compiled by Natsuhiko Kyogoku for Kodansha Bilingual Comics.[17] In 2013, "Kitaro," a compilation of manga chapters from the 1960s, was released by Drawn and Quarterly, with English translation by Zack Davisson [18] and an introduction by Matt Alt.[19]

Anime[edit]

Six anime adaptations were made from the original GeGeGe no Kitarō manga series. Gegege no Kitarō was broadcast on Fuji Television, all of the adaptations were animated by Toei Animation. The opening theme to all five series is "Gegege no Kitarō". It has been sung by Kazuo Kumakura (1st, 2nd), Ikuzo Yoshi (3rd), Yūkadan (4th), and Ichirou Mizuki (5th). In January 2008, an all new anime (also produced by Toei) premiered on Fuji TV during the late night hours in the Noitamina block. This anime uses the original manga title (Hakaba Kitarō), and unlike the usual anime versions, it is closer to the original manga and is not part of the existing remake canon. It also features a completely different opening ("Mononoke Dance" by Denki Groove) and ending theme song ("Snow Tears" by Shoko Nakagawa).

Voice casts[edit]

Character Appearances
1968 Anime 1971 Anime 1978 Radio drama 1985 Anime 1996 Anime 2003 Games 2007 Anime Hakaba Kitarō
Kitarō Masako Nozawa Keiko Toda Yōko Matsuoka Rica Matsumoto Minami Takayama Masako Nozawa
Medama Oyaji Isamu Tanonaka Kazuo Kumakura Isamu Tanonaka‡
Nezumi-Otoko Chikao Ōtsuka Kei Tomiyama Shigeru Chiba Nachi Nozawa Wataru Takagi Chikao Ōtsuka
Neko-Musume Nana Yamaguchi
(1 episode)
Yōko Ogushi   Yūko Mita Chinami Nishimura Yūko Miyamura Hiromi Konno Shōko Nakagawa
Suna-kake Babaa Yōko Ogushi Keiko Yamamoto   Hiroko Emori Keiko Yamamoto Junko Hori Keiko Yamamoto  
Konaki-Jijii Ichirō NagaiYonehiko KitagawaKōsei Tomita Kōji Yada   Ichirō Nagai Kōzō Shioya Takanobu Hozumi Naoki Tatsuta  
Ittan-Momen Kōsei Tomita
(2 episodes)
Kōji Yada
(1 episode)
  Jōji Yanami Naoki Tatsuta Kenichi Ogata Jōji Yanami  
Nurikabe Kenji Utsumi Yūsaku Yara Kōsei Tomita Naoki Tatsuta  
Nurarihyon Ryūji Saikachi
(1 episode)
Takeshi Aono /
Koichi Chiba (1st appearance)
Tomomichi Nishimura Junpei Takiguchi Takeshi Aono  
Shu no Bon Michitaka Kobayashi Daisuke Gōri   Katsuyuki Konishi
Back Beard Kōsei Tomita Hidekatsu Shibata Masaharu Satō Kiyoshi Kobayashi Hidekatsu Shibata
Hiroshi Ōtake in 1971 Series, Ep. 4
‡Daisuke Gōri as Kitarō's Father (before death) in Hakaba Kitarō

Live-action movies[edit]

In recent years, the franchise has seen the release of two live-action films. The first of these was released in 2007, simply titled Kitaro for its international release (the film retained the title of ゲゲゲの鬼太郎 in Japan), and is based on stories depicted in the original Kitarō manga. It stars Eiji Wentz as Kitarō and Yo Oizumi as Nezumi-Otoko. The film follows Kitarō as he tries to save a young high school girl, Mika Miura, while also trying to stop the powerful "spectre stone" from falling into the wrong hands. While previous media in the franchise depicted its characters and stories mostly through hand-drawn animation and illustration, the live-action film makes extensive use of practical costumes and CGI characters to depict the colourful cast of Yōkai. The second film, Kitarō and the Millennium Curse, was released in 2008 and sees Wentz returning to the role of Kitarō. It follows Kitarō and his friends as they try to solve a 1,000 year old curse that threatens the life of his human companion Kaede Hiramoto.

Movie casts[edit]

Character Appearances
1985 TV movie 1987 Video Movie 2007 Film 2009 Film
Kitarō Makoto Mutsuura Motoyoshi Wada Eiji Wentz
Medama Oyaji Isamu Tanonaka
(voice)
Nezumi-Otoko Naoto Takenaka Shun Ueda Yo Oizumi
Neko-Musume Rena Tanaka
Suna-kake Babaa Tōru Yuri Kōen Okumura Shigeru Muroi
Konaki-Jijii Shōichirō Akaboshi Mansaku Fuwa Kanpei Hazama
Ittan-Momen Hiroshi Masuoka
(voice)
Toku Nishio
(voice)
Shingo Yanagisawa
(voice)
Nurikabe Hikaru Ijūin
(voice)
Nurarihyon Yōko Natsuki
Takeshi Kuwahara (voice)
Akira Shioji   Ken Ogata
Shu no Bon   Toshiya Ueda
(voice)

Video games[edit]

  • Gegege no Kitarō: Youkai Dai Makyou for the Famicom (1986, Bandai)
  • Gegege no Kitarō 2 for the Famicom (1987, Bandai)
  • Gegege No Kitarō: Fukkatsu! Tenma Daiou for the Super Famicom (1993, Bandai)
  • Gegege no Kitarō for the Game Boy (1996, Bandai)
  • Gegege No Kitarō: Gentōkaikitan for the Sega Saturn (1996, Sega)
  • Gegege No Kitarō: Youkai Donjara for the Super Famicom (1996, Bandai) (requires Sufami Turbo)
  • Gegege no Kitarō: Noroi no Nikuto Katachi Tachi for the PlayStation (1997, Bandai)
  • Hissatsu Pachinkostation now 5 Gegege No Kitarō for the PlayStation (2000, Sunsoft)
  • Gegege no Kitarō for Microsoft Windows (2003, Unbalance)
  • Gegege no Kitarō: Ibun Youkaitan for the PlayStation 2 (2003, Konami)
  • Gegege no Kitarō: Kiki Ippatsu! Youkai Rettou for the Game Boy Advance (2003, Konami)
  • Gegege no Kitarō: Gyakushuu! Youkai Daichisen for the PlayStation (2003, Konami)
  • Gegege no Kitarō: Youkai Daiundoukai for the Wii (2007, Namco Bandai)
  • Gegege no Kitarō Pachislo slot machine made by Sammy
  • Gegege no Kitarō: Youkai Daigekisen for the Nintendo DS (2008, Bandai)

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Davisson, Zack (2015). "About Me". Hyaku Monogatari. Retrieved 2015-12-12. 
  • Drawn & Quarterly (2013-08-20). "Kitaro". Drawn & Quarterly. Retrieved 2015-12-12. 
  • Foster, Michael Dylan (2009). Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Demonology and the Culture of Yōkai. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520253629. 
  • Kada, Koji (2004). 紙芝居昭和史. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten. ISBN 4006030967. 
  • Kure, Tomohiro (2010-10-01). "Shigeru Mura, Before Shigeru Mizuki". Geijitsu Shincho Magazine. 
  • Mizuki, Shigeru (1995). 妖怪大戦争:ゲゲゲの鬼太郎3 (5. satsu. ed.). Tōkyō: Chikuma Shobō. ISBN 4-480-02883-8. 
  • Mizuki, Shigeru (2002). GeGeGe-no-Kitaro Vol.1. Translated by Zack Davisson. New York: Kodansha International. ISBN 477002827X. 
  • Mizuki, Shigeru (2006a). Hakaba Kitarō : 1. Tōkyō: Kadokawa Shoten. ISBN 978-4-04-192913-1. 
  • Mizuki, Shigeru (2006b). Hakaba kitarō : 4. Tōkyō: Kadokawa Shoten. ISBN 978-4-04-192916-2. 
  • Papp, Zilia (2009-11-11). "Monsters at War: The Great Yōkai Wars, 1968-2005". Mechademia. 4 (War/Time): 225–239. Retrieved 2015-10-21. 

External links[edit]