Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Kitaro DVD Review, vol. 1

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Kodansha owns the rights to the Gegege no Kitaro anime, as well as to the bulk of the manga it's based on. Recently, they've decided to cash in on the serialized collector's magazine market pioneered by DeAgostini, which is currently releasing a Columbo DVD set in Japan with the same method. The idea is the weekly, bimonthly or monthly release of a DVD with 2-4 episodes, some special video features and an accompanying magazine. DeAgostini has also been doing this with model kits for castles, motorcycles and robots.

The website says that the Kitaro series will run 27 issues, for a total of $480 USD. (There's a separate collection of all of Mizuki's manga that will go 33 volumes for $650 USD.) The first issue is about $8 USD, but the subsequent ones will be in the $16 to $20 range. Not sure if I want to spend that much...

Volume 1 comes with a 42-page full-color magazine and one DVD with its own clam shell case. The magazine introduces the Kitaro universe, and then spends a lot of time comparing the 1970 TV anime series with the original manga, and the other TV seasons. According to the wiki entry, the first series ran from 1968 to '69. The second from '71-72, the third from '85-88, the fourth from '96-98, and then finally '07-09. The '60s series was in black and white and had fairly crude animation. The '70s series was more-or-less a rewriting of the B&W episodes in color with slightly better animation, but also slightly cutsier designs aimed more for children. Along with the artwork comparison chart, the magazine talks about the various yokai (monsters or ghosts) that showed up in the stories, plus their original designs from when they first appeared in Mizuki's manga.

When I first came to Japan in '92, I stumbled across a manga magazine that had a one-page writeup of Mizuki's yokai. Each issue had a different yokai on the back page, with a short description. I tried to collect the pages from the issues I bought, but they got lost when I changed apartments. Fortunately, it looks like Kodansha has included some of those pages here.

The DVD contains Yokai Fukatsu (Yokai Rebirth, 10/7/71), Yokai Tanmono (Yokai Cloth, 10/14/71), Yokai Daisaiban (Yokai Big Trial, 10/21/71), Amefuri Tengu (Rainy Weather Goblin, 10/28/71), a ten minute interview with Shigeru Mizuki, and a-2 minute silent video showing a room filled with Kitaro goods. The entire magazine series is dedicated to the 70's show, so it's going to be pretty high-camp, but from an anime history viewpoint it does include an important period in Toei Studio's lifespan as an anime production house. The Shigeru interview is in Japanese, and there's no language options on the DVD to turn on English subtitles, so if you don't know Japanese, it's going to be boring. Even so, it's not that an in-depth conversation.

For the 70's series, the opening credits song is "Gegege no Kitaro", sung by Kazuo Kumakura. the ending is "Karan Koron no Uta" (The Clip Clop Song), sung by Midori Kanou. I like both of these versions, so the DVD was worth getting just for them.


Julia Arsenault said...

Who's that old-woman Nezumi went to see in "Yokai Fukatsu"?? A fortune-teller?

TSOTE said...

Probably, yes. I don't have the DVD anymore so I can't go back and check. But, she doesn't show up in the magazine's list of yokai, so she's probably just a human fortune teller.