Monday, July 1, 2013

Kitaro DVD Review, vol. 3

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

The Kodansha DVD magazine collection for the Gegege no Kitaro TV series (60's and 70's seasons) is currently coming out on a bi-weekly schedule. The official release date for volume 3 is July 9th, but it actually hit the shelves here in Kagoshima on June 27th (Kagoshima is usually 3 days behind Tokyo because it's on a separate island - Kyushu). At this rate, we can expect the next 2 or 3 by the beginning of August. Then we get Obon, the one-week holiday dedicated to honoring one's ancestors, which may or may not affect the schedule.

The feature character this time is Nezumi Otoko ("mouse man"). In the manga, Nezumi Otoko is very conniving, greedy and untrustworthy. While he does accompany Kitaro on many of their adventures together, this may largely be because Kitaro wants him close by to control some of the damage he'd cause otherwise. Nezumi never bathes, is covered in rashes and scabs, wears rags, and is generally accompanied by a nasty stench. In the TV series, he's toned down somewhat and actually thinks of Kitaro as a friend (one that he can profit off of).

As with the other magazines, and I assume which will be a standard pattern for the remaining 24 volumes), we get short summaries of each TV episode on the DVD, comparisons of the artwork between the manga and the TV shows, and 1-page feature write-ups of specific youkai. One page describes the Kitaro character statues that were erected by local businessmen in Chofu and includes photos of a Kitaro goods shop in the area. I used to live near Chofu, which is along the Tama river, at the border of Tokyo and Kanagawa. That's where Shigeru Mizuki has had his studio for several decades, and was the setting for the "Gegege no Nyobo" (Wife of Gegege) TV series.

(Magazine back cover, showing both sides of the fold-out poster.)

The 2-sided front fold-out poster is the full-color version of "Youkai Tanmono" on the front, and "Obake no Tengoku" (Monster Heaven) on the back. (Youkai Tanmono first appeared as the splash page for the story of the same name in Shonen Magajin. This story appears on DVD vol. 1 as episode 2 of the 70's TV series.) The 1-page monster features are: Tsuchikorobi (Dirt Roller), Yobuko (a mountain-dwelling "echo" spirit; translates to "whistler"), Yamata no Orochi (8-headed dragon), and Hangyojin (Merman; the alternative kanji name is "uminyoubou" or "sea-wife"). The DVD has 4 episodes plus a special track: Anko-ruwatto no bourei (The Angkor Wat Ghost, 12/9/1971), Tsuchikorobi (Dirt Roller, 12/16/1971), Yamata no Orochi (8-Headed Dragon, 12/23/1971) and Kamaboko (Fish Paste, 12/30/1971). The special is a short video tour (no commentary) of Chofu.

(On the last page, there's a "Find Yamada" challenge. Mr. Yamada is a recurring character in the Mizuki universe, and here he's being treated as a "Where's Waldo" or "Where's Mickey Mouse" figure. In the Kamaboko episode, he shows up with a moustache as a beat cop, and in the background of a market scene as a customer trying to buy fish paste.)

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