Sunday, October 6, 2013

Kitaro DVD Review, vol. 10

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

Gegege no Kitaro Magazine DVD Series, volume 10

Kodansha has gone through all of the important major yokai and is now starting to double-up on the minor supporting ones. These guys will occasionally assist Kitaro in the bigger battles, but otherwise don't normally appear within the stories. The top one on page 2 is Kasayan, based on the Japanese folk tale of a one-eyed, one legged umbrella (kasa). The bottom one is Yama-kozo (mountain boy), a mountain sprite that wears a bamboo wicker cloak for protection from the elements. Yama-kozo is similar to Yobuko (Mountain Echo), which appeared in Yamata no Orochi, in DVD vol. 3, except that Yobuko has 2 eyes and is cursed to be stuck as a tree. On the other hand, Kasayan closely resembles Kasabake (Umbrella Monster) from DVD vol. 6, the only difference being the coloration of the top part that looks like a cap. According to the description, in the manga they're the same creature, but in the TV anime Kasabake and Kasayan are separate members of the same yokai class.

(Reikeishujutsu episode summary, age 1.)

I'm going to do something a little different this time. In past reviews I've tried to show representative pages of each section of the magazine. Here, I'm going to include all four pages related to one specific TV episode - Reikeishujutsu. These pages follow the same format for all TV episodes. First, we have 2 pages that summarize the episode itself, and we get the original air date information. This is followed by highlights of the primary yokai that stars as the villain (Zunbera), and the section wraps up with Mizuki's "original art feature" on the same yokai (Zunperabou).

(Episode summary page 2.)

The two posters are: Seiyou-youkai kara Toukyou wo Mamore (Save Tokyo from the Western Monsters), and Himitsu Nyuudanshiki no Subete Majou Tanjou (All of the Secret Witch Entrance Ceremonies). "Save Tokyo" pits Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman and a Witch against Kitaro, Kasayan, the 9-Tail Fox and a few other Japanese monsters. The witches from "Secret Ceremony" look like something straight out of Shakespeare.

(Comparison of the manga version of Zunbara with the anime version.)

The TV episodes are: Kakurezato no Shinigami (The Shinigami of the Isolated Village, 07/20/72); Yokai Suisha (Yokai Waterwheel, 07/27/72); Genshisan (Mister Primeval, 08/10/72) and Reikeishijutsu (Spirit Shape Surgery, 08/17/72). The featured monsters are: Kakurezatou (Hidden Blind Masseur), Mourei Yassan (8 Ferocious Spirits), Mourei Yassan no Nushi (The Mourei Yassan Leader), Genshisan (Mr. Primeval) and Zunbera (No Face).

For Kakurezatou, the "zatou" part may be familiar to fans of old Japanese martial arts films as meaning "blind man", or "blind masseur", from the Zatou-ichi series. In this episode, he's a blind mountain hermit. The Mourei are malicious ghosts, and Nushi is an evil green-skinned priest that commands them. "Genshi" means "primeval" or "origin", and refers to a large Sasquatch creature. Zunbera is related to the noppera-bou, humanoid figures with no face. In this episode, Zunbera survives in human society by stealing other people's faces (literally).

A comment on the anime. While the animation and principle character designs are primitive by western standards, the stories and key artwork can be quite scary, even for adults. In some ways, the Kitaro series is very reminiscent of the original Johnny Quest show. It's interesting to me that Kitaro was treated as a kid's show in 1972. Kids were a lot more resilient back then.

The other sections include the History of Gegege no Kitaro, part 10, Where's Yamada, the Mizuki Collection, and pictures of snack goods available at the Kitaro-themed shops on the Jindaiji temple grounds in Chofu. The special DVD track is a walking tour of Jindaiji. The easter egg is the same as before (walking geta sounds).

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