Sunday, June 1, 2014

Kitaro DVD Review, vol. 27

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

Gegege no Kitaro Magazine DVD Series, volume 27

(Original Art Page: Namahage.)

Features Present:
Where's Yamada (some minor scenes)
Kitaro Goods (A few Kitaro box figurines)
History of Gegege no Kitaro, #26
Mizuki Collection (A few pages from Shonen Magajin with photos of Kitaro characters and some prose by Mizuki)

Features Missing:
Fold-out posters
Interviews or special video sections
Featured supporting youkai page

(Original Art Page: Inmoraki.)

TV Episodes:
#62: Umijiji (Old Man of the Sea, 03/09/69)
#63: Namahage (Ogre, 03/16/69)
#64: Inmoraki (Inmoraki, 03/23/69)
#65: Youkai Houkou (Penghou, 03/30/69)

(Original Art Page: Houkou.)

New Yokai Pages:
Umi Jiji (Old Man of the Sea)
Namahage (Ogre)
Inmoraki (Transformed Spirit)
Houkou (Penghou)

(Mizuki Collection.)

Original Art Pages:
Namahage (Ogre)
Inmoraki (Transformed Spirit)
Houkou (Penghou)

(Back cover: Where's Yamada and the Kitaro Goods.)

Wordy Part

Umijiji: This seems to be specific to the Kitaro universe. "Umi" is sea" and "Jiji" is old man. In the TV episode, Umijiji possesses its victims by attaching itself to their backs, and slowly gets heavier with time. At some point, the weight kills them. Umijiji's true shape is that of a large jellyfish.

Namahage: According to the wiki entry, Namahage are a kind of Japanese ogre that would admonish lazy people that spent too much time next to the cooking fire. One of their admonishments was "Blisters peeled yet?", referring to heat blisters from the cooking fire. This phrase in Japanese was simplified to "Namahage". Currently, there is a tradition in Oita Prefecture of men dressing up as Namahage around New Year's Day, and walking around the town berating lazy children. In the TV episode, Namahage can use his mask to steal people's faces and use them as additional masks.

Inmoraki: There's nothing on this spirit in English, and very little in Japanese, even including references to Mizuki's own creations. The kanji in the name are: "Shadow/Background" + "An obstacle to Buddhist practice" + "demon". The creature is rendered as a baby bird with a semi-human face. The Original Art page says that it originated in China, and is the spirit that comes from a dead body and changes into a "suspicious bird". In the manga and the TV episode, it has 3 eyes.

Houkou: Houkou is a Japanese-ification of the Chinese "Penghou", which is a tree spirit. According to the wiki entry, it looks like a black dog with no tail, lives in camphor trees, and can be cooked and eaten. In the TV episode, Houkou likes making pickled daikon, and has the ability to turn himself into 4 copies, each associated with one of the 4 elements (water, wind, earth, fire).

Final comments:

Well, this is the final DVD magazine volume in the series, and represents all of the episodes from both the first and second TV seasons (1968-69 and 1971-72). I was expecting some kind of special sign-off with this volume, but the only thing different is having Mizuki on the cover. There's only the 4 episodes, and the Easter egg is the same old "walking geta" sequence that has been on most of the DVDs.

I definitely liked watching all of these shows, although the production values of the second series far outshine the original B&W episodes. It was a bit strange hearing the second closing theme (Nai) on a few of the episodes, and there was no explanation for why the song had been changed, or why it reverted back so quickly.

From an historical standpoint, Kitaro is one of those titles that mark a pivotal turning point in Japanese manga, to be ranked up there with Tezuka's Black Jack, Otomo's Akira and Toriyama's Dragon Ball. If you're interested in the history of manga and anime, you definitely need to at least be familiar with Kitaro, if not study it in some depth. Having said that, I think the early Kitaro manga is infinitely better than the TV series based on it. On the other hand, Neko Musume is much cuter in the anime...

At the moment, I don't have plans for picking up any other serialized releases. Gundam and Galaxy Express 999 have been running for over a year each, and the cover price is something like $20 for 3-4 episodes per disk. Hokuto no Ken (a total of 152 episodes) just started serialization, and the first DVD is $8 for 3 episodes plus the magazine. All other volumes will be 1,700 yen each. One other series that just started, while not anime-related, is worth mentioning. That's the Jackie Chan DVD magazine. Each volume has one movie, plus the magazine write-ups, at 1,790 yen apiece. I'd consider getting Project A, Snake in Eagle's Shadow, The Drunken Master, and Police Story, if the prices were slashed in half, and the subtitles were in English...


If you want to go through the past Kitaro reviews, or read the translations of the History of Kitaro pages, click here.

1 comment:

Julia Arsenault said...

I had finished watchin' the series on YouTube. In the beginning of "Umi jijī," after Kitaro saves the lad from the sea, Nezumi developed a stomach pain and I thought it was an ulcer