GeGeGe no Kitaro was created by manga/comic artist Shigeru Mizuki (AKUMA KUN, KAPPA NO SANPEI). Shigeru Mizuki is a legendary artist of horror and yokai manga. Yokai literally translated means, a ghost, an apparition, or a spectre, to which Mizuki is responsible for keeping it’s folklore alive in Japan. The brilliant artist who lost his left arm in World War II, got his start telling his stories using kami-shibai(story telling using picture cards)as his medium.
Originally titled HAKABA KITARO(Graveyard Kitaro)for the rental-manga scene in 1959, Mizuki’s most famous story was later serialized in Shonen Magazine as GeGeGe no Kitaro in 1965.
GeGeGe no Kitaro tells the story of a young boy who is the last remaining family member of the “Ghostly Tribe” (Yurei Zoku). Kitaro was born in a graveyard just as his parents passed on. His mother was a witch and his father a mummy. The mummy dad’s eyeball leaves it’s eye socket and grows arms and legs. This way Kitaro’s father is reincarnated as Daddy-Eyeball (Medama-Oyaji)so he can still raise his son. Kitaro grows up to fight monsters, ghosts, and goblins, to keep peace between the paranormal world and human beings. Kitaro is aided in his fight for peace with the help of a variety ghastly characters Cat-Girl (Neko-Musume), Rat-Man (Nezumi-Otoko), Old Man Crybaby (Konaki Jijii), The Sand-Witch (Sunakake-Babaa), Rollo-Cloth (Ittan-Momen), and Wally Wall (Nurikabe).
In the 1960’s Japan was already experiencing the “Kaiju-Boom” because of the huge wave of giant monster movies (GODZILLA, GAMERA, MOTHRA, etc.) over running movie-goers. The popularity of GeGeGe no Kitaro and other works by Shigeru Mizuki spawned the “Yokai-Boom”. Kids started going crazy for horror and ghost manga. So in 1968 GeGeGe no Kitaro became a hit anime TV series released by Toei Animation. The 65 episodes released in black and white, captured the nice creepy atmosphere of the classic manga stories as well as new original ones created for the show. Even though some stories are gloomy and the characters are scary, the show is light-hearted and really fun.
Cast of Characters:
Kitaro: a young boy who is the last of the “Ghostly Tribe”, who spends his days keeping peace between yokai and humans. Kitaro who is missing his left eye sometimes carries his father in the empty socket. His weapons include, remote control sandals, snake handcuffs, detachable hands, magical vest, a chameleon tongue, blows flames, yokai detector, and can shoot strands of hair like needles. One of my favorite things Kitaro can do is he can fly from place to place with the help of ravens carrying him and his friends.
Daddy-Eyeball: The extremely intelligent father of Kitaro, is gifted with the knowledge of all yokai and their habits. The walking and talking eyeball, rose to life from his own dead mummy corpse to watch out for, and aid his son. During down time, he likes to relax in a nice cup of warm tea or coffee.
Cat-Girl: Cute girl always at Kitaro’s side, who is not able to control her craving for fish. Don’t get her angry or you’ll see her feline teeth come out as she attacks.
Rat-Man: The bottom of the barrel when it comes to loyalty. Rat-Man would stab his own mother in the back for money. Somehow or another he turns out okay at the end by aiding his companions in his own miserable way. Look out he fights by breathing his bad breath on you or with flatulence.
Old Man Crybaby: A very strange man who’ll cry like a baby, until you pick him up or he jumps on you. Old Man Crybaby has the ability to turn to stone so heavy he’ll crush his victims under the tremendous weight.
The Sand-Witch: A kind old women who cares deeply for Kitaro. Always ready to fight, the Sand-Witch can throw sand at her victims eyes, that comes from within her body.
Rollo-Cloth: Faithful kite-like companion of Kitaro, who can fly his friends quickly anywhere. Beware Rollo-Cloth can wrap his cloth body around his enemies and strangle them to death.
Wally-Wall: The giant stone wall from the mountains that is a perfect barrier against any attacks. Wally-Wall can increase his size at will or fall over and smash any threat.
Since the 1968 TV program, GeGeGe no Kitaro has been re-introduced to a new generation of yokai fans every decade, spawning new color TV series, as well as theatrical movies, both animated and live-action. But nothing beats the creepy and ghoulish atmosphere brought to you with the glorious black and white version.