Sunday, August 18, 2013

History of Kitaro, #3

Any mistakes in the translation are mine and mine alone. All rights to the translation belong to Curtis H. Hoffmann. Please do not reproduce without permission. All images used here for review purposes only.

Rental Book Era, Part 2 - "Graveyard Kitaro"
The 2 "Graveyard Kitaro" Rental Book Artists

During the rental book period, there was a second manga artist drawing "Hakaba Kitaro". He was Kankou Takeuchi. Like Shigeru Mizuki, Takeuchi also switched jobs from doing kamishibai.

Why were there two "Hakaba Kitaro" rental book collections at the same time?

Izumi Books canceled Mizuki's contract for poor performance, so he immediately moved over to Sanyo Publishing where he started work on "Kitaro Yobanashi" (Kitaro Night Stories). At the time, Izumi had 3 volumes of Mizuki's "Hakaba Kitaro" and they wanted to capitalize on this. As a last resort, they decided to continue pitching the short story collection under the same title. Kankou Takeuchi was brought on to draw "Hakaba Kitaro #4". Although the artist, character designs and story contents were going to change, the only requirement the editors had was that the readers would say "if it's interesting, then we'll accept it". Mizuki knew that Takeuchi was going to draw the manga for Izumi. However, while he didn't know of their kamishibai connection, he was aware of their similar circumstances. So, Takauchi's version of "Hakaba Kitaro" ran for 16 volumes. Readers comparing the two styles have carried on heated love-hate discussions of both versions.

As mentioned above, while Takeuchi worked on "Graveyard Kitaro", Shigeru Mizuki produced "Kitaro Night Stories" for Sanyo. 4 volumes were published by the end of 1960. Actually, there was a fifth - "Kane Otoko no Maki" (The Money Man). Unfortunately, Sanyo's president, Katsuichi Nagai, fell ill and was hospitalized. Without him, the company was dissolved and Mizuki's 5th manuscript was lost in the confusion. His continuation of Izumi's "Hakaba Kitaro" has been called a "masterpiece".
(Translator's note: It turns out that "Kane Otoko" was a misprint. A correction in a later volume says that it should have been "Kame Otoko" (Turtle Man).)

Next, Rental Book Era part 3, "Kitaro Night Stories".

(Picture 1, bottom right)
"Hakaba Kitaro" (Starting in 1960)
#1 - "Jigoku no Katamichi Kippu" (One-way Ticket to Hell), #2 - "Geshukuya" (Lodging House), #3 - "Au Toki wa Itsumo Shibito" (Always Meeting Corpses). The secret actions of the grotesque Kitaro.

(Picture 2, bottom left)
Kankou Takeuchi's "Hakaba Kitaro"
Reference publication. It's an impressive work for various reasons. With his right eye hidden, Kitaro in mid-journey looks at least every bit as harsh as the original.

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