Saturday, August 24, 2013

History of Kitaro, #7

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.

The Rental Book Era #6, "Bizarre Contest" and "Johnny in the Mist"
The 2 Unique Kitaros, Both Weird and Filled with Illusions.

After reconciling with Izumi Books, Mizuki drew the full 8 volumes of "Sanpei the Kappa". Then, in 1962 he started up the new "Bizarre Contest". The title didn't include "Kitaro" in order to avoid conflicts with Kankou Takeuchi's "Graveyard Kitaro", which was still running through Izumi. The idea of a publisher having two competing brands with the same character may seem strange, but Izumi was teetering on the edge of collapse and didn't really have much of a choice. Let's now introduce the two stories.

"Bizarre Contest" - Just as unique as "Kitaro Night Stories", and the weird atmosphere is just as strong. Looking for a place to live, an unsuccessful manga artist falls in with a gangster named "Kinta", and the two of them evict Kitaro from his house. However, Kitaro throws the two into a "Jirase dream" (irritation dream). A phantom dream guide appears and says "your life in exchange for one volume of manga". It's not possible to simply sum up this story. In with the otherworldly pictures, there's the callous, nihilistic Kitaro. This series is similar to "Mizuki's Bizarre Manga" and has the same kind of absurd ending.

"Johnny in the Mist" - as is the case in all the other Kitaro stories, Nezumi Otoko is set to work against society. This time he's joined an anti-establishment group.

Johnny the Vampire demands the blood of celebrities, and he's targeted Prime Minister Ikida. Kitaro is hired to be Ikeda's bodyguard, and he tracks Johnny to his lair, but falls into some acid. Only his skull remains. Nezumi Otoko, who easily changes sides, sets the lair on fire and turns both it and Johnny to ash. Nezumi then wraps Kitaro's skull in a cloth and takes it to Mount Osore for restoration.

Manga artist Saburo Tsuyuki (real name: Gorou Sugimoto) was the model for Johnny. Tsuyuki drew the "Mummy Island" and "Parasite Man" rental books, and Mizuki had produced some of the covers for them. These two titles are now real collector's items.

Next time: The Rental Book Era, Part 7 - Toukou Company's version of "Kitaro"

(Translator's note: Using the kanji for "east" and "filial piety", Toukousha was a rental book company, but there's virtually nothing on it in English. Manga Updates lists one of their titles, from 1972, but that's about it. One artist mentioned in the Japanese wiki article is Yuu Takita, who had appeared frequently in Garo magazine from about 1967 to 1970. Another is Yoshiharu

(Picture on the right) "Bizarre Contest" (first published in 1962)
The information guide demon in the world of the "Irritation Dream". Mingling fear with the surreal, you can feel the nature of this wonderful place.

Dialog from right to left:
Artist: I don't think we want to talk to him now.
Gangster: I agree.
Guide: Let me know when you've decided.

(Picture on the left) "Johnny in the Mist" (first published in 1962)
Vampire Johnny shows up in the Season One anime in "Vampire Elite". His guitar sounds like "jan jan".

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