Sunday, March 23, 2014

History of Kitaro, #21

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.

"Death God War Record" and "Ghost Trip in Kitaro's World"
Kitaro's Character changes with the times.

Let's look at Kitaro in the mid-70's. First, both volumes of the Gakken "Shinigami Daisenki" (Death God Big War Record) gekiga (dramatic manga) collection. Mizuki drew a dramatization of Genshin's "Ojouyoushuu" (Essentials of Birth in the Pure Land) with writing by Kiyoshi Miyata. In the story, after leading the southern island in "Sono go no Gegege no Kitaro" (see History #20), Kitaro returns home. In order to stop the western world's monsters from their plan to rule the entire universe, Mizuki himself and 12 children set out to retrieve the Unicorn Mirror from hell and deliver it to Buddha.

In drawing "The Other World" and "The World of Hell", he also put himself into the work, adding a dark influence from the feeling of life and death, and deep philosophy. Continuing, "Gegege no Kitaro - Lotus Empire" appeared in the July, 1977, issue of Short Story Magazine. Here, Kitaro gets a request from Enmaoh (Gate Keeper to Hell) to travel to the past to save the Buddhist monk Jianzhen.

Then, in Weekly Shonen Action, from Jan. 26, 1976 to Aug. 23, we have "Kitaro no Sekai Obake Ryokou" (Kitaro's World Ghost Trip). This time, Kitaro receives a baseball cap, then travels around the world, from the northern polar ice cap to Africa, defeating yokai.  After which, he returns home.

Also during this period, in the July, 1976, issue of Monthly Shonen Jump, in #4 of the "Eien no Seisaku Shiri-zu" (Immortal Masterpieces Series), was the publication of "Akuma-kun - Waru wo Horobose!! no Maki" (Akuma-kun - Destroy the Evil!! chapter). This is a sequel to "Akuma-kun no Fukkatsu! Sennen Ohkoku" (Akuma-kun's Revival! The 1,000 Year Empire), where Akuma dies. After unifying Hell, Akuma decides to return to the surface to unify humankind. The government dispatches Kitaro to defeat Akuma. This is a dream match-up of two very popular characters. On a side note, the title of the collected volume of the manga was changed to "Kitaro vs. Akuma-kun".  We can see through this comparison how one of Mizuki's characters evolved over time to fit the changing tastes of society, and Mizuki's own changing preferences.

Then, on Nov. 25, 1976, Play Comic published their "Kaettekite Hi-ro- Shiri-zu" (Returning Hero Series), which included "Hakaba no Kitaro". The story speculates that western yokai were behind the scenes of the Lockheed Scandal. These yokai have heard that Kitaro has a weakness for beautiful women, and they try to use that to manipulate him, but he's saved by Backbeard. Backbeard became Kitaro's friend in "Kitaro's Vietnam War Record".

Next time: The Shuukan Jitsuwa (Weekly True Stories) Kitaro Series

Bottom Right Picture: From "Shinigami Big War Record". This work has the same appearance of Mizuki as in "The Other World", with his opinions on life and death, and deep philosophy.

Bottom Left Picture: "Akuma-kun - Destroy the Evil!!" (titled "Kitaro vs. Akuma-kun" for the collected manga volume), showing the confrontation between Akuma-kun, newly returned from hell, and the yokai army.

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