Sunday, April 20, 2014

History of Kitaro, #23

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.

"Gegege no Kitaro Chousen Shiri-zu" (Gegege Kitaro Challenge Series)
Stories of Kitaro's attempts to solve the world's various mysteries

The pattern of "Kitaro" stories was set in place in the boy's magazines. However, in the latter half of the 70's, Mizuki began exploring the young men's (seinen) magazine market. About one month after the ending of the run in Shuukan Jitsuwa (Weekly True Stories), the Gegege no Kitaro Challenge Series started in Weekly Manga Sunday with the Aug. 16, 1977, issue for a total of 10 chapters (3 volumes). Here, Kitaro and company face a number of the world's mysteries.

In volume 1, "UFO no Himitsu" (The UFO Secret), aliens (underground dwellers) make their appearance. They create a peaceful utopia underground, which they protect by ensuring that the humans on the surface are wrapped up in their own discords. They send up a group of dead to create strife. The lesson of this story is, "If both sides fight, neither can be happy". While Kitaro defeats the dead, mankind remains ignorant to the solution of the UFO mystery by the end of the tale.

Volume 2, "Taiko no Himitsu" (Ancient Secret), the editorial department runs a strong adult-themed front page illustration. Mizuki Pro studios has been taken over by a licentious Youko (Fox spirit). The fox spirit eventually causes a suicidal person to actually die and in response an angry religious pilgrim confronts the Youko in a lengthy, grand sex battle.

The next story was a remake of the 5-chapter "Majo Monro-" (Monroe the Witch)  which ran in Comic & Comic from Oct. 31, 1973. In "Chijoue no Himitsu" (Geoglyph Secret), volume 3, a space ship kidnaps 1,000 of earth's beautiful women. Kitaro and gang are enlisted to save them, so they visit Easter Island, some of South America's ancient ruins, and other locations before tracking down a witch and freeing up both the women and some ancient Incans.

In this series, Mizuki Pro constantly sets out on adventure trips to investigate the paranormal, as if to show Mizuki's own belief that the world is filled with mysteries waiting to be seen.

Next, Kitaro returned to Weekly Shonen Magazine in the Apr. 9, '78 issue, for an 8-year run, to mark it's 20th year anniversary. This was "Kaettekita Hi-ro-(1) Hakaba no Kitaro Tokubetsu Dousetsu Umibouzu Sensei" (Returning Hero (1) - Kitaro of the Graveyard, Special Edition, Umibouzu Teacher). It's a satire on schools that are too strict, and a statement that new technology can't buy happiness. Thus, the 1970's marked a period in which Mizuki experimented with a variety of approaches to the Kitaro series in order to attract readers.

Next time - "The 1980's Kitaro"

Bottom Right Picture: From "Kitaro of the Graveyard, Special Edition, Umibouzu Teacher". The "Guillotine Classroom" and "Puncturing Holes in You with an Awl if You Don't Get 100 Points on a Test", as criticism of overly strict Japanese teaching methods.

Bottom Left Picture: From the "Gegege Kitaro Challenge Series", "Geoglyph Secrets". Politicians approach Kitaro to help get back the 1,000 kidnapped beauties.

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