Monday, May 19, 2014

History of Kitaro, #25

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.

Kitaro during the 80's and 90's
The hugely successful third season anime, and the freewheeling "Kuni Touri Monogatari" (Country Stealing Story)

One month after the airing of the "Gegege no Kitaro" TV series, in the summer of 1985, Mizuki Pro started drawing "Saishinban Gegege no Kitaro" (The Latest Version of Gegege Kitaro) for Monthly Comic Bonbon. "Saishinban" was used in the name because, at that time, there were multiple versions available in tankoubon (collected book) form.

Then, in October, 1985, season 3 of the TV anime started. There was an increase in heroic action, and Kitaro's character became more rounded and competent in multiple fields. It was a big hit, with a peak TV rating of 29.6%. This was followed by the beginning of "Shinpen Gegege no Kitaro" (New Edition Gegege Kitaro) with the May 7, 1986, issue of Weekly Shonen Magazine. Here, the story returned to the extermination of malevolent yokai, and the introduction of many new enemies.

"Kitaro Jigoku-pen" (Kitaro Hell Edition) ran with the June, 1987, issue of Monthly Shonen Magajin, for a total of 180 pages and 4 chapters. Kitaro is established as being half-human, half-yokai, and he plans on traveling to hell (the after world) to visit his mother. While Nezumi Otoko is not a half-yokai, the two of them secretly change birth statuses (trans. note: not sure about this part).

With the Nov., 1990, issue of Monthly Comic Bonbon, we get the 17 chapter, 527 page "Kitaro Kuni Touri Monogatari" (Kitaro Country Stealing Story), then continued in Monthly Comic Bonbon Deluxe with the May, 1992, issue for another 331 pages (11 chapters). In this series, we're introduced to Netarou ("Ne" is the kanji for "sleep"), a yokai relative treated as Kitaro's older brother. Plus, we get mole people, Gaikotsu Bebi- (Skeleton Baby) and other highly individual characters. Kitaro wants to visit the underground empire of Mu, there's the reappearance of Nurarihon, and lots of wild hijinks.

Additionally, with the Feb., 1992, issue of Terebi (TV) Magazine, we get the 35 chapter "Gegege no Kitaro Yokai Fushigi Hanashi" (Gegege Kitaro Curious Yokai Stories). These were short 2-3 page emaki (set up like picture scrolls) aimed at lower school-grade readers. At this time, Shigeru Mizuki founded the "Koufuku Kansatsu Gakkai" (Happiness Observation Association) for the worldwide research of yokai, and participated in a variety of other activities.

There were plans to start work on the fourth series of the TV anime in 1991, but these fell through. This series did actually begin in 1996; however, since it was not in collaboration with any of the magazine manga, the stories were all original to the anime.

Next time: The Final Chapter - Kitaro from "Kitaro Raidan" (Kitaro Spirit Group) on up.

Bottom right picture: From the Monthly Shonen Magajin Kitaro Jigoku-pen. This episode was created for the third season TV series, and ran for 7 shows in the 1988 anime.

Bottom left picture: Kitaro and gang make plans for the trip to the underground empire of Mu in Kitaro Kuni Touri Monogatari. There's a yokai sumo showdown, among other wild events.

Monday, May 5, 2014

History of Kitaro, #24

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.

"Kitaro" in the first half of the 1980's.
From the "Kitaro" of social satire to the extremely rare "Paper Wrapper Publications".

In the first half of the 80's, Mizuki was still searching for a solution for "Kitaro". "Daibora Kitaro" (Big "Bora" Kitaro) ran for 5 chapters starting with the April 18, 1980, volume of Monthly DONDON magazine. Heavily tinged with social satire, Kitaro joins the "Bakemon Kumiai" (Monster Association) and sells "Kanzen Sha" (The Perfect Car), and Nezumi Otoko becomes a "Kaiketsuya" (solutions broker) (Kaiketsu Kurozukin (Wonderman Black Hood)), discussing various worries. These works show Shigeru Mizuki's pen work aimed at adults.

Also in the same year, with the Aug. issue of Monthly Boy's Popi- (Poppy?), "Yukihime-chan to Gegege no Kitaro" (Snow Princess and Gegege Kitaro) ran for 11 chapters. The story establishes that Kitaro has a younger sister, Yuki-hime. While babysitting, Kitaro is involved with various events and his yokai power is slowly absorbed by Yuki-hime. We also get appearances by Nise-Kitaro (Fake Kitaro), a space alien and Kuso-sennin (Crap Master).

This is a fun manga that includes remakes of the rental book works "Kyuuketsuki to Nekomusume" (Vampire Tree and Cat Girl) and "Jigoku no Sampomichi" (Promenade to Hell). While there was also the special edition of Weekly Boy's King, it was discontinued in June the following year, and Mizuki's manga was inevitably canceled as well. This was unfortunate timing. In the next year, Mizuki was looking for new work in the war journal magazine Monthly Maru ("Maru" is "circle", as well as a reference to the Japanese flag). He drew 4 pages for the April, 1982, edition of "Norakuro's Big War". (Note: Norakuro (Black stray dog) is a famous military manga featuring dogs as soldiers, by Suiho Tagawa.)

In 1983, Glico, with their Gag Make Bubblegum, offered special "Obake Bungu" (Monster Stationery) pamphlets. They had 8 versions of a sales promotions paper wrapper containing 2-panel manga. Of these, 2 sheets, "Miira Otoko Konpasu" (Mummy Compass) and "Nekomata Jikanwari" (2-tailed Cat Timetable) included Kitaro in them. Probably, very few people have seen these wrappers, and it'd be a miracle if anyone actually still has copies.

Then, in May, 1985, "Shougakukan Nyuumon Hyakka Shiri-zu no Tengoku - Jugoku Nyuumon" (Elementary School Primer Study Series, Warden Kitaro's Guide to Hell) contained "Kitaro no Jigoku Meguri" (Kitaro's Circumference of Hell). Aimed at the lower school grades, Kitaro provides information about the various aspects of Jigoku (Japanese version of the afterlife). Additionally, in Aug. of the same year Getsuyo Doramarando (Monday Drama Land) televised the filming of "Gegege no Kitaro".

Regardless of the era, Kitaro remains familiar to everyone. This is verified by it's continued presence from this point.

Next time, "Kitaro from the second half of the 80's to the 90's".

Bottom right picture:
"Daibora Kitaro", from the Complete Volume. This recalls "Kareha" (Dead Leaves) from the "Salaryman Shinigami" series, and the "Shinigami and Binbogami" episode from the second anime series.

Bottom left picture:
"Yukihime-chan and Gegege Kitaro". Nise-Kitaro and "The Other World" TV special program are from the rental book "Kitaro Night Stories" chapter, "Vampire Tree and Neko Musume".