First Look: Gegege no Kitaro

Alternative title(s): Kitaro of the Graveyard
Manga Adaptation by Toei Animation
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

It’s the modern day, and strange, clearly supernatural things are happening to people. To assuage the fears of her neighbor, Mana Inuyama, asks for the help of a folk hero he tells her about, and is drawn into the world of the youkai.

Somehow, I knew Youtubers were going to be the end of us all.

Marlin’s verdict: Let the Past Die

I’m sure this was a fun shounen series in its time, but this reboot did not do anything extraordinary to keep me with it. I think its angle of modern shitty youtubers unwittingly unleashing the terrors of the spirit world is pretty funny as a joke, but it seemed like there was no message in it. There was nothing about the Nobiagari that made it seem like it was going after narcissistic social media pawns, even though that seemed to be the implication of the beginning of the show. To its credit, its character designs are pretty good. The audience proxy Mana looks nice, her hair is some nigh-Kaoru level of purposefully messy, and despite the legacy of similar titles like Dororon Enma-kun, she is never sexualized or exploited by Kitaro. I guess if you enjoy Japanese mythology you’ll probably get a kick out of this, but otherwise I was bored and confused.

Flubbed name gags are the one thing worse than puns in my book.

Iro’s verdict: Old-School Charm

Taking over Dragon Ball Super‘s time slot, GeGeGe no Kitaro is one of those (very, very) old properties whose name I hear tossed around every now and then but have no personal experience with. My understanding is it’s one of the first manga to really feature yokai as a major plot element, and this is something like the fourth or fifth anime adaptation to crop up over the years. It’s a little incongruous to see almost 60-year-old character designs next to modern anime people, but the show does a decent job of working in old traditional ghost-y bits with more modern story elements, all in good fun. Lastly, fun fact: the venerable Masako Nozawa, who voiced Kitaro back in the ’60s, has returned to voice Eyeball Dad. Pretty cool!

Artemis’ verdict: Horror for the Whole Family

Gegege no Kitaro is proof that family-friendly horror can be done, and done pretty well at that. Truth be told, I’ve always had a soft spot for this franchise – it’s one of those classics I have a lot of respect for, especially given my love of youkai-centric stories. The premiere episode was certainly a decent enough start, combining sufficient levels of creepiness with the kind of low-level, G-rated action I imagine will play well with its target audience, and bringing the plot up to date with a nice nod towards how far media and technology has come since Gegege no Kitaro’s debut back in the 60s. While the show is a little young for my tastes, I’m genuinely happy to see a reboot and hope it’ll be a success.

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