Anthropology of Anime and Manga

Science Fiction and Horror Manga Classics

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Shigeru Mizuki's "Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro"

Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro, the Japanese horror anime and manga classic, was created by Shigeru Mizuki (1922-), the father of post World War II Japanese horror anime and manga. Ge Ge Ge narrative is folklore like, full of comedic parody and explores numerous themes of folk religion (e.g. possession, theft of soul, exorcism, shamanism) as well as themes of social morality (e.g. pollution, hypocrisy of religion, the negative impact of capitalism) and spirituality (e.g. the meaning of other-world, immortality and resurrection). Mizuki published numerous popular manga works including "Akuma-kun" (The Devil Boy) and "Kappa no Sanpei"(Sanpei the Kappa). Ge Ge Ge was originally published in the mid-1960s as the manga series of the popular weekly comic magazine, Shonen Magazine. The series was later made into many TV anime series and feature length anime films. Ge Ge Ge is one of the longest running anime and manga series of Japan (for lists of anime and manga see below).

The Ge Ge Ge series deals with creatures named Yokai. Yokai can be translated as "strange creature" or apparitions. Yokais in Ge Ge Ge include: a)animal like creatures (e.g. fox, cat, Kappa and Tengu); b) humanoid shaped beings (e.g. Sunakake Baba, Nezumi Otoko, Konaki Jiji - see below); c)beings of natural phenomena (e.g. water, wind, thunder) and d)object like beings (e.g. Ittan Momen is the cloth, Nurikabe is the wall, others take the form of mirror, umbrella and lantern). All possess incredible magical powers and certain Yokai are shape-shifters. Some attempt to harm humans by abduction, soul snatching, possession, vampirism, trickery and magic. Groups of Yokais also attempt to invade the human world and attempt to control them.

Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro is a "good" Yokai who helps and saves humans from being harmed by the "evil" Yokai. Kitaro is the last surviving descendent of the Ghost Tribe and an one eyed child (i.e. right). He can transform his hair into dangerous spikes, release them as weapons, has a Chanchanko (special Kimono made from the hair of the ancestors of the Ghost tribe which makes Kitaro immortal), uses his own hands as a pistol and his fingers becomes bullets. His stomach acid can melt any beings or objects. Ge Ge Ge manipulates his Getas (i.e. wooden clogs. Traditional Japanese footwear) and severed body parts (e.g. hands) via remote control. His companions include Medama Oyaji, Nezumi Otoko, Sunakake Baba, Konaki Jiji, Neko Musume, Nurikabe and Ittan Momen. A brief summary of Ge Ge Ge companions follows.

Medama Oyaji (=Daddy Eyeball. Hereafter "Eyeball") is Kitaro's father. Initially he had a body but illness caused his body to decay and only his eyeball remained. Eyeball's wisdom helps Kitaro in his daily battle.

The notorious Nezumi Otoko (=Ratman) is half human and half Yokai and has lived for more than three hundred years. He never takes baths, is very filthy and full of ulcers and skin disease. His breath and intestinal discharge are both toxic and can render people unconscious. He is selfish and a lier and often betrays Kitaro for his personal gain (e.g. money). Besides money, his favorite things are food and women.

Sunakake Baba (= Sand Throwing Old Woman. Hereafter "Sunakake") was originally a shaman but later transformed into a Yokai. Sunakake make enemies lose consciousness by throwing sand. She also transforms victims into sand. She often slaps others.

Konaki Jiji (= Child Crying Old Man or Old Man Cry Baby. Hereafter "Konaki") attacks the enemy by clinging onto those who picked him up and transforming himself into a heavy stone. Konaki suffocates or crushes enemies to death.

Neko Musume (= Catchik) is a female friend of Kitaro who transforms her face into an vicious looking cat when angry or when she sees her prey or favorite food such as rats and fish. Like Ratman, she is half Yokai and half human. She is the arch enemy of Nezumi.

Kitaro's other "good" Yokai friends include Ittan Momen (=Flying Cloth Monster or Rollo Cloth. Hereafter "Ittan") and Nurikabe (= Giant Plaster Wall Monster or Wally Wall). The former cloth monster flies and kills the enemy by wrapping itself. Ittan also cuts the enemy. The latter blocks the enemies via its gigantic wall structure or absorbs them into the wall.

In 2005, Mizuki produced and appeared as the character Demong King in the Yokai epic saga called "Yokai Daisenso" (English title is "The Great Yokai War). For the Japanese webpage, see "Yokai Daisenso". For the English webpage, see IMDB wepage "The Great Yokai War". Numerous Ge Ge Ge themes (e.g. crows carrying individuals) are recapitulated and Ge Ge Ge Yokais (e.g. Kappa, Tengu and Sunakake Baba) becomes heroes and heroines in this movie.

English Translations



Shigeru, Mizuki
2002 "Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro" Vol.1.
Translated by Ralph F. McCarthy. Compiled by Natsuhiko Kyogoku
Kodansha International # 477002827X

Volume 1 Episodes
"Ghost Train" (et) "Yurei Densha" (jt)
"The Leviathang" (et) "Daikaiju" (jt)

Shigeru, Mizuki
2002 "Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro" Vol.2.
Translated by Ralph F. McCarthy. Compiled by Natsuhiko Kyogoku
Kodansha International # 4770028288

"The H2O Ogre" (et) "Suiko (jt)
"Goblin Castle" (et) "Yokaijo" (jt)
"Night Game with Monsters" (et) "Obake Naitaa" (jt)
"The Beach Witch" (et) "Iso Onna" (jt)
"Catchick and Ratman" (et) "Nezumi-otoko to Neko-musume"
"The Yasha" (et) "Yasha" (jt)

Shigeru, Mizuki
2002 "Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro" Vol.3.
Translated by Ralph F. McCarthy. Compiled by Natsuhiko Kyogoku
Kodansha International #4770028296

"Brother Lookup" (et) "Miyage Nyudo" (jt)
"Li'l Diskhead" (et) "Sara Kozo" (jt)
"The Goblin at the Pass' (et) "Tooge no Yookai" (jt)
"Hideri-gami" (et) "The God of Draught" (jt)
"Straw Hats for Jizo" (et) "Kasa Jizo" (jt)

Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro Anime Series



Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro is one of the longest running TV anime series. Animated by Toei, Kitaro was broadcasted on the following years on Fuji TV (channel 8):

January 7th, 1996 to March 29th, 1998

October 12th, 1985 to February 6th, 1988

October 7th, 1971 to September 28th, 1972

January 3rd, 1968 to March 27th, 1968

April 7th, 1968 to March 30th, 1969

In March 15, 2006, Toei / Pony / Canyon of Japan released the 115 episodes of Kitaro broadcasted during the 1985 - 1988 season (Fuji TV). Information in Japanese and the DVD format is Region 2 (spec. for the Japaense market). They have also released Ge Ge Ge TV episodes of 1960s and 1970s. For details, see Kitaro DVD http://www.kitaro-dvd.com/

Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro Links



English Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro English Links

Wikipedia (see "Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro" and "Shigeru Mizuki").
http://www.en.wikipedia.com

Kitaro and Yokai displays at Tottori Prefecture Mizuki Road
http://www.sakaiminato.net/site2/page/foreign/eng/kitaro/

Toei broadcasting list.
http://www.toei-anim.co.jp/english/catalog/action.html#

Mizuki commentary.
http://www.nyartsmagazine.com/pages/nyam_document.php?nid=597&did=1490

Kitaro as children's story.
http://www.yamaneko.org/einfo/mgzn/jcb_e0304.htm

Japan Times interview with Shigeru Mizuki.
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/features/life2005/fl20050206x1.htm

Japan Times Mizuki article.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20030505a8.htm

Japan Times article on Obon
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?fl20020811a1.htm

The Cartoon tourism
http://web-japan.org/trends/arts/art050708.html



Japanese Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro Links (In Japanese)

The official site of Shigeru Mizuki.
http://www.japro.com/mizuki/

Shigeru Mizuki Museum in Sakaiminato, Tottori prefecture, Japan.
http://www.sakaiminato.net/mizuki/

Bibliography of Ge Ge Ge series.
http://www.lares.dti.ne.jp/~hisadome/mizuki_1.html

Online dictionary of Yokais in Ge Ge Ge.
http://home.cilas.net/~mamimume/yokai/kitarolist/kitaro-yokai.html

Online Yokai database.
http://www.nichibun.ac.jp/YoukaiDB/

Online Yokai database.
http://scene5.com/yokai/database/

Notes



(N1) Kappa: Often referred to as a water imp;a child sized creature that dwells in water. It has a shell on its back, a beaked mouth and webbed feet and hands. It has an indentation on the top of its head which contains water. This indentation is surrounded by hair. When water from the head is spilled, the Kappa dies.

(N2) Tengu: A creature that is believed to live in the mountains or forests. Some have crow like heads with wings while others are tall red faced beings with a long nose. In certain cases, Tengus are depicted as holding fans and in other examples, their clothing is like that of a mountain priest called Yamabushi (ascetic mountain monks who are the believers of the sacred mountain cult that practices a version of esoteric Buddhism).

E-Mail: Yutaka Yamada tamayu@aol.com

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Updated 11/25/08